This is an interview for the Park Forest Oral History project with Mr.
Philip Klutznick on February 5 , 1981. The interviewer is Glenda Bailey-
Q. Mr. Klutznick, I'd really like to hear how you first heard about the
idea of Park Forest and how the idea was presented to you.
A. Well, the idea for a town like Park Forest actually originated in a
conversation with me. What became Park Forest was presented to me by people
who wanted to promote it in Chicago. To give you the background, which may
cover some of the other questions that you have ... Shortly after the war
began, there was imposed a system of priorities for the development of
housing. The theory being that no new housing should be built in the community
where there was already a surplus labor supply to meet the needs of the war
program. And scarce material should only be used where it was necessary to
bring workers into the community to augment, or to man, war product
producing plants. Shortly after the housing reorganization of February 1942,
I became the Assistant Administrator of the National Housing Agency in charge
of war housing and, as such, we administered the program of priorities and
in that connection I had extended contact over a period of time with the
home builders of America, and their association, and when I traveled to our
regional offices I met with them.
In the Chicago office there was a member of the regional staff who
was the person in charge of housing priorities in this area; his name was
Carroll Sweet. He'd been at one time a resident of Grand Rapids, Michigan.
His father was a congressman and he was an aging gentleman at that time.
We would arrange for meetings with developers here and my job was to
encourage them to develop housing for rent, at that time.
We had a few very active developers in Chicago. When they'd come to
Washington for their meetings, I'd meet with them there as well. During
this period of time, quite interestingly enough, because of the need of housing in
certain places, where they were out in the woods, or even in the far reaches of a
big city like Detroit, builders who had normally built very few houses were
beginning to become rather substantial because financing was so easy for war
housing ‑‑ if they could get the priorities.
Some of them would build a few hundred houses and some of them built as many
as five hundred or a thousand houses where they were needed. They were getting FHA
financing for war housing. One of those builders who did a considerable amount of
that work in Chicago was Nathan Manilow.
When I would meet with the builders' groups I would talk about the fact
that I thought that they were treating their economics very poorly; that
subdividing was an exercise in which cumulatively they built up values which
somebody else took advantage of. Most of the builders knew how to build a house and
sell it; they were very deficient when it came to building it and renting it, and we
had to urge them to do it because we needed to bring in more workers who didn't want
to buy. And I called their attention to the sheer economics of going out on a piece
of land that was large enough where enough builders would build it up and then along
someone would come and he'd build the commercial units and he would build the
industrial units and take advantage of the values that had been created by builders.
That in the aggregate a community consisted of many values, and they were giving up a
considerable number of them. Well, this appealed to some of them, and the best
example of it was, of course, the job that Bill Levitt did in New York.
At one point, Mr. Sweet retired and went to work for Nathan Manilow. The job
of dispensing priorities had been reduced. We were reducing that kind of staff and
he decided to go to work for him. He called me up one
day and came to Washington and wanted to discuss this idea of building
what they called a "GI town". We had about that time announced our
post‑war program. A year and a half before that I became the Commissioner
of Federal Public Housing Authority by appointment of the President.
One of our programs consisted of trying to get rid of the temporary
housing by cutting it down and shipping it for temporary needs in
connection with universities for returning vets or uses of that sort
and building them into something more substantial. My agency was
administering it, and Sweet and Manilow came down with the notion of
seeing if they could buy some of these houses. I told them, quite
bluntly, that we were not selling them to private builders; these were
going to public institutions with the view that they would serve a
public purpose only. But they wanted to build a GI town. Well, I
said, "You don't build a GI town with temporary houses. This country
is going to be here a long while. If you want to build a town, build
one, but don't build it with junk. We have enough junk in the country".
Well, one thing led to another and I pointed out to them our
studies on the values of commercial versus residential, and I suggested
to them that if they wanted to build a town they ought to get a plan-
ner ‑‑ an architect ‑‑ and somebody who will tell them how to do it
and they ought to get a piece of land suitable for it. Well, did I
know any architects that might be interested in it. So I gave them a
list of Chicago architects, among whom was one who had worked very
closely with the Chicago Housing Authority, a man by the name of Loebl.
And they started looking for land. One day they called me up and they
said, "Could you come to Chicago and advise us about some land?". Well,
I did. This was near or shortly after the end of the war. They thought they
could get this land out south and they thought they could get some land
west. And I said it didn't make much difference, as long as there was
transportation available and the cost was right, sooner or later the city
would grow. They finally decided on this piece of land.
Then they retained Loebl to help them think through the problem -‑ Loebl's firm
was at that time Loebl and Schlossman ‑‑ and then they came down and asked me if I would
join them in building this town. I said, "No", that I was considering either practicing
law in New York or going back to my old law firm in 0maha, Nebraska. They said, "Well,
you could do both. Why don't you practice in Chicago?" Well, I went over a number of
things and then came out and looked at it and that's when we decided that maybe that was
the thing to do. So I opened a law office in Chicago and we worked out a transaction
where several of us would be partners and that's how the thing started.
So it was not who presented it to me, it was an outgrowth of not original
thinking. During the depression there had been some experiments in rural resettlement
housing in the Green Belt towns. Those towns I administered during the war. They were
transferred to the Federal Public Housing Authority which I headed, and they were
working well. This was, of course, a bit of copying some of the English experience.
The trouble was that most home builders just never bothered to find out about that and
as a result they were engaged in what was typical base building activity.
Q. Yes! Now at this time, however, most of the new towns, the planned towns had been built with
federal help or through the federal agencies. This was the first privately financed
one after the war.
A. Well the mathematics of housing development and town development
are simply the mathematics of capital producing profit. Can you ultimately make
profit? The only difference between subdivision building and town building
is that you have to have a sounder capital base and be prepared to invest
and delay the time of profit, because if you've got enough capital to hold
on, ultimately you'll make more money, provided you do a good job. So there's
no mystery about this. The only thing that the federal government provided,
which it does even today in new ventures, is the security of reducing the
risk. Now if you have enough money from somewhere else, you could avoid
the risk by just staying there. A prime example ‑‑ I don't know why people
call this a mystery ‑‑ the simple fact is, take a project like Water Tower
Place nobody but a company with sufficient holding strength and capital
such as a company that is owned by Aetna Life and Casualty could afford to
take that risk. Well, once having taken that risk it produced something
that is important and at a profit for itself. Simple business economics.
The only reason ‑‑ and you refer to this in your outline ‑-‑ the program,
Title VII program, went broke is because the projects were over‑capitalized
through loans at the beginning.
Q. Is that the New Town program? I don't have my "Titles" straight.
A. Yes. The New Town program. The New Town program was approving loans
at such a level that builders were investing it on the assumption that they
had a market, which they generally did not have. They would have had that
market five years later, but they invested so much capital at the front
and that they couldn't live five years or six years until they began to
reap enough profit to pay interest and principal on the loans. So I
thought the program was very badly designed when it was presented to me.
