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Learn About the History of Queensbridge Houses, New Book

Queensbridge Houses (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Oct. 17, 2019 By Allie Griffin

A new book was released earlier this month on the history of the Queensbridge Houses, the country’s largest public housing complex located in Long Island City.

Voices of Queensbridge: Stories from the Nation’s Largest Public Housing Development, published by LaGuardia Community College and Wagner Archives, explores the history of Queensbridge and the lives of people who call it home.

The book provides a timeline and history of the Queensbridge Houses, including summaries of its origins, demographic changes, crime levels, community and gentrification’s impact.

Queensbridge Houses has 3,142 apartments and nearly 7,000 residents, making it the largest public housing development in North America.

The development opened in 1939 next to the Queensboro Bridge along the East River in what was at the time a largely manufacturing area. Its construction began a year earlier in 1938 after Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia launched the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) four years earlier.

The book also illustrates the development’s history through first-person accounts from the people who know it best, its tenants. Students at LaGuardia Community College interviewed 18 long-time senior residents on topics like family history, crime and safety, police relations, maintenance, gentrification, demographic change and race, tenant activism, community and the senior center.

The publication was celebrated at a recent gathering that included LaGuardia faculty, Queensbridge Houses residents and representatives of the nonprofit Jacob A Riis Neighborhood Settlement, which has a senior center for residents.

“This project is about what it means to be a New Yorker. It’s about expanding and strengthening our community,” said Molly Rosner, Ph.D., assistant director of education programs for Wagner Archives, who co-edited the book. “The students learned to connect with neighbors because that’s what makes a city feel like home.”

Queensbridge resident Nellie Pettway (Right) with LaGuardia and Wagner Archives’ Molly Rosner (Photo: LaGuardia Community College)

The students who collected residents’ oral histories came from a variety of backgrounds. Some had lived in public housing themselves, while others had no prior experience with it. They began the oral history project in fall 2018 and through it, they connected with residents.

“This project challenges the preconceived notions of public housing and the people who live there,” said student and interviewer Amanda Jones in a statement.

“My fellow students and I didn’t just watch and listen to the residents of Queensbridge, we interacted with them, and in doing so, realized that despite having different backgrounds, we share many commonalities. We related to one each other’s struggles.”

Voices of Queensbridge is available to view and download for free on the LaGuardia and Wagner Archives shared website.

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Public Housing works if its funded properly . The majority of the tenants are law abiding citizens. But poverty and poor school contribute to crimes and drugs ,and vandalism


I am a senior citizen who is quiet & respects his neighbors!!! There is constant noise day & night at Queen’s bridge, tenants with pitbulls, multiple pedigree dogs, these cretins in many cases don’t clean up after their dogs!!! Tenants urinate in the elevators regularly!!! I need to get into assisted housing immediately!!!


I am a senior citizen who is quiet & respects his neighbors!!! I need to get into assisted living immediately!!!! The public housing projects are a dumping ground for felons, the violently mentally & immigrants who have no direction in life!!!


These student better pursue a different major. Interviewing project residents and sugar coating the crap that these projects are is a sure way to turn into ANTIFA/AOC follower aka unemployed individual with purple hair


so, no response to an obviously funny comment other than to make fun of them. So cliche. Don’t worry, I’m sure Post wasn’t talking about your metaphorical purple hair.

Trump has done wonders for Antifa

No one had ever heard of the Anti-Fascists until they hurt Trump’s feelings wonder why).

Now the Trump lovers mention them every chance they get! This is a post about local housing and you mention it?! Thanks for advertising!


Agree that Antifa really have no mention here except that… those that pursue the ideology espoused in this article are exactly the types that, however well intentioned, are the ones that would attempt to tackle world-scale problems with drastic social justice solutions, bordering on anarchy, that require sacrifice from everyone else, before themselves being able to master solving smaller problems that only impact themselves, say like getting a job or cleaning their room. It’s these types of actions that led to so much suffering and premature death in the 20th century via National Socialism (aka Nazi fascists), communism, or the modern day equivalent “Democratic socialism” stemming from an absurd combination of post modernism and neo-marxism (not to mention a sizable portion of brainwashing).


The real history of the modern day welfare state, particularly in NYC is one of depravity and hopelessness. Public housing used to be a stepping stone to a better life, now it aims to lock generations into a never ending life of hardship and despair. If you really want to help residents of these communities out, help them to be more self sufficient instead of dependent. Invest in small businesses and promote growth into the middle class. Alas, but then you would loose your guaranteed voter base.

Joh Fredersen

How much more help do they need? No one is locked in. Typical liberal nonsense said to seem compassionate. Go to the Bridge @ 4am on a Saturday or Sunday morning-run this garbage by the oppressed then. Please. Bring AOC and Bernie with you

Skip Seglipse

Go learn American history and why public housing turned into what it did. Systemic segregation by whites in power created today’s poor inner cities.


Close… systemic segregation by democratic whites in an effort to hold them in a perpetual state of dependency and loyalty to the party.

Good point, Bernie wants Medicare for all

“I guess it’s part of some grand conspiracy or something”

— Trump Lover


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