Column: East Bronx History Forum to discuss the origins of Co-op City

Co-Op City as seen from the Pelham Bay Bridge
Photo courtesy Jim Henderson

The East Bronx History Forum and Huntington Free Library are pleased to announce the Forum will hold its 171st meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 18,  at 7:30 p.m. A remote Zoom presentation of Co-op City, will explore the history of its first quarter century by Annemarie Sammartino, professor of History and chair of the History Department at Oberlin College. Sammartino is also author of “The Impossible Border: Germany and the East” (Cornell University Press, 2010) and “Freedomland: Co-op City and the Story of New York” (Cornell University Press, 2022).

Co-op City is often referred to as a city of superlatives — the largest cooperative housing development in the U.S., the largest naturally occurring retirement community in the United States, and the site of the largest rent strike in American history, among many others. It has also been a lighting rod for critics who have condemned its urban design, its effect on the rest of the Bronx, and its cost. 

Drawing from her book, Sammartino will sketch the history of the first quarter century of Co-op City’s existence — from its controversial planning process, through the hopes and ambitions of its first residents, the economic turmoil that resulted in (but did not conclude with) the mid-1970s rent strike, and the white flight that occurred in its wake. Despite all of this turmoil and despite the criticism it has received, Sammartino will explain how Co-op City has been and remains a haven for middle class Bronxites. We look forward to you joining us over this Zoom presentation. The login credentials will be emailed to our members in addtion to being posted on our website