Archive for the ‘general’ Category

Small Town Rag

October 7, 2017

The other day, I was going through issues of The SoHo Weekly News for a research request and I came across the very first issue, Volume One Number One from October 11, 1973. I thought it merited a closer look, that it could tell us something about what our neighborhood looked like 44 years ago and also give us a glimpse of what the startup newspaper and its editor, Micheal Goldstein, had in mind at the very beginning.

The front page headline reads “SoHo Wins Landmark Fight,” announcing that SoHo had officially become the first commercial district in the world to become a landmark. The area is protected because of its large concentration of cast iron buildings dating back to the mid-19th century. Due to its landmark status, the exteriors of buildings in SoHo cannot be altered without permission from the Landmarks Preservation Commission. The article includes a humorous cartoon of what appears to be Abe Beame as Alice being asked by a faceless voice “Now let’s go over that part again, Alice, where you slipped and fell into the rabbit hole.” Beame, then City Comptroller, had reluctantly voted for landmarking the district, as he had many backers from the real estate industry in his bid for Mayor.

The article states that, “The effect [of Landmark status] should be to restrict harsh tourist glitter and restrain speculation in the 26-block area, which in turn will be a protective buffer to neighboring warehouse blocks.” Perhaps it did have that effect momentarily, but we all know how that turned out.

Inside the paper, there is an editorial note that lays out what the paper will be:

On the next page, in his very first “Keeping Aloft” column, Jim Stratton questions the need for the publication:

Does SoHo need a newspaper? I’m doubtful, but I’m still open.

The previous effort, the SoHo Statement, failed because it attempted to sell SoHo to the Village the way the Village Voice sells the Village to the rest of the world. We didn’t need that then we don’t need it now.

If the effort of this newspaper is confined to selling a neighborhood to itself, as I’m told it will be, there may be more basis for its existence.

In the end, The SoHo Weekly News took us into the 80’s, ceasing publication in March 1982.

This issue of the paper includes a listings section called “Galleries, etc.” and for the record, the following galleries were listed:

From “In and Around” (click to enlarge)

A.I.R.
Warren Bendek
Leo Castelli
Paula Cooper
Corridor
Cunningham Ward
J.H. Duffy & Sons Ltd.
Andre Emmerich
Bowery
First Street
John Gibson
55 Grand
Green Mountain
A.H.
O.K. Harris
Nancy Hoffman
Hundred Acres
Max Hutchinson
Landmark
Let There Be Neon
Levitan I and II
Louis K. Meisel
55 Mercer
The Open Mind
Prints on Prince Street
Paley and Lowe
Prince St. Gallery
Rabinovitch and Guerra
Razor
Sculptors
SoHo 20
Sonnabend
Ward-Nasse
Westbroadway
Winter Gallery
James Yu

Illustration from “Notes from a Dirty Old Man”

There is also a gossip column of sorts, a bold face names section entitled “In and Around” that reports tidbits of news about local residents and businesses, including that “JOHN CHAMBERLAIN’S favorite fantasy is to open the largest bar in Soho on the order of Le Cupole (sic) in Paris.”

Then there’s the section called “Notes of a Dirty Old Man” that features a characteristically funny/strange short story by Charles Bukowski entitled “The lady, the skeleton, the drunk and Monk” that appears to also be illustrated by Bukowski.

Then there is the form you can use to sign up for a subscription, $8.00 for one year or $13.00 for two. But what’s interesting about this is the short classifieds-style blurb surrounding the form with the headline “Husbands Wanted!!!!!!” You will just have to read that one for yourself, it’s too difficult and bizarre to paraphrase.

Also included are a book review, an exhibition review, and an article about neon signs and symbols by Rudi Stern, neon artist and founder of the gallery Let There Be Neon.

The thing about this issue that gives me the deepest sense of the SoHo vibe in October 1973, however, is the advertisements from local businesses.

Fanelli’s with it’s old-school telephone number CA 6-9412:

 

O.K. Harris. Need they say more?

 

Remember the Ballroom?

 

Since we didn’t have any grocery stores, Pioneer boldly advertises that they will deliver to SoHo:

 

And of course the industrial businesses:

When it comes down to it, The SoHo Weekly News started out as a small town paper. Local news, gossip, listings, ads, coupons (and a classified call for husbands from a polyandrous Tibetan woman). Because that is what SoHo once was, a small town that tried to restrict harsh tourist glitter and restrain speculation. Ahem, speaking of rabbit holes…

 

 

SoHo Swan Song

July 1, 2017

Today’s guest post is by my (former) neighbor Michael Gentile, who recently moved out of SoHo after being in, out, and around the neighborhood for the last 30 years. He expresses the sentiments of a growing number of long-time residents who lament the fact that SoHo has transformed to a point of being unrecognizable to them. I wrote about my own coming to terms with this fact a while back in my post “Where is New York?”  Here, Gentile weaves the neighborhood’s long history into his observations of present day in this swan song to the neighborhood he once called home.

