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Alfred Rheinstein Obituary

New York Times, 28 May 1974

Alfred Rheinstein Dead at 85; Founded Construction Concern
Ex-Head of Housing Authority Directed Slum-Clearance and Low-Cost Projects

Alfred Rheinstein, civil engineer and builder, who as chairman of the City Housing Authority from 1937-1939 developed several of the most important Government Slum-clearance and low-cost housing projects here, died yesterday in Doctors Hospital. He was 85 years old and lived at 700 Park Avenue.

Mr. Rheinstein was chairman and chief executive officer of the Rheinstein Construction Company, which he founded in 1925 and served as president until 1970. Among his buildings were the West Side plant of The New York Times and the extension of its 43d Street building, the 33-story office building at 21 West Street and the 20-story Bartholomew Building on East 42d and 43d streets.

After the passage of the $500-million Wagner-Steagall Housing Act of 1937, Mayor Fiorello H. La Guardia appointed Mr. Rheinstein to head the City Housing Authority and expand its functions under the new law.

Mr. Rheinstein selected the sites, purchased the land, appointed the architects and supervised contruction of the Queensbridge Houses (3,149 families), Red Hook Houses (2,545 families) and Vladeck Houses (1,771 families). He competed the Queensbridge and Red Hook projects at savings of $9-million on the original estimates, establishing a new low cost for public housing.

Trustee of Mount Sinai
He started similar operations for the East River Houses and South Jamaica Houses, which were completed after his administration, and he chose the sites for the Kingsborough, Clason Point and San Juan Hill Houses before his resignation.

During 1938-39 he also served as City Commissioner of Housing and Building and in 1939 also as Director of Public Housing.

Mr. Rheinstein became a trustee of Mount Sinai Hospital in 1941 and, as its chairman of it building committee completed a $13-million construction program.

He was born March 19, 1889, in Wilmington, N.C., the son of Frederick and Adele Dannenbaum Rheinstein. His father, a merchant, had been purchasing agent for the Confederate States of America.

He graduated as a civil engineer in 1911 from Princeton University where he was captain of the water polo team. He served on the advisory council of the department of civil engineering and on the university graduate council.

Mr. Rheinstein, started as a timekeeper for a construction gang, working 11 hours a day for $10 a week. In several years he rose to assistant general superintendent of the construction firm of H. H. Oddie, Inc., here. In 1914, with Robert K. Haas, he formed a predecessor of his last company.

In World War I, Mr. Rheinstein was officer in charge of construction of buildings, roads and landing fields at Rockwell Field, Calif. He also served as an aviator with the Army Signal Corps.

Appointed by Dewey
In World War II he served on the facility review committee of the War Production Board.

In 1945, Gov. Thomas E. Dewey appointed him to take over the details of the emergency housing program as head of a division of the State Housing Commission. 

Mr. Rheinstein had been a trustee of Vassar College, and the Citizens Budget Commission. He was also a director of the Union Settlement, the New York Building Congress, the Regional Plan Association, the Citizens Housing Council, the West Side Association of Commerce, the Jewish Agricultural Society and the Hebrew Sheltering and Guardian Society. 

A former president of the Building Contractors and Mason Builders Association, he belonged to the Engineers and Princeton Clubs here.

Surviving are his widow, the former Katherine Sproehnle; two sons, Frederic of Encino, Calif., and Robert, president of the Rheinstein Construction Company; a daughter, Mrs. Katherine Warren of Old Greenwich Conn.; a sister, Dr. Alice Bernheim of Casey Key, Fla., and nine grandchildren.

A funeral service will be held Thursday at 10 A.M. at Frank E. Campbell’s Madison Avenue and 81st Street. 

Owner/SourceNew York Times
Date28 May 1974
Linked toAlfred RHEINSTEIN

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