STUY TOWN, East Side

by Kevin Walsh

STUYVESANT Town sits on an almost-square defined by East 14th and East 20th Street, 1st Avenue and Avenue C, with 89 buildings containing 8,757 apartments. By auto it’s accessed by a series of ovals located on its four border streets, and pedestrians can easily access its four “quadrants” via the center oval. A second residential complex, Peter Cooper Village, sits north of East 20th Street.

I have a personal connection to Stuyvesant Town — my father worked here as a custodian for 30 years, between 1958 and 1988; he only retired when he turned 70. This was an era in which unionized jobs with ample benefits were … somewhat more attainable than now. He would work the usual Monday through Friday, but occasionally he would work the weekend and take Wednesday and Thursday off, on which days he would see me off to school. It was a long way with two trains from Bay Ridge to Stuyvesant Town, so he would leave the house at around 7 AM or even before that, before I got up, usually arriving home around 7 PM. During snowstorms he would need to go in at off hours to shovel snow.

What’s surprising is that I never visited Stuy-Town when he was working there (I do recall heading over there an evening or two by car when one of my father’s friends drove us there). The old man never helped put me on the famed list of people waiting for apartments to open up, but as he’d probably say now if he was still around, “You didn’t ask me!”

On this page you also see an example of 14th Street “bigloop” lamps, which are found only on 14th Street and the Williamsburg Bridge.

More from 14th Street on this FNY page.

Stuyvesant Town is also known (well, to me) for the last surviving stronghold of Type G poles, which closely resemble Type 24M Corvingtons but have bases resembling Type Fs or Type A, B and E park poles. They have sported a number of different lamp fixtures over the years.

As always, “comment…as you see fit.” I earn a small payment when you click on any ad on the site.



chris February 1, 2023 - 12:56 am

My grandmother lived there twice,in the early ’50s and again in the 70s.She said
she would never have gotten in there a second time if it hadnt been for her previous
tenancy.I loved the way the hallways smelled there.The old Officer Housing in Clinton
Hill is built the same way as Stuy Town,

Joann F February 1, 2023 - 6:53 am

I know Stuyvesant Town was originally middle income City housing, while the lower income housing was down on Ave D.
Now it’s condos or coops, forget which. City wanted to do that with the low income housing along the river, but instead they are letting it go to heck. Probably expect to tear it down in the not too distant future since they are likely beyond saving.

Cindy February 16, 2023 - 4:38 pm

Stuytown is not condos or coops, it is still all rental.

Cindy February 16, 2023 - 4:46 pm

Also, stuytown is not, nor ever was, owned by the City so they would not be able to tear it down. It is currently owned by Blackstone. Nor is it going to “heck”. My daughter lives there and it is decent housing, big apartments by Manhattan standards and the grounds are beautifully landscaped. I agree with another poster that the buildings are ugly project-like from the outside, but looks can be deceiving…

John Brandt February 1, 2023 - 10:57 am

I am pretty sure these apartment developments were built with money from Metropolitan Life Insurance Co after WWII for returning GIs. Met also built the Clinton Hill Apartments in Brooklyn around the same time. We grew up in CHA and they looked very similar.

redstaterefugee February 1, 2023 - 11:46 am

The Metropolitan Life Insurance Company built three nearly identical apartment complexes: Stuyvesant Town & Peter Cooper Village in Manhattan & Parkchester in the Bronx. My maternal grandparents were original Parkchester tenants; Regarding “the famed list”: it worked for my parents, my maternal aunt & uncle, & my paternal grandparents, too. Eventually, my maternal grandparents relocated to Florida along with my maternal aunt & uncle. Upon reflection, the Florida relocations were a harbinger of things to come. As for me, I relocated to Flushing after my Queens College graduation; I never considered living in Parkchester due to its lack of air conditioning. I retired to Arizona in 2005; in 2009 my wife & I went to see the film “Doubt” which is set in the Bronx circa 1960. Finally, there was a scene in which the parochial school’s principal has an off-campus meeting with the mother of one of the students. It takes place outdoors. As the scene started it gave me a sense of deja vu. Suddenly I realized that the scene takes place on a private access road that runs parallel to Unionport Road in Parkchester. I mentioned it, perhaps a bit louder than I should have, but the Queen Creek audience was too polite to remind me. I realized that Parkchester had become a state of mind for me & it felt good.