Soho’s Not So Grand

A NYC neighborhood in flux

Soho’s current sugar high is a real buzzkill. This neighborhood, New York City’s birthplace of hyper-gentrification, originally called “Hell’s Hundred Acres,” houses the most breathtaking, fully restored 19th-century cast-iron building facades in the world. Fortunately, the successful efforts of architectural historic preservation and community boards have saved many buildings. However, Soho’s history has become diminished and lost with the results of the neighborhood’s ever-changing crossover, which gives comfort to the crowds seeking out sameness, but at a cost.

The enthusiastic transition to megastore retail, restaurants, hotels, and condominiums has claimed victims. Former loft residents, factory workers, artists, and political radicals vanished, and were not included in the neighborhood’s future.

A walk through Soho today is difficult. It’s an atmosphere of vulgarity: wayward tourists, distraught models, fist-bumping high-fivers, girly gigglers, techno design geeks, backward-cap bros, and vacuous throngs from all over, filling the streets.

Is creativity still at work in Soho? Sort of. On the steps of Prada, lifestyle and image are crafted. Supreme hoodie kids on Adderall snap iPhone selfies while sipping $17 hemp smoothies. At the Mercer Hotel across the street, anxious Twitter users wait, hoping to catch a glimpse of a fleeing Kardashian. On the sidewalks, fashion wannabe Snapchatters hurriedly clip-clop to double-parked, glossy-black, Suburban Uber-Lyfts. Flag-raised tour guide groups shuffle along, overflowing into the streets. Soho’s a playground for the wealthy, who look poor and shop rich.

Dystopian nightmare or growing pains? Depends on who’s talking. Soho’s present state could be perceived as a negative development in New York culture.

Business leaders, city planners, and politicians always get worked up over the idea of development. Real estate developers’ rote answers offer little comfort to the continuing gentrification problems, high rents, and empty storefronts. It’s disingenuous, hand-feeding the public a generic shopping experience structured at a marketing meeting by executives wanting to up their game. What’s the point? Money.

The daily crime scares some away. The setting is perfect. Picture any typical over-priced, high-end boutique. Enter a motley European couple—exit a pair of pricey Manolo Blahnik heels. The thieves blend into a sea of humanity.

When a grand larceny occurs, sometimes an ad-hoc protocol follows: the store empties, the staff blocks the sidewalk, the shop is put on lockdown, bummed-out employees light up and smoke. Everyone looks down, tapping away on their devices, calling the corporate office or making dinner reservations.

The NYPD set up a defensive move during peak periods: street patrols and a mobile processing “jail” station at Prince and Greene Sts. Supply and demand—where there are crowds, there are highly-organized criminals.

But crime is nothing new to Soho. During the 1860s, Mercer St. was part of the City’s “ten-cent houses” and the first red-light district, including Mrs. Van Ness’ number 149 brothel, filled with discreet prostitutes. On the same block, the recently closed, soon-to-be condo, the Mercer-Houston Street Garage, originally operated as a horse boarding stables. Then, in the 1930s as a parking garage, it housed Joseph “Black Lefty” Lapadura’s lively bootlegging operation until the FBI discovered it.

However, Soho’s most infamous moment might be the day young Elma Sands’ dead body was found underground, floating at the bottom of a Lispenard Meadow well. The well is still there, now at 129 Spring St.

It was the cold night of December 22, 1799, when Miss Elma planned on eloping with Levi Weeks. Mr. Weeks, a carpenter, was later charged and tried for her murder in 1800. His lawyers were Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr. It was the first recorded transcript murder trial in the United States, and the jury acquitted Weeks in only minutes. Some say the spirit of Elma Sands still roams the streets of Soho at night.

And then there are the many non-rent-paying “tenants” who’ve endured these changes and flourished: rats, estimated at 100 million citywide. One thing’s for sure, the rodents are enjoying themselves every night, running around and jumping on tied-up cardboard boxes.