One of the people who helped design it was Tom McDade and I told him I didn't think it would work at that time. The developer and businessman must not have too much gap, just the same as he must not have too little
if he's engaged in a risk venture. A New Town is a risk venture and if you
spend all your money at the front end you go broke before you get to the
place where you get a return on investment.
Q. So at the time that the idea of Park Forest came up and you became
involved, you didn't think it was a great risk. Is that correct?
A. No. I didn't say it wasn't. I thought it had a risk, but we were
saved by the fact that we didn't have that much front and capital and we
had an extraordinary demand for housing and we had to be very careful as
we moved ahead. Being careful when the day of profitability came we didn't
have to pay back thirty million dollars. We didn't have to pay anything
back because most of it was our capital we had created in the process of
going forward. The loans we made were relatively small.
Q. I see. Were there other ways in which the plan for Park Forest
differed from the Green Belt towns that you'd been involved with as the
A. Well, the Green Belt towns were created by what was called the Rural
Resettlement Administration. My recollection was it was a part of the
Agriculture Department, as a matter of fact, at the time. When it was
transferred to the National Housing Agency in February 1942 along with
defense home corporation and other corporations they were already completed
towns. They were nice towns. They were, generally speaking, on the
outskirts of the city, like Washington, Cincinnati and Milwaukee. They
were built in the main in a new concept that was quite English, the
townhouse concept, with great malls and open space and there was no
private risk involved because they were government built, They were
ultimately sold, They all had extra land. It's very interesting: they were sold at fair value and if the government had held onto that land they
would have made what some of the private developers who bought that land
made. A good example is Forest Park ‑‑ in Cincinnati. Two private developers had bought it, came to
us in Park Forest, and I went out and looked at it ‑‑ I had known them ‑ they did
quite well with it, ultimately.
Q. If I remember from my planning course though, I recall that in the Green Belt towns there were schools and some recreation plans, but I don't recall commercial ventures being planned around those towns. Was that a difference?
A. Well, they weren't planned and that's one of the deficiencies of government planning.
In the towns that we built during the war, like Vanport,
we had to provide commercial facilities, because otherwise the workers
wouldn't come there. It's a kind of a sin to plan a town without schools and without commercial
opportunity. Take the case of war workers; I remember when we had to put in beauty
parlors, because the girls felt a need for them. (laughter). Rosie the Riveter just
wasn't going to go to work unless over the weekend she could go to the beauty parlor.
I mean this is a human experience. We had to have bowling alleys. We had to have all
sorts of recreational opportunities because people just don't live in the house, even
today, where they have television. They didn't have television in those days.
Q. That was the difference. The plan for Park Forest was so comprehensive though, did it come
about by bits and pieces, or did a long overview occur? To the beginning.
A. No. Shortly after we organized A.C.B., I located a man who years ago I had known, by the
name of Elbert Peets. Elbert was one of the early landscape architects who turned to
town and project planning. I met him first in the thirties when he was the chief
planner for the then United
States Housing Authority and I was very much impressed with him. A Harvard man, who
had studied his landscape architecture there and had branched out into broader areas.
It's surprising how many of the original so‑called "town planners" had a landscape
architecture background. But Elbert was a very careful man and I suggested to Loebl,
Schlossman ‑‑ and by that time it was Bennett, who was formerly at the School of
Architecture at Yale, and was brought here to work particularly on this project ‑-
that they associate Elbert Peets with them, which they did. And Elbert walked every
bit of that land. Walked it! And he, of course, designed the first town plan, which
we criticized from time to time. We used to have meetings and sit around ‑‑ town
planning is nothing more than certain skills plus an understanding of people and what
their needs are and a look at the future as to what it might look like. It calls for
a certain amount of logical debate. And that debate took place many a day, when we
didn't agree, we argued the thing out. In your outline, at one point, you asked
whether there was ever any intention of making the commercial center a regional
center. This was one of the great debates.
Well, from a strictly commercial point of view, the logical location for a regional
center is Lincoln and Western. We didn't own that land, but could have acquired it very
reasonably at the time because you had Lincoln Highway, and Western and Lincoln led into
Chicago Heights and therefore could have led out of Chicago Heights and it led on to
Joliet and could have led the other way, too. So, from a strictly traffic point of view,
if you were to build a regional center, that's where you would have put it at that time.
We, on the other hand, felt that we were going to have a town of thirty
or thirty‑five thousand people and it was entitled to a downtown.
There was enough buying power to support a proper commercial center.
Because of the accessibility to Western Avenue there would be a certain
amount of traffic coming from the south and the west and the east over a
period of time that would augment it, if the center was a good center.
The objective was to make it as good a center as possible.
Now you called attention to the fact that it fell on bad times
and you wondered if that was because it was put there, instead of
elsewhere. The answer to that, in my judgment is twofold, and here I'll
be very, very critical. Sometime in 1961, early in 1961, we disposed of
our interest in what was left in Park Forest. We, Jerry Loebl and I did,
and Mr. Manilow continued to own an interest and he brought somebody
else in, I don't know who. I think they did a lousy job of management.
I think they milked it.
Q. From that point on?
A. They over‑mortgaged it and they had too much debt. They added a
mortgage to it in order to buy us out, which I didn't know they were
going to do. You see, real estate is like the automobile business looks
today. If you want to keep alive, you have to update your product and,
you have to keep it fresh. You have to keep the tenancies right. You
have to be willing to risk profits in some years in order to maintain
quality. The quality of that center declined; it's maintenance wasn't
as good and there were other centers built east and west of there and
the competition increased. Well competition never bothers me. If it's
good competition and if I can maintain competitiveness ‑‑ take Old
Orchard, which we built while we were still at Park Forest. It is the
oldest of the shopping centers about there and is still one of the most
productive. If you go there today, it's just as fresh looking as it was
the day it was built. When competition came along, we added to that center.
We brought in additional good merchants. A center is not brick and mortar
shopping. It's the merchant that counts, and this was permitted to decline;
it became important to make short term profits. Just like the automobile
manufacturers refused to update their plants and produce a small car, so they
went broke this year. And now they're going to have to spend eighty‑five
billion dollars to get back into the market. And the center was not improperly
placed for Park Forest. It was placed there as a town facility, with the
ability to draw on the surrounding area that didn't have merchants of the same
Q. So in a sense there was a double concept, what of being a center of town
and also a regional shopping?
A. You don't put Marshall Field anywhere in the Chicago area and expect to
just do business from the immediate place. The kind of merchants we selected
are an indication. Sears Roebuck didn't come there expecting to make all of
its profits off of just doing business with thirty thousand people. It's the
merchants that stimulate the thing. And they just went to sleep. The people
who bought it tried to do something but it may have been too late. I don't know.
I haven't been out there for now two years, at least. I'm going to drive out
some day soon.
Q. Do you think, though, that the concept of having a center that far away from
a major intersection could still work, though. It's not the location?
