Loisaida, Manhattan | DiverseCITY

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♪ [THEME MUSIC] ♪>>WE ARE NEW YORK.>>WELCOME TO DIVERSECITY, WHERE WE EXPLORE NEW YORK’S ECLECTIC ENCLAVES ONE NEIGHBORHOOD AT A TIME. I AM ZYPHUS LEBRUN. THIS MONTH WE ARE HERE IN LOISAIDA, THE NEIGHBORHOOD ON THE LOWER EAST SIDE. IT GOT ITS SPANGLISH NICKNAME FROM THE PUERTO RICAN ARTIST AND ACTIVIST BIMBO RIVAS WHO WROTE THE POEM “LOISAIDA, I LOVE YOU. I DIG THE WAY YOU TALK.” THE COMMUNITY IS ONE OF THE CITY’S EPICENTERS OF PUERTO RICAN AND LATINO CULTURE. THE OTHER BEING HARLEM’S EL BARRIO. PUERTO RICANS BEGAN SETTLING IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD IN THE LATE ’40s AND EARLY ’50s. MOST WERE MODERATE TO LOW INCOME. THE AREA EXPERIENCED DIVESTMENT WHEN LANDLORDS WALKED AWAY FROM THEIR BUILDINGS AND STOREFRONTS BECAME DRUG FRONTS. SUBSEQUENTLY, PUERTO RICANS WERE ON THE FOREFRONT OF A MOVEMENT THAT REVITALIZED THE COMMUNITY THROUGH ART, CULTURE, AND POLITICS. PLACES LIKE THIS CAFE AND MANY COMMUNITY GARDENS IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD NOW EPITOMIZE LOISAIDA. ON THIS EPISODE, LOISAIDA, WHERE ARE YOU? SOME RESIDENTS FEEL THE NEIGHBORHOOD IS SUFFERING AN IDENTITY CRISIS. A PLAN TO SHORE UP EAST RIVER PARK IS NOT HOLDING WATER WITH RESIDENTS AND ACTIVISTS. LITTLE GERMANY, THE COMMUNITY THAT WAS WAY BEFORE LOISAIDA. THOSE STORIES AND MORE COMING UP AS WE EXPLORE LOISAIDA. ♪>>THERE IS A GRASSROOTS MOVEMENT AFOOT TO RAISE AWARENESS AND POSSIBLY STOP A CITY PLAN THAT COULD BURY THE EAST RIVER PARK UNDER NEARLY 10 FEET OF DIRT. THIS PLAN IS PART OF SOMETHING CALLED THE EAST SIDE COASTAL RESILIENCY PROJECT. IT IS PROPOSED TO BE THE ANSWER TO THE IMMINENT THREAT OF ANOTHER HURRICANE SANDY. CRITICS AND RESIDENTS SAY THE PLAN LACKS VISION AND MAY DO MORE HARM THAN GOOD. IT IS QUIET IN THE EAST RIVER PARK. JOGGERS GO ABOUT AS USUAL. A REMINDER THAT THIS STRETCH OF LAND HAS BECOME PART OF THEIR EVERY DAY IS ABOUT TO CHANGE, FOREVER.>>I THINK THERE WAS A BETRAYAL OF THE COMMUNITY. I THINK THAT IS REALLY ONE OF THE THINGS THAT IS HARD TO SWALLOW. THIS NEW PLAN IS REALLY — IT FEELS LIKE THEY WANT TO SHOVE IT DOWN OUR THROAT.