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Guided Tour: The Squats of the East Village
During the 1970s and 80s, many century-old buildings in Alphabet City were severely neglected or even abandoned by landlords or city government. Squatters, some of whom were also artists by trade, moved into these vacant tenements and started to repair, maintain, and live in them. These reoccupied buildings took on names like Bullet Space or Umbrella House or C squat or Serenity House. Rather than support such sweat equity, several Mayoral administrations sought to demonize the intrepid residents and force them out. Mayor Giuliani even ordered a tank to occupy East 13th Street during the height of the pitched battles in the streets and in the courts. Finally, in the fall of 2002, the City of New York gave up claims to the properties that had been abandoned, and turned them over to the residents to become owners. These are ten such buildings that still stand.
Each guided tour on Building Blocks invites you to see small groups of East Village buildings in a new way. Each is idiosyncratic and is curated by an expert on one of the many facets of the East Village.