A. If you're building the town, you have to make up your mind as to what you're
doing. This is the great debate: what is your objective? Do you want to build
a regional shopping center? Well, it shouldn't have gone there. Do you want to
build a town for thirty or thirty‑five thousand people. You have your view that
it's going to be a town of that size. That center ought to be located where it is most
accessible to most of the population and if you do it well enough, people will come from
I don't know why Park Forest should be looked upon differently than Chicago. State
Street could not live by just selling to Chicagoans. People came from all over to buy. This
little center out there did extremely well, extremely well. And it could still have been a
very viable center if it was conceived as being first, a function of the town, and then
merchants who would attract from the area those people who were not served by that quality
merchant. There is only one Marshall Field store in that neighborhood. There is only one
major Sears, Roebuck in that neighborhood. There is only one Goldblatt's, which is closing
up now. And we had some good auxiliary merchants; we maintained it well, and people came
there.. It was very profitable. It grew on its own strength. Now, the trouble with people
is they forget that you've got to keep things up to date and ahead of the market instead of
thinking that because you've inherited a market that you can keep it there all the time.
So the answer to your question is simple, if you were going to build a regional
shopping center, that was the wrong place to build it. If you were building a town, that was
the right place to build it, and we debated that for several weeks before we reached that
conclusion. In 1947 and 1948 there weren't any regional shopping centers like Old Orchard
or Oak Brook or Northland. Actually 0ld Orchard and Northland were the first two in America
and that came a few years later. But the town concept called for facilities for the people.
To show you what I mean, and where people lose sight of this, you just can't be a
builder if you build a town. You just can't be a planner if you build a town. You have
to know something about the economics of life and the sociology of people's living. As
we come to another question it will indicate
what I mean.
I was watching on Saturdays a lot of our people going to Chicago Heights.
They had no place to cash their checks. We didn't have a bank; we couldn't
get a bank. So we organized our own bank and put it there, and Saturdays
changed. People needed that facility; they needed it; and you'd come out on
the shopping center on a Saturday they would be in line. Why should they go
to Chicago Heights? When they went to Chicago Heights they not only cashed
their checks, but they bought in Chicago Heights instead of buying in Park
Q. Was that the Bank of Park Forest?
A. Yes. That's the Bank of Park Forest, and that was the way it was born.
Q. I didn't know ACB organized it.
A. Of course we did. ACB, as such, didn't, but the owners of ACB organized
it. And it became a very profitable enterprise as well. It grew and became
a necessity. It was a necessity. It filled a need.
Q. To go back to Mr. Peet's first plan of the town, one of the things that
people have criticized about Park Forest is that it is not visually particularly
interesting. Many people think that had that original landscaped lagoon area
stayed there that the town would have had a visual focus. Why was that
A. Well, the whole original layout was changed for practical reasons and not
density reasons, as you imply. As far as the lagoon is concerned, that area
was so loaded with peat that whether it would have been a good lagoon or not
without the expenditure of a tremendous amount of money I don't know. I only
know that when we built New Century town out at Mount Vernon Hills that it
cost about a million and a half dollars to put a lake in, Actually, unless
you then spent a lot more to make it usable and you have an authority that can take care
of it, it becomes a burden instead of an asset.
I used to have continuing discussions with the village board and the school board
who always wanted more land than they needed for a school on the theory that they'd better
get everything they can get, not recognizing that they have to maintain it. I remember the
first school that was built there - ‑ what was it ‑‑ Lakewood, or whatever they call it, the
first school. For a long while there was a good part of that land that they got that
looked like hell. Public bodies have limited resources. And private developers cannot
commit themselves en futuro for ninety‑nine years to maintain a lagoon. But that wasn't
the reason it went out. And that wasn't the reason for the change in the plan. The first
designs ‑‑ I think I have them here. Just a moment.
Q. Oh, really? I'll shut us off here for just a second. (Tape turned off and on again). Okay. We didn't find that plan, but you were telling me about the lower density.
A. No, these books show that plat 1, that I pointed out to you just as we went by. That one sketch. The lower density was our original concept for reasons that were good for everybody, including the developer, but it involved what later became a very acceptable technique, fifteen years later: the cluster house concept. The cluster house concept was not permissible in 1947 or 1948 for FHA financing.
The original FHA insurance law required that every free standing house face, or be
accessible to a traffic way.
Q, I see.
A. A free standing house had to have access directly to a way of getting rid of its automobile and getting out on the street.
Q. But just to clarify, let me ask you a question. The cluster house concept would have been
something like the town houses except that they would have been
free standing units? I'm not familiar with the terms.
A. No. The cluster house concept, which became very popular in ... oh, I
would say, beginning about the early seventies, and the FHA rules were changed
to make it possible, really meant that you could take a piece of land, make
a garden place out of it, and put eight or ten free standing houses on that
piece of land, and have one driveway that would let you get your car out to
the street. That wasn't acceptable by FHA in those days. And you couldn't
get FHA insurance with such a plan. Therefore we changed for that reason,
plus another reason that became operative in about 1974. The returning
veterans were demanding not housing for sale, they were demanding rental
housing in the main. Because many of them were living with their families
in hotel rooms and paying outrageous amounts. As a result of which, the
housing law was changed to create what was called 608, Title 608, which was
housing for veterans, and for rentals, under terns which would make, ‑‑ if
you did a decent job ‑‑ require a minimum of capital investments in develop-
ment, and a maximum of mortgage, so that you could provide, at those interest
rates, a very, very acceptable rental level. When that became clear, the
next problem we had was would they issue commitments for as many as three
We determined that we had to increase the density to the lowest density
of that kind of housing that was being built in America. We were ten to the
acre. Most housing of that kind was being built twenty, twenty‑five, thirty
to the acre. And we built them with basements and with tot lots ‑‑ for
families. But, in order to carry some of our subsidiary capital costs,
like softening the water, like the proper sort of heat -- we felt that we
couldn't afford to put in central heat -- it would be cheaper for them to pay
for their own heat, have their own control of their heat. We wanted to provide front
yards and back yards, because this was to be housing for families with children. We
couldn't carry that if they gave us a typical allotment of three hundred or five
hundred units. We had to know that we could build three thousand. Actually we did a
scientific study. We concluded we could do it with fifteen hundred, which I didn't
believe, so we doubled the number. I said three thousand, and it turned [out] to be just
about right, just about right, because by that time we were beginning to worry about
inflation. And inflation was inevitable with the shortage of manpower and everything
else. We could not have carried the other development costs adequately with the
fifteen hundred. If we had settled for fifteen hundred, we would either have had to
sell out, get new capital, which is the sin of the New Town program, and in which
event we would have had to increase the rents from the very beginning. So we fought
that one through with the FHA and they gave us ... they could not commit more than a
five million dollar mortgaged project, so we created nine projects that they committed
That's why the change from free standing to rental housing. First, it was a better
marketable item. Secondly, we couldn't have created what we wanted. Sure, we could have
put free standing housing. We didn't feel that a community with children should have
that many streets running through the place. This was Peet's view. That was our view.
And the cluster housing was the way to do it. But, when the financing became simplified
with rental housing, we went to rental housing at the very beginning. A lot of people
think we created a lot of problems for ourselves, when we created the village, because
we were creating it, with
tenants instead of owners and in a degree that was right. But in that market
for the need that existed, that decision was the best decision we ever made.
