Morrisania Air Rights building looks like abstract art

I was driving along 161st Street in the Bronx, near Park Avenue, when I noticed this tall building with what appears to be patch-like painted rectangles all up-and-down the side of the building. It seems like a nice, oversized abstract art work, and made me think of Hans Hoffmann paintings (minus the dramatic color). Scroll down for more info …

Morrisania Air Rights building in the Bronx

I later found out that this is one of three buildings known as “Morrisania Air Rights,” which is a New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) public housing project. If you have initial curiosity – as I did – about such an unusual name for a series of apartment buildings, the “air rights” comes into play because the developers back in the 1970s purchased the rights to the air space above a stretch of the Metro-North Railroad. They built these buildings on a platform above the tracks, allowing the railroad to remain in operation along this line. This concept reminds me of “The Hanging Gardens of Montparnasse,” built on top of rail lines in Paris, as detailed in our Arts Adventurer story here.

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