The project was proposed by the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company in 1944, and largely served an African American population, in contrast to Met Life's Parkchester in the Bronx (1940), Peter Cooper Village—Stuyvesant Town in Manhattan, Park La Brea in Los Angeles, Parkmerced in San Francisco, and Parkfairfax in Alexandria, Virginia, which were restricted to a whites-only tenancy at the time of their construction. The development consists of seven 13-story buildings situated on a 12-acre (49,000 m2) site located between 135th Street and 138th Street, and Fifth Avenue and the Harlem River. Some of the units on upper floors had views into the Polo Grounds.
In August 2008, Laurence Gluck's Stellar Management LLC notified its mortgage servicer that it anticipated defaulting on the property's $225 million mortgage within a month, since it was unable to convert half of the property's 1,230 rent-stabilized apartments to market rate; Stellar had owned the property from 2005. CWCapital won control of the complex in an auction held March 11, 2010, and began operating it through Rose Associates Inc. As of mid-2013, Riverton Houses was managed by CompassRock Real Estate. A&E Real Estate Holdings purchased the development for $201 million in 2016.
- "  HOUSING PROJECT TO RISE IN HARLEM; Metropolitan Life to Build Community for 1,200 Families in a Neglected Section TO RENT AT $12.50 A ROOM 12-acre (49,000 m2) Site Being Acquired Will Be Landscaped -- Cost of Structures $5 millionThe New York Times, September 18, 1944. p. 21
- Biondi, M. 2007. 'Robert Moses, Race and the Limits of an Activist State.' in H. Ballon and K. T. Jackson (eds.). Robert Moses and the Modern City, the Transformation of New York. New York: WW Norton.
- Dorsey v. Stuyvesant Town Corp. 299 NY 512; 87 NE2nd 541; 1949 NY LEXIS 961; 14 ALR 2d 133
- 'Harlem Developers Near Default.' Wall Street Journal. 15 August 2008. Accessed at http://s.wsj.net/article/SB121876812066243453.html?mod=RealEstateMain_1
- 'Riverton Apartments in Harlem auctioned for 125M.' New York Daily News. 12 March 2010.
- 'Announcements.' http://www.riverton-square.com/riverton-square/. accessed 20 May 2013.
- In Harlem Buildings, Reminders of Easy Money and the Financial Crisis