Q. Did you think at that time, when you decided to change to the rental
housing, that many of those tenants would later buy the single family homes?
Or did you have a different population buy the single family homes?
A. Dear, when you plan something like this, whether it is a regular business
or a town ‑‑ because actually building a town is the same as manufacturing
a product -- you have to think first of your customers. There are a lot of
people who think last of their customers, and while we had certain long term
objectives, we changed them as the market changed. We didn't stop and say,
now if we rent this house to someone, he'll buy a house. We hoped he would.
But there was no way ....
Q. But it seems a reasonable gamble, since they were young families.
A. Well, that depends entirely on what you produce. As later events
demonstrated, the first houses we produced were small houses ‑‑ two bedroom
houses. The families hadn't grown that rapidly. Now at a later date, we'd
reached a conclusion we were going to lose a lot of our families if we
didn't increase the size of our houses. So we went to three bedrooms and
then, at one point, because I lived in the community and I listened to
these people, and I heard them, and they were getting four children and
five children, I went to our construction department and said, “ Can you
build me a five bedroom house? With two and a half baths and at a decent
price?” Well, they were clever in those days and the prices were right,
and we produced one that we sold ‑‑ the first ones ‑‑ for $19,500: The
first five we sold, only two buyers moved in. They resold them at $25,000.
Now, that was done deliberately. The five bedroom houses of which there
are only twenty‑six ultimately.
Q. Now where are they? I'm curious. I don't know.
A. They're in Park Forest. You'll find them. They're there.
Q. The only ones I know about are in the Lincolnwood section but that's
A. No. Not at all. Not at all. You'll find five bedroom houses, twenty‑six
of them, unless they've torn them down.
Q. Well, I'm sure they haven't.
A. I can show you where they are. They're on this side of Sauk Trail and
they're not too far in. But it's a nice piece of land, and those twenty‑six,
after we built them, we stopped.
Q. Now, is that the custom designed homes ‑‑ or they're often called that?
Is that the same area, Oakwood?
A. No. No, no. That was later. That was later.
Q. Oh, Okay. You've made me very curious. I'm going to look for those
A. You'll find them. Two‑and‑a‑half baths. Now beyond that, the work of
a merchant ‑‑ and we were merchants ‑‑ is to meet needs, at prices that
people can afford. That's why we didn't sell many American automobiles
last year. They were too big and they cost too much, and the Japanese met
our market and we didn't. Now. We later ‑‑ you somewhere in the questions
here you asked at a later date you reduced the quality of the houses? Well,
that was not really accurate. What you meant was that we produced frame
houses ‑‑ frame exteriors instead of brick houses.
Q. Well. Many people think the quality is not as good as those houses.
A. But that is the stupidity of the average buyer. He thinks that wood is
not as good as brick. As a matter of fact, the exterior isn't important.
Because it only covers the frame; it's what's behind the brick that's
important. But, we experimented with houses on the south side of Sauk Trail
and we put up an area where we said to prefabricators, "Come in, and put
your house up". We said to material producers who were building light
weight concrete, "Show us how you do it". Because we were trying to reduce
the price of the house. As a result of that experiment we bought three
hundred prefabricated houses. They were frame, but there was a lot of
value in them, and we were able to sell them for less than we would have
sold something else. And the market -- even as the market now is just going
crazy -- the market was beginning to get way out of the reach of people who
were in the rental housing and who wanted houses in Park Forest. To that
extent, yes, we tried to keep our people. They were the best customers we
had, don't you see?
Then, later, we did ‑‑ we built 500 houses off of Blackhawk. We
built some 500 small houses that were in the main, frame. Why? Because
we were getting away from the ability for the people to pay their monthly
payments and what not. An interesting thing: we priced that house ‑‑ my
recollection was ‑‑ $10,900. And we did it deliberately to keep a certain
number of people there.
From the time we became viable we always had a pricing policy
that was simple. Number one, it's got to be below anybody else's market,
a thousand to two thousand dollars on a sale house. We were able to do
that in a degree because we had bought enough land. We never marked up
our land ‑‑ all we added to our land was our original cost plus the
carrying charges. And then we only used one profit. We used it on the
land, and on the house. So we were able to produce houses at a lower
price than our competition, anywhere around, and still make a reasonable
profit. Not twenty percent, not fifteen percent, but at least ten percent.
And we were interested in having the people come, because after all we had the
shopping facilities. We ....We made our money off other things as well, don't
you see? Okay. We had the water plant until we sold it.
We expected to produce and sell five hundred in a year. So we had
overhead costs for a year; we had sales costs spread over a year, and
that was included in the mark up. We were embarrassed. We sold those five
hundred houses in thirty days. We produced them in six months. That's
how much the people wanted a house that they could afford ....even then.
And we made more profit than we expected to make off those houses, by
nearly double, because of the...
Q. Is that the frame houses?
A . . . . sales tempo. The sales tempo always‑‑ people say, "Well you can
build them faster than others." Well, you don't want to build them too
far ahead of your market because then you have to store them and you've
got interest rates, and you've got all this that's going with them. If
you can build and the market is there, and it takes as soon as you de-
liver it, you save a lot of money, in sales costs, and everything else.
And that was the most successful sales program we had.
Q. That was the prefabricated house?
A. No. That was the $10,950. The prefabricated one was on the other….
Q. The frame ones, south of Sauk Trail?
A. No. The frame ones, there were some of those north of Sauk Trail,
too. It was near the school.
Q. I know which ones you mean, I believe.
A. Yes, those little ones.
Q. Ye s. So you think the quality was maintained in construction?
A. Let me-‑‑ you know quality is not the material you use alone. It's
how you build it. The solidity of a house is not determined by whether
you use wood or you use brick. But people have constantly felt they
were buying a brick house when all they were buying was a brick exterior.
The house itself, the core of the house, the walls are frame. They are
frame! You frame the house with wood. You didn't frame it with
steel. And all you did, instead of covering it with wood shingle, you
covered it with brick. Now, the quality of the construction was the
Q. No, I think that some people think that they had problems with things
such as the roof. On the shed roof houses, leaking and that the actual
workmanship was not quite as good.
A. Well, shed roofs are different. No. It isn't the workmanship.
Sometimes it's the design. A shed roof is always more of a problem in
this area, than any other place. But some people like shed roofs.
(side 2 ‑ tape 1)
A. We haven't followed the outline very well, have we?
Q. No. We haven't, we are a little ahead of ourselves. I'd like to go back to the rental
period and talk about that. That was a very exciting period in Park Forest I think,
in a lot of ways. Why did you decide to go out to Park Forest to live with your
A. Well, it was very simple. I was spending too many hours out there. The
thing that we couldn't anticipate was that we had fixed income... draws against
mortgages for construction. We had increasing costs, and we had constant struggles
during the building, the original building period. In the first place we took bids
for those houses, and they were all high, so we decided to use our own construction
company. And we brought people in. I got a man I had known years ago, who was one
of the first FHA builders in America, Alan Harrison. And he became the head
of our construction company. He brought in as an assistant a fellow by the
name of Richard Senior, and he (Senior) brought a fellow by the name of Harold
Yost. Of the three of them, one is still with Urban, Harold Yost.
