Radical History in the East Village

morusTomorrow evening GVSHP will be holding a special event at one of the East Village’s newest cultural hot spots- the Museum of Reclaimed Urban Space (MORUS).  Opened on December 8, 2012, on Avenue C between 9th and 10th Streets, MORUS preserves neighborhood history of the East Village and promotes scholarship of grassroots urban activism by researching and archiving efforts to create community spaces.

One of the many interesting things about this museum is their location in the historic storefront of C-Squat, a legendary East Village occupied building.

During the 1970s and 80s,  many buildings in Alphabet City had become rundown and neglected.  Squatters, many of whom were struggling artists, moved into these vacant tenements and started to repair, maintain, and live in them.  155 Avenue C, which would come to be known as C-Squat, was one such building.  It was a punk squat, complete with skateboarding ramps, graffiti art, and punk rock shows.

C-Squat

C-Squat

As noted in an earlier blog post, during July 4th weekend of 1995, a city-ordered siege occurred during which police in riot gear came into Loisaida (another term for Alphabet City) and evicted and arrested squatters.  Those evicted countered in court claiming that they were lawfully living in these abandoned buildings under adverse possession, a law that says if someone has been living openly in a building for more than ten years he or she owns it.  The judge agreed and the squatters were allowed to remain.  In the fall of 2002, 11 squatter buildings, including 155 Avenue C, were sold to their 236 occupants for $1 each under the Urban Homesteading Assistance Board.

MORUS

the storefront of MORUS

If you’re interested in learning more about this history as well as that of other neighborhood occupied spaces and activism, don’t miss GVSHP & MORUS’s talk and tour tomorrow evening.  It will include a talk by the museum’s founders on the history of the museum, how it came together, and how they bounced back after a visit from Superstorm Sandy. The talk will be followed by a guided tour of the museum’s galleries and exhibits .  To RSVP (hurry- there are only a few spots remaining!) CLICK HERE or email rsvp@gvshp.org.


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