Williamsburg Child Health Center
Originally called the Williamsburg-Greenpoint Health Center, it was the fourth of eight clinics to be built in New York City with federal Public Works Administration (PWA) funding during the Great Depression. The project was part of a city-wide public health initiative that focused on providing low-cost health care in poor neighborhoods where residents could not afford their own doctors. The Brownstoner reports that “..it was state of the art, and the only health center built in the entire country by the PWA that had a complete range of health and educational programs.”
The 1937 opening was presided over by Mayor LaGuardia, and, according to the Brownstoner, it “turned out to be quite controversial. The feisty mayor took exception to remarks made by two other speakers, and took issue with them when it was his turn to speak. The state director of the Public Works Administration (PWA), which financed most of the project, called the federal government the ‘Santa Claus of the project.’ Another speaker credited the past Tammany Hall administration for starting the project. LaGuardia was not amused at either remark.”
“Regarding the federal PWA spending he said, ‘Don’t get the idea that it was 100% Santa Claus. It was maybe 35 to 40% Santa Claus and the rest was Santa Claus at four percent interest.’ He then ridiculed the other speaker’s comment about the previous administration. ‘In 1934, their committee was going noplace. Then we came in.’ He went on to say that at the rate the other committee was going, the health center might have been built by about 1950. ‘Then they would have been starting something,’ he said.”
The clinic was built near to the Williamsburg Houses, another New Deal project that was also part of the city-wide health initiative aimed at improving hygiene and sanitary conditions in previously crowded and rundown tenement buildings throughout the city.
The clinic is now part of the Woodhull Hospital and devoted to pediatric care.
Brownstoner: "Building of the Day: 151-157 Maujer Street", last accessed March 2016 https://nyc.pediacities.com/
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