Voices e / Magazine / Barrios



CHARAS opens a loft space in the city owened building on 303 Cherry Street to continue working with domes and alternatives housing with maverick architect Richard Buckminster Fuller, and began staging cultural events.


United Graffiti Artists exhibit at Razor Gallery on September 4, 1972. Founded by Hugo Martínez -a sociology major at City College- the UGA selected top subway artists from all around the city and presented their work in the formal context of an art gallery. Among the graffiti artists represented by Razor Gallery/UGA are: PHASE 2, MICO, COCO 144, PISTOL, FLINT 707, BAMA, SNAKE, and STICH

Charas, along with six other groups, co-founds Seven Loaves, a network of community/cultural/arts organizations pulling together support in terms of organizational structure, resources, fund-raising, etc…... (Ninth st School, Fourth Street i magazine)


The Devil is a Condition short film by Carlos de Jesus is shown at the Whitney Museum. The short film is a lyrical ode to Latinos and Blacks fighting to improve their housing conditions throughout the city.


Miguel Algarín begins hosting a poetry salon in his living room in the Lower East Side. This experiment was to become the Nuyorican Poets Café. Despite the bleak economics of the '70s and '80s, this would begin a new cultural surge in the Lower East Side. El Teatro Ambulante, fronted by the venerable Jorge Brandon, "El Coco Que Habla" (The Talking Coconut), and the Nuyorican Poets Cafe run by Miguel Algarín forged a new synthesis of Latino poetry and theater.

Pedro Pietri publishes Puerto Rican Obituary.

The Family Theatre Company, a troupe largely made up of ex-convicts and directed by Marvin Felix Camillo (an award-winning theatre director and actor). Mr. Camillo, discovered the playwriting talents of Miguel Piñero while teaching a workshop at Sing Sing, won an Obie for his staging of Mr. Piñero's drama ''Short Eyes,'' which began at the Riverside Church, moved to the Public Theater and went on to Lincoln Center's Vivian Beaumont Theater, later touring all over the world.

First significant wave of community gardens in the Lower East Side (LES) with Adam Purple's the Garden of Eden (demolished in 1986), and the Liz Christy's Bowery-Houston Community Farm and Garden, among them. Rubble strewn lots are cleared, designed and planted. The "Green Guerillas" group is founded.

Charas: Improbable Dome Builders is published by Syeus Mottel.

New York magazine publishes "The Graffiti Hit Parade" by Richard Goldstein. It stood for early recognition of a new genre of artist, from vandalism to subway art.


Miguel Piñero wins an Obie and the Pulitzer Prize for his play Short Eyes.

Bimbo Rivas and Chino García are the first to use the term Loisaida, based on a poem by Bimbo, thus giving birth to the name of the neighborhood.

CUANDO (Cultural Understanding and Neighborhood Development Organization) is formed. CUANDO was a community organization centered around youth issues, and had built in its site New York City's first solar air heater.

Adopt-A-Building's headquarters are moved to the Lower East Side. The organization empowered residents in the remodelling and homesteading of abandoned buildings; sweat equity (self-help renovations); organization of block associations; energy conservation; neighborhood planning; and job training. Adopt-a-Building, led during its formative years by Robert Nazario -one of the original RGS leaders-, played a fundamental advocacy role to get support of NYC government for sweat equity homesteading. The broader homesteading movement of the 80's and 90's was a direct descendant of these early efforts.

Eleventh Street Movement rehabilitated three abandoned tenements under the auspices of Adopt-A-Building adopting unique energy saving designs such as solar panels and windmills. Media interest in the Elenth Street Homesteaders was to to the severity oa abandonment on the block. In the early 70s those participating in 'sweat equity' initiatives were 70% Latino and 30% White, Black and Asian. They labeled the collective resilience in face of urban blight as "rescates" or "rescued" buildings and raised revenues to complete the rehabilitation projects through well-attended street fairs and block parties.

The 'Loft Law' -aka Emergency Tenant Protection Act, which legalized living in industrial spaces- is passed; this legal fact becomes a turning point in the artistic development of downtown areas, such as SoHO.


New York City goes officially bankrupt, and President Ford refuses to bail out the city, prompting the famous 'Ford to City: Drop Dead!' New York Daily News headline.

Miguel Algarín and Miguel Piñero found the Nuyorican Poets Café in an Irish bar (the Sunshine Café) on 505 East on 6th Street.

Algarín and Piñero co-edit and publish Nuyorican Poetry: An Anthology of Puerto Rican Words and Feelings. This landmark publication introduced audiences to the unique bi-cultural experiences and expressions of New York based Puerto Ricans.

Piñero's Short Eyes is turned into a movie; soundtrack scored by Curtis Mayfield, of Super Fly fame.

The New Rican Village Cultural and Education Center is formed, with headquarters at 101 Ave A. Led by former Young Lord Eduardo Figueroa, the organization aimed to become "a non-commercial alternative space for the exploration of arts that expressed an evolving self-interpretation of New York Latino identity." Its is credited for creating a musical renaissance where bomba and plena met jazz featuring such groups as Conjunto Libre with manu musician from Tito Puente's band.


Geno Rodríguez co-founds The Alternative Museum in the East Village. First housed on 28 East 4th Street, its motto was: "ahead of the times, behind the issues". Rejecting the ethnic-specific and community-based models followed by his peers, Rodríguez establishes the Alternative Museum a multi-disciplinary artist-run space that responds to global issues.

