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Loisaida Timeline


Grassroots community activist Petra Santiago founded the Council of Puerto Rican and Hispanic Organizations of the Lower East Side, the first major Latino organization in that neighborhood. Its objective was to improve the conditions for Latinos in housing, education, employment, medical care and recreation. (images frm collection)

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Santiago has been called the "first woman mayor[M2] of the Lower East Side". Among the key organizations she helped establish was the United Organization of Suffolk Street, active from 1967-1976, which provided day care, English language classes and other social services. Santiago was also active in tenants' rights and worked for the Coalition for Decent Housing, which she also helped create. Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Harrison E. Salisbury recognized her work as a youth worker in his book The Shook-Up Generation (Harper Brothers, 1965). (images from collection)


Society of Umbra was formed and the first Umbra magazine was released. Umbra was a Black literary group founded in 1962 and based on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. The collective of young Black writers made an impact for presenting a voice distinct from the literary establishment. Major members included Lorenzo Thomas, Ishmael Reed and Steve Cannon.

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Great Society laws, including the Civil Rights and Equal Opportunity Acts, were passed under the administration of Lyndon B. Johnson

maybe amazon book cover should go here?

Frank Lima, a Puerto Rican poet who was affiliated with the New York School of poets, produced Inventory, published by Tibor de Nagy Gallery. It was instrumental in promoting the art of second-generation abstract expressionists. The book featured a portrait of Frank Lima by Elaine de Kooning on the cover.

Jet Neorriqueño/Neo Rican JetLiner was published by Jamie Carrero. This might be the first literary mention of the 'Neo-rrican' concept. (images from poem) (link to definition of Nuyo-rican aesthetic movement)

The Real Great Society, an activist forum to fight poverty and prevent delinquency was established by former gang members Chino García (president), Angelo González (vice-president), Carlos Troche (secretary) and Fred Good (treasurer). Other initial members were: Armando Pérez (later involved in founding La Plaza Cultural Community Garden), Robert Nazario (later the central figure in Adopt-A-Building and the sweat equity movement), and Papo Giordani (later to open the RGS urban planning studio uptown).

A proposal was drafted for what would become the Puerto Rican Community Development Project , which later got funding through the War on Poverty legislation. The project dealt with family issues, strengthening, education, and general opportunities for youth. In its research phase, a comprehensive social profile of the community was prepared to indicate Puerto Rican attitudes toward social institutions, services, organizations, and facilities.


Movimiento Pro Independendencia (MPI) had headquarters on the Lower East Side and East Harlem. Its main role was promoting Puerto Rico’s independence through involvement in local community struggles, Puerto Rican parades, and other traditional forms of mobilization.

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The Public Theater staged An Evening of Puerto Rican Poetry and Folk Music. It became an annual event for several years.


Rafael Montañez Ortíz, born in Brooklyn in 1934, an American artist, educator, and future founder of El Museo del Barrio in 1948, began destruction-art practices in Judson Memorial Church. The Baptist church housed what was called a “radical arts ministry” in Greenwich Village. Ortíz performed a series of destruction events, including his piano destruction concerts, which were filmed by both ABC and the BBC. The artists who gathered around his movement and its development were opposed to the senseless destruction of human life and landscapes endangered by the Vietnam War. http://www.encyclopedia.com/video/ivL9-1u9g9o-11h-leadership-in-artworke...

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Victor Hernández Cruz, at the age of seventeen published Papo Got His Gun, a chapbook that compiled his Beat and Black poetry influences. He used a mimeograph machine that produced copies which were distributed to local businesses and sold for seventy-five cents each.

The reconstruction of Tompkins Square Park’s band-shell was completed. The social gatherings it provoked helped foster the term East Village by a real estate market that aimed to draw distinctions between the old immigrant neighborhood and the recent wave of West Coast hippies attracted to the iconic Greenwich Village but unable to pay its exclusive rents.

While “national attention was directed toward the East Village hippie enclave in the 1960s, the area’s Puerto Rican residents were building a viable and vibrant ethnic enclave.” [M5] (Christopher Mele 2000)


Real Great Society project was featured in LIFE Magazine in an article by Roger Vaughan, “The Real Great Society.” LIFE Magazine, 63:11 (1967) p. 76. Books.google.com - Life

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Sociedad de Albizu Campos, a predecessor of what was to become the Young Lords Party, was operating from the Lower East Side.

University of the Streets, a not-for-profit education organization officially incorporated in 1969, began operating under the direction of The Real Great Society project with Muhammad Salahuddeen, who in 2010 was still its project director.

Memorial Day, Tomkins Square Park confrontation between hippies and Puerto Ricans marked the group clash over cheap apartments, lifestyles and turf.