Meanwhile, a sleepy Soho pauses and moans a collective sigh during the few precious moments before dawn. A walk at sunrise might turn your head for the wrong reason. Curled up in Tiffany & Co.’s elegant Greene St. doorway, a homeless person snores away. Garbage trucks barrel down the soot-stained Belgian block streets. Seafood, dairy, florist, and bakery vendors make deliveries. A dog walker silently passes a jogger in the brightening gray light. It’s all a reminder that there are no dead ends in Soho, just detours.

This story first appeared on
http://splicetoday.com/

UPCOMING EVENT: New Documentary Film About SoHo

June 11, 2017

 

THE KARAMAZOFFS: A Walk on the SoHo Years
A documentary film

Directed by Juan Gamero & Carmen Rodríguez
86mins l Drama l US Premiere

Tuesday, June 20, 2017 from 6:00 PM to 7:45 PM (EDT) at the SOHO International Film Festival

For tickets and info, please click HERE

SCREENING FOLLOWED BY Q & A WITH FILMMAKER & CAST IN ATTENDANCE

 

View the trailer:

Synopsis: In the 1960s, the abandoned factories of New York’s SoHo were occupied by artists from around the world, transforming this neighbourhood in the heartland of art experimentation, with the boom of open studios, conceptual art, happenings, performances and video art.  The Karamazoffs is a group of recognized artists from Barcelona (Muntadas, Miralda, Zush and Robert Llimós, among others) who started their careers in New York in the early 70s and forged a long friendship that still exists today. Together with other pioneers from that era, like Jonas Mekas and Jaime Davidovich, they recall the origins and the rise and fall of one of the most colourful periods in contemporary art. With the help of exceptional vintage footage featuring Charlotte Moorman, Yoko Ono, Nam June Paik, Fluxus, Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground, Andy Warhol, Mekas, Davidovich, SoHo cable TV, George Maciunas, Laurie Anderson and The Karamazoffs.

 

SMP Year Seven: The SoHo Memory Keeper

December 3, 2016
The Cheese shop, Giorgio DeLuca’s first foray into the food business. He had been teaching High school in Brooklyn. His father was in the olive trade and knew a few people in cheese. He connected with Dean after a while creating Dean & DeLuca and a whole new kind of experience. (Ben Schonzeit)

The Cheese Store, Giorgio DeLuca’s first foray into the food business. He had been teaching high school in Brooklyn. His father was in the olive trade and knew a few people in cheese. He connected with Dean after a while creating Dean & DeLuca and a whole new kind of experience. – Ben Schonzeit

Another year gone with the wind. Can you believe that we have been preserving SoHo memories for six years, since January 1, 2011? They have flown by so quickly, and we have accomplished much, but there is still more to do!

Before embarking on year seven of The SoHo Memory Project, I would like to take a moment to reflect on highlights from this past year.

In 2016, we took the SMP Portable Historical Society out fifteen times to various venues around SoHo, including Judd Foundation, The Drawing Center, The New York Public Library, and Vesuvio Playground to name a few.

smp-at-gross2

The SoHo Memory Project Portable Historical Society at the Renee and Chaim Gross Foundation in May 2016

Great press and social media mentions stirred up much interest in our interactive exhibit and I was invited to speak about this project to staff, curators, and students from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Sotheby’s, Princeton University, and NYU, among others.

detour-sohoThis fall, Detour came out with “SoHo: Artists in Residence”  a GPS triggered audio tour of SoHo that I narrate, and that also includes the voices of Roslyn Bernstein, Susan Brundage, Ken Hiratsuka, Brett Littman, Robert Morris, Barbara Rose, and Shael Shapiro. This one-hour tour takes you through the streets of SoHo while I point out little-known historical sites that are “hidden” in plain sight. I also tell personal anecdotes about what it was like to grow up in artists’ SoHo.

All in all, SMP had a very successful, public-facing year. Thanks to all of you who came out to visit with us in 2016.

A sampling of ephemera to be included in the SoHo Memory Keeper
(click on image to enlarge)

Looking ahead to 2017, I am pleased to announce that this January, I will launch a new digital initiative called The SoHo Memory Keeper, a (hi)storytelling nexus of resources related to SoHo (past and present, digital and analog) and a new digital model for preserving neighborhood history.

The Memory Keeper will be an immersive, interactive, digitally-based multi-media archive of resources on the artistic, cultural, social, political, urban history of the area that is now called SoHo, from colonial times through the present with a focus on the decades between 1960-1980, when SoHo was a thriving artists community.

