Co-op City, Bronx facts for kids
Quick facts for kids
Neighborhood of the Bronx
Co-op City, as seen from the east, sits along the Hutchinson River.
|City||New York City|
|Community District||The Bronx 10|
|• Total||2.42 km2 (0.936 sq mi)|
|• Density||18,048/km2 (46,744/sq mi)|
|Race & Ethnicity|
|• Median Household Income||$51,951|
|Area code(s)||718, 347, 929, and 917|
Co-op City (short for Cooperative City) is a cooperative housing development located in the northeast section of the borough of the Bronx in New York City. It is bounded by Interstate 95 to the southwest, west, and north and the Hutchinson River Parkway to the east and southeast, and is partially in the Baychester and Eastchester neighborhoods. With 43,752 residents as of the 2010 United States Census, it is the largest housing cooperative in the world. It is in New York City Council District 12.
Co-op City was formerly marshland before being occupied by an amusement park called Freedomland U.S.A. from 1960 to 1964. Construction began in 1966 and the first residents moved in two years later, though the project was not completed until 1973. The construction of the community was sponsored by the United Housing Foundation and financed with a mortgage loan from New York State Housing Finance Agency.
Originally a swamp, the site was formerly the home of a 205-acre amusement park named Freedomland that operated from July 1960 to September 1964. Construction on Co-op City began in May 1966. Residents began moving in during December 1968, and construction was completed in 1973. Its 15,372 residential units, in 35 high rise buildings and seven clusters of townhouses, make it the largest single residential development in the United States. It sits on 320 acres (1.3 km2) but only 20% of the land was developed, leaving many green spaces. The apartment buildings, referred to by number, range from 24 floors to as high as 33. There are four types of buildings; Triple Core, Chevron, Tower and Town House. The 236 townhouses, referred to by their street-name cluster, are three stories high and have a separate garden apartment and upper duplex three-bedroom apartment.
Co-op City is divided into five sections. Sections one to four are connected and section five is separated from the main area by the Hutchinson River Parkway. Each street in a section is denoted by a letter of the alphabet. All streets in section one begin with the letter "D", section two begins with the letter "C", section three with the letter "A", section four with the letter "B" and section five with the letter "E". Most streets in the community are named after notable historical personalities such as Earhart Lane for Amelia Earhart, Einstein Loop for Albert Einstein, Casals Place for Pablo Casals and Dreiser Loop for Theodore Dreiser.
This "city within a city" also has eight parking garages, three shopping centers, a 25-acre (100,000 m2) educational park, including a high school, two middle schools and three grade schools (the high school, Harry S. Truman High School, is unusual for having a planetarium on the premises), power plant, a 4-story air conditioning generator and a firehouse. More than 40 offices within the development are rented by doctors, lawyers, and other professionals and there are at least 15 houses of worship. Spread throughout the community are six nursery schools and day care centers, four basketball courts and five baseball diamonds. The adjacent Bay Plaza Shopping Center has a 13-screen multiplex movie theater, department stores, and a supermarket.
The development was built on landfill; the original marshland still surrounds it. The building foundations extend down to bedrock through 50,000 pilings, but the land surrounding Co-op's structures settles and sinks a fraction of an inch each year, creating cracks in sidewalks and entrances to buildings.
Co-op City is on the site of Freedomland, a former amusement park which closed in 1964. Prior to housing that theme park, the land north of the Hutchinson River Parkway was a large area known by residents as "the dump". By the '50s, most of the land on the north side of the Hutchinson River was flat land used for recreation; for example, model airplane flying meets were held there. It was possible to drive up to the Hutchinson River and walk along several paths through the reeds and swim in the Hutchinson River. The land to the south of the Hutchinson River (Section 5 of Co-op City) was unspoiled swamp land from the '50s up through the time Co-op City was constructed. A tidal estuary reached from the Hutchinson River at the New Haven Railroad along a route just north of Hunter and Boller Avenue to pass under the Hutchinson River parkway. The estuary was the site of boat yards and canoe rental sites during the 1950s. A well known restaurant at that site was Gus's Barge, operated by Gus and Francis Erickson. Gus's Barge was a restaurant and a night club featuring jazz combos and other forms of live music. The Ericksons also operated a boat yard that not only rented slips but specialized in refurbishing wooden boats, primarily motor boats made from teak and mahogany. The Ericksons sold their property in 1961–62.
