6. Robert Moses Called the The Area Next to Columbus Circle the Worst Slum in NYC

Just adjacent and around Columbus Circle was once a bustling, diverse neighborhood known as San Juan Hill, that was targeted by Robert Moses and the the New York City Housing Authority for urban renewal. San Juan Hill was the city’s destination for jazz. The agency described it as “the worst slum section in the City of New York” during the 1940s, in order to set the stage for the mass demolition of – an urban policy that often racially targets specific populations that is generally denounced today in New York City (though continues sadly all around the world). Before the clearing, the built fabric of the area did get captured for posterity on the silver screen in West Side Story. The main anchoring institution built atop the lost San Juan Hill neighborhood is Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, along with Amsterdam Houses (above).

See vintage photos of Columbus Circle’s transformation over the years.