Slouching Toward Avenue D

On the Lower East Side two industries define the new urban frontier that emerged in the 1980s. Indispensable, of course, is the real estate industry which christened the northern part of the Lower East Side the “East Village” in order to capitalize on its geographical proximity to the respectability, security, culture, and high rents of Greenwich Village. Then there is the culture industry — art dealers and patrons, gallery owners and artists, designers and critics, writers and performers — which has converted urban dilapidation into ultra chic. Together in the 1980s the culture and real estate industries invaded this rump of Manhattan from the west. Gentrification and art came hand in hand, “slouching toward Avenue D,” as art critics Walter Robinson and Carlo McCormick (1984) put it.

Neil Smith, The New Urban Frontier (London/New York: Routledge, 1996) 18-19.

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