Ours to Lose

  • The University of Chicago Press
  • 2018
  • 0
  • English
  • 1
  • 9780226400006

“The fascinating and little-known tale of the Lower East Side squatters of the Eighties . . . a radical, European-inspired housing movement” (The Village Voice).   Though New York’s Lower East Side today is home to high-end condos and hip restaurants, it was for decades an infamous site of blight, open-air drug dealing, and class conflict—an emblematic example of the tattered state of 1970s and ’80s Manhattan.   Those decades of strife, however, also gave the Lower East Side something unusual: a radical movement that blended urban homesteading and European-style squatting in a way never before seen in the United States. Ours to Lose tells the oral history of that movement through a close look at a diverse group of Lower East Side squatters who occupied abandoned city-owned buildings in the 1980s, fought to keep them for decades, and eventually began a long, complicated process to turn their illegal occupancy into legal cooperative ownership. Amy Starecheski here not only tells a little-known New York story, she also shows how property shapes our sense of ourselves as social beings and explores the ethics of homeownership and debt in post-recession America.   “There are many books about the Lower East Side and its recent transformation, yet none has included engagement or oral history with primary organizers in the way Starecheski has. Ours to Lose is a unique and substantive contribution to our understanding of a most distinct practice in the shaping of urban space.” —Metropolitiques   “What is significant is that the author demonstrates how some New Yorkers addressed the housing crisis in an unconventional manner. Recommended.” —Choice