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Illegal Living: 80 Wooster Street and the Evolution of SoHo Paperback – July 1, 2010
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Like many artists of the era, Maciunas trained in architecture, later entering the avant-garde Fluxus arts movement that included Yoko Ono, John Lennon, and scores of artists who would move into Soho. He would go on to buy 10 more buildings, turning all of them into artist co-ops, and I stress co-ops, because this was about profit. This was a time before the easy-credit loans, and Maciunas needed to line up buyers in order to close the deals. The upfront purchase of the floors, and the low monthly maintainance, would pay off the loans. By the 1980’s, many of the artist would cash out.
There were several more of these artist cooperative buildings in the area, including White Columns (which has since moved) and 112 Greene Street. Originally, the city allowed each factory building to have only two people living there, and the building had to post a sign that said A.I.R. meaning “artist in residence,” to let the fire department know if someone might be sleeping up there. But the new Soho buildings had many residents, and this led to years of wrangling with the city. I can’t really blame the building inspectors; the neighborhood’s police and fire service was meant for industry, not residents.Read more ›