>>CHRISTINE IS A LOWER EAST SIDE RESIDENT AND RUNS THE LOWER EAST SIDE ECOLOGY CENTER. THE CENTER DOES EVERYTHING FROM COMPOSTING TO RUNNING CORPORATE TEAMBUILDING. THE PLAN SHE IS REFERRING TO IS THE VARIATION ON SOMETHING CALLED THE BIG U. IT WAS DEVELOPED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION. THE APARTMENT OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT CREATED REBUILD BY DESIGN IN THE AFTERMATH OF HURRICANE SANDY. IT IS PART OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT’S EFFORT TO HELP THE REGION DEAL WITH CLIMATE CHANGE. AMY CHESTER RUNS THE NONPROFIT.>>IT WAS AN IDEA FROM OUR DESIGN TEAM TO CREATE MULTIPURPOSE INFRASTRUCTURE THAT WOULD RUN AROUND THE U OF MANHATTAN, THAT CAN BE TAYLOR DESIGNED FOR COMMUNITIES THAT WERE NEXT TO IT.>>IN THE CASE OF THIS COMMUNITY, IT MEANT A LARGE STRUCTURE WILL BE CREATED TO MAKE THE PARK AND NEIGHBORHOOD LESS SUSCEPTIBLE TO THE KIND OF FLOODING THEY SAW DURING HURRICANE SANDY. THE ORIGINAL $760 MILLION PLAN WAS CHANGED, IN WHICH THE COMMUNITY HAD INPUT AT THE 11TH HOUR.>>THE CITY CAME BACK WITH A NEW PLAN IN SEPTEMBER AT THE COST OF AN ADDITIONAL $700 MILLION THAT WILL RAISE THE ENTIRE EAST RIVER PARK 8 TO 10 FEET. THE ENTIRE PARK BECOMES FLOOD PROTECTION INSTEAD OF ONE AREA.>>THE DEPARTMENT OF DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION WOULD NOT APPEAR ON CAMERA TO EXPLAIN THEIR DECISION ABOUT THE PROJECT THAT WILL NOW COST $1.4 BILLION. WHEN ASKED WHY THEY DECIDED TO SCRAP THE ORIGINAL PLAN THE RESPONSE WAS THE MAIN REASON WHY THE PLAN WAS CHANGED TO THE RAISE THE PARK DESIGN WAS CONSTRUCTION FEASIBILITY, THE ABILITY TO ACTUALLY BUILD PROJECT ON TIME. THE ORIGINAL PLAN CALLED FOR WORKING ADJACENT TO THE FDR DRIVE FOR FOUR YEARS. EACH NIGHT, TIME WOULD HAVE TO BE USED, CLOSING ONE LANE ON THE HIGHWAY AND REOPENING IT IN THE EARLY MORNING. THIS WOULD ONLY LEAVE SEVERAL HOURS EACH NIGHT TO DO THAT ACTUAL WORK. THERE IS NO FLEX ABILITY TO WORK LONGER HOURS TO COMPLETE THE PROJECT ON TIME. HOWEVER, THAT REASONING IS NOT HOLDING WATER WITH DATZ-ROMERO AND OTHER RESIDENTS AND ACTIVISTS.>>WHEN THEY RENOVATED THIS PART, IT TOOK 10 YEARS. THE CITY DOES NOT HAVE A GOOD TRACK RECORD IN TERMS OF DELIVERING PROJECTS ON TIME OR ON BUDGET. I HAVE NO ILLUSIONS ABOUT — THIS PROJECT IS AT LEAST FIVE YEARS, IF NOT LONGER.>>THAT IS THE LEAST OF THE PROBLEMS. SANDY WAS A WAKE-UP CALL FOR NEW YORK. CHESTER SAYS THIS IS JUST A FLASHPOINT IN A BIGGER CONVERSATION ABOUT HOW CITIES LIKE NEW YORK CAN BE BETTER PREPARED FOR THE INEVITABLE FLOODING THAT WILL COME BECAUSE OF CLIMATE CHANGE.