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Loisaida Timeline

1950s

New York City began to de-industrialized and transition into a global finance and communication center, continuing on through the ‘70s. Manufacturing jobs relocated outside the city, which locked the working-class Puerto Ricans out of the immigrant’s traditional path to upward mobility.

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Under the label of Urban Renewal, city planner Robert Moses focused generally on ”slum clearance” and the building of public housing. This massively displaced Puerto Ricans from residential neighborhoods, and a considerable numbers of Puerto Ricans ended up on the Lower East Side to fill in the void that the white ethnic immigrants left when they moved to the suburbs. By 1964, the Puerto Rican community made up 9.3 percent of the total New York City population.

After a decade in federal prison as a political prisoner, Clemente Soto Vélez (1905-1993) started organizing and working in New York City with diverse cultural and community organizations. Among others, he was prominently involved with the Puerto Rican Merchants Association, a group geared towards helping store owners protect their rights as pioneering entrepreneurs. (image frm collection)

Throughout the ‘70s Clemente Soto Vélez also served as mentor to a younger generation of Puerto Rican writers, artists and social activists in New York, such as novelist Manuel Ramos Otero, poet Tato Laviera, and folk singer/composer Roy Brown. (tato laviera video excerpt)