A sampling of the oral histories to be included in the SoHo Memory Keeper (All excerpts produced by The SoHo Memory Project with interviews recorded by StoryCorps, a national nonprofit whose mission is to provide Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share, and preserve the stories of our lives.)

In addition to presenting stories and first-person accounts, the Memory Keeper will provide access to a wide variety of source materials including photographs, maps, municipal documents, academic papers, newspaper and magazine articles, artist archives, oral histories, books, websites, film and video. It will also serve as a prototype for use in other neighborhoods to preserve local history in a flexible and universally accessible format.

I’ve already begun digitizing and cataloguing the SMP archive, and I have also brought on a great technical team who will be building the architecture of this new interactive archive that will eventually replace this one and will provide worldwide access to resources related to SoHo. A designer will be brought on board once all of the back-end stuff is finished to create a dynamic and delicious interface geared toward use by the general public.

I am in the process of applying for grants to help fund this initiative, but to make up the balance, I am appealing to you, the many friends of SMP, to consider making a year-end tax-deductible contribution to The SoHo Memory Project that will ensure that the Memory Keeper will not only present SoHo history as never seem before, but will become a template that other neighborhoods around New York City can use to create their own Memory Keepers. An ambitious goal, but certainly achievable with your help!

Thank you for a wonderful year and I look forward to seeing you all in 2017!

give online now button copy

When you click “give online now,” you will be taken to a donation page for the Uni Project and your contribution will be marked for the SoHo Memory Project. The Uni Project is a 501c3 nonprofit and serves as the fiscal sponsor of the The SoHo Memory Project, so your donation is tax deductible.

You may also mail a (non-taxable) donation to:

The SoHo Memory Project
159 Mercer Street, #4E
New York, NY  10012

Please make checks payable to The SoHo Memory Project


CROSBY STREET, a film by Jody Saslow (1975)

 

 

 

Go With the Flow: The Water Towers of SoHo

October 1, 2016

Water Towers at Sunset (photo: Ingrid Cusson)

Water towers are a common sight in New York, especially in SoHo. Wherever you are, if you look up, chances are you’ll see at least one, if not a small forest of them dotting the skyline.  They are certainly a mainstay of SoHo’s architectural landscape. Although I grew up seeing them every day, I never really knew if or how they worked.  Do all of those wooden containers still hold water?  And if so, how does the water get in, and then out again? (more…)

Welcome to Year Six: The SoHo Memory Project in 2016

January 2, 2016
The SoHo Memory Project Portable Historical Society is ready to roll!

The SoHo Memory Project Portable Historical Society is ready to roll!

On January 1, 2011, I started writing this blog without a clue about where it would lead. I began almost grudgingly, thinking that someone ought to be preserving SoHo’s important and endlessly interesting history, but not me. Five years later, I am very happy that I took the plunge, as this project has only reinforced my conviction that preservation in all of its forms is not only important, but essential to how we situate ourselves in the present and how we envision our future.

2015 was a very busy year for The SoHo Memory Project. After a successful Kickstarter fundraising campaign and a fabulous article by Kyle Spencer in The New York Times, my project expanded in leaps and bounds, keeping me busy with exciting new developments. Here’s an overview of what’s to come and nja recap of highlights from the past few months.

Many thanks to all of you for your continued support in input!


LOOKNG FORWARD

The SoHo Memory Project Portable Historical Society

A visitor watches a film at the SMP Portable Historical Society

A visitor watches a film at the SMP Portable Historical Society

It’s finally finished and ready to hit the streets! Thanks to a grant from the New York Council for the Humanities, The SoHo Memory Project Portable Historical Society will be popping up at SoHo Arts Network (SAN) member organizations throughout 2016 beginning with four dates at Judd Foundation in January and February. The Judd sessions require a reservation, and we are currently fully booked, but the mobile museum will be at The Drawing Center two weekends in February and March, open to all:

Saturday, February 20, 12-4pm
Sunday, February 21, 12-4 pm

Saturday, March 5, 12-4pm
Sunday, March 6, 12-4pm

For a full schedule of events, please click here. I hope to see you at one (or more) of these sites in 2016! (more…)

Moving Forward Toward the Past

May 31, 2015
420 West Broadway back when it was the center of SoHo's gallery scene in the early-1970's

420 West Broadway back when it was the center of SoHo’s gallery scene in the early-1970’s

We did it!  And we did it SoHo style.  Everyone in our community came together this past month and gave what they could to fund The SoHo Memory Project’s Portable Historical Society through Kickstarter.  We could not have done it without each and every donation.  Thank you all so much for your support!