Q. I met him, yes.
A. Harold was there all the way through. Dick Senior has died, he ended up as
the head of the company.
They need constant advice and constant consultation. We had months where we
would put a couple of million dollars worth of construction in the place, which
was a tremendous amount in those days; that's the same as doing five or six
million dollars. We were working very fast, We were pouring twenty to twenty‑four
foundations a day‑‑and those were units per day. When the month came to pay the
bills sometimes it was that close (gesturing with hands). We had months where we
ended up with five or ten thousand dollars after paying out two million. And my
comptroller and I used to watch that like a hawk.
I had gotten Israel Rafkind to leave the government and come and join us, and
he was a great asset. Later, of course, Ed Waterman succeeded him when Israel went
back. As a result, I was spending too many hours there and I was away from my family
more than I should have been. We were living at 199 Lake Shore. So we took that house
right off Western Avenue ‑‑ a twin (townhouse) -‑‑ and made a single house out of them
and moved in. We took the building across the street and made it into our office and
I stayed there as many hours as l had to; every weekend was inspection. That's the
reason we moved.
A. It was the best decision and the worst decision I made. Everybody
who had a complaint knocked on my door, but it also gave me an opportunity
to understand who we were dealing with.
Q. Did it ever cause problems? For instance, for your children, being the developer's children? (Laughs)
A. Well, I had two incidents that indicate yes and no. When we were occupying that first court
where my house was, my boy Tom, who now runs a very big company, and my son ‑‑- Jimmy
was I guess about three... let's see it was about 1947, so he was born ... Tom was
born in 1939, so he was eight and Jimmy was about three and a half. And they were
lording it over all the kids-‑‑"My daddy runs the ACB," and all that. It began to be
a little bit of a problem; so Ethel was saying, "You know you've got to do
something with the boys." So I called the two in one night and I said, "Look
fellows, you know this company belongs to you as much as it does to me. I’m going
to make each of you vice‑presidents. And I gave them a badge, like every worker
had, and I said, "Every time anyone moves in, I want you, if they have children, I
want you to go over there and say to them that you would like to help them get
adjusted to the community, get acquainted and so forth. " Well one day my wife was
on a train going into Chicago and a friend of hers stopped and said, "Hello Mrs.
Klutznick." Another lady said, "Are you Mrs. Klutznick? Are you by any chance the
mother of Jimmy Klutznick?" She said yes. She said, "You know when we moved in, a
little fellow knocks on the door." "Does he lisp?" "Yes, he lisps." And she says,
"Who are you?" He says, "My name is Jimmy Klutznick. I'm the vice‑president of
American Community Builders. You have children. I want to meet them." She says
there's nothing nicer happened to them. So that was one aspect. (Laughs)
The other aspect, of course, was we built a little house down on the corner of
Western and 26th Street there. The nursery school, Mrs. Waldmann's famous nursery
school, and we used it as community house ... that was done deliberately, too,
because people needed a place to be and to go. And we were in the midst of some sort
of a haggle over something in the village. I think it was the budget -- I could
comment on that in a minute. When, suddenly, it was a dark night and we were
upstairs just getting ready to go bed, when people came with torches out of the
nursery school and turned up Western Avenue, and Bettylu, my oldest, said, "Mother,
mother, they're coming to get daddy." (Laughter)
So, you know those are the kind of ... I think of these things because it
was, if you talk to the children today ‑‑ we had all five of them, but two of them
didn't know too much about what happened. It was a great experience for them. A
very great experience. Certainly! They learned how ... they saw what their father
was engaged in. They knew that they were part of the community. They've got friends
to this day that they made in those days.
You talk about the nursery school. Not too long ago‑-‑ I'm still vice chairman of
the trustees of the Committee for Economic Development ‑‑- we were changing
presidents. The president was retiring, and a man who was selected by the committee
had to come out here to interview me before we voted on it. And we were sitting
there and having lunch and he says to me, "You know I've known you a long time." I
said, "How come?" He said, "I started my life right after I was out of the Army in
Park Forest, and my wife taught at Mrs. Waldmann's nursery school." This man
ultimately became a member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve and we
took him away from the Federal Reserve and he's to this day the President
of the Committee for Economic Development. There's hardly anyplace that I've been
where someone doesn't come up to me and say, "I remember you. I was in Park Forest
for a few years." During the campaign, this last campaign, when I was traveling
around campaigning, I don't know how many people I've met (former Park Foresters).
And it was a great experience. It was also an experience in learning how to
maintain a certain amount of restraint. My living there was important, because my
other associate ‑‑- Bieber moved in later -- not living there had notions about the
kinds of people that were there and reactions that were entirely different than
those of us who were part of the community. I got to understand their pains and
And you think people moved in with outside walks. That isn't because we wanted
them to move in. We had people offer us money to let them move in before the
plastering was done. People don't realize how desperate the housing situation was
for, primarily, returning veterans who got their first jobs. And they were paying
two hundred a month for a little room at the Sherman House or someplace of that
sort, with a couple of little kids. Therefore they were desperate. I remember one
case where an organization that t had been a vice‑chairman of called me up and said,
"One of our good friends is moving to Chicago. Will you please take care of him?" He
was a veteran. He was in charge of our war service unit. He moved out there. He came
out. I showed him the place. I said, "Look, it's not going to be easy. You've got
all this room, but you're going to have to use the boardwalks. And you know in the
winter it gets a little rough." So‑‑"Oh, I need this place. Please Mr. Klutznick." I
let him in. He became one of the leaders of the antagonists. Well, he ‑‑ you know,
that's human nature. But we solved that.
I read one day that the mayor of Louisville had one day a week in
which people would come in if they had any complaints against the city.
I called the staff together, and I said, "Look, we've got all of these
complaints. Some of them we can do something about. Others we can't.
Here's the mayor of Louisville. I suspect a lot of our people are having
trouble with our maintenance people and others who get mad after awhile,
too. They're human beings. Why don't we announce to the various court,
that each one select representatives and we meet one evening a week to
receive any complaints? And we have the staff there; I will preside."
Well, we tried that. It worked like a charm. We met, I think it was six
or eight weeks, and then people quit coming. You know? We would receive
it (a complaint), I( turned to Dick Senior and said, "Dick, can you do
anything about that court?" He said, "We can't do anything until spring."
Well, people were reasonable. All they wanted was an authentic answer.
Or something would come up; the management man would say, "I'll see that's
taken care of the first thing Monday morning." We met on Friday. And he
would. And I'd insist on a report on it. Well, pretty soon they
recognized we were doing everything we could. We made our mistakes, like
they did-‑‑ so they quit coming. So at the end of about six or eight weeks
I said, "It's apparent that it isn't working. Or it's working too well.
