How the NYC Coastline Became a Place to Put the Poor

In retrospect, after the storm, it looked like a perverse stroke of urban planning. Many of New York City’s most vulnerable people had been housed in its most vulnerable places: public housing projects along the water, in areas like the Rockaways, Coney Island, Red Hook and Alphabet City. Consider the Rockaways, the narrow spit of land in southern Queens that was so emblematic of Hurricane Sandy’s undemocratic wrath, and whose long row of oceanside towers stand as a kind of dubious monument to a bygone era of New York City housing policy. It’s impossible to talk about the landscape of modern New York without talking about Moses, who leveraged his position as head of the Mayor’s Committee on Slum Clearance to mass-produce thousands of units of high-rise public housing, often near the shoreline. His shadow looms over much of the havoc wreaked by the storm.

New York Times


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