>>IN MANY CITIES AROUND THE WORLD, WE ARE BUILDING PARKS TO ABSORB WATER, BUT IN OUR CITY WE ARE NOT DOING THAT. I THINK THE REASON IS BECAUSE OF THE MAINTENANCE ISSUE. THE PARKS DEPARTMENT DOES NOT HAVE A BIG ENOUGH BUDGET TO MAINTAIN THESE PARKS. WE NEED TO THINK ABOUT HOW WE CAN CREATE FLOOD INFRASTRUCTURE THAT IS ALSO PARKS AND GIVE PARKS DEPARTMENT BOTH RESPONSIBILITY AND THE BUDGET TO MAINTAIN IT.>>THE DDC SAYS “THE NEW PLAN ADDRESSES THE NEED FOR STORM PROTECTION, PROVIDING IT ONE HURRICANE SEASON SOONER THAN THE ORIGINAL PLAN. IN THE MEANTIME, ADVOCATES ARE SUGGESTING THAT A DECK BE BUILT OVER THE FDR THAT WOULD EXTEND FROM MONTGOMERY STREET IN THE SOUTH, ALL THE WAY TO 25TH STREET IN THE NORTH, AS A MEANS OF CREATING FLOOD PROTECTION FOR THE AREA AS WELL AS NEW PARK SPACE THAT CAN BE VISITED BY NEARBY RESIDENTS. SHE SAYS IT IS A MATTER OF HAVING THE POLITICAL WILL TO GET THIS DONE.>>OBVIOUSLY THERE NEEDS TO BE A LOT OF PLANNING TO REALLY ACCOMMODATE. I THINK THE TIME IS RIGHT TO REALLY THINK ABOUT BEING BOLD ABOUT WHAT IT REALLY — WHY ARE WE IN THIS MESS? WE CANNOT ENGINEER OURSELVES OUT OF CLIMATE CHANGE. WHAT CAN WE REALLY DO TO HAVE LESS IMPACT AND BUILD SOMETHING THAT MAKES SENSE?>>CONSTRUCTION ON THE PARK IS SLATED TO BEGIN BY 2020. THERE WILL BE A PUBLIC HEARING ON THE MATTER AT THE END OF JULY. ♪>>AT ONE TIME, THIS NEIGHBORHOOD WAS SIMPLY KNOWN AS PART OF THE EAST VILLAGE, THEN ALPHABET CITY. BY THE 1960s AND ’70s, THE AREA HAD TAKEN ON A DISTINCT FLAVOR AND NAME. WE TOOK A WALK THROUGH THE NEIGHBORHOOD WITH A CULTURAL ACTIVIST, WHOSE FATHER IS A LOWER EAST SIDE LEGEND, BITTMAN “BIMBO” RIVAS, ONE OF THE ORIGINAL POETS AND A COMMUNITY ACTIVIST, PUSHING FOR HOUSING THROUGH EQUITY WHILE OTHERS WERE PUSHING DRUGS.>>I FIND IT INTERESTING THAT PEOPLE THAT ARE THE NEWCOMERS APPROACH YOU AND THEY ASK IF YOU HAVE PERMISSION TO SPEAK WITH THIS AND THAT. I WAS ONE OF THE GROUNDBREAKERS WITH MY FATHER AS A KID. WE WERE THE ONES PUTTING THESE PLOTS DOWN. WE MADE THIS POSSIBLE. THEN I HAVE — I FIND IT CHALLENGING WHEN PEOPLE DO NOT KNOW THE HISTORY. MY FATHER AND MY SON — THIS COMMUNITY WAS BURNT DOWN. THERE WERE A LOT OF JUNKIES IN THE COMMUNITY. WE HAD VACANT BUILDINGS SO PEOPLE LIKE MY FATHER WENT AND HELPED SEAL UP THESE ABANDONED BUILDINGS AND GET OTHER RESIDENTS FROM THE COMMUNITY INVOLVED. THEY DID THE EQUITY PROGRAM SO THAT THE BUILDINGS COULD BE OCCUPIED BY FAMILIES THAT WERE IN NEED. IT WAS A PREDOMINANTLY PUERTO RICAN COMMUNITY, BUT IT WAS A GHETTO. WE WERE NOT ON THE MAP IN THE ’70s, AS PART OF THE CITY. THIS WAS THE NEGLECTED — THEY USED TO CALL IT ALPHABET