Seward Park on the LES

The History of Seward Park Cooperative

Seward Park Cooperative apartments are comprised of four 20-story buildings, with three towers in each building. The architects designed the buildings at an angle to Manhattan's grid, preserving many acres of green for shareholder enjoyment. This design gives the apartments ample light and provides many apartments with stunning views of midtown, downtown, and the bridges and water of the East River.

Construction of Seward Park Cooperative began in 1959 under the sponsorship of the United Housing Foundation, a federation of cooperative housing societies, non-profit organizations and labor unions interested in promoting affordable housing. The cooperative was modeled after the successful completion in 1956 of the East River Housing Corporation, which was financed by the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union. There are two other union-sponsored cooperatives in the Grand Street area, including Hillman Houses built in 1950 and Amalgamated Dwellings completed in 1930. The four cooperatives were until recently collectively known as “Co-op Village.”

For over three decades, Seward Park Cooperative operated as a limited-equity cooperative that allowed the co-op to receive tax subsidies for keeping the price of apartments at below market rates. In 1995, shareholders passed a Plan of Reconstitution converting Seward Park into a full-equity cooperative. Over a five year period the price ceilings were gradually lifted until they were completely abolished. Apartments throughout Co-op Village now sell at market rates.

Seward Park Cooperative's history of affiliation with unions and a collectivist spirit are reflected in the distinctive murals in the lobbies of our four buildings. The murals were painted by Hugo Gellert, a prominent artist of the 1930s who is known for both his art and leftist politics. Gellert created murals for the 1939 World's Fair, a theater in Rockefeller Center, a cafeteria near Union Square, and an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art. Most of Gellert's public murals no longer exist. Having his work in the Seward Park lobbies is a tribute to the intellectual, cultural and political history of the Lower East Side.

Seward Park Cooperative celebrates its 50th year in 2010. Many of the original shareholders and their families continue to live in the cooperative, and many newcomers have made Seward Park home.