Things are moving forward! I am already busy thinking about how to adapt the Uni Project’s Portable Reading Room to accommodate a fabulous exhibit about SoHo.  I am compiling a list of possible popup spots. I’m talking to people about donating items to our archive.  I am meeting with old-timers as well as newcomers with stories to tell.

I will be spending the summer making plans and making contacts and making new SoHo friends so that we can hit the ground running come Fall. If all goes well, our portable historical society will begin popping up around SoHo in Spring 2016, with possible previews this coming winter. (more…)

The SoHo Memory Project Goes on The Line

February 17, 2015

logo_theline_small-343399d9e012f9840403744ed6171138medium_ED_CH_v1.72_SOHOHISTORY_YukieOhta  Last month, I was interviewed by The Line about The SoHo Memory Project. Read the article, and check out all of the great things happening at The Line and at their loft on Greene Street, The Apartment!

The SoHo Memory Project:
A Conversation with Yukie Ohta

FYI: Dr. Videovich

November 9, 2013
davidovich_drv79The work of multidisciplinary artist and friend of the SoHo Memory Project Jaime Davidovich will be exhibited at Churner and Churner through December 21.  Davidovich was a founding member of Cable SoHo (1976) and founder and president of the Artists’ Television Network (1978-1984).  Take advantage of this opportunity to see “Dr. Videovich, specialist in curing television addiction,” in action!

Jaime Davidovich: Museum of Television Culture

November 07, 2013 – December 21, 2013
opening reception: Thursday, November 7, 6-8pm

Churner and Churner
205 10th Avenue (between 22nd/23rd Streets)
New York, NY 10011

Churner and Churner is pleased to present “Museum of Television Culture,” an exhibition of single-channel video and installation work by Argentine-American conceptual artist and television-art pioneer Jaime Davidovich. The exhibition focuses on the uneasy interrelationship of mass media, electronic art practice, and traditional institutional exhibition; specifically, the overlooked historic role of cable programming experiments in early video art.

Jaime Davidovich is the creator of legendary downtown Manhattan cable television program The Live! Show (1979-1984).  Billed as “the variety show of the avant-garde,” The Live! Show was an eclectic half-hour of live, interactive artistic entertainment inspired by the Dada performance club Cabaret Voltaire and the anarchic humor of American television comedian Ernie Kovacs. The program featured interviews and performance work by visiting artists, including Laurie Anderson, Eric Bogosian, Tony Oursler, and Michael Smith, along with musical performances, ersatz commercials, and viewer participation via live call-in segments. Presiding over the show’s disparate collaborative elements was Davidovich’s own satirical character, “Dr. Videovich, specialist in curing television addiction,” whom the New York Times’ television critic John J. O’Connor described as “a persona somewhere between Bela Lugosi and Andy Kaufman.”

Among other strategies for soliciting viewer participation, Dr. Videovich addressed his audience directly with a home shopping segment, the “Video Shop,” where he advertised his collection of “Videokitsch,” a mix of store-bought novelties and self-designed limited edition objects depicting television sets in the form of savings banks, cookie jars, planters an wind-up toys. These items, along with episodes of The Live! Show, will be on display at Churner and Churner.

“Museum of Television Culture” demonstrates that, despite the program’s absurdist tone, The Live! Show had a serious ideological agenda. It was an explicit effort to eliminate the curatorial mediation of museums and galleries by presenting works directly to the public at home through the new medium of cable television. In this way, The Live! Show was far ahead of its time, anticipating the ubiquity of interactive media and unfettered content distribution in the digital age. By staging elements of mass-communication in the institutional context of the gallery – a site Davidovich’s original work was intended to sidestep through this direct-to-the-public mode of presentation – Davidovich’s concept comes full circle, in a renewed investigation of the role of ephemeral electronic works in the art world.

An illustrated catalog with essays by Ian Wallace and Leah Churner will accompany the exhibition.

GALLERY HOURS

Tuesday – Saturday, 11 am – 6 pm, and by appointment

CONTACT

http://churnerandchurner.com/
(212) 675-2750
info@churnerandchurner.com

ABOUT THE ARTIST

Jaime Davidovich is a multidisciplinary artist whose work encompasses painting, photography, video art, television art, installation, and media activism. Best known as a pioneering advocate for artist-run, local cable television programming, Davidovich was a founding member of Cable SoHo (1976) and founder and president of the Artists’ Television Network (1978-1984). Davidovich was born in Buenos Aires in 1936 and moved to New York in 1963. He was educated at the National College of Buenos Aires, the University of Uruguay, and the School of Visual Arts, New York.