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. It was designed by cooperative architect Herman J. Jessor. The name of the complex's corporation itself was later changed to RiverBay at Co-op City.
The construction of the community was financed with a mortgage loan from New York State's Housing Finance Agency (HFA). The complex defaulted on the loan in 1975 and has had ongoing agreements to pay back HFA, until 2004 when it was financially unable to continue payments due to the huge costs of emergency repairs. New York Community Bank helped RiverBay satisfy its $57 million mortgage obligation, except for $95 million in arrears, by refinancing the loan later that same year. This led to the agreement that Co-op City would remain in the Mitchell-Lama Housing Program for at least seven more years as a concession on the arrears and that any rehabilitation that Co-op City took on to improve the original poor construction (which happened under the State's watch) would earn credit toward eliminating the debt. By 2008, RiverBay had submitted enough proof of construction repairs to pay off the balance of arrears to New York State.
Mismanagement, shoddy construction and corruption led to the community defaulting on its loan in 1975. The original Kazan board resigned and the state took over control. Cooperators were faced with a 25 percent increase in their monthly maintenance fees. Instead, a rent-strike was organized. New York State threatened to foreclose on the property, and evict the tenants — which would mean the loss of their equity. But Cooperators stayed united and held out for 13 months (the longest and largest rent-strike in United States history) before a compromise was finally reached, with mediation from then Bronx Borough President, Robert Abrams, and then Secretary of State, Mario Cuomo. Cooperators would remit $20 million in back pay, but they would get to take over management of the complex and set their own fees.
The shares of stock that prospective purchasers bought to enable them to occupy Co-op City apartments became the subject of protracted litigation culminating in a United States Supreme Court decision United Housing Foundation, Inc. v. Forman, 421 U.S. 837 (1975).
Within the first decade of the 2000s, the aging development began undergoing a complex-wide $240 million renovation, replacing piping and garbage compactors, rehabilitating garages and roofs, upgrading the power plant, making facade and terrace repairs, switching to energy-efficient lighting and water-conserving technologies, replacing all 130,000 windows and 4,000 terrace doors (costing $57.9 million in material and labor) and all 179 elevators. The word "renaissance" is being used to describe this period in Co-op City history. Many of these efforts are also helping in the "greening" of the complex: the power-plant will be less polluting, the buildings will be more efficient and recycling efforts will become more extensive. The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) awarded its largest ever grant—$5.2 million—to the community under its NY Energy $mart Assisted Multifamily Program.
In 2003, after a partial collapse in one garage, inspectors found 5 of the 8 garages to be unsafe and ordered them closed for extensive repairs. The other 3 garages were able to remain partially open during repairs. To deal with the parking crisis, New York City allowed angled parking in the community, the large greenways in the complex were paved over to make outdoor parking lots and agreements were made with nearby shopping centers to use their extra parking spaces. January 2008 was the first time in over 41⁄2 years that all the garages were back open. The greenways are in the process of being restored.
Financial responsibility for these upgrades was the subject of 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 countered that RiverBay was responsible for the costs because of its lack of maintenance over the years. In the end, a compromise had the state supplying money and RiverBay refinancing the mortgage, borrowing $480 million from New York Community Bank in 2004, to cover the rest of the capital costs.
In 2007, the power plant was in the process of upgrading from solely managing the electricity brought in from Con Edison to a 40-megawatt tri-generation facility with the ability to use oil, gas or steam (depending on market conditions) to power turbines to produce its own energy. The final cost of this energy independence could be as much as $90 million, but it is hoped to pay for itself with the savings earned—with conservative estimates at $18 million annually—within several years. Also, whatever excess power generated after satisfying the community's needs will be sold back to the electrical grid, adding another source of income for RiverBay.
In September 2007, a report by the New York Inspector General, Kristine Hamann, charged that the Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR), which is responsible for overseeing Mitchel-Lama developments, was negligent in its duties to supervise the contracting, financial reporting, budgeting and the enforcement of regulations in Co-op City (and other M-L participants) during the period of January 2003 to October 2006. The report also chided Marion Scott management for trying to influence the RiverBay Board by financing election candidates and providing jobs and sports tickets to Board members and their family/friends—all violations of DHCR and/or RiverBay regulations. The DHCR was instructed to overhaul its system of oversight to better protect the residents and taxpayer money.
