THE ANGELS LISTENED IN * THE CRESTS * LONDON AMERICAN 8954 * UK
The Angels Listened In was The Crests seventh release, and their fifth for the Coed label;. the group were a mixed gender and race vocal quintet from the Alfred E. Smith housing projects on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. They consisted of four men and one woman, the racial make up was three black, an Italian and a Puerto Rican. From this it would seem that growing up on what were the new housing projects of their day did obviously produce some value, not that this would not have happened had the project not been built, it's just that some good came despite them. Housing estates, or a better description might be rent barracks, was an imposition that the working classes had to suffer throughout the twentieth century, and into the twenty first, only today it is dressed up in very different language. What is worse than the physical horror of these places, the real crime, is what is lost and never replaced: the real community and sense of belonging that those who lived and worked in the areas and neighbourhood's that these horrific ghetto's replace. A sure sign that these urban monstrosities are built as ghetto's is those who authorise, plan, design and finance them never live there themselves, nether do they ever accept any blame for the crippling effect they have on the lives of those who have to endure them. And when, after a period of usually two generations, sometimes less, they are deemed to be at best a mistake and thoroughly demolished so that no trace is left as proof, and another new hell is slapped up or the land is just landscaped over and left for the 'people' to enjoy, are those responsible, the architects, the planers and councillors ever called to account for the destruction of so many lives?
The roofs of a variety of 1879-1901 Old Law tenements (dumbbell-shaped airshaft, foreground), New Law (post-1901), and pre-Old Law tenements are in this view shot from Oak Street and Catherine Street looking southeast toward the Brooklyn Bridge, September 7, 1944. This entire area was part of 22 acres cleared away to build Smith Houses
New Chambers Street, looking north from James Slip, March 13, 1945. These buildings (and streets) disappeared (and so, presumably, did the pushcarts) in the clearance for the Gov. Alfred E. Smith Houses.
Smith Houses under construction -- the tall grayish buildings to the right of the Brooklyn Bridge, January 19, 1950
Smith Houses nearing completion, seen from the Manhattan approach to the Brooklyn Bridge, October 17, 1952
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