CITY. NOW WE CALL THIS PLACE LOISAIDA. ♪>>THERE WAS A LOT OF THEATER, A LOT OF POETRY. THESE PEOPLE THAT RESTORED THE BUILDINGS ALSO WERE ACTIVISTS. THEY STARTED GRASSROOT ORGANIZATIONS HERE. THERE WAS MOBILIZATION FOR YOUTH. MANY COMMUNITY ORGANIZATIONS THAT BEGAN TO HELP RESTORE NOT ONLY THE COMMUNITY BUILDINGS BUT ALSO THE LIVES OF THE PEOPLE BECAUSE THEY WERE THE NEGLECTED FEW AND THEY WERE POOR. THEY DID NOT HAVE AN INCOME OR DIRECTION.>>A JOB WITH ALL THE BENEFITS CORRELATED WITH THE SWEAT AND TIME INVESTED BY MYSELF.>>PEOPLE LIKE MY FATHER STARTED THEATER GROUPS IN THE COMMUNITY. IT INSPIRED YOUTH TO HELP THEM GET OFF OF SNIFFING GLUE, HEROIN — EVERYTHING YOU CAN IMAGINE WAS BEING DISPERSED THROUGH THIS COMMUNITY. THERE WAS NO STOPPING IT. THERE WAS A BIG CANCER. I OBSERVED PEOPLE ONLINE COMING OUT OF ABANDONED BUILDINGS, WAITING TO GET THEIR DRUGS. IT WAS REALLY AN EYE-OPENING CHILDHOOD ON WHAT I WANTED TO DO IN LIFE AND WHAT I DID NOT WANT TO DO. IT IS SAD THAT HE IS NOT HERE. LOISAIDA IS A STATE OF MIND. THAT HAS ALWAYS BEEN THERE. THAT MURAL. JUST WALKING THROUGH LOISAIDA, I SEE THE TRANSITION THAT HAPPENED HERE. IT USED TO BE A WAR ZONE. IT LOOKED LIKE A WAR ZONE BACK IN THE DAY. I SEE THE REVITALIZATION. I SEE POOR PEOPLE AND RICH PEOPLE LIVING TOGETHER IN HARMONY. IT IS BEAUTIFUL, BUT THERE IS THE ESSENCE OF LOISAIDA THAT HAS BEEN LOST. WE LOST SO MANY OF OUR LEADERS IN THIS COMMUNITY THAT IT FEELS LIKE A VOID. WE USED TO HAVE FISH FRIES ON EVERY BLOCK AND BLOCK PARTIES AND COMMUNITY EVENTS THAT WOULD BRING FAMILIES TOGETHER. YOU DO NOT SEE THAT AS OFTEN ANYMORE. I FEEL LIKE WE SUCCEEDED AND FAILED AT THE SAME TIME. THAT IS WHAT I FEEL. I FEEL THAT THE PEOPLE THAT WERE THE CORE DID NOT TAKE OWNERSHIP OF THE LAND, WHICH IS THE TRUE WEALTH. AND THAT CAUSED MANY PEOPLE TO BE DISPLACED, IN THE GENTRIFICATION PROCESS. I FEEL THAT EVEN THOUGH I HAVE MANAGED TO HELP PEOPLE — I AM SORRY. I FEEL DISPLACED. I DO NOT FEEL LOISAIDA EXISTS ANYMORE. IT IS A STATE OF MIND. THERE IS NOBODY LEFT HERE. IT IS LIKE THE VILLAGE DIED.>> ♪ LOWER EAST SIDE HAS TAKEN MY LIFE AWAY ♪ ♪>>THE LOISAIDA CENTER HAS BEEN A COMMUNITY INSTITUTION FOR THE LAST 30 PLUS YEARS. I SAT DOWN WITH THE DIRECTOR TO TALK ABOUT THE HISTORY, THE STRUGGLES THEY FACE, AND PLANS FOR THE FUTURE. TELL ME WHEN AND WHY THE CENTER WAS CREATED.