Which Good Old Days?

Hardly a day passes that I don’t read a comment on some blog or news site that longs for a return to an earlier period of “East Village” history. So I thought it might be fun to see which period people would prefer.

Below is a poll, with descriptions taken from Janet Abu-Lughod’s book
“From Urban Village to East Village: The Battle for New York’s Lower East Side.”



1 Janet Abu-Lughod, From Urban Village to East Village: The Battle for New York’s Lower East Side (New York: Wiley-Blackwell, 1995), 342-345.

5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. joe
    Jul 30, 2014 @ 13:39:26

    Hard to say. I’d probably go with the late 70s because of the vibrant music scene I caught the end of. Then again I would have liked to have been in the area when Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman were active.


    • Quilas
      Aug 01, 2014 @ 09:45:15

      Joe, It’s less about taking a time machine back to a particular period, and more about bringing the conditions of that time forward to replace existing conditions. That what the Nostalgiaks pine for.


  2. Quilas
    Jul 30, 2014 @ 14:40:48

    You’re supposed to vote!


  3. bowboy
    Jul 31, 2014 @ 14:50:25

    I assume you know what a “strawman” is, yes? You’ve got more than a bit of one going here. Just because people are not happy with the way their neighborhood is changing doesn’t mean that they want to go back in time. What they want is to have some small say in how that change happens… keeping the heart of the community while keeping out the soulless corporate chains and i-zombies who couldn’t care less where their trash and puke are thrown.

    Given the power of big real estate interests and political lobbyists like REBNY, most change is just for the sake of Money… Money that goes to people who don’t even live in the area. Those who have the money to manipulate the rules and laws are sucking the resources out of they neighborhood, and that pisses people off. It’s all about Money over community and culture… those things could have made the LES a much better place.

    Their are important things on this planet that you can’t put a price on. They are the things that made the LES a great place to begin with. Things that made everyone else want to be here, and when those things are all gone, so to the people shall leave, and the neighborhood is condemned to a repeating cycle driven by the almighty dollar. People who have lived here a long time are fed up with this cycle.

    And for my part, if I DID have to go back, it would be the time before the General Slocum Disaster. The LES was a great place then. The sinking of that one boat changed the heart and soul of the LES more than any other event in history.


    • Quilas
      Aug 01, 2014 @ 10:07:39

      bowboy, My post is directed at those who do wish to return to a previous time, not those who don’t. Don’t read more into it than is there.

      As far as being directed by money, that has always been the case. There is absolutely nothing new about that. This area was targeted back in the 1920s as a residential neighborhood for Wall Streeters. A number of factors intervened to prevent that, but it was money interests that drove it, the same as today. As long as housing remains an exchange-value, this will not change.

      I maintain that the Lower East Side was never a great place to live. People didn’t choose to come here from a list of destinations, when they left their countries (unless they had money). They left their homes because of dire situations there, and came here because it’s where they were directed to go. The conditions here have historically been bleak, typical of working-class neighborhoods.


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