“Affordable Housing In New York” is a richly illustrated narrative of below-market-rate housing from the 1920s through the present-day, a colorful portrait of those who have helped to make New York City affordable, home-shaping legislation and programs that have helped to make New York City a truly livable city. The author, William S. Doyle, Jr. has done an excellent job of detailing not only the legislation and programs that brought about affordable housing but also the various neighborhoods and individual stories that made each area unique. For example, you will read about the developments that helped to make Chinatown so popular, or you might learn about the South Bronx’s forgotten past, or how the West Village was designed around the creative minds that created the popular loft spaces that are still in place. All in all, this book provides a thorough yet fascinating look at what has made New York City one of the most diverse cities in the world.
Unfortunately, the book does suffer from a lack of focus when it comes to discussing some of the neighborhoods in New York that have been hit the hardest. There is a very short discussion of East Village and the near-total disappearance of its affordable housing. This is in part due to the fact that the neighborhood was in the midst of rapid gentrification, which has reduced the number of affordable units in use. Without proper documentation, it is difficult to tell exactly how many affordable units were lost.
Beyond this, however, the book is an exciting peek into New York’s ever-changing and often surprising history. New York has been home to many important historical figures, and this book provides a fascinating look at those who shaped our modern culture, right from the buildings that they built to the laws that allowed many of them to flourish. The story told here is one of inspiration and ingenuity, as well as the hard choices that were made over time to build a city that works for all kinds of people today. This is definitely one book to read and one that is not necessary just to satisfy one’s curiosity. It is an engaging read full of information that is interesting, thought-provoking, and even educational.