NYC’s Most Notorious Housing Projects…

unkut

A while back my peoples over at UnKut.com asked me to lend a hand in a piece they were creating for the best Hip-Hop magazine on the planet, the U.K.’s Hip-Hop Connections.

The piece was to focus on the most notorious New York City housing projects. I’m glad that UnKut came to me for the assist. If I am nothing else I want to be a repository for NYC’s history, both good and bad, but mostly actual and factual.

The Unkut Guide To Hip-Hop’s Most Notorious Projects – Part 1

The Unkut Guide To Hip-Hop’s Most Notorious Projects – Part 2

“The housing projects plan isn’t flawed until you fill it with poor people. When these building were filled with working class folks it seemed like there might be a better life for people.

Generations stayed up in those buildings too. Remove the manufacturing and shipping industry from NYC and add the rampant access of drugs like alcohol, heroin and then crack and the housing projects devolve into what we have now.

The government smartened up with regards to warehousing the poor and disenfranchised. In the early 1900’s they gave away tracts of land to the Native Americans for them to drink themselves to death. The housing project is the same idea except the acres are stacked on top of one another instead of being spread out.

This aids in the control and regulation of these populations as well. Police can black off a few traffic arteries if the native get restless now.

Housing projects are just reservations in the sky.”

20 Responses to “NYC’s Most Notorious Housing Projects…”

  1. Grand Master Says:

    just read it off nahright… this shit is incredible… thanks for taking us there (without having to, you know, take us there).

  2. 40 Says:

    Good drop… Great read…

    But seriously though PU~ for leaving off 40P’s & Baisley…

  3. Smear Says:

    I saw ya name on the article when i copped that issue a couple months back D…. Good shit. I even wrote HHC at the time sayin they should keep you on the roster permanently as their NYC consultant…if they haven’t already…and I haven’t written to a mag since MAD when i was about 7! Glad to see y’all fixedup thaat lil bit of trivia about $MM pistol pete that the rag printed wrong. Cheers.

  4. the_dallas Says:

    ^ In a top 10 NYC housing projects comparison for crime and overall hardbody status 40 projects and Baisley do not make the cut.

    It’s like putting Tupac in the top 10 rapper list because he makes people all emo and shit. 40 projects and Baisley makes people emo because they stan off some shit Fisty Scent said.

    Queensbridge projects >>>>> Baisley and 40 for rap music alumni
    Edgemere projects >>>>> overall hardbody status. Word to Stack Bundles

  5. Smear Says:

    LOL. Keep runnin into that question eh?

  6. the_dallas Says:

    ^ Yeah but this shit ain’t no popularity contest. People die in these projects. Old people freeze to death and lil’ shorties fall down elevator shafts all the time. Rap music doesn’t talk about that. Well, maybe NaS does, but he’s the only one.

  7. Smear Says:

    Nice one D, stick to ya guns and fuck the bullshit romanticism.

  8. big rils Says:

    Reservations in the sky for sure, but i’d have to disagree with this statement:

    “The housing projects plan isn’t flawed until you fill it with poor people”

    The plans are flawed in that they don’t generate conditions for safety and vitality with their design – word to Jane Jacobs.

  9. Amadeo Says:

    I’d contend that that design when considering who lives there makes it the worst…especially since I’ve noticed that out west where they don’t have as many people period stacked up and squeezed in…shit tends to be more laid back. Out there I could look across the city…from here to NY all I see is buildings shooting up and the folks are restless.

  10. the_dallas Says:

    “The plans are flawed in that they don’t generate conditions for safety and vitality with their design”

    ^ Huh?!?

    What are you talking about? Dude, the housing project would be safe if it weren’t filled with poor people and the things that poor people have to live under.

    Central courtyards and walkways arranged to give residents a view of their surroundings and their neighbor. Centralized building cores for access and communication (an architectural term for egress).

    The projects would be safe as shit if poor people weren’t pressured by criminals and cops into complicit silence and defenselessness (my bad if that isn’t a word). The communal design of housing projects were kids can move throughout the campus without crossing a traffic artery is fantastic in its design.

    Big Rils you need a LOT more people after what you just commented. Where you at?

  11. big rils Says:

    I’m not trying to say that the pressures of criminals, cops, and overcrowding don’t create a negative atmosphere in the projects, but the designs themselves also contribute. The courtyards and walkways create dead space when the people have no reason to use them. The have views of their surroundings and neighbors, but the design does not encourage interaction with those things.

    why is it that parks are often the most dangerous part of a neighborhood? Whenever a design creates a dead space, criminals are the first ones to step into that vacuum.

  12. the_dallas Says:

    Big Rils,
    I don’t understand what you are saying. When you have a centralized communication system it DOES encourage interaction. That is the point. When everybody can go into their own hole or home by separate entrances and exits THAT is when you have no interaction.

    I don’t think you are thinking about this as hard as I am. Even though I PU~’d out of architectural school I still understood the fundamentals of communal design and so did the urban planners that created the housing developments which were vast improvements on the tenements that had previously warehoused people in grand residential numbers.

    You are talking about a park in comparison to a housing development? Nahh homey, you can’t go there that don’t have no mathematical correspondence

  13. big rils Says:

    What i’m trying to say is that many projects don’t engage with the street or the areas around them. They are inward looking and create spaces that are underutilized because they don’t encourage a diversity of uses. And when spaces are underutilized – whether it be a park, courtyard, or street corner – they lack the safety that a multitude of users lends to an area.

