by Danielle Fichera, at Dec. 14, 2011, 3:17 a.m.
Type: The Wastelands of New York, 1962
Image Citation #1: Cover of The Wastelands of New York City, October 1962. Bernstein, Royslyn, and Shael Shapiro. Illegal Living. Vilnius: Jono Mekas Foundation, 2010. Print. p140
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Description: Following World War II artists began moving into commercial buildings in downtown Manhattan. “On Broadway just south of 14th Street (De Kooning, Jasper Johns, Franz Kline, Jackson Pollack and Mark Rothko), on Greene Street (Marie Menken), on the Bowery (Robert Frank, Alfred Leslie, Elaine De Kooning), in the East Village, and further downtown like places Coenties Slip (Ellsworth Kelly, Agnes Martin, James Rosenquist, Ken Jacobs), which was demolished in the Sixties, and a highrise erected on the side (the downtown branch of the Whitney Museum of American Art is now located there) (Melton).” The City Club, published a study in 1962, called “The Wastelands of New York City”. The study listed Spring, Broome, Mercer and Green Streets as Commercial slum are No. 1 and recommend demolition and rebuilding (Melton). According to New York Times writer, in an article dated May 24th, 1970, “The analysis clearly showed, that there are no buildings worth saving” (Melton). Developers were ready to move in and demolish south of Houston Street, if it had not been from Chester Rapkin. He was a city planner, who made a city finance study in 1963 to determine the value of the area south of Houston Street to the study. The Rapkin Report revealed that some of the industries in the area, such as recycled wastes and other industries employed thousands of minority workers, many of them who did not speak English and would have been otherwise unemployable. The report also revealed there were many small manufacturers who could not afford to move to a higher rent area (Melton). The City Planning Commission followed Rapkin’s recommendation to protect the industries by forbidding any form of residency in the area (Melton). Artists continued to populate downtown Manhattan’s commercial buildings despite it being illegal. Then, in August of 1966, Maciunas’ dream of establishing an artist cooperative seemed possible when he learned that an “Experimental Housing Bill” had been drafted by the United States Government that would allow artists to purchase their studios and workshops in New York City, soon to be Soho (Kellein 131). Interested buyers were able to borrow federal fundings in order to turn their work space into homes. In short, Soho became the ideal place for Fluxus. Luckily, industrial loft buildings in Hell’s Hundred Acres area of Manhattan had a high vacancy rate due to the proposed eighteen-lane expressway along Broome Street, from the East River to the Hudson River. Landlords and tenants were reluctant to enter into new leases. Owners were happy to sell their buildings for less than $3 or $4 a square foot (Bernstein & Shapiro 48). By 1967, Maciunas found 10 buildings in the area bounded by West Broadway, Mercer Street, Houston Street and Canal Street. 80 Wooster became the first building Maciunas renovated for occupation by artists. It became the base of the operations for the entire Flux-house project – the center of the worldwide Fluxus art movement.
Description Citation #1: Bernstein, Royslyn, and Shael Shapiro. Illegal Living. Vilnius: Jono Mekas Foundation, 2010. Print.
Description Citation #2: Kellein, Thomas. The Dream of Fluxus. London: Hansorg Mayer, 2007. Print.
Description Citation #3: Melton, Hollis. "Notes on SoHo and a Reminiscence By Hollis Melton." George Maciunas Foundation. George Maciunas Foundation, n.d. Web. 14 Dec 2011.
Record Reference: George Maciunas
The following arguments all reference this record.