An excerpt of my recent review of Samuel Zipp’s Manhattan Projects: The Rise and Fall of Urban Renewal in Cold War New York
Those familiar with Zipp’s work will recognize him as an expert on Stuyvesant Town. Writing in the New York Times in 2006 on the occasion of Stuyvesant Town’s upcoming sale Zipp declared: “Having begun its life as the state-of-the-art method for supplanting working-class neighborhoods with middle-class apartment towers and white-collar institutions, Stuyvesant Town will end up as a victim of a newer, less abrupt and violent version of the very forces of urban change it helped unleash more than 50 years ago.” In Manhattan Projects Zipp expands on this thesis to show how Met Life’s “suburb in the city” was never intended as a rent-controlled utopia, but rather that it was a unique marriage of corporate and government interests. It was not altruism that inspired Met Life to create Stuyvesant Town, but rather the firm’s belief that it could shore up its bottom line by creating a space where “white, middle class family life” could flourish within the city. Zipp contends that Met Life succeeded in bringing its “suburb in the city to life” because its vision for its personal Manhattan cul-de-sac was in line with the city’s own desires to become a white-collar hamlet.