Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Bronx Utopias

"Amalgamated Housing to First 
Houses: Re-defining Home in America" 

Memories and details exist in blogs, films,exhibits and projects, and of course in this thesis by Emma Jacobs (Columbia University, 2009). But the subject badly needs an actual book, narrated by someone who has been there, lived there, felt it.

Oh..hmm. A work of fiction might work even better, one that captured the flavor of the Amalgamated Houses (short for Amalgamated Clothing Workers' Union Houses). 
They came into existence in 1927, enabled by the New York State Housing Act of 1926, but born previously in the mind of Abraham Kazan, not only the "father" of cooperative housing in the USA, but also the initiator and creator of other Coop housing projects in NY. 

There are no book length bios of Abraham Kazan, either.

In a way, this is shameful. In a way, it's kind of nice to see that there are still important biographies to be written.

There is a wonderful project that is entitled "Bronx Utopia" which describes and houses photos of the four progressive Coop projects built in the Bronx in the 1920's, but each merits a volume of its own:  The Amalgamated Houses, the Allerton Ave/Workers' Coops, the Sholom Aleichem/Sholem Aleykhem Houses and the Farband Coop.

This would be the tour I would give...

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