The Red Hook Houses were completed in 1938 as one of the largest public housing complexes in New York City.
A federally funded project overseen by the Roosevelt Administration, rent was less than $6 month when they opened. During construction, the city received over 1,000 applications a day from New Yorkers eager to move into the 2,800 apartments. Mayor LaGuardia himself laid the cornerstone.
The 38-acre tract had been occupied by condemned tenement houses and a sprawling Hooverville occupied by dockworkers. Then Park’s Commissioner Robert Moses hoped that some of that land would be given over to public playgrounds, but the entire area was used for housing. The city had to use its own funds to create public play areas for the residents of the federal housing units.
Eleanor Roosevelt visited three families in their Red Hook Housing apartments on a summer day in 1940. She observed that the apartments were well planned, but bemoaned the lack of closet doors, a cost cutting measuring in constructing the complex.
Red Hook Houses are still one of the largest pubic housing complexes in the city.