Hillside Homes in the Bronx

Frank da Cruz
April 28, 2018
▼ See images below
Hillside Homes (also known as Hillside Houses and Hillside Gardens, but now called Eastchester Heights) was one of the first subsidised middle-income housing projects in the country. New York City market-rate rents have long been too high for many, if not most, people to afford them. The Great Depression only made the situation worse, and it has never improved. That's why we have rent control, rent stablization, public housing, and Mitchell-Lama. If capitalism worked as advertised, the "magic of the market" would ensure that everybody who worked had a decent place to live.

The early years of the New Deal saw diverse efforts to alleviate the housing situation, such as the First Houses in Manhattan, the nation's first public housing project for low-income families, to be followed by many others; this was, in fact, the birth of NYCHA. For those considered middle class, there were planned suburban private-home communities such as Aberdeen Gardens in Virginia and Greenbelt in Maryland. And in urban New York City there were also public-private partnerships in the form of limited-dividend projects in which builders received low-interest loans from the Federal Public Works Administration and reduced NY and federal tax rates in return for observing the government's rent schedule and limiting dividends payed to investors.

Hillside Homes was the second of these projects (the first was Knickerbocker Village in Manhattan's Lower East Side). Boulevard Gardens in Woodside, Queens, was another of these PWA projects, that were the forerunners of today's Co-Op City and Tracey Towers in the Bronx, Morningside Gardens and Confucius Plaza in Manhattan, and many more subsidized middle-income housing complexes in New York City. Hillside Homes is in the Williamsbridge section* of the Northeast Bronx, built in 1934-1935 with PWA financing on a site that had been a farm, and after that a golf driving range**. Designed from a plan by urban planner and architect Clarence Stein (best known for Sunnyside Gardens in Queens, one of the USA's first planned communities), Hillside Homes was the PWA's first loan project. The Hillside complex was initially owned by the Hillside Housing Corporation with with rents controlled by the Federal Housing Authority and the State Housing Board. Over the years it changed hands many times and eventually transitioned to Mitchell-Lama after its creation in 1955. In 1997 it changed hands again and was renamed Eastchester Heights. Click the first picture below to see more history and the list of sources.

All photos in this gallery by me except where indicated otherwise.

* Or Baychester, depending on which map you look at.
** See this page for references.
  (Click on any photo to enter)
hillside06 hillsideopening hillsideaerial1935 hillsideaerial2018 hillsidemap hillside01 hillside02 hillside03 hillside04 hillside05 hillside07 hillside08 hillside09 hillside10 hillside11 hillside12 hillside13 hillside14 hillside15 hillside16 hillside17 hillside18 hillside19 hillside20

Created by Photogallery 2.29 April 30, 2018