Skip to main content Skip to search

YU News

YU News

Gurock Publishes Article on The History of Parkchester

Dr. Jeffrey GurockDr. Jeffrey Gurock, the Libby M.Klaperman Professor of Jewish History, recently published “‘Getting Along’ in Parkchester: A New Era in Jewish–Irish Relations in New York City 1940–1970” in Religions, an international, open access peer-reviewed scholarly journal. It is part of a special issue, titled “The Jewish Experience in America.”

In the article, Gurock tracks the history of conflict between New York City’s Irish Americans and east European Jews in order to describe what made the planned community of Parkchester, started in 1940 by the Metropolitan Life Insurance Corporation (MLIC), remarkably free of strife and conflict: a shared focus on “middle class families” with the right “family values” combined with the MLIC’s engineering of individual and social behaviors: “While the MLIC did much to tell its residents how they were supposed to live, even more critically, the company also had a say in how tenants of varying backgrounds might interact with one another through situating them indiscriminately in their large expanse.”

Gurock concludes that “what the Parkchester story tells us [is that] commonalities in economic and social class among groups and a mutual feeling that they were all living in a special place worth preserving can trump racial and religious animosities of the past.”