Co-op City, Bronx
Learn more about Co-op City, Bronx
Co-op City is the largest cooperative housing development in the world. It's located in the Baychester section of the Borough of the Bronx in Northeast New York City. Situated at the intersection of Interstate 95 and the Hutchinson River Parkway, the community is part of Bronx Community Board 10.
Co-op City opened in 1969 and was completed in 1971. Its 15,372 residential units, in thirty-five high rise buildings and seven clusters of townhouses, make it the largest single residential development in the United States. Co-op City also has eight parking structures, three shopping centers, an educational park (including a high school, two middle schools and three grade schools) and a firehouse. The adjacent Bay Plaza shopping area has movies, department stores, and a supermarket. The apartment buildings, referred to by number, range from 24 floors to as high as 33.
The project was sponsored and built by the United Housing Foundation, an organization established in 1951 by Abraham Kazan and the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America. Today the corporation that is Co-op City is named Riverbay. As a cooperative development, the tenants run the complex through an elected board. There is no pay for serving on the board.
Co-op City is on the site of Freedomland, a former amusement park. Prior to its use as a theme park and residential apartments, a small municipal airport was established there. When traveling into the city southbound from I-95, it is one of the first sights that a traveler sees and the first vivid example of New York's urban immensity. The shares of stock which prospective purchasers bought to enable them to occupy Co-op City apartments became the subject of protracted litigation culminating in a U.S. Supreme Court decision United Housing Foundation, Inc. v. Forman, 421 U.S. 837 (1975).
The aging complex is undergoing a large-scale renovation, replacing piping, rehabilitating garages, making facade repairs, installing new windows in every apartment and new elevators in every building. Who would pay for these upgrades created a protracted dispute between Riverbay and the State of New York.
Co-op City was developed under New York's Mitchell-Lama Program, which subsidizes affordable housing. Riverbay charged that the state should help with the costs because of severe infrastructure failures stemming from the development's original shoddy construction, which occurred under the supervision of the state. The state responded that Riverbay was responsible for the costs because of their lack of maintenance over the years. In the end, a compromise was made with the state giving money and Riverbay refinancing the mortgage to cover the rest of the capital costs.
 Ethnic make-up
Co-op City was home to a large Jewish community in its early years, many of whom relocated from other areas of the Bronx such as the Grand Concourse. African Americans made up the majority of other tenants, but the community was known for it's ethnic diversity. As early tenants grew older and moved away, the newer residents reflected the population of the Bronx, with African American and Hispanic residents becoming the majority. In the 1990s after the fall of the USSR, the neighborhood received an influx of former Eastern Block emigres, especially from Russia and Albania.
 Popular culture
- On their 1996 album Factory Showroom, the band They Might Be Giants released a cover of a song called New York City (originally by a Canadian band named Cub). In their version, TMBG inexplicably changed the lyric "Alphabet City" to "co-op city". To date, this is the only known mention of Co-op City in a song by a major recording artist.
- An indirect reference to Co-op City is made in the hip-hop song Sometimes I Rhyme Slow by Nice & Smooth. Released in 1991 on the album Ain't a Damn Thing Changed, it contains the lyric "I go to Bay Plaza and catch a flick". Bay Plaza is a large shopping mall adjacent to Co-op City which boasts a 13-screen movie theater.
- In the Dark Tower novels by Stephen King, the character Eddie Dean is portrayed as being from Co-op City, and Co-op City is portrayed as a bit more of a low-income housing project than it really is. In Eddie Dean's first appearance in the series, the second book "The Drawing of the Three", Co-op City is correctly identified as being in the Bronx, while in later novels it is incorrectly portrayed as being in Brooklyn. King rectifies the discrepancy in the final novels of the series in a creative way.
- In the Season 7 episode "Gone" of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, the detectives search for the body of a murdered witness leads them to a river in Co-op City.
- The novel "Blood Brothers" by Richard Price takes place in Co-op City at a fictional address.
- The Richard Price novel Freedomland takes its title from the amusement part that sat on the site before Co-op City was built.
- Seen in the beginning of the movie Finding Forrester
 Noted residents
- Brian Ash - Screenwriter/Producer (Lived in Co-Op City from 1974 to 1993)
- David Berkowitz - The "Son of Sam" Killer (Lived in Co-Op City from 1968 to 1971)
- Stanley Jefferson - Major League Baseball player who played for the San Diego Padres, the New York Mets, and the New York Yankees
- Queen Latifah - Actress/ Rap Artist (Lived in Co-Op City from 1980 to 1984)
- Richard Price - Novelist and screenwriter, nominated for an Oscar for writing the screenplay for The Color of Money
- Christian Regenhard, firefighter who perished in the September 11 Attacks on the World Trade Center
- Sally Regenhard, mother of Christian Regenhard, prominent national activist for families of the victims of the September 11 attacks
- Rod Strickland - Basketball player, who played for several NBA teams including the Portland Trail Blazers and the Washington Wizards
 See also
 External links
- Co-op City Unofficial Website
- Riverbay - The company that manages Co-op City
- Bay Plaza
- "CasalsK's" page
- Co-op City in bloom - photos
- THE CO-OP CITY INFORMATION NETWORK
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