>>THE CENTER WAS CREATED IN 1978. NOT NECESSARILY THE CENTER, BUT THE ORGANIZATION. IT WAS BY AMAZING CULTURAL ORGANIZERS AND ACTIVISTS AND COMMUNITY LEADERS. IT WAS THE TAIL END OF A CREATIVE ERA OF GRASSROOTS ACTIVISM. ALSO VERY CREATIVE IN ETHOS ALSO ABOUT EQUITY MOVEMENT, DOING MORE WITH LESS. LOISAIDA COMES IN AT THE TAIL END OF THAT, IN THE LATE ’70s, WITH MORE OF A VISION OF SOCIAL SERVICES. IT HAPPENS THAT A DECADE AGO BECAME JEOPARDIZED, THE ORGANIZATION, BECAUSE THE SAME BUILDING WE ARE IN WAS ABOUT TO BE PUT UP FOR REDEVELOPMENT. IT TOOK THE LOCAL COMMUNITY TO FIGHT FOR IT. WE ARE CLAIMING WE ARE HERE FOR THE LAST FIVE YEARS.>>YOU TALKED ABOUT SWEAT EQUITY. SANDRA RIVAS TALKED ABOUT THE FACT THAT LOISAIDA WAS LOSING ITS PUERTO RICAN PERSONALITY. HOW DO YOU RESPOND?>>IT IS NOT NEWS ANYMORE TO SAY THAT. THAT IS WHAT IS HAPPENING TO A LOT OF NEIGHBORHOODS. IN THE CASE OF LOISAIDA, THE EAST VILLAGE, HOWEVER YOU WANT TO CALL IT — IT WAS THE GROUND ZERO FOR THIS GENTRIFICATION KIND OF PROCESS. ODDLY ENOUGH, BECAUSE A LOT OF THE ACTIVISTS, THIS PLACE STILL HAS A LOT OF ENCLAVES THAT REMAIN THAT WERE ROOTED AND SURVIVES. IT STILL HAS A VITAL ENERGY WHICH IS MULTICULTURAL. IT IS NOT ONLY ABOUT CULTURE BUT DIVERSE ECONOMIC SCALES. YOU CAN STILL FEEL IT. I THINK THAT IS THE OUTCOME OF THE FIGHT FROM THE PAST, FROM MUTUAL HOUSING, COMMUNITY GARDENS, COMMUNITY MURALISM. PEOPLE ARE OWNERS AND THEY WERE NOT DISPLACED BECAUSE THEY EARNED SOME RIGHTS. THAT IS WHERE YOU SEE THE PRODUCT OF THOSE FIGHTS.>>YOU STAGE A MASSIVE FESTIVAL ALONG AVENUE C. WOULD YOU CONSIDER THAT YOUR SIGNATURE EVENT?>>OUR SIGNATURE AND MOST FAMOUS ONE. WE HAVE DOUBLED IT SINCE WE OPENED IN 2014. WE HAVE DOUBLED THE ATTENDANCE TO 30,000 PEOPLE THAT ATTEND, NOT JUST FROM NEW YORK, BUT THE TRI-STATE AREA. SOME PEOPLE EVEN TRAVEL. MANY PEOPLE TRAVEL FROM PUERTO RICO AND OTHER PLACES. AT THE SAME TIME, IT IS ALSO THE PLATFORM — THE VISIBILITY PLATFORM THAT WE GIVE TO EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS YEAR-ROUND IN OUR CENTER. WE ARE NOT JUST A FESTIVAL. WE ARE A COMMUNITY CENTER THAT IS OPEN YEAR-ROUND. WE HAVE A LOT OF PROGRAMS HAPPENING HERE, FROM YOUTH TO ELDERLY TO ARTISTIC RESIDENCY TO ORIGINAL EXHIBITIONS. PART OF WHERE LOISAIDA IS HEADING IS OPENING A PRODUCTION ROOM FOR THE COMMUNITY TO HAVE ACCESS TO TECHNOLOGY AND EQUIPMENT. WE CALL IT EL SEMILLERO, THE SEED BED.>>AS THE DIRECTOR OF THE LOISAIDA CENTER, WHAT DO YOU THINK THE CENTER’S ROLE IS RIGHT NOW?