So from now on, instead of all us staying here and having no one present
to complain -‑‑ on Saturday morning, the Chief of Management, John Lang will
be in his office to receive nothing but complaints.
Well, it was those kind of things you couldn't know if you didn't
live there. You just couldn't know it. The school situation, you could
never know unless you were there. And no one has ever written the story
of the schools adequately. No one has ever written it. You know, you could complain
bitterly about, "Well that construction wasn't good." For $10,850 they bought more
construction than they could have bought anywhere else, and they probably made a
profit off of the house. The reason Park Forest was successful, incidentally, is
because people who bought houses there, if they had to move somewhere, they sold at
a profit. And that made it a good place. Later on, people had to sell lots of
But, you take the schools situation. You raised the question about the
schools. We negotiated at length with (Chicago Heights District) 170, and we did
have, for a temporary period, children who would go there (to Chicago Heights
Schools). They didn't have enough space. Their situation was moving badly. So the
first thing we did was put schools in temporary housing. Then, early in the game
we decided Park Foresters were going to have to control our schools. The people of
Park Forest established an elementary school district. But, under the law, they
don't have any power to levy bonds until the real estate was on the tax roll. This
worried us considerably and we wanted those schools as quickly as possible. We had a
number of board meetings and I got our lawyers to work on this and we finally cane
up with the idea of a not‑for‑profit corporation that would build a school. We would
advance money for it on an agreement with the board that as soon as the property was
on the tax roll that they would issue their bonds. And we'd undertake to take the
bond or it would be sold publicly, if they could not sell. To my knowledge no one
ever did anything like that in the housing business anywhere in the country. The
interesting thing about it is that our lawyer gave us the final opinion before we
went ahead in which he said, "You must understand that this agreement that this board
makes is not binding on the
next board and they could renege.
Q. Oh, the school board, you mean?
A. Yes. I said, "Then we'd foreclose on our mortgage and take over the building." What else could we do? Let it be said to the credit of the school board, they not only never reneged, but ‑‑ and we did this on several schools. At one point we had more than half of all of our working capital committed to schools. But we got to a point where we were building housing and schools at the same time and that was a concept that came out of our company, not out of anybody else. We could have lived there without schools and taken ten years longer. That goes to the question of economics. What good is it to hold land ten years longer when by making an investment in a facility that the people need, even if you're not obligated to do it, you can cut that period by two or three years. It was good for them. It was good for us! It was good business for us. And I don't understand to this day why others don't recognize it. Take the high school. I don't know if you've talked to Jim Patterson.
Q. Yes. We have.
A. Well, Jim deserves a tremendous amount of credit. But Jim knows he couldn't have done it without us and he'd be the first one to admit it. He is one of the finest men who ever lived there, and one of the finest men who ever worked on that board, and for only one reason: Jim was a part of a corporate structure, Standard Oil, where he knew business principles. A lot of the people we dealt with were magnificent thinkers. Wonderful theoreticians, in the early group. But when it came to business judgment they just did not think. Now Jim was both; he was a highly motivated man, and we came along with the idea that we wanted to create our own
school district, things that had to be done to get to the point of the realization of that first high school ‑‑ we could have slipped anywhere along the way, anywhere along the way. But, that committee that he worked on got the election through, it got through because we committed ourselves in plans for fifty‑four acres of land and to put up certain resources and
money, and our architects did some designing; it was a collaboration that was absolutely magnificent. It's one of my favorite experiences of the kind of work together that you can do, where you have an objective in common and where it's good for each community. It's good for us to get that high school there, and quit having the kinds ....
My daughter went to Bloom High School; my boys went to Rich. My son, Tom, was in the
choir and when Jay Hoel took them east, I was then president of the B'nai B'rith and we had
them come to Washington at the International Convention where John Foster Dulles spoke, and
they sang to that group of about fifteen hundred people. It was a grand experience for them.
My boy, Jimmy, played football. He was a quarterback. And the others went to school. My boy,
Sam, who's here (in Chicago), was the snob of the bunch. He had my chauffeur drive him to
school and sit up front, and the other boys away in the back, (laughter) afraid someone would
recognize them, you know. But it was a good experience. I don't....
Q. Were you surprised by the rapid increase in the school population now, because ‑‑ although I know there were some schools drawn in on the early plan, my understanding was that the idea was the Chicago Heights
district, would build those eventually?
A. Well, that really was a hope, but never an idea. They were, in the main, the worst people I dealt with. First of all, they thought it was all a joke. Let me give you an example: the Mayor (of Chicago Heights), Maurino Richton, at the time -‑ I said to him, "Look. We can do one of two things. We can either put in our own sewage
disposal plant or we can tie into this district plant, which needs us." "Oh, we'll oppose it."
And they were going to oppose it. Well, the Illinois sanitary and water board made them agree
to it. But, in order to get them to agree to it, they had a sewage problem; and we had to
agree to build our mains larger so that they could take care of their sewage problem. Now that
kind of thing was nasty, just plain nasty. When it came to the questions of schools
we had long discussions. It never came to work.
Q. I think it was Bob Dinerstein who told me that it was after the problem with the sewage district that suddenly the Chicago Heights School Board voted not to take care of the Park Forest children.
A. They were two different groups. Bob wasn't even in that discussion at the time. We made up our minds
long before, because they weren't ... Look, Bob was one of the best citizens we had in this
place. He still lives there?
Q. Oh, yes.
A. He does!
A. One of the best citizens. A first class village president, an able fellow. But this demonstrates what the problem was. The first one was Dennis 0'Harrow. He was the first president of the village board. Now, I sat
with those fellows - ‑ Henry Dietch was either on the board, yes, he was on the board at the
time.. on their first budget. They didn't have a cent or anything to do with. They had to
get their money from us. So they presented me an esoteric budget requiring --‑ we had at that
time a thousand people living in the whole place -‑‑ twenty‑six policemen. Now you take
Bridgeport, with industrial plants, and with houses spread all over the area, they didn't
have twenty‑six policemen. They used Bridgeport as an example. They had about eighteen, but
they said, "We're growing fast, we need twenty‑six. I said, "You can't have twenty‑six. We
won't put up money for twenty‑six." The biggest police problem we have in this town, is
street crossing for kids, nothing else. We don't have any great crime. We don't have any
industry." And I'd sit night after night ‑‑- and they got mad. Well, I couldn't help them; I
wasn't going to go broke to satisfy them. These were able people, and they never knew about
village economics at all. They knew
that they had a landlord here, and they were going to take him, if they could, to protect
their position. They'll be able to say, "Look he wanted to give us six policemen, we
insisted on twenty‑six and we got them." Well, there was a year or so when it wasn't good.
But I'm not exactly a softie; on the other hand I wasn't going to let the company go broke
to satisfy Dennis 0'Harrow who was going to prove at ASPO (American Society of Planning
Officials) I'd been in planning business myself, and I knew something about planning, and
I knew when it didn't make sense. And this was just that kind of a discussion.
Q. But you put yourself in that position by encouraging the incorporation of the village, so that they
couldn't take you and make these kinds of demands.