Davidovich is the Joan Mitchell Foundation’s 2013-14 Creating A Living Legacy (CALL) Artist. He is also the recipient of three National Endowment for the Arts Visual Arts Fellowships, for the years 1978, 1984, and 1990; and two grant awards from the Creative Artists Public Service Program, New York State Council on the Arts, for 1975 and 1982. In 2010 he was honored with a retrospective exhibition at ARTIUM, Centro-Museo Vasco de Arte Contemporaneo in Spain. Other solo exhibitions include Cabinet, Brooklyn, New York; MAMBA: Museo de Arte Moderno de Buenos Aires; Vanguardia, Bilbao, Spain; and the American Museum of the Moving Image, Astoria, New York. Davidovich has participated in a wide range of group exhibitions, at institutions such as J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles; 2007 Bienal de São Paulo, Brazil; Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, Spain; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Long Beach Museum of Art, California; and the Museum of Modern Art, New York. Davidovich lives and works in New York.

Top Ten

September 7, 2013

Here’s my top ten list of quirky things about everyday life in SoHo in the 1970’s (in no particular order):

A typical doorbell system (photo: Jaime Davidovich)

A typical doorbell system (photo: Jaime Davidovich)

1.  You did a lot of yelling.  Most people did not have doorbells, so you had to scream up to a loft to let someone know you were there (and they would then throw you a key in an old sock so you could open the door).

FREIGHT ELEVATOR (photo: pamdora.com)

FREIGHT ELEVATOR (photo: pamdora.com)

2.  You did a lot of climbing.  There was no need for Stairmasters in SoHo.  Many buildings had freight elevators, but often they were not on the ground floor when you came home, so you would end up walking up many many flights of stairs, and with fourteen-foot ceilings, that’s a lot of climbing.

Dumpster diving on Mercer Street, ca. 1977

Dumpster diving on Mercer Street, ca. 1977

3.  You did a lot of schlepping.  Since there was often no regular trash pickup, you often had to drag your trash to the nearest place that did have pickup service, and you also found yourself dragging a lot of stuff home that you found in the trash that you could use either to furnish your home or use in your artwork.

Grand Union on LaGuardia Place

Grand Union on LaGuardia Place

4.  You did a lot of walking.  There were virtually no stores in SoHo so you had to walk pretty far to get the newspaper, groceries, or supplies.  No takeout, no delivery, except for the US Postal Service, and even that was sketchy at times.

5.  Your bathroom was higher that the rest of the rooms in your house.  Because loft spaces were not originally meant for living, residents had to bring in water and sewage pipes to build a bathroom.  This meant running pipes along the floor and building a platform to cover them so that your bathroom was a foot higher than the rest of the rooms in your house.

6.  Your outerwear was not just for the outdoors.  Proper and consistent heat was certainly not a given.  Lofts were in commercial buildings where, even if it worked properly, the heat was on during business hours only and was turned off over the weekend, so one often had to wear an overcoat in the house to stay warm.

foxpolicelock7.  You knew nobody would break down your door.  Most lofts had metal doors with police locks with a knob in the center of the door that, when turned, would push metal bars outward on both sides, creating an unpickable, un-crobarable, and maybe even unblastable seal.  But nobody back then had that much worth stealing anyway.

8.  You knew when your upstairs neighbor was having a midnight snack.  The floors in most of the loft buildings are hollow, so the sound of a person walking on the floor above you is distinctly audible especially at night when there is no ambient noise to mute it.  Without wall to wall carpeting, sound carries pretty far in these buildings.  You not only knew when Jack from upstairs went to get a beer from the fridge or was taking a shower, but also when his mother called and what his taste in music was.

neighbor9.  You actually knew your neighbors.  And they say New Yorkers are anonymous.  There were so few people living in SoHo back then that you pretty much knew everyone else who lived near you, if not by name, then at least by sight.  Often, especially on weekends, the streets would be deserted, so it was a treat to run into someone you knew.

Crosby Street & Spring Street, 1978 (Photo by Thomas Struth)

Crosby Street & Spring Street, 1978 (Photo by Thomas Struth)

10.  You had to give taxi drivers directions to your house.  Not that that many people in SoHo were taking taxis back in the day, but if you found yourself in a cab, the driver most likely did not know how to find the corner of Spring and Crosby.  SoHo was a no man’s land requiring a compass for orienteering.

Does anyone have anything to add?

 This post originally appeared on May 28, 2011


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