>>THE BIGGEST ROLE WE HAVE IS TO PERSIST, TO KEEP ON KEEPING ON. WE ARE FILLING THE GAP OF SOMETHING IN A NEIGHBORHOOD THAT IS DISTINCTLY PART PUERTO RICAN AND WE ARE THE ONLY KIND OF INSTITUTION FROM AN ERA THAT STILL MANAGES TO BE ALIVE. NO MATTER HOW HARD IT GETS, THE LACK OF FUNDING, CAPACITY THAT SOMETIMES NONPROFITS HAVE TO CHALLENGE IS TO KEEP ON PERSISTING.>>LIBERTAD GUERRA, THANKS FOR JOINING US ON DIVERSECITY TODAY.>>THANK YOU. LOVED HOSTING YOU. ♪>>WALKING THROUGH LOISAIDA, THERE IS ONE THING YOU CANNOT MISS. THERE IS A COMMUNITY GARDEN ON ALMOST EVERY BLOCK. THERE ARE 40 COMMUNITY GARDENS BETWEEN AVENUES A AND D. LESS OBVIOUS ARE THE BUILDINGS OWNED BY TENANTS WHO HAVE TAKEN THEM OVER FROM LANDLORDS. THIS CULTURE OF UNUSED SPACE GETTING REFPURPOSED BY LOCALS IS A MAJOR PART OF THE HISTORY OF LOISAIDA. THE MUSEUM OF RECLAIMED URBAN SPACES TELLS THAT STORY.>>THIS NEIGHBORHOOD ALWAYS HAD A LOT OF ACTIVISTS. THESE ACTIVISTS LOOKED AT SPACES DIFFERENTLY. CERTAINLY YEARS AGO THERE WAS THE PROBLEM — THE CITY WAS IN FINANCIAL CRISIS SO THERE HAD BEEN A LOT OF ABANDONED SPACES AND ACTIVISTS RECLAIMED THESE SPACES AND MADE THESE WONDERFUL COMMUNITY GARDENS. AND THESE BUILDINGS THAT ARE RUN BY THE PEOPLE, THOSE ARE CALLED SQUATS, WHICH ARE STILL HERE TODAY. THERE IS ONE LAW CALLED ADVERSE POSSESSION THAT MEANS IF YOU TAKE CARE OF A PLACE FOR 10 YEARS AND NO ONE TRIES TO FIGHT YOU OR MAKES A BIG CLAIM IN COURT, THAT BECOMES YOURS. I THINK THAT IS HOW THE SQUATS BECAME LEGAL. THE MUSEUM IS IN A SQUAD CALLED “SEE SQUAT.” THIS IS A FAMOUS SQUAT. ONCE I FOUND OUT THE SPACE WAS AVAILABLE, I THOUGHT TO HAVE AN ACTUAL MUSEUM ABOUT THE HISTORY OF THESE GARDENS, SQUATS, AND NEIGHBORHOODS AND HAVE IT IN A REAL PLACE — THE SQUATS ARE DIFFICULT TO RUN. GARDENS ARE EVEN HARDER TO RUN BECAUSE THEY ARE RUN BY THE PEOPLE, ORGANIZED BY THE PEOPLE, COMMUNITY. THE CITY CLAIMS THEY OWN THEM. THERE IS THIS CONFLICT ABOUT SPACE. THE IDEA IS WHAT ABOUT THE HISTORY? THE HISTORY IS THE PEOPLE STARTED THEM. THE HISTORY IS THE PEOPLE DID THE WORK. AS TIME GOES ON, PEOPLE ARE LOSING THE HISTORY AND THE CITY IS SAYING WE OWN THE GARDENS. NO ONE EVER DID ANYTHING. WE NEVER TRY TO DESTROY THEM. THE IDEA OF HAVING THIS MUSEUM TO SHOW HOW DID THESE THINGS START, HOW DID IT ALL GET GOING. WE ONLY HAVE TWO SMALL FLOORS. EARLY ON, WE DECIDED, WHEN WE HAD THE MUSEUM LET’S NOT MAKE IT ABOUT PEOPLE BECAUSE EVERYTHING IS ABOUT PEOPLE. LET’S NOT MAKE IT ABOUT ART. WE WILL MAKE IT ABOUT SPACE. THAT IS CRAZY. LET’S STICK TO THAT. THEN NO ONE — PEOPLE WALK IN THE FRONT DOOR LIKE WHERE IS ARMANDO PEREZ? HE GOT MURDERED TO SAY THAT COMMUNITY GARDEN — WE ARE LIKE, WE KNOW. WE NAMED A GARDEN AFTER HIM, BUT WE — IF WE HAVE THIS PERSON WE HAVE TO HAVE THAT PERSON AND THEN WE ARE A MUSEUM OF PEOPLE. WHY DON’T WE TALK ABOUT GROUPS? PEOPLE WORKING TOGETHER. MAYBE WE WILL MENTION GROUPS BUT MOSTLY WE MENTION SPACES.