A. Well, I did that deliberately. I was in the minority when we started talking about the village and putting the village in place, and over a period of months our board agreed. Our Director of Management at that
time was a fellow by the name of Abner Silverman, who had made the first study and was a
very solid fellow and had a good real estate background. We didn't do this gratuitously. We
could see that was going to be a village to start with, and if it had been homeowners, it
would have been much easier because they would have had to pay the tax and the motivation
would have been different. The one thing we argued, we were fully aware of the fact that
tenants don't react the same to a tax bill, because they're not knowledgeable enough in
the main to understand that they're paying taxes. They are, but they think I'm paying it,
you know. They don't realize it reflects itself in the rent. If the tax bill had gone up,
if our costs had gone up, the rent would have had to go up faster than it did go up. You
can say that, but nevertheless, the fellow says, "Look I'm not going to be here but a year
or two, let the other fellow pay it." There isn't the same stake in it. And it's very
But I argued from several points of view. One, the zoning law of the county was
bad, and to get it changed was going to take more energy and more
costs. For us to change the zoning laws, what were essentially rural laws,
would require the approval of all the other townships and that would have
delayed us a long time. So I said, number one: whatever the zoning laws are,
these are reasonable people, so it will be a little worse, it will be a little
better, but we'll gain a lot of time and we'll get our people's interest in
it. So the first motivation was really to straighten out the control of the
laws that would have anything to do with what you built and how you built it.
I argued. I'd rather take a risk with people who live here than people who
live in Evanston who would have something to say about it. And there's
always a risk in zoning. What the heck, even the government used to have it
with all of its power. So, secondly, this was a raw community. I've always
been in voluntary activity, from the day I was a kid I was in voluntary asso-
ciations, and (have been) president and chairman (of more organizations than
I'd like to think of. This is the only time, I think, in sixty years that I’m
not chairman of something. (Laughter) I'm not sure of that even, I'll have
to check. (Laughter) But I believe in people working with people. I found
that if I didn't do that in my government work -‑‑ I had a department in the old
Federal Public Housing Authority, with the finest woman in charge of it, just
to invite people in to criticize us and to discuss things with us, because
you learn from them.
And in the final analysis, I felt, these people ‑‑ I looked over the kind
of people who were coming here. They were PhD's, the MA's and they were
having their first experiences in the community. Sure they were going to be
rough, but what the heck, I could be rough too. I didn't have to do it, you
know. So I'd be unpopular! But, it seemed to me, to be a good antidote to
the loneliness of the place. The place was not really -‑‑ we hadn't achieved yet
a community. If they had this in common to fight for, we would lose, but we would win. And I must tell you those were long nights because of it, and as
Holly White said, he said, "When will you feel that you won this battle?" And I think I
said something like, this ‑‑- my recollection is, I haven't looked at the book in years ‑--
that when I can drive down Western Avenue in a Cadillac and no one will say, "There goes
that rich son of a bitch, Phil Klutznick." (laughter) And I was far from rich, (laughter)
you know, but they had that notion. Now, I think it was the best thing we ever did.
A. On reflection. It created a spirit, an interest, and in the final analysis,
sure you paid the price for it. Let me give you an example. As far as (Lincolnwood), it
was either (Lincolnwood) or the west side development that was up for zoning. This was
already after a few years, so it must have been about nineteen fifty‑three or nineteen
fifty‑four. I had a couple of associates who just were not going to move. They said they
thought the demands of the village were unreasonable. Walter Blucher was then the head of
the Plan Commission. I was then president of the B'nai B'rith as I recall and
traveling all over the world and what not, and I came back one day and I came out there
and I said, "Look, we're going to lose a lot of money this year. You're not building. Why
aren't you building?" "Ah, those dirty s.o.b.'s, you know they won't do this, they won't
do that." Well, I said, "You pay the two dollars. You're better off paying the two dollars
and completing the development if they're that unreasonable. Let me work with Walter." So
I called up Walter, and said, "Walter, let's go to the club and have lunch." We
sat down; I had known Walter for years. An able man, extraordinarily able man, one of
the great planners of America at one point. I said, “Walter, let's put it bluntly.
What's the least thing that you need that will make it possible for us to go ahead?" We
argued over about three or four things, and I said to him, "Look I think you want too
much land for that public
purpose because I don't think you'd use it. I think you're being unfair there. But I
think here, hell, I can't argue with you, so the density will be a little more or less,
what difference does it make? You want it better that way? Let's go that way. " Well,
when lunch was over, I said to him, "Now, I didn't handle this. I'll talk to my board and
I'll be back." So I had an argument with the board. I said, "We are damn fools. We are
in business, or are we in arguments? Suppose you were in Chicago. You wouldn't have the
same sort of an argument. If you were in the country it would have been worse. So let's
make the deal and have it over with." And we made the deal.
There was a lot of this that would go on. You see, after all, I was proud of that
village. I lived there. My home. And if it cost a little more, so what? It was good
business. So the next year we made money. The year we argued we lost money. So in the
final analysis it was better for everybody.
These are the kind of things ‑‑ and by the time it was over with, I don't know but I
think one of the proudest days I had was when Congresswoman Woodridge came out from
Connecticut. She was quite a woman. She wanted to see Park Forest, and I took her around.
She met a lot of people. She went back and made a statement that this was the grandest
school for civics that she had ever seen. And it's true. You take in the Jewish community
there were people who were lost in Chicago and moved out there, and they became heads of
synagogues, the heads of boards of education, and they sang in choirs. They were
important people. And what's the purpose of a community, except to build up the courage
and the strength of folks who live there.
I think it was a great place. I really do. I enjoyed it, in spite of all the hell I
got (laughter). But I think it was an achievement in several ways. One, you've mentioned.
No one ever invited tenants to incorporate a village. I'll never forget the tent meeting.
When we said it, they didn't believe us. They didn't believe us. They were very skeptical
of why we were doing it. And
I can understand it. They would have been happy, I guess, if we had gone with the
suggestions (not to incorporate), many of them would have been. That was one. The other
thing was the school program. I think the fact that we did what did was good for the
community and good for us. Those are the things that are all very good. The quality of a
modest community is after all demonstrated by the difference between Park Forest and a lot
of other communities that were built around that time. You can see it there now. I think I
mentioned to you, when you were here, this fellow from Olympia Fields was on the plane
with me last Friday night coming back from New York. He sat down next to me. He lived in
Olympia Fields, and I said, "Did you ever see Park Forest?" "Oh, yes, yes. We go there for
shopping and what not." He was a young man who was quite substantial, apparently, he has a
trucking company. He said to me, "That is the finest modest community I've ever seen." And
it is. Well this is not a community for -‑- people move from there to Flossmoor, for
snobbish reasons, not because they were unhappy with Park Forest. And because they've made
a lot of money there, in Park Forest.
Q. By modest, do you mean modest in income, in size?
A. Modest in income. It could have been a slum. Because communities ...
Q. Many people from surrounding communities thought it was going to be, I understand.
A. I know. I think one of the reasons it isn't is because there's a carryover of the civic interest that was
developed in the incorporation of that village and of people running their own village.
