368.11 Artist movements to legalize loft living in soho in the 1960s and 1970s

Thursday, August 2, 2012: 12:00 AM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Distributed Paper
Hideaki SASAJIMA , Urban Research Plaza, Osaka City University, Osaka, Japan
This paper examines artist movements for legalization of living in old light-industry buildings (lofts) in SoHo in New York City in the 1960s and 1970s. Some artists started to live illegally in the lofts in SoHo from the late 1950s and created communities there. Then artists’ groups, such as the Artist Tenant Association, SoHo Artist Association and Artist Against the Expressway, initiated movements for changing the zoning resolution in New York City in order to have the right to live safely in the lofts. In 1971, artist movements accomplished their goal and then the artists’ district within the SoHo manufacturing zone was constructed.

Scholars, such as Charles Simpson and Sharon Zukin, have previously examined the processes of artist movements in SoHo; however, they did not closely follow the social mobilization processes in chronological order, focusing on multiple social relationships around the artist groups. Utilizing mainly archival materials, such as minutes and correspondence of artist groups, and magazine and newspaper articles, this study explores the processes of artist movements for amending the zoning resolution.

Currently, scholars and urban policymakers have been focusing on artists living in a city area due to their economic, social and cultural values (e.g. creative cities). In the case study of SoHo, artists’ social movements were successful. Ironically, however, artists consequently lost their right to live in the lofts because institutionalized artist living in the lofts led to the opening of the loft housing markets and artists had to move out as a result of a rise in rent costs. This paper will explore the possibilities for artist movements and artists’ right to live in cities by focusing on the light and shadow of artist movements in SoHo.