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Columbia University Digital Knowledge Ventures The Architecture and Development of New York City with Andrew S. Dolkart
image Living Together Modern Apartment Houses
Castle Village
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Modern Apartment Houses
Castle Village
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Construction did not stop totally with the Depression. There was a hiatus in construction during the worst years of the 1930s, but in the late 1930s there was a flurry of new construction, right before World War II began, in which some very interesting new ideas begin to appear in New York apartment houses. And you begin to get the beginning of some modern planning and design ideas.

This is especially evident from the planning point of view at Castle Village, one of the first tower-in-the-park projects in America. The idea of building apartment-house towers in parklike settings was an idea that came to America from the philosophy of the great French architect and theorist Le Corbusier, who envisioned cities of great towers in parklike green settings.

And although Le Corbusier's influence really appears mostly after World War II, Castle Village was a pioneer in the design of middle-class apartment houses in tower-in-the-park–like settings.

This is also in Fort Washington. In fact it partially blocked the views of people who lived in Hudson View Gardens. And it was built by the same developer, a man named Charles Paterno. Paterno had built Hudson View Gardens because his estate was located up here along the water, and he wanted to look at something nice. When he decided to move out of the city, he built Castle Village on his estate property, but he used the tower-in-the-park idea to protect the views, I think, of the people who lived in Hudson View Gardens. So he took this novel planning approach of these cross-shaped apartments with nine apartments on each floor, eight of which had a river view from at least one room. So he uses a plan that gives you parks, like in the suburbs, maximizes light and air and views in almost every apartment.

What's especially interesting about these apartments, and which a number of contemporary critics commented on, was the fact that their planning was revolutionary and their design could not have been more conservative. They're basically this radical new tower-in-the-park idea in colonial garb. And in fact originally the bottom three or four floors had shutters on the windows, just to add to the colonial form. So they use a kind of red-brick colonial design with a very interesting new kind of planning. But again, it was a compromise to try to get people to move into this complex who might otherwise have moved out of the city.


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