>>THIS BUILDING WAS ORIGINALLY A PUBLIC SCHOOL.>>WE DO TOURS AND SCHOOLKIDS AND HAVE EXHIBITS. THE SUPPORT HAS BEEN AMAZING. ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THAT, BECAUSE WE ARE IN A SQUAT, THE SUPPORT FINANCIALLY HAS BEEN NIL. WE DO NOT EVEN CHARGE MONEY TO COME IN. AMERICA, WE HAVE A CONSTITUTION THAT SAYS YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO ASSEMBLE, THE RIGHT TO FREE SPEECH. THIS IS OUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE, THIS IDEA THAT WE CAN MEET WITHOUT A PERMIT. THAT IS WHY THESE COMMUNITY GARDENS, THE SQUATS, AND ACTIVISM IS SO IMPORTANT. ♪>>FINALLY, BEFORE PART OF THE LOWER EAST SIDE WAS NAMED LOISAIDA, IT WAS CALLED KLEINDEUTSCHLAND, OR LITTLE GERMANY. PEOPLE FROM THE GERMAN CONFEDERATION IMMIGRATED TO THE U.S. AS EARLY AS THE 1840s. THE GREENWICH VILLAGE SOCIETY FOR HISTORIC PRESERVATION CONDUCTS OCCASIONAL TOURS OF A NUMBER OF LOCATIONS THAT WERE ONCE PART OF THE COMMUNITY. OUR PRODUCER SPOKE TO THE MAN KEEPING THE AREA’S TEUTONIC HERITAGE ALIVE.>>KLEINDEUTSCHLAND WAS THE THIRD LARGEST GROUPING OF GERMANS IN THE WORLD. THEY LIVED HERE BETWEEN 14TH AND — FROM THE EAST RIVER TO THE BOWERY. IT WAS A PLACE OF TENS OF THOUSANDS OF GERMANS THAT LIVED HERE AND CREATED A CULTURAL COMMUNITY FULL OF SALOONS AND LIBRARIES AND DISPENSARIES AND CHURCHES. FROM THE 1820s ONWARD, THERE WAS FAMINE IN EUROPE, AS WELL AS POLITICAL DISCORD. ESPECIALLY BISMARCK AND THE PRUSSIAN REVOLUTION FAILED AND THAT LED TO A GREATER EXODUS OF GERMANS TO THIS NEIGHBORHOOD. THE GERMAN COMMUNITY IS WELL ORGANIZED AND HAD THEIR OWN NEWSPAPER. THEY HAD THE FIRST FREE LIBRARY IN NEW YORK CITY THAT IS STILL THERE. THEY CREATED THEIR OWN HOSPITAL DISPENSARY AND THEY CREATED A VIBRANT WORKING RIGHTS CULTURE, FIGHTING FOR GREATER WAGES, FIGHTING FOR LOWER HOURS TO WORK, AND HAVING MULTIPLE CENTERS OF COMMUNITY. JUSTUS SCHWAB HAD A SALOON AT 50 EAST 1ST STREET. IT WAS NOT JUST A BAR. IT WAS A PLACE OF IDEAS. IT HAD A LIBRARY AND PERFORMANCE SPACE. THEY HAD GATHERINGS FOR LABOR RIGHTS AND POLITICAL RIGHTS AND IT WAS A HOTBED OF CREATIVITY AND THOUGHT. IT