In October 2007, a former board president, Iris Herskowitz Baez, and a former painting contractor, Nickhoulas Vitale, pleaded guilty to involvement in a kickback scheme. While on the RiverBay Board, Baez steered $3.5 million in subsidized painting contracts for needed work in Co-op City apartments, to Vitale's company, Stadium Interior Painting, in exchange for $100,000 in taxpayer money. Ms. Herskowitz Baez was sentenced to 6 months in jail, 12 months probation and given a $10,000 fine in March 2008.
Based on data from the 2010 United States Census, the population of Co-Op City was 43,752, an increase of 3,076 (7.6%) from the 40,676 counted in 2000. Covering an area of 857.55 acres (347.04 ha), the neighborhood had a population density of 51.0 inhabitants per acre (32,600/sq mi; 12,600/km2). The racial makeup of the neighborhood was 8.5% (3,723) White, 60.5% (26,452) African American, 0.2% (108) Native American, 1.2% (522) Asian, 0.0% (7) Pacific Islander, 0.3% (125) from other races, and 1.6% (681) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 27.7% (12,134) of the population.
The entirety of Community District 10, which comprises City Island, Co-op City, Country Club, Pelham Bay, Schuylerville, Throgs Neck and Westchester Square, had 121,868 inhabitants as of NYC Health's 2018 Community Health Profile, with an average life expectancy of 81.1 years. This is about the same as the median life expectancy of 81.2 for all New York City neighborhoods. Most inhabitants are youth and middle-aged adults: 20% are between the ages of between 0–17, 26% between 25–44, and 27% between 45–64. The ratio of college-aged and elderly residents was lower, at 9% and 18% respectively.
As of 2017, the median household income in Community District 10 was $59,522. In 2018, an estimated 14% of Community District 10 residents lived in poverty, compared to 25% in all of the Bronx and 20% in all of New York City. One in eleven residents (9%) were unemployed, compared to 13% in the Bronx and 9% in New York City. Rent burden, or the percentage of residents who have difficulty paying their rent, is 45% in Community District 10, compared to the boroughwide and citywide rates of 58% and 51% respectively. Based on this calculation, as of 2018[update], Community District 10 is considered high-income relative to the rest of the city and not gentrifying.
Because of its large senior citizen block—well over 8,300 residents above the age of sixty as of 2007—it is considered the largest naturally occurring retirement community (NORC) in the nation and its Senior Services Program has extensive outreach to help its aging residents, most of whom moved in as workers and remained after retiring.
Co-op City was home to a large Jewish community during its early years, as well as Italian Americans and Irish Americans; many of them had relocated from other areas of the Bronx, such as the Grand Concourse. With African Americans making up a large minority, the community became known for its ethnic diversity. As early tenants grew older and moved away, the newer residents reflected the current population of the Bronx, with African American and Hispanic residents comprising the majority of residents by 1987. In the 1990s, after the fall of the Soviet Union, the neighborhood received an influx of former Eastern Bloc émigrés, especially from Russia and Albania.
Co-op City is served by New York City Bus routes Bx5, Bx12, Bx12 SBS, Bx26, Bx28, Bx29, Bx30, Bx38, and MTA Bus routes Bx23, Q50, BxM7. These local city buses, with the exception of the BxM7, which is an express bus to Manhattan, connect Co-op City with subway services. Currently, there are no subway or Metro-North commuter rail stations in Co-op City (a plan to extend the IRT Pelham Line to Co-op City as part of the 1968 Program for Action ran out of money). However, as part of the Penn Station Access project to extend Metro-North service to Pennsylvania Station, the MTA plans to build a station at Co-op City, an idea that has been proposed since the 1970s.
In 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 changed the lyric "Alphabet City" to "Co-op City".
- Robert Klein sings that the Bronx is beautiful and specifically mentions Co-op City in "The Traveling Song".
- The hip-hop song "Sometimes I Rhyme Slow" by Nice & Smooth, released 1991 on the album Ain't a Damn Thing Changed, contains the lyric "I go to Bay Plaza and catch a flick". Bay Plaza is a large shopping mall adjacent to Co-op City, with a 13-screen movie theater owned and operated by AMC Theatres.
- In the Dark Tower novels by Stephen King, the character Eddie Dean is portrayed as being from Co-op City. In Dean's first appearance, in 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. Central to the series is the concept of alternate realities, so in some such realities Co-op City may have been in Brooklyn. King rectifies the discrepancy in the final novels of the series..