Now it could happen in the next generation, it could go the other way. But, the other
thing that happened, just like trees grew up, that were saplings, and it made the place
look prettier, people grew up. They grew in an atmosphere where I think they've
maintained a standard for a community of that income level , that kind of demand that
is very high. And I'm proud of it. I haven't seen it for two years.
Q. Good. Good. I'm curious about the quality of those first tenants, because, of course, it's been often
remarked that they were an exceedingly well educated group and many of them eventually
became quite successful in their own fields. To what extent did ACB's tenant selection
processes have to do with that, do you think?
A. Well, you asked that question. I think
to a limited extent. We didn't ask people if they had any MA's or PhD's. The times had
more to do with it. First of all, we were on a direct line to the University of Chicago.
So a vet who came with a couple of kids, no matter how many degrees he had, could only
find a house that he wanted in a place like Park Forest. Secondly, the demand for
housing was so great that many of them were perfectly willing to take a two bedroom
house as long as they got it for $73 or $80, which was like Nirvana for them. So they
came out there even though the transportation was a problem. So I think the economy and
the society - ‑ now once the first group came out of that quality it was a very natural
thing that others would follow. Because they passed the word - ‑ to those with whom they
did associate with? The best rule of business is that your best salesman is the one who
bought. Those who came to Park Forest became much better salesmen than those who were
selling for us. And the consequence was, if you played fair with them -‑‑ Sure, we had our
differences. We had to increase the water rates by five cents, all hell broke loose.
They wanted to send us to jail or something, I don't know. But, that was an evidence of
the vitality of the community. There's nothing vicious about it. They just felt they ‑-
I didn't like it, but they had a right to express themselves. And that was the
spirit of the community. And I think the original group came there out
of the necessities of the times and they brought, in succeeding waves, many of
Q. I see. Yes. So you feel that they were being totally unreasonable
just to be unreasonable a lot of the time, but that they really were inter-
ested in the community?
A. Let me tell you something about tenants. They are generally un-
reasonable, just to be unreasonable. To let you know, for example, I
have an apartment in a cooperative in Washington, the Watergate. From Water Tower
(Place) to Watergate. (Laughter) And when we locked up and went away, they
said, "Aren't you coming back?" I said, "Well, not very often." The
manager came up to say, "You know, you folks have caused us less trouble ‑-
now these are ownership, they pay monthly fees - - than anybody that's ever
been here." And my wife turned to him and said, "Because my husband has been
on your side of the fence and he never lets me complain." (laughter) Well,
you know people. There are a lot of things in a house that go wrong and that
you can correct by just doing a little something yourself. People like to
have you know they're alive. There's nothing wrong with it. And nine times
out of ten it develops into a good relationship. But you get a few bad
apples, and in small community and it can create a lot of trouble. On a few
occasions we had those kind of issues. But as the community matured I don't
think it was very serious. People mature in a community, too, you know.
Q. Yes. Yes. On the incorporation, I don't mean to imply that the reasons
you gave me were not the reasons that you encouraged the incorporation, but
weren't there some financial advantages in reference to state motor fuel
funds and those sort of things, also?
A. Well, there was an advantage to a community. Not to us. We got nothing.
As a matter of fact, one of the ‑‑ certainly, once you established village or an
identifiable source, instead of going to the county, it goes there. But at the time we
incorporated, with a hundred people, it didn’t mean anything. But ultimately, they spent
that. We got no advantage out of it at all.
Q. You didn't get any help on building the streets, or roads or anything of that sort from state or county funds?
A. No. They do, on maintenance, after they took over. They made us adhere to the proper standards all the
time. So that when they took them over that they would be in good shape. Which was perfectly proper. And they had their inspection, as they should have had. Now, there are advantages to a village and there are disadvantages. There are also disadvantages. You know, when people live that closely together and they elect their officers, sometimes there's a certain amount of hatred that develops between certain people. But in terms of the sheer operation of your own community, of course, it was better for them. We gave it
up. What right did we have in it? I had one vote out of how many thousand? No, the
financial considerations that were involved didn't compensate at all for the difficulties
that came out. You take Columbia. What did Rouse do? He didn't incorporate the place. I
argued with him about this. I think he made a mistake. He continued to control it for
what? -- fourteen years, I think, or something like that. And it is called a model
village. I think the best democracy you have, the best demonstration you have is in the
place where you live. That's where people grow up to either be the right kind of people
or they don't: They don't grow up that way because of government, and I think they ought
to be responsible for their acts to the degree that it's possible. I've always felt that
way; I still feel that way. The hardest work that one does, is not being the
President of the United States, it's being the mayor of a town. And it's the most
important work that's done. That's a philosophy that most of us who were involved in
this ‑‑ and when I brought in a fellow like Elbert Peets, Elbert Peets was a
philosopher as well as a planner. Jerry Loebl, he believed in democracy, all the way
through. Ab Silverman, Johnny Lange, these people were people (who) they grew up in
the notion of participation. Those were the kind of people who were operating. Izzy
Rafkin, My God, he used to fight everybody, you see, and sometimes us. (laughter) Very
tough! No. No. The crew, in that management operation ‑‑ Charles Waldmann, Charlie
Waldmann was a Hungarian who had known what it is to suffer in the European idiom. A
tough Hungarian. And his lovely wife, were as democratic and as ... look, when Charlie
got into a meeting, a planning meeting, he was thinking of the people who were going to
use it, he wasn't thinking of that life. He always used to go around and say, "I wear a
pair of suspenders and a belt, because you've got to protect yourself twice. I think
what we do here, we should make the sewer just a little a bit bigger, so there won't
be a question of capacity." That kind of a human being! These were wonderful people!
And they're the ones that built it; I was merely the captain of the team, that was all.
(laughter) But they were all that kind of people.
Why did I get Alan Harrison? Because Alan Harrison at his height was one of the
first developers of good housing under FHA in America. Buckingham Village was his job,
cited to this day, as the best. We paid him, for those days, a salary that was just
considered to be outrageous. But we had a team of people. Senior lived there, Yost
lived there, they were part of the community.
A. Did you ever stop and say, "My God, I created a monster here? Why did I do this?'
A. No. Never.
A. Never, never, never. I'm very proud of it. Why should I say ‑‑ I
didn't create a monster.
Q. Good. A very good answer.
A. You had one other question there that I think we ought to get clear on
and that was the question of integration.
Q. Okay. We're almost to the end of the tape, real close to it, and you're
close to your luncheon engagement. Would you like to stop here? That's
going to take awhile, I think.
A. Well, it will take a couple of minutes. The answer, there was never any
prohibition against anybody, and the best evidence is that Asians were invited
in even at that time. Invited in? They applied and they were admitted. The
second thing is that there was no affirmative action program, I'll admit, be-
cause there wasn't any such thing as an affirmative action program in those
days. The thing is, that the minute it became apparent that this was becoming
an issue, I invited in the best man in America, at that time, Dr. Frank Horne.
END OF TAPE #1