HELPED LEAD TO GREATER EXPANSION OF THE MOVEMENT — THE SOCIALIST AND ANARCHIST MOVEMENTS. JUSTUS SCHWAB CAME TO AMERICA IN 1869. HE WAS A MASON. HE WAS UNEMPLOYED. HE ORGANIZED HIS FELLOW WORKERS AND BECAME A LABOR ACTIVIST AND AGITATOR. THERE WERE NUMEROUS MARCHES TO CITY HALL, NUMEROUS GATHERINGS. ON THAT DAY IN 1874, THE POLICE REFUSED TO ALLOW THE GATHERING IN TOMPKINS SQUARE PARK AND CLUBBED THE ORGANIZERS AND THE 10,000 PEOPLE THAT WERE IN ATTENDANCE. AFTER THE MELEE, WHEN THE CROWD HAVE BEEN BEATEN BACK, JUSTUS SCHWAB WALKED THROUGH THE CROWD INTO THIS OPENING BEHIND THE POLICE BARRICADE AND WAVED AT THE RED FLAG. HE WAS ARRESTED FOR ATTEMPT TO RIOT. WE THOUGHT TO RECOGNIZE THE IMPORTANCE OF JUSTUS SCHWAB AND HIS SALOON AND THE ACTIVIST HISTORY OF THE EAST VILLAGE AND LOWER EAST SIDE WAS A GREAT WAY TO SET OFF OUR HISTORIC INITIATIVE BECAUSE OF THE IMPORTANCE TO THE LABOR HISTORY, TO THE CULTURAL HISTORY, AND TO THE HISTORY OF THE NEIGHBORHOOD IN GENERAL AS FAR AS IMMIGRATION AND AMERICAN POLITICS GOES. WE ARE IN FRONT OF THE 6TH STREET COMMUNITY SYNAGOGUE BUT WAS PREVIOUSLY KNOWN AS AN EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN CHURCH. MANY PEOPLE FROM THE GERMAN COMMUNITY WOULD GO HERE. IT IS THE HOME CHURCH OF THE MEMBERS OF THE CONGREGATION THAT PERISHED DURING THE GENERAL SLOCUM DISASTER OF 1904. IT WAS THE 17TH ANNUAL EXCURSION AND THEY HAD CONTRACTED WITH THE GENERAL SLOCUM VESSEL NAMED AFTER THE CIVIL WAR GENERAL AND NEW YORK CONGRESSPERSON. BECAUSE OF LAX STANDARDS OF THE DAY, THE SHIP HAD PREVIOUSLY HAD PROBLEMS. IT HAD RUN AGROUND ONCE. OVER A THOUSAND PEOPLE PERISHED IN THE EAST RIVER ACROSS FROM THE BRONX WHEN THE BOAT CAUGHT FIRE. THE HUNDREDS OF LIFE VESTS DID NOT WORK BECAUSE OF LACK OF SAFETY PROTOCOLS. THE EMERGENCY VESSELS WERE NOT SEAWORTHY. IT WAS THE LARGEST SINGLE CIVILIAN DISASTER IN AMERICA UNTIL THE EVENTS OF 9/11 IN NEW YORK CITY WITH THE WORLD TRADE CENTER INCIDENT. THE EXCURSION WAS MADE MOSTLY OF WOMEN AND CHILDREN. WHILE IT WAS WAY LESS THAN 5% OF THE POPULATION, EVERY FAMILY, EVERY COMMUNITY, EVERY BUILDING WAS TOUCHED BY THE TRAGEDY. THERE WERE HEIGHTENED INCIDENCE OF SUICIDE AND PEOPLE FELT THE NEED TO LEAVE THE NEIGHBORHOOD TO FORGET THIS TRAGEDY. ♪>>THAT IS OUR LOOK AT LOISAIDA. JOIN US NEXT MONTH, WHEN WE WILL HEAD TO THE BRONX. UNTIL THEN, WALK OUTSIDE AND ENJOY WHAT IS GOING ON IN OUR DIVERSECITY. ♪ [THEME MUSIC] ♪

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