Message from Jim Wunsch, walk leader:
Many thanks to Lynne Elizabeth and Cal Lobel along with Winifred Armstrong for making this event a success. And thanks to our worldly mob (well over forty) schleppers (isn't this Upper West Side perambulation?) from Tokyo, Edinburgh and other foreign parts of Jersey and the Island. A lively crew indeed.
In putting this walk together, we sought to contrast fifties Robert Moses slum clearance urban renewal at Park West Village to Upper West Side Urban Renewal Program of the sixties and early seventies from 87th to 97th from CPW to Amsterdam which allowed for financing to preserve the nice brownstones (many serving as Single Room Occupancy dwellings) on the side street. Both these programs called for wiping out of old fashioned 4-5-6 story tenements which had become synonymous with poverty, crime and despair. Hence many of the tenements on Columbus were demolished as was the whole tenement African American neighborhood which was cleared to make way for Park West Village. West 100th between CPW and Manhattan Avenue is perfect for showing the old tenements on the norlth side looking almost like an old-fashioned stage set from West Side Story facing the Park West Village Towers in the Park.
Did the construction of thousand of units of middle income housing save the West Side? We argued about that. If you got kicked out of a perfectly decent apartment on Columbus or elsewhere you sure didn't think so. But lots of others got nice apartments where they still live. In retrospect it appears that the Upper West Side might well have survived and prospered without "slum clearance." Wonderful thing hindsight. Best, Jim James Wunsch