Loisaida

‘Loisaida’ is the NYC neighborhood at the root of powerful movements.

While walking through the Lower East Side, did you ever notice the other name for Avenue C?

If you’re Puerto Rican or have lived in NYC for long enough to see the neighborhood change, you may have a soft spot for the word, “ Loisaida”.

Say it slowly. What downtown New York City neighborhood does it sound like?

Before The Lower East Side (LES) was a shopping and restaurant area mostly for university students, the Manhattan neighborhood was a working-class neighborhood for immigrants from across the world. In the mid-1900s, the Latinos who lived there called it “Loisaida”. Puerto Ricans and other working-class people made Loisaida a place for activism in New York City from the 1940s to the 1990s. 

Activist groups tried to improve the lives of residents in the neighborhood by leading protests and mass building squats. Locals also created spaces for the community, like gardens and restaurants. These actions along with art that brought Latinos together helped form national cultural pride. This created the The “Nuyorican” identity (preferred by some Puerto Ricans from New York), 

Have you heard of the Nuyorican Poets Café, opened in 1973? Many Latino artists, like poet, Aja Monet and actress, Rosario Dawson performed here!

Today LES has the second-highest income inequality gap in Manhattan. As the neighborhood becomes unaffordable, Latino families who once lived well there are being pushed out. 


Thankfully, some cultural hubs, like Loisaida Center and Tenement Museum, still exist and remind us of the Latino influence that helped strengthen Latino movements for justice, such as the creation of the modern Puerto Rican Flag! 

Check out next week’s blog to learn more about the influence of the Lower East Side on the history of Puerto Rico!


Soft spot- noun- to like something or someone a lot.
Income inequality gap- noun– income = money, inequality= unequal, gap= space
Unaffordable- adjective– expensive, not easy to buy
Hub- noun – a place that is a center of a particular activity 
Activism – Noun– social or political change 
To squat Verb – living in a building without the legal right to do so 

Resources: 

  1. ‘Loisaida’ is the NYC neighborhood at the root of powerful movements – Pulso (projectpulso.org)
  2. A Spoken History Of The Nuyorican Poets Cafe – Latino USA
  3. Cambridge Learner’s Dictionary: Definitions & Meanings
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Madison Square Garden!

The World’s Most Famous Arena – Madison Square Garden (MSG)

Did you know that the famous arena, MSG, hasn’t always been in its current location on 34th street?

Did you know that it could move again?

Before the current day Madison Square Garden, which was completed in 1968, there were actually three other Madison Square Gardens.

The construction of the original Madison Square Garden was  completed, and MSG I was open for business in Manhattan  in 1871.However, it wasn’t open for long before a new Madison Square Garden was built.

In 1890 the second Madison Square Garden opened on the same site as the original.  Once again, this Madison Square Garden was not open for long before yet another Garden was built, now the third different Madison Square Garden within 60 years. 

The third Madison Square Garden, completed in 1925, took under a year to build.

  

Madison Square Garden III was the first Madison Square Garden that was not located near Madison Square Park, It was located on Eighth Avenue between 49th and 50th Streets in Manhattan.  People from all over came to see Madison Square Garden for sports and entertainment, like the prior ones, but this Garden became extremely popular very quickly.

Lastly, the current day Madison Square Garden opened in 1968.  All of the Madison Square Gardens had a big impact on the culture of New York City, even though they were not all on the same site. The MSG that we know today has a lease that expires this year- in 2023! There have been talks about whether it will move, but so far, no decision has been made. Who knows? Maybe the next MSG will be in the Lower East Side!

Resources: 

Madison Square Garden (1925) – Wikipedia

Madison Square Garden – History of New York City (shu.edu)

Madison Square Garden Facts & History | MSG | Official Site

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MLK Jr. Day

What is Martin Luther King Jr. Day?

It is an American holiday to celebrate the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

King was born on January 15, 1929, in Atlanta, Georgia.

Who was Martin Luther King Jr.?

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was born in Atlanta, Georgia in the United States in 1929. At that time in America, black people didn’t have the same rights as white people. Black people had to sit in the back of buses. The schools were separated by skin color and there were even separate public restrooms for black people and white people. This was called segregation. Black people’s lives were not very good.

Martin Luther King Jr. Leads March for Civil Rights

Martin Luther King Jr. was a minister in the Baptist Church. He fought against racial segregation. He wanted equal rights for all people, but he didn’t use violence in his fight. He asked people to fight peacefully. For example, he asked black people to ride in the front of the bus. More than 200,000 people went to Washington D.C. to listen to him speak and ask the government to change unfair laws.


Photo of Dr. King

Because of Martin Luther King Jr., many laws began to change in the United States. But many white people disagreed with him and his ways. In 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated(1) by a white man.

Dr. King was assassinated in 1968. Just 15 years later, in 1983, then President Ronald Reagan signed this holiday into U.S. law. People first observed(2) the holiday three years later, in 1986. At first, the holiday was not popular with all American states. Some didn’t like the name and so they called it “Civil Rights Day”. However, in the year 2000, all 50 states observed the holiday using its correct name. The musician, Stevie Wonder helped the campaign(3) for the holiday. He released(4) a famous song called “Happy Birthday” in 1980. The song made millions of Americans aware of the campaign. Six million people signed a petition(5) for the American Congress to create the holiday. It is still the largest petition in U.S. history in favor of an issue.

Check out Stevie Wonder’s Happy Birthday song here!

Many African-Americans also sing this song during birthday celebrations!

Resources:

Martin Luther King, Jr. (5minuteenglish.com)

ESL Holiday Lessons: English Lesson on Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Vocabulary:

(1)  To assassinate – verb – to kill someone important or famous

(2)  To observe – verb-  to obey a law, rule, or custom

(3) Campaignnoun- a plan with of a number of activities directed toward reaching a goal 

(4) To releaseverb– to make a product available for the public to buy, often with a celebration;

(5) Petition noun– a document signed by a large number of people demanding or asking for some action from the government

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Job Search and Interview Workshops

Our long-time partner, Washington Heights Workforce1 Career Center revisited us for our high-intermediate and advanced daytime and evening students, virtually this time, to teach how to search jobs online and how to ace job interviews. Our students learned a lot of dos and don’ts when they look for a job or have a job interview. We hope our students will be ready to find and have a good job when they graduate from our program.

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Indoor Exercise- NYC Rec Centers

Stay fit through the winter!

Winter in NYC can be difficult. It’s cold. There’s very little sun. Everyone wants to stay inside, and it can be challenging to stay in shape while we stay indoors. But did you know that NYC has recreational centers (rec centers) where you can exercise? Some even have a pool and fitness classes!


A rec center is a building that is open to the public where meetings are held, sports are played, and there are activities available for young and old. Joining a rec center is an excellent opportunity to stay healthy indoors through the winter, make friends, and learn about your community!

The NYC rec centers try their best to be affordable and convenient. An adult membership for one year is only $150 for adults! Considering that most pools in NYC are about $100 a month, this is an excellent price.

Check out the website below and click on locations to find the closest rec center to your home or job!

Recreation Center Membership : NYC Parks (nycgovparks.org)

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