On Memorial Day, 1967, a resident's complaint about loud congas in the park brought the city's Tactical Police Squad to the square to confront a small group of people sitting on the grass. Furious at being greeted by defiant chants and linked arms, the police grabbed the guitars and shoved and clubbed the protesters. They arrested 38, charging them with disorderly conduct. A month later, on 30 June 1967, the judge dismissed all charges, saying: 'This court will not deny equal protection to the unwashed, unshod, unkempt, and uninhibited.' Several days after the hippies had been arrested, other tensions surfaced in the square. There was a confrontation between hippies attending a concert at the band shell and Latinos who demanded Latin instead of psychedelic music. The subsequent melee involved violence and property damage. The police, this time sensibly leaving their nightsticks behind, broke up the fight. To defuse the situation, Puerto Ricans and hippies, among them Linda Cusamano and Abbie Hoffman, proposed a concert of Latin music for the next night. The delegates from the two communities met with representatives of the Parks Department to plan the concert, which went off peacefully.” (A History of Tompkin Square Park by Lower East Side Preservation Initiative)

The recently organized Young Lords, a leftist pro-Puerto Rican independence organization, along with Black Panthers and other activist groups, took over Christodora House, an Avenue B building complex that had been turned into a hostel and community center for progressive causes, neighborhood betterment. Despite concerted attempts on the part of community activists to prevent it the city sold Christodora House to a real estate speculator for $62,500 in 1973. (Neil Smith 1996) It is now a luxury high-rise.
Books.google.com - New York Magazine


Rafael Ferrer’s 3 Leaf Pieces was installed - in a guerilla action - at Castelli Warehouse. From that point on, Puerto Rican visual artist began to become known for the ephemeral Process Art he made into the ‘70s.


Victor Hernández Cruz, at 18 years old, was editing Umbra [M8] magazine until 1969. The magazine was produced by the African American literary collective, Society of Umbra from the Lower East Side. He later emerged as one of the leading voices of Nuyorican School of bilingual poets and urban jazz poetry. Hernández Cruz always recognized Ishmael Reed and other Umbra poets as his mentors.

The Real Great Society original founders lost control of the original mission [M10] when Angelo Giordani founded an uptown version named the (RGS) Urban Planning Studio in El Barrio. This franchise of the original RGS attracted a circle of Puerto Rican professionals –architects, urban planners- to focus in low income coop housing and community based galleries pertinent to the Nuyorican community in El Barrio. (To learn about the protracted struggle between RGS downtown and uptown branches go to Luis Aponte-Pares’ Lessons from el Barrio in Latino Social Movements, and Fred Good’ The Making of Loisaida in Resistance)


The Art Workers Coalition (AWC) was founded to demand that the MoMA (among other museums) reform through the creation of wings dedicated to works by women, African Americans and Puerto Ricans; the general decentralization of the museum; and the museum taking a stance regarding the Vietnam War. The Puerto Rican members of the AWC were: Ralph Montanez Ortiz, Manuel Neco Otero, Adrian Garcia, Martin Rubio, Marcos Dimas, Armando Soto, Harry Quintana, and Carlos Osorio. Some of them had architectural backgrounds and were also members of the RGS uptown.


Puerto Rican drag queen/transvestite Sylvia Rivera (born Ray Rivera) resisted arrest and set off Stonewall Riots. Called the Rosa Parks of the gay liberation movement, he co-founded the Gay Liberation Front and Gay Activists Alliance. The paper “Paginas Omitidas, the gay and lesbian presence” by Luis Aponte Parés and Jorge Merced offered an insightful light into the history of Puerto Rican and Latino gays within the larger mainstream gay movement of the era.

Decentralization law passed in New York City created 32 local school board districts in the five boroughs. Puerto Rican parents, educators and activists called for curriculum reforms, including bi-lingual education and, Puerto Rican studies.

Police raided Christodora House as the purported national headquarters of the Black Panthers and other radical groups like the Young Lords Organization.

CHARAS, a social-engineering organization originally created to adapt the futuristic ideas about geodesic domes of Richard Buckminster Fuller to the needs and realities of poor communities, was founded by Chino Garcia. CHARAS stands for: Chino, Humberto, Angelo, Roy, Anthony and Sal.

Puerto Rican post office worker turned drag-queen Mario Montez , a/k/a René Rivera, and Holly Woodland, a/k/a Haroldo Santiago, became superstars in Andy Warhol's The Factory (poster from frances Negron Conference)

Joseph Papp gave Miguel Algarín and fellow Nuyorican poets space at 4 Astor Place for their theater rehearsal and workshops.

Pedro Pietri expressed his rage against the system through the poem “Puerto Rican Obituary,” first read at a rally in support of the Young Lords Party, an anti-imperialist Latino youth group in New York. link to: http://monthlyreview.org/0604pietri.htm