When Labor Built Housing for Their Own Members: The IBEW Local 3 Example | Deep Menlo | Stuart Soffer | Almanac Online |

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About this blog: Growing up in Brooklyn, NY I lived in high-density housing and experienced transit-oriented services first hand. During high school and college summers I worked in Manhattan drafting tenant floor plans for high-rise office buildi...  (More)

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When Labor Built Housing for Their Own Members: The IBEW Local 3 Example

Uploaded: May 10, 2020
If you fly into New York’s JFK Airport and drive to Manhattan, you’ll likely take the Grand Central Expressway northbound. On your right will be the carcass of the 1939 AND 1964 World Fairs.

Also you’ll pass two exits: Jackie Robinson Blvd (leading to Brooklyn and Flatbush), and the Harry Van Arsdale Boulevard, leading to Queens.

This latter takes you down Jewel Avenue to a section of Queens called Electchester – a tribute to the Electrical Workers Union whose leaders used money to build modern planned communities after WW2.

My mother’s sister lived Electchester with her husband (an electrician and my two cousins – one of whom also became a Local 3 electrician). I must have visited 40 times growing up. A tidy community, benches to sit, mowed lawns, a shopping center in back to which on could easily walk.

See also, Electchester: A City Made for Workers


"Electchester: the name itself tells the story. The second half of the title, -chester – a suffix that carries so much Anglo-American stateliness – lends an air of gentility to what might otherwise evoke a rugged world of wire strippers and cable cutters inhabited by New York City electricians. Electchester, in short, is an estate meant for those workers without whom the city would be, quite literally, stuck in the dark.
Situated on what was once a golf course at the intersection of Parsons Boulevard and Jewel Avenue in the Pomonok neighborhood of South Flushing, Queens, the sprawling complex of dozens of six-story, red brick buildings is anchored by a white, multi-use commercial building. This building also houses the Joint Industry Board of the Electrical Industry, which in today’s climate of anti-union hostility seems like a relic. The board is a collaborative venture of the union and the industry to set working standards. In this case, the Joint Industry Board also helps to ensure a middle-class existence for workers, harkening back to Henry Ford’s notion that companies can only thrive if workers are paid well and have decent living standards."

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Posted by [email protected], a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown,
on May 21, 2020 at 11:42 pm

[email protected] is a registered user.

Electchester, to put it plainly, is a home implied for those laborers without whom the city would be, truly, stuck in obscurity.

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