Sunday, May 18, 2008

NYC: Selected Links On Housing History

(originally published on A Blog Soup on Jan 24 2007 [blog is now private])

Michael @ Gammablog has recently posted some photographs of hand made bird houses appearing on the streets of the East Village in Manhattan. BTW, why is it still called the East Village if it is has done been accosted by a wave of unapologetic affluence? The East Village. A name given to help better identify an activist and bohemian make-up of the neighborhood, right? Like Greenwich Village. Many think so. But I doubt poor and working class residents of the time called it that. The truth is a bit dif. That's cute and all, but a more honest name would have been more along the lines of Go Fuck Yourself, or something like that. Something that more aptly captured the community spirit of the upper classes.

Of these bird houses, Gamma writes,
"These have been showing up around the East Village over the past month. My guess is they are made by someone with some mental problems, or less likely an artist making some sort of statement about homelessness. They are all placed barely above head level, and I doubt any bird will make use of them. Rain has demolished some of them already."
I can't add anything to that, I haven't seen them nor know anything about them. But his is a good observation.

But I can add this video, as yet another example of the same kind of work. I think two examples constitue a movement nowadays, so here's to hoping this ball will keep rolling.

YouTube user como2 left the above video as a response to a video I posted at my YouTube account, which featured the artist Whalen putting up one of his plaster guns on the wall at 11 Spring.

I sent como2 an email just now asking him what city resides in. For some reason, I have the already preconceived idea that he is Louisiana or Austin. I don't know if he told me that in some other email, or I just made it up. I will note his location if he responds to my email.

[UPDATE:] The artist who did the birdhouse in the video above emailed me, and it turned out to be the same artist who did the plaster gun. He writes,
"wassup, The video of the birdhouse installation is from Montreal, where I was heavily active on the streets for over 7 years writing COMOS w/ KOPScrew.I am currently living in NYC....Thanks for posting the video, I always find it funny to see myself on film...
Bird houses appearing in the East Village of Manhattan, and in places unidentified Montreal. That is at once both prescient and reflective, and more so than they may or may not have been made out to be.

"One of a collection of views by Charles Von Urban, who photographed Manhattan's remaining wood frame houses in 1932." [via]

Selling The Lower East Side
  • Rent Wars, 1943-1955. Joel Schwartz
  • Rent Strikes and Community Power, 1962-1971. Joel Schwartz
  • Pictorial History of the Tenant Movement
  • Take an affordable walking tour of the East Village
  • New York Changing, photos of Manhattan then and now, 1937 vs. 1997
  • From Lost New York, view a nice collection of hundreds of photos the site owner had taken of buildings throughout the Lower East Side in the 1970's, buildings that are no longer there
  • Observations of life in Lower Manhattan at the turn of the century. A Collection of writings from a a variety of publications. Such as...
    --Robert Alston Stevenson's "The Poor in Summer", from Scribner's Magazine, September 1901
    --"New York's New Building Code" Lawrence Veiller in Charities Review 9 (1899-1900)
  • Christodora House Records, founded in 1897 as a settlement house on Manhattan's Lower East Side to provide health care, educational and job training programs and other social services to poor immigrant families. Christodora House also served as a home for art and drama clubs.
  • 20 Turn of the Century photos of the L.E.S. from the Museum of the City of New York's Byron Company Collection
  • < href="">Between 1939 and 1941, the city photographed every house and building in the five Boroughs. Copies of these unique images are now
    available for purchase.
  • The Living City, A digital library initiative intended to capture the experience of life, health, and urban transformation during the decades between the end of the Civil War and the end of World War I.
  • Homesteading in New York City, 1978-1993: The Divided Heart of Loisaida. At Amazon
    --Find it at a library near you:
  • The Life of a City: Early Films of New York, 1898-1906. Online and viewable. [via]
  • Rent Strikes and Community Power, 1962 - 1971 Joel Schwartz
  • NYTimes >>Immigration and Refugees>>Lower East Side (15 articles)
  • How the Other Half Lives, written by Jacob Riis (1890)
    --A List of Illustrations
  • The Tenant Movement in New York City, 1904-1984
  • Shimon Attie's Between Dreams and History
  • New York Online, A Documentary
  • Inner City Homesteading

  • Crack Kills, a photo set from Matt Weber's fantastic photos of New York @ Urban Photos. From Matt's thoughts on the subject...
    "The 1980s was a very bad time to live in NYC. The Crack & AIDS epidemics were both in high gear, and all of a sudden, it was no longer easy to find an apartment which a "normal" person could afford...Feeling nostalgia for simpler times, I asked my mom "weren't things a lot better, back in the '40s & '50s?" She said "you're right, things were a lot better, as long as you were, white, wealthy and protestant!" Oh well, so much for the good old days..."
    And...End Scene.

    America's first public housing, First Houses, on Manhattan's Lower East Side. [via]

    SOS at Tompkins Square Park. Photograph by Christopher Mele. [via]

    Photo of Delancey Street, 1908. By Eugene de Salignac from [via]

    Homelessness on the Lower East Side. Photograph by Marlis Momber. [via]