Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Not Necessarily This Day In Knickerbocker Village History, 10/3/1934

In the heart of the East Side a pack of old-law tenements leaned crazily on each other through the faded years to form what ultimately came to be known as the lung block. AL SMITH, who knows his East Side classics, re- marked yesterday that it was originally "Long Block." Any dialectician in the neighborhood could explain easily enough how '' long ?' turned to " lung!' But the new name stuck, and no one can say it was not apt. For Lung Block, with its sunless rooms and dark alleys and gratings underfoot to "ventilate the sewers," was the abode of filth and the foster-mother of disease. As long ago as 1903 the late ROBERT W. DE FORREST remarked that " every consideration of public health, morals and " decency 'I required that the buildings on the block be destroyed at an early date." Very likely thirty-one years is a mere watchman's round in the history of the city, but it is a long time in the life of the families on Cherry Street. Now it's gone, leaving behind only an unsavory memory. In its place is a tolerably spacious group of modern multiple dwellings erected by the energy of FRED F. FRENCH with the aid of Congress, JESSE JONES, DARWIN JAMES, ROBERT MOSES et AL. Most of them were on hand yesterday to cele-brate the opening of such of the new structures as are now completed. These form an impressive unit between the old bridges, just around the corner from Oliver Street. The setting is not of the best, since the East Side all about is still overgrown and over- crowded and underparked, and the dwellings themselves had to be pushed up to twelve stories to keep rents down to twelve dollars. But the courts are broad and sunny and the rooms reason-ably high, wide and airy, and the whole development is a vast improve ment over the squalid slums which it displaced. Already the available apart-ments are 98 per cent rented, a happy augury for the future success of this fine venture in slum clearance, and an indication that the ** Walk to Work " slogan is not without its appeal.

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