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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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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Farewell to Professor June

For 20 years, Professor June Foley, who is the Senior Director of the Writing Program at NYU Gallatin, has been teaching an advanced writing class here at University Settlement. June has also been responsible for the editing and publishing of the Literacy Review, an annual collection of writing from adult education students throughout NYC. A new compilation of writing from University Settlement students, 20!, will be released soon and Friday, August 26, will be her last day leading her class. We sat down to talk with her about the past, the present, and the future.

Tell us a little about yourself…

I was born and raised in Trenton, New Jersey, into a working-class family, in what sociologists have called an “urban village.” I was the first of an eventual 40 first cousins, with dozens of relatives living within a couple of miles. I received my M.A. and Ph.D. in English and American Literature from NYU. My husband, Bob Stark (a native New Yorker) and I have been together for 38 years, and I have a 50-year-old son, Max Lindenman, from a previous marriage.

How did you first get involved with University Settlement and whose idea was it to start the writing class?

As the new Writing Program director, I was asked by the Writing Program chair to audit the first “Literacy in Action” (now “Race, Social Justice, and Adult Literacy”) class. The “volunteer work” the six students and two auditing faculty did was all at our first partner—University Settlement. Everyone else taught conversation, but I chose to teach writing. And I’ve been doing it ever since. 

Can you describe the format of the writing class?

Though I facilitate the class, with two Gallatin undergrad student teachers, the class is student-centered. The students write on any topic, in any genre. The student teachers and I edit the works (minimally), each writer reads her work aloud during class, and the other students offer comments about both the content and the style. The students are inspired and encouraged by one another. 

Any special memories of the writing class? Any memorable students?

To tell my special memories of the class, I’d have to write a book. Instead, I’ll quote from my introduction to 20!, our new book. In my introduction to one volume, I noted that almost all the original students came from China and many had survived Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution. Lisa Lee wrote that when she was growing up, many neighbors were so poor that “they sold their children to the rich”; Yuqing Gu wrote about being ordered, as a physician, to perform a forced abortion on a woman eight months pregnant because neighbors had informed the authorities that she already had one child; Biming Long remembered the Communist Party labeling a beloved teacher a traitor, hounding him into suicide. Many stories set in New York City described working many hours every week in sweatshops or restaurants. Nelson Feng described how his restaurant delivery bike was stolen, he was threatened with a gun, and a customer whose dinner cost $57.75 tipped him 25 cents.

There was joyful writing, as well: Ofelio Chen’s about his “first friend,” a calf on his family farm in China; John Cheng’s about meeting his father in New York City, after running away from home many years earlier in China; Wen Fei Liang’s whirlwind trip to Europe, using her wheelchair; David Chen’s about receiving two unjust summonses as a mini-pancake sidewalk vendor, writing careful descriptions of the experience, reading them in court, and having the summonses dismissed.

Over time, the class became increasingly diverse, with students from Latin America, the Middle East, Africa, and Eastern and Western Europe, and the writing also became more varied. Jackie Leduc’s brilliant introduction to the previous compilation, Remember, mentions the political issues of Bangladesh, passionately discussed by Afroza Yasmin and her son, Mahir Rahman; and the complex, frequently dark stories of the Brazilians Marilia Valengo, Vini de la Rocha and his wife Mariana Lemos Duarte. This year, we read Jennifer Alonzo’s love letter to her husband; Gabriela Robles’s story from the point of view of a Central Park bench; Annette Huang’s exhortations toward love and compassion; Grace Zhang’s writing about neighborhood tensions in Brooklyn; Fatima Sore’s fictionalized tales of women’s lives on the Ivory Coast, and much more.  

Did you learn anything from your students?

Again, I could write a book. As I also say in my intro, they’ve taught me much more than I’ve taught them. I’m in awe of their intelligence, thoughtfulness, courage, resourcefulness, resilience, patience, determination, compassion–and their writing talent. 

Can you describe the genesis of the Literacy Review?