    Many of these projects were constructed based on Garden City ideals that do not apply to cities or to the densities at which these projects are populated.

    We may be talking about different things, and i’ll concede you know more about planning and architecture than i do, but i the design helps to facilitate some of the worst aspects of projects rather than deter them.

  14. allnice Says:

    Reservations? Nope. More like social Darwinist experiments. Which Negroes can survive and possibly escape? Obviously only a handful. I can count on my hands the number of people who made it out and don’t go back to pay a visit.

    And then when a nigga does make it out of the projects what does he become? A Jay-Z, Nas type mere entertainer. Quite low on the totem pole in terms of knowledge and power. Shit is designed to keep you there or keep you in a certain mind state so even if you do get out it is like you never left.

  15. Gee Says:

    That UC piece was well written and very enlightening. As someone that has never lived in urban projects ( till college, that is) I was taken aback at the overall age of the structures and the lack of interaction that takes place there ( unlike dorm living). Talk about fostering a survival of the fittest mentality…

  16. the_dallas Says:

    Big Rils,
    I am a huge student of high rise development whether it was created by the private sector or by the government. The architects that ushered in this model of living were totally forward thinkers and for the most part they were also full fledged subscribers to optimism.

    Would you believe that these buildings initially had all sorts of uses at the first two stories? Doctor’s offices, day care centers, community rooms and laundromats? These facilities went the way of the dinosaur when these communities were overrun with poverty. Crime made it unsafe for the community to access the doctor’s office or the supermarket.

    Hi-rise development doesn’t suffer from these ills in places where the crime is under control. The elderly are free to move about and the children are safe to play in the playground. In communities were crime is supported by the infrastructure (police, culture) you will see the housing projects become something akin to prison blocs mainly because the residents are fearful and under duress.

    We also have to keep in mind that the creation of large scale public housing ended in the early 60′s. The American culture itself was different then and many people still held on to the notion that achieving middle class status was possible. I don’t think anyone in the projects believes that dream now unles they have a fist full of lottery tickets.

  17. big rils Says:

    I see what you’re saying.

    I guess I just got caught off guard by the line about filling projects with poor people, as if a group’s income level means that they inherently turn projects into negative and crime-filled places, as opposed to the social/cultural forces and income segregation imposed on those poor people. I guess I was just misreading what you wrote a little bit – my bad.

  18. tps12 Says:

    I agree with Big Rils…lots of neighborhoods are full of poor people but have way less crime than high-rise housing projects do.

    The architects involved in designing public housing in the 50′s and 60′s had the best of intentions, but the high-rise-in-the-middle-of-a-park template just turns out to be much, much harder to maintain as a safe community setting.

    You’re right that high-rise developments can be perfectly safe (witness the many public housing towers that have been converted to upscale co-ops), but in general it takes more effort on the part of the community, whereas slums full of mixed-use, lower-rise buildings with less green space are to a greater extent self-maintaining.

    Or so goes Jane Jacobs’ arguments in “The Death and Life.” I find her pretty persuasive.

  19. the_dallas Says:

    I think the problem that both you and Big Rils have with considering the “architecture” of housing projects is your limited experience in design principles.

    It isn’t the height of the building or their aray that fosters crime. It is poor people and the REASONS they are poor people that promotes crime. This will happen in a hi-rise housing projects or a low rise housing project or a slum or a goddamn favela.

    Stop looking at the buildings and study what mind control poor people are placed in first.

    There are examples of the hi-rise development that works in the urban landscape without uber rich people living inside of them and the maintenance is relatively simple and effective.

    Also, where have public housing towers been converted to upscale co-ops? That is a generic and inaccurate statement. I don’t see that occurrence in NYC. They say that shit as an urban fable but no NYC housing project has been converted into an upscale development.

    And slums filled with mixed use lower rise buildings are less prone to crime?

    What? What? What?

    What do you thinks happens in those slums during the hours those uses other than residential are in operation? Those are the neighborhoods that you drive to to pick up prostitutes and copp smack from. That is where I grew up in Corona Queens.

    I’m not sure who understood Jane Jacobs ideas for urban planning but it wasn’t about there being LESS people in the center city. Jacobs thought that density was better than sprawl. She opposed the superhighways that cut through the center city to create the suburban sprawl.

    Even Jacobs lacked the courage though to deal with the failings of the city from the perspective that this was an engineered result. Until we address the reasons for poverty we will have the broken areas of the city. Their built environment can be a hi-rise housing development or a single story favela.

  20. MURKY BEY Says:

    The projects are a form of concentration camps, created by NAZI archetics,just look real closely at the designs(from a top view) and you’ll see the swastika.Pay attention to whats really going on,Allso when you research the names of the archetics you’ll see that most of them were german or of german desent,plus research Sophia Stewart she wrote the movie The Matrix and those crackers stole it from her then brought her out after a long cort battle,the original name of her book was called The Thrid Eye and it was about black people in the Projects, notice in the movie The Matrix Neo all ways goes to the projects to visit the “ORACLE” a black woman,these crackers know “THE ORIGINAL JEWS” stay in the projects!!!And yo check it robbie I think that you’ll really be short changing yourself by waiting to get a six figure deal to write a much more detailed story about each NYC PJ,Do you know how many people the world over are waiting to hear this story,hit up my E-mail and we can do are own publishing!!! REAL TALK

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