Adal Madonando and Alex D. Coleman co-found Foto Gallery in Soho. Located on __________Foto Gallery was a not-for profit, artist run photography and multi-media gallery. During its five years of existence Foto Gallery exhibited number of groundbreaking photographers including Robert Mapplethorpe.

On June 10, the Friends of Puerto Rico (established in 1956) opens the Cayman Gallery in a SoHO loft, at 381 West Broadway, and having Jack Agüeros -future director of El Museo del Barrio- as its first director. Then led by Nilda Peraza, the space expanded its focus to include more Latin American artists in its programming. Cayman Gallery eventually became the Museum of Contemporary Hispanic Art (MoCHA), located at 585 Broadway.

Association for Hispanic Art (AHA) is founded by a consortium of organizations to support Latino artists. Marta Moreno Vega becomes founding director. Their site was first located on 200 East 87th Street. The Nuyorican Poets Café and Cayman Gallery were linked to, and partially supported, by AHA.

Pedro Pietri (serving as 'Spanglish Metaphor Consultant'), along with Willie Pietri and Papoleto Meléndez form the 'Latin Insomniacs Motor Cycle Club Without Motorcycles', a travelling micro-troupe/workshop of performance, poetry and theater. The trio also worked/collaborated on scripts, plays and other mixed media works. (flyer)

Freddy Hernández begins working with Cityarts Workshop integrating Puerto Rican motifs into downtown mural scene.


Lee Quiñones becomes a shadowy legend for the whole 40-foot subway car murals he began creating in late 1975 in a whole subway car campaign strewn across the #5 IRT. Over the next decade he would paint an estimated 115 whole subway cars throughout the MTA system. http://www.leequinones.com/index.php?page=subway

La Plaza Cultural is founded by residents and greening activists members of CHARAS. Taking over what were then a series of vacant city lots piled high with rubble and trash. A real usable plaza -in the tradition of Latin American cities- rigth at the heart of the Big Apple, the whole structure and space was an experiment in recycling and alternative architecture. Artist Gordon Matta-Clark helped construct La Plaza’s amphitheater using railroad ties and materials reclaimed from abandoned buildings. Green Guerillas pioneer Liz Christy seeded the turf with “seed bombs”.Later, block residents tilled the western portion and planted vegetables, flowers and fruit trees. After numerous court battles with ravenous real estate developers, in 2002 La Plaza was finally preserved as part of a landmark legal settlement that saved scores of gardens across New York City. In 2003, La Plaza was renamed after Armando Perez, a CHARAS founder and former District Leader of the Lower East Side who was brutally murdered in 1999. Armando recognized the power of gardens to bring communities together.

First Latin American Theater Festival held at the Public Theater; among the collaborators were: Joseph Papp, Centro de Estudios Puertorriqueños, Friends of Puerto Rico/Cayman Gallery, Teatro 94, Teatro Juruntungo.


New Jíbaro Democratic Club was co-founded by Arturo Santiago, son of Petra Santiago. He also ran the Association of Community Services as part of the effort to take control of the local school board by registering thousand of new -mostly Puerto Rican- voters, making locals understand how the system worked and thus setting the tone for future activism. Arturo Santiago also served as Democratic District leader in Lower Manhattan and ran for State Assembly.

Adopt-a-Building officially moves to the iconic 605 East 9th Street building. Charas follows a short time later in the same year. The Latin Insomniacs Motorcycle Club Without Motorcycles organizes the first South Bronx Surrealist Festival held downtown, at the New Rican Village, continues to operate on the Lower East Side until 1984…

Newly elected President Jimmy Carter visits the South Bronx (by this year a burnt-out "slum"); there are over 25,000 abandonned lots in the city as a whole.


The exhibit Bridge Between Islands: Retrospective Works by Six Puerto Rican Artists in New York opens at the Henry Street Settlement (Abrons Center), then travels to the Bronx Museum of the Arts, and finally (in 1979) to El Museo del Barrio this brings major attention to

Tu Casa Studios at 95 Ave B/Charlie Parker Place was developed by Charas as a community music workshop where musicians could meet and rehearse. It continues to be a place where a whole range of diverse artists -from Gema y Pavel to the Yeah, Yeah Yheas- find affordable rates to record and rehearse.

Basquiat and Al Díaz begin tagging downtown as SAMO December 1978 Village Voice article on the SAMO graffiti interviews Basquiat and Díaz.

Fashion/Moda is founded by Stephen Eins in the South Bronx. Soon to be joined as co-directors were artist Joe Lewis and William Scott, a Puerto Rican teenager form the neighborhood. Fashion/Moda attracted many local graffiti artists including Lee of the lower east side and began the aesthetic mergers between the downtown/uptown sceene, hip hop, punk and DIY sensibilities.

Charlie Ahearn living near the Smith projects where Lee Quiñones lived started using his murals as background for experimental film projects with a 16mm camera of local kids doing early forms of Breakdancing.

Marlis Momber produces documentary film Viva Loisaida for German television.


Quality of Life in Loisaida magazine begins publishing-see resistance.

Freddie Hernández begins contribution of "Adventures in Loisaida" comic strip to Quality of Life in Loisaida magazine.

In the Heart of Loisaida - Documentary of Homesteading movement by Bennie Matías. Made through in-kind contributions and a small grant from Adopt A Building.

CHARAS/El Bohio Community Center is founded as a multi-tenant arts space in an abandoned school building.

Loisaida Inc., a non-for-profit organization is founded, they would later organize the Loisaida Street Festival