Kevin Walsh February 2, 2023 - 12:01 am

I imagine Parkchester is AC by now. BTW I lived my first 23 years in a non-air conditioned apartment, but that was when you’d get regular cool fronts in the summer. Now, summer is swampass start to finish, June to September.

redstaterefugee February 2, 2023 - 12:18 pm

After the condominium conversion began in 1972 Parkchester finally became air-conditioned. Prior to that management would send tenants a letter explaining that if they wanted A/C it would mean a costly wiring upgrade which would cause a rent increase & so it was time for tenants to vote on it. Most tenants were cheap SOBs (my parents & grandparents included) so we did without A/C until the condo era began. Ironically in 1977, my parents wanted to leave the Bronx. I invited them to apartment shop near where I lived in Flushing; they were “shocked” by the amount of the rental charges. Finally, a business associate of mine told me about the Hilltop
Village Co-op in Holliswood & its very low purchase price & low maintenance charges. They came, they saw, they bought & a year later so did I. That’s how I became a “homeowner” at the age of twenty eight ( & I was finally able to itemize my tax deductions). Middle class at last!

Andy February 2, 2023 - 10:01 am

Met Life also built and operated a fourth large apartment complex, Riverton, in Harlem. It has 1,232 apartments and a grassy courtyard, located between 135th and 138th Streets between Fifth Avenue and the Harlem River. Riverton was built in the late 1940; Met Life sold it to a new owner in 2005.
Info is from The New York Times, June 9, 2011.

Sunnysider February 2, 2023 - 10:44 am

Most kids ask for a bicycle or baseball glove from their Dad. Not many children have the presence of mind or foresight to ask to be put on a waiting list for an apartment. Perhaps kids are different today.

Still Kicking February 2, 2023 - 4:26 pm

Stuyvesant Town was originally built by Metropolitan Life Insurance, along with its neighbor Peter Cooper Village andParkchester in the Bronx. They were all built in the late 1940s after WWII to help fill the housing need that occurred as WW II veterans married and had families. As I recall, Met Life sold all three properties in the late 1990s or early 2000s; Parkchester was first to go, Sty Town and Peter Cooper followed. I lived in Sty Town in the late 1980s, it was clean, safe and well maintained. One often forgot that they were in Manhattan while living and walking around Sty Town.

Tal Barzilai February 5, 2023 - 11:39 am

For some reason I always believed that Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village has the only service road in Manhattan unless there are some others that I don’t know about, because these are in a lot of other places in the other boroughs to my knowledge.

Andy February 5, 2023 - 6:45 pm

A final piece of information about Stuy Town and its sibling Peter Cooper Village, if I may. For about a century prior to their construction (1945-50), that location was called the Gas House District, so named for the omnipresent coal gas tanks that dotted the area. Con Edison’s predecessor companies produced gas for lighting and cooking by heating coal to high temperatures and capturing the resultant gas in large tanks for delivery to residential customers. Coal was delivered by barges on the East River. The surrounding neighborhood became a run-down slum because of noxious odors and smoke in the air.

Natural gas piped into New York replaced the need to produce coal gas locally. Right after World War II, Met Life purchased the areas east of First Avenue between 14th and 23rd Streets and constructed both developments under a NY State law permitting private companies to engage in large scale slum clearance projects, with a resultant tax abatement.

Information is from The Encyclopedia of New York City, Second Edition. I was one of the Associate Editors and a contributor, including the article about the old Gas House District.

redstaterefugee February 9, 2023 - 11:21 am

However, this law couldn’t have been applicable in the case of Parkchester because it was built on a large tract of vacant land that was purchased from the NY Archdiocese. The site was considered a church protectorate located in St. Raymond’s parish prior to the sale. Around 1961, Con Edison had a local headquarters building with a huge parking lot for its repair equipment. Apparently, they had outgrown it & it was sold to St. Raymond’s. The church already operated a parochial elementary school staffed by nuns from the St Raymond’s convent located just outside Parkchester. The former Con Edison site became St. Raymond’s HS & the parking facility became the school’s track & field area. The whole complex was located on, you guessed it, St. Raymond’s Avenue.

MG February 9, 2023 - 11:08 am

Back in the 70s I had a friend that lived in Stuyvesant Town. I thought the complex looked like low income housing projects – and we actively called this place the projects. The apartment interiors are large, however.

I never wanted to live in Stuyvesant Town and can’t imagine why anyone would – bleak, ominous, conformity makes me sick. have a nice day 😉

Dave Steckler February 13, 2023 - 10:58 am

We lived there when your Dad worked there. At the time my father was a resident at Beth Israel hospital and Sty Town was close enough for him to walk to the hospital. One of the neighbors in our building was actor
James Gregory, who among other roles played Deputy Inspector Frank Luger on Barney Miller.


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