James Felt was a real estate developer and philanthropist in New York City and influential chairman of the New York City Planning Commission. Felt graduated from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Finance and Commerce in 1924 and joined his father in the real estate business for several years. In 1932, Felt opened his own consulting firm, specializing in land use analysis, lot packaging and tenant relocation. He also served in several goverment bodies, including the City Housing Authority and the Mayor's Committee for Better Housing, before joining the Planning Commission. Felt was sworn in as chairman of the Planning Commission in January 1956 and stepped down in 1963, after which he served for another two years as a commission member. Felt is perhaps best known for his leadership in enacting the Zoning Resolution of 1961, which rewrote the city's outdated zoning laws to favor stronger regulation of development. During his tenure on the Planning Commission, he frequently opposed Robert Moses, one of the most powerful figures in redeveloping New York City. In 1967, Felt was appointed chairman of New York City's Public Development Corporation, a quasi-governmental agency founded in 1966 to develop city properties. Felt died in New York City in 1971.
This collection contains primarily typescript correspondence between James Felt and Robert Moses, dated from December 1955 to October 1962. Topics mainly concern issues of urban planning and development in New York City on which Felt and Moses held divergent viewpoints. In particular contention were slum clearance projects funded under Title I of the Housing Act of 1949. Also included are meeting minutes, internal memos, several event programs, a postcard, and a newspaper clipping.
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