LR started after I compiled that first little book of USS writing. The students were so thrilled to see their words in print that my class expanded. Soon I asked a few Gallatin students if they’d like to get together to create a book of the best writing from all NYC ESOL and adult education students. 

What are some important things all writers should remember?

The writer Henry James said, “Observe perpetually.” In addition, I’d say never stop reflecting, reading, and writing. 

What do you plan to do now?

I’ll be teaching one Gallatin course per semester in my field, the Victorian novel, at least for a year. 

Who will take over the writing class and Literacy Review?

Allyson Paty, a graduate of Gallatin who has an MFA in poetry from NYU and has been the Writing Program associate director for a number of years, will succeed me as WP director on September 1st. Corinne Butta, who was the WP’s graduate assistant for two years, received her M.A. from Gallatin in May, and has experience as an editor, will take over the advanced writing class. They are terrific!

Anything else you’d like to add?

Many, many thanks to the director of the Adult Literacy Program, Lucian Leung; to Jon, the assistant director; and to Leanne Fung, program associate. You have all been so wonderfully supportive over the years. I’m honored to have had the opportunity to work with you at University Settlement. 

Thank you, June! We’ll miss you!

To check out past blog posts about June, the writing class, and the Literacy Review, click here!

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Juneteenth

Juneteenth, always African-American, now American!

Juneteenth is a newly recognized American holiday, but has always been recognized by African-Americans. It celebrates African-Americans finally being freed from slavery.

Although, July 4th is officially America’s independence day, Juneteenth has been independence day for African-Americans for centuries.

The history is not complicated. In the year 1619, Africans were brought to The United States as slaves. Many different tribes, ethnic groups, and people were stolen from Africa and brought to America. It was a sad and horrible time for Black people in the Americas.

“In the year 1863, during the American Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln issued1 the Emancipation Proclamation, which declared more than three million slaves living in the Confederate states to be free. More than two years passed before the news reached African Americans living in Texas. It was not until Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865, that the people finally learned that slavery had been abolished. The newly freed slaves immediately began to celebrate with prayer, a feast, song, and dance.”

On June 15th 2021, Juneteenth finally became a national holiday, not only for African-Americans, but for all Americans, to celebrate the freedom of every American.

issued1– To give or deal out; distribute.

References: Juneteenth | History, Meaning, Flag, Importance, & Facts | Britannica

Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopedia. “Juneteenth”. Encyclopedia Britannica, 19 Apr. 2022, https://www.britannica.com/topic/Juneteenth. Accessed 14 June 2022.

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Memorial Day Weekend

Memorial Day is an American holiday, observed on the last Monday of May, honoring the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military. Memorial Day 2022 will occur on Monday, May 30. 

Memorial Day 2022: Facts, Meaning & Traditions – HISTORY

Many people visit cemeteries and memorials on Memorial Day to honor and mourn those who died while serving in the U.S. military. Many volunteers place an American flag on graves of military personnel in national cemeteries. Memorial Day is also considered the unofficial beginning of summer in the United States.

Memorial Day – Wikipedia

We also use Memorial Day weekend to start the summer! During Memorial Day weekend you will see many barbeques, parties, and people at the beach! Remember to be safe ad have fun!

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The Power of US

Last week University Settlement held its annual gala, City Stories: The Power of US. City Stories: The Power of US is a celebration of human connection and the community strength that is possible when neighbors are engaged in their powerful individuality. Honoring difference, insisting on complexity, and forging relationships are the pillars of this approach, one University Settlement has cultivated with their neighbors for the last 135 years.

If you weren’t able to attend, you can watch an inspiring conversation with Charles B. Stover Award Honoree Cathy Park Hong, a spoken word and dance performance by Drew Drake and Angelica Mondol Viaña, and a behind-the-scenes look at our programs in honor of our frontline staff.

This year’s gala may be over, but our work is far from done. We are going to keep pushing forward to make NYC a more equitable place for ALL.

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