Posts Tagged ‘alphabet city’

When Avenue C was renamed Loisaida

March 16, 2012

Back in the 1970s, the Spanglish bastardization of “Lower East Side” entered the local lexicon.

The new neighborhood name came from a poem by a community activist named Bimbo Rivas. He also pioneered the Nuyorican movement—a collection of artists of Puerto Rican descent centered on the East Village.

As the neighborhood’s Hispanic population grew, Loisaida was increasingly tossed around in mainstream publications, on storefronts, and in maps. An official street sign even went up in 1987 on Avenue C between 14th and Houston Streets.

But you hear it much less these days—a casualty of gentrification. The 2010 census found that for the first time since the 1980s, Hispanics make up less than half of the population East of Avenue B.

I wonder how many of the new residents know what Loisaida means?

[Loisaida Drugs & Surgicals (Avenue C and East Third Street) photo: from the Bridge and Tunnel Club]

Fancy flats—or low-rent tenement apartments?

February 22, 2011

In the late 19th century, could you class up a typical city tenement building by calling it a flat?

Looks like some developers thought so.

“French flats”—distinguished from tenement houses by modern luxuries such as parlors, dining rooms, servants’ rooms, and indoor plumbing—caught on in the city after 1870.

But considering that neither Williamsburg nor the East Village were upper-class neighborhoods, I doubt the residents who ended up in the Havemayer Flats, on Havemayer Street, or the Mascot Flats, at 6th Street near Avenue D, had servants.

Mascot Flats has an interesting recent history. Abandoned and then torn apart by thieves and drug addicts by the early 1980s, it was renovated in 1986 with help from Jimmy Carter and Habitat for Humanity.

Check out photos of the pre-renovated interior here. A 1990 documentary, The Rebuilding of Mascot Flats, chronicles its rebirth.