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How New York City Sold Public Housing in the 1930s

How New York City Sold Public Housing in the 1930s
Library of Congress

When Mayor Fiorello H. La Guardia established the New York City Housing Authority in 1934, it was one of the first municipal housing authorites in the United States. The new agency was soon tasked with spending New Deal funds to clear out slums and build government-operated apartments.

With public housing still a new concept in America, it was important to promote it to those who could qualify. NYCHA commissioned artists to design posters that promoted slum clearance and the value of newly constructed housing. The posters consistently use an aesthetic that reflected the architecture of the projects, with modernist typefaces and geometrically based illustrations. Like much of 1930s modernism, there's a sense of confidence in the design, showing the failures of the past and present while presenting the viewer a better, purer future ahead.

Courtesy of the Library of Congress, here's a look at some of NYCHA's posters from the era (we highly recommend clicking the "full screen" option below for the best experience):

 

Mark Byrnes is an associate editor at The Atlantic Cities. All posts »

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