The Lofts Of Soho: Gentrification, Art, And Industry In New York, 1950?1980

Hardcover | April 18, 2016

byAaron Shkuda

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American cities entered a new phase when, beginning in the 1950s, artists and developers looked upon a decaying industrial zone in Lower Manhattan and saw, not blight, but opportunity: cheap rents, lax regulation, and wide open spaces. Thus, SoHo was born. From 1960 to 1980, residents transformed the industrial neighborhood into an artist district, creating the conditions under which it evolved into an upper-income, gentrified area. Introducing the idea—still potent in city planning today—that art could be harnessed to drive municipal prosperity, SoHo was the forerunner of gentrified districts in cities nationwide, spawning the notion of the creative class.

In The Lofts of SoHo, Aaron Shkuda studies the transition of the district from industrial space to artists’ enclave to affluent residential area, focusing on the legacy of urban renewal in and around SoHo and the growth of artist-led redevelopment. Shkuda explores conflicts between residents and property owners and analyzes the city’s embrace of the once-illegal loft conversion as an urban development strategy. As Shkuda explains, artists eventually lost control of SoHo’s development, but over several decades they nonetheless forced scholars, policymakers, and the general public to take them seriously as critical actors in the twentieth-century American city.

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From the Publisher

American cities entered a new phase when, beginning in the 1950s, artists and developers looked upon a decaying industrial zone in Lower Manhattan and saw, not blight, but opportunity: cheap rents, lax regulation, and wide open spaces. Thus, SoHo was born. From 1960 to 1980, residents transformed the industrial neighborhood into an art...

Aaron Shkuda is project manager of the Princeton-Mellon Initiative in Architecture, Urbanism, and the Humanities at Princeton University. He lives in New Jersey.
Format:HardcoverDimensions:320 pages, 9 × 6 × 1 inPublished:April 18, 2016Publisher:University of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:022633418X

ISBN - 13:9780226334189

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

Introduction: Art, Artists, and Gentrification

1 The Wastelands of New York
2 Making the Artist Loft
3 Gray Areas and Industrial Slums: The Lower Manhattan Expressway
4 Artist Organizations, Political Advocacy, and the Creation of a Residential SoHo
5 Moving Art Downtown
6 Real Estate and SoHo Politics: Loft Promotion and Historic Preservation in Lower Manhattan
7 The Embourgeoisement of SoHo
8 The Spread of Loft Living: Real Estate Development and Tenant Conflict in SoHo and Beyond
9 Making New York a Loft Living City

Conclusion: Contemporary SoHo and the Neighborhood’s Significance
Acknowledgments
Notes
Bibliography
Index

Editorial Reviews

“Thoughtful and erudite, Shkuda’s remarkable book on the transformation of SoHo offers a wholly new and fascinating perspective on the economic, cultural, and political forces at play. The implications of Shkuda’s book extend far beyond the neighborhood of study and right into the very heart of the debate around the arts and neighborhood development.”