Arts

Book analyzes history of Lower East Side in New York

Loisaida as Urban Laboratory is the first in-depth analysis of the network of Puerto Rican community activism in New York City’s Lower East Side from 1964-2001. Author Timo Schrader marries social and cultural history, Latino and ethnic studies, studies of social movements and urban studies to reveal the radical history of the Lower East Side. Schrader’s book enriches a developing conversation around alternative urbanisms.

Loisaida—a term coined by activist and poet Bittman “Bimbo” Rivas in the titular unpublished poem—was among a growing number of neighborhoods that forged a new form of urban living. Loisaida was used to refer to a part of the Lower East Side. Using this Spanglish version instead of other common labels respects the name residents chose themselves to counter developers who called the area East Village or Alphabet City in hopes to attract more artists and ultimately gentrify the neighborhood.

New urbanist ideals are reflected in Schrader’s rich historical and ethnographic study of activism in Loisaida and the book tells a vivid story of the Puerto Rican community’s struggle for the right to stay in its home neighborhood.