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Manhattantown, now known as Park West Village or West Park Apartments, was a massive urban renewal project in Manhattan Valley, formerly Bloomingdale District, in New York City west of Central Park. It was funded by Title I of the Housing Act of 1949, which financed slum clearance under urban redevelopment initiatives. Allegations of corruption were leveled soon after the project's inception in the spring of 1949, culminating in hearings in the Senate's Banking and Currency Committee in 1954.
But the Senate hearings garnered little publicity. It was not until 1956 that a series of investigative articles in the World Sun-Telegram by Gene Gleason and Fred Cook revealed the extent of the mismanagement. It was the first instance in which Robert Moses' practice of "honest graft"—the method by which Slum Clearance chairman Moses distributed premiums, contracts and retainers to favored and incompetent friends—was revealed in the press. Under Title I, the plot of tenements worth $15,000,000 had been sold, for $1,000,000, to developer Samuel Caspert, charged with building public housing. Instead of relocating occupants, bulldozing the slum, and constructing public housing, Caspert and Co. merely sat on the newly acquired property collecting millions in rents. In the end, the city was forced to facilitate the transfer of Manhattantown to another developer, William Zeckendorf.
- "The Tragedy of Urban Renewal," Reason.tv, 2011.
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