Penn South

The idealism of the cooperative movement and the community spirit of organized labor inspired the creation of Penn South. Its legacy goes back to the early 1800s and the little town of Rochdale, near Manchester, England. Men, women, and children had been swept into the "dark, Satanic mills" of the Industrial Revolution. In 1844, 28 Rochdale weavers contributed their pennies to set up the first cooperative store. They formed the Equitable Pioneers Society, which spread to farming, dairying, housing, education, wholesaling, and banking and became worldwide.

President Abraham Lincoln saluted Rochdale for being largely responsible for keeping the British out of the Civil War on the side of the South. In 1944, President Roosevelt paid tribute to the Rochdale Pioneers on their 100th anniversary. At the dedication of Penn South in 1962, President John F. Kennedy and Eleanor Roosevelt honored us with their presence. Also present at the dedication were Governor Nelson Rockefeller, Mayor Robert Wagner, ILGWU President David Dubinsky, UHF President Abraham E. Kazan, and other dignitaries.

The foresight of Penn South's founders, the perseverance of dedicated leadership, and adherence to democratic principles account for our success. Four decades after the first residents moved in, Penn South continues to improve its buildings and grounds. Our shareholders continue to enjoy park-like grounds, expanses of lawn and trees, improved landscaping, well-kept entrances and lobbies, generous apartment layouts, and panoramic views.

We have also supported comprehensive social programs, corresponding to the needs of our cooperators. Penn South hosts the Penn South Program for Seniors (PSPS), which is one of the most inclusive self-help programs in the city. An award-winning intergenerational garden pairs seniors and children who have made the space on 25th Street near 9th Avenue a neighborhood attraction.

A youth recreation room, a toddler playroom, and two playgrounds are important parts of our cooperative community. A number of clubs and community room activities offer cooperators access to a pottery studio, a space for woodworkers, an exercise room, and classes in Yoga, Tai Chi, meditation, and martial arts, to name just a few. (See Penn South Groups and Clubs for details.)

Our Board of Directors, Cooperative Council, Management, maintenance staff, and security force are committed to honor, preserve, and extend our rich heritage and to improve the quality of our lives, which was a prime concern of the founders of the cooperative movement.

For a brief history of the Rochdale Pioneers, see: David J. Thompson, Weavers of Dreams: Founders of the Modern Co-operative Movement. University of California Press: 1994.

Next: Cooperative Rochdale Principles

Penn South: Not Just Bricks and Mortar
Weaver of Dreams, Too
Cooperative Rochdale Principles

Copyright © 2001 Penn South