- The novel Bloodbrothers by Richard Price takes place in Co-op City at a fictional address. Price's novel Freedomland takes its title from the amusement park that previously occupied the site.
- The opening titles of the film Finding Forrester shows scenes in and around Co-op City.
- The end of the film The Seven-Ups depicts areas just outside Co-op City's Section Five.
- An episode of Queer Eye For The Straight Guy was briefly filmed in Co-op City. The segment featured notable signage found in the community.
- Co-op City was featured in the second season episode "Home Wrecked Home" of Life After People: The Series.
- A fictional representation of Co-op City named "Northern Gardens" is included in Grand Theft Auto IV's "Bohan", based on the Bronx.
Community District 10 generally has a lower rate of college-educated residents than the rest of the city as of 2018[update]. While 34% of residents age 25 and older have a college education or higher, 16% have less than a high school education and 50% are high school graduates or have some college education. By contrast, 26% of Bronx residents and 43% of city residents have a college education or higher. The percentage of Community District 10 students excelling in math rose from 29% in 2000 to 47% in 2011, and reading achievement increased from 33% to 35% during the same time period.
Community District 10's rate of elementary school student absenteeism is slightly higher than the rest of New York City. In Community District 10, 21% of elementary school students missed twenty or more days per school year, a little more than the citywide average of 20%. Additionally, 75% of high school students in Community District 10 graduate on time, the same as the citywide average of 75%.
The New York City Department of Education operates the following public schools in Co-op City:
- PS 153 Helen Keller (grades PK–5)
- PS 160 Walt Disney (grades PK–5)
- PS 176 (grades PK–10)
- PS 178 Dr Selman Waksman (grades K–5)
- MS 180 Dr Daniel Hale Williams (grades 6–8)
- IS 181 Pablo Casals (grades 6–8)
- Harry S Truman High School (grades 9–12)
- Bronx Health Sciences High School (grades 9–12)
The New York Public Library (NYPL)'s Baychester branch is located at 2049 Asch Loop North. The one-story branch building opened in 1973 and was renovated in 2003.
- Brian Ash (born 1974), screenwriter/producer (resided in Co-op City from 1974 to 1993)
- Jamaal Bailey, politician
- Earl Battey (1935-2003), former baseball player with the Chicago White Sox and Washington Senators (later renamed the Minnesota Twins).
- Big Tigger (born 1972), radio and television personality
- Kurtis Blow (born 1959), old school hip hop pioneer (resided in the Broun Place Townhouses during the mid-1980s)
- Chris Canty (born 1982), professional football player for the New York Giants
- Eddie Carmel (1936–1972), entertainer, known as “The Jewish Giant”, his claimed height of 9 feet made him an instant celebrity with traveling circuses. At the time of his death in 1972, he resided with his parents at 100 Elgar Place.
- Christopher Scott Cherot (born 1967), screenwriter/director (resided in Co-op City from 1970 to 1981)
- Cormega (born 1970), rapper
- Eliot Engel (born 1947), United States Congressman who represented New York's 17th congressional district.
- Frank Andre Guridy (born 1971), historian, author, and Professor of History at Columbia University
- Stan Jefferson (born 1962), professional baseball outfielder from 1983 to 1991.
- Queen Latifah (born 1970), actress and rapper (resided in Co-op City from 1980 to 1984)
- Miles Marshall Lewis (born 1970), African-American author (resided in Co-op City from 1974 to 1996)
- Tamika Mallory (born 1980), activist
- Melina Matsoukas (born 1981), music video, film, commercial, and television director
- Mwalim (born 1968), performing artist, writer, and professor of English at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth
- Sean Nelson (born 1980), actor
- Jourdana Phillips (born 1990), model
- Richard Price (born 1949), novelist and screenwriter.
- Christopher Rose (born 1957), professor of engineering and associate dean of faculty at Brown University
- Tricia Rose (born 1962), academic, scholar of hip hop; Chancellor's Professor of Africana Studies, Brown University
- Larry Seabrook (born 1951), former New York City Councilman
- Sonia Sotomayor (born 1954), Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court
- Rod Strickland (born 1966), former NBA basketball player
- Ron Suno (born 2000), rapper
- Kenneth P. Thompson (1966-2016), former District Attorney for Kings County
Images for kids
Plaque commemorating former Freedomland U.S.A. theme park
Co-op City, Bronx Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.