The Cooper Square Community Land Trust Oral History Project aims to reveal, honor, and preserve the voices and stories of the Cooper Square community, particularly those who have been actively involved in protecting the land and housing of its diverse community and keeping it affordable in perpetuity in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. This transgenerational project 5seeks to transfer the lessons from past housing organizing efforts to the new generation to envision the future collectively.


The Cooper Square Community Land Trust (CSCLT) is the oldest community land trust in New York City still in active operation. Born out of the struggles in the 1950s and 1960s against Robert Moses and his troubling urban renewal plans, they own and steward the land under 23 buildings in the Lower East Side in perpetuity. Their success has been possible through decades of political organizing and support from the local government. In a neighborhood with a rich immigrant history, they protect the homes, small businesses, and community spaces of the area they serve against land speculation and support the very fabric of a neighborhood where residents have been traditionally disenfranchised by disinvestment and, more recently, gentrification. Inspired by the know-how and ingenuity of the communities they serve, the Cooper Square Community Land Trust is committed to helping pass their wealth — both concrete and intangible — for the enjoyment of future generations.


Coordinator: Gabriela Rendón, Associate Professor of Urban Planning and Community Development.

Students from the Empowered Neighborhood elective course: Sam Ayala (MS Environmental Policy and Sustainability Management ), Em Flaire (BFA Integrated Design), Isis Gamble (Ph.D. Public and Urban Policy), Cristy Garcia (BA Anthropology), Marianna Londono, (MA Arts Management and Entrepreneurship), Nan Fang (MS Strategic Design and Management), Anna Roth (MFA Fashion Design and Society), and Lucas Tatarsky (MA International Affairs).