Title I

13 minutes

The 1949 Housing Act, often seen as the beginning of urban renewal, reshaped the landscapes of many American cities. One of the nation’s largest urban renewal projects was the Lincoln Square Title I Project in New York City led by the powerful public official Robert Moses, which created Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts along with Fordham University’s Manhattan Campus and middle- to high-income housing. The area selected for the project was a working-class, predominantly Black neighborhood with a large population of Puerto Ricans. While it was a tight-knit community with a vibrant culture, Moses declared the area a “blighted slum.” More than 7000 families and 800 businesses were forced to relocate, and the community was dispersed. Lincoln Center, which emerged as a product of urban renewal, has helped to make New York City the world capital of art and culture ever since.

This film meditates on the history of the Lincoln Center site by listening to the voices of residents who opposed the Lincoln Square Title I project, which are narrated only in subtitles. These are quotes from the public hearing before the city planning commission, held on September 11, 1957 at City Hall in Manhattan. The film is an exploration of how to memorize history and understand the place where we stand. It also examines the architecture of Lincoln Center and its relationship to the public streets today.

© 2023 Rima Yamazaki. All Rights Reserved.