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Columbia University Digital Knowledge Ventures The Architecture and Development of New York City with Andrew S. Dolkart
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Hudson View Gardens
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Keeping Them in the City
Hudson View Gardens
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Developers began thinking of ways to design buildings that would be urban buildings but would have a suburban look to them. They would have the amenities of a suburban home and the convenience of an urban home.

And perhaps the best example of this is a complex called Hudson View Gardens which is, as the name tells you, near the Hudson with Hudson views. It's on 183rd to 185th streets in the Fort Washington neighborhood in northern Manhattan.

A large percentage of the property is landscaped gardens with terraced gardens and sunken gardens and a rose garden. It uses Tudor style—it has half-timbered gables and brick that looks like it's hundreds of years old. It has a private drive just like you would have a private driveway if you lived in the suburbs. It had its own restaurant, it had its own post-office branch, it had a barber shop and a beauty salon, and one of the first apartment houses, if not the first, to have a day–care center. So it had urban convenience and suburban amenity to it.

And the buildings used bricks that were imported from Holland that were specifically manufactured to look rough so that they would look like they were hundreds of years old, so this complex would have the illusion that it had been built hundreds of years ago. You can even see there are places where stucco is visible with very irregular rows of brick. And the image you're supposed to have is that this building has been here for hundreds of years and the brick is beginning to crumble away and is leaving the raw stucco underneath. So it creates this "ye olde English village" image.

Apartment houses like Hudson View Gardens were marketed to women. The idea was that the man might pay for the rental, but the woman chose the home. And so there were extensive advertising campaigns that were geared to women. The 1920s marks the beginning of massive advertising campaigns for apartment houses in newspapers, apartment-house brochures, even on the radio, now apartment houses begin to be marketed.

This is one of the early prospectuses for Hudson View Gardens, and you can see that basically it deals with how an apartment at Hudson View Gardens would improve a woman's life. They were marketed at what one of the advertisements referred to as "the new woman." And what the new woman was, was the woman that stayed home, took care of the kids, maintained the house, but used all of the modern conveniences that were available at Hudson View Gardens—modern refrigeration, a motor-driven "sani in the sink" electric dishwasher (this must have been a very early dishwasher), convenient kitchen cabinets, incinerator chutes. You could send the laundry out to be done. It was a very easy place to live, or so it was marketed.

And then the housewife would be so fresh by the end of the day because of using all the modern conveniences that she could meet her husband and go to the theatre or go dancing in the apartment through radio stations that were piped in to the apartments. And so this was marketed as a place where a woman and her family would remain happy and comfortable.


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