Tony the Tour Guy's Blog

A not very regular series of posts on New York City history, historic preservation, genealogy and related themes.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

The Bronx's Answer to Sunnyside Gardens: Hillside Homes

Most people don't think of the Bronx when it comes to historic preservation.  But one block off of Boston Road in Williamsbridge lies Hillside Homes, a model housing complex that has made a remarkable comeback following years of decline. 

Around New York, architect Clarence Stein is best known for the Sunnyside Gardens and the Phipps Houses developments in Queens. A leader in the movement to create low-density, quality housing for people of modest means, Stein specialized in developing communities with plenty of open space. Like the Phipps Houses, Hillside featured mostly four-storey buildings, great brickwork, landscaped gardens and many walkways. Stein also added a community center, playgrounds and sunken interior courts.  

Like many areas, Hillside Homes was hard hit by economic hardship and the drug epidemic. But new management and some tough-minded residents have really turned this community around, and nowadays Hillside is a huge success.  When I visited there with some friends a while back I found the entire six-block area to be clean, well-maintained and cheerful. Kids played and older people relaxed outside. The residents we met were proud of their homes, which were graffiti-free. Compared to the projects, it was a virtual paradise. 

Hillside Homes is located one block west of Boston Road at Eastchester Road. It's a little bit out-of-the-way, but if you're interested in local history or historic preservation, it's worth the trip. 

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