Best place that will cease to exist when Columbia takes over West Harlem (2008)

Hint House Artist Collective

Columbia University's planned 17-acre expansion will gobble up at least 80 businesses. Some, like the beloved Dinosaur BBQ and world-famous Madame Alexander Doll Company, have agreed to relocate with the university's assistance. But others, like the Hint House Artist Collective, may soon just disappear into the ether. The collective provides studio and performance space for about 40 musicians and artists, including visual artist Tamara Gayer and the No Neck Blues Band (also known as NNCK). The three-story building, sandwiched between an auto-repair shop and a bus depot, is packed with canvases, musical equipment, and a family of mismatched sofas and chairs. A geometric mural livens up the second floor, where the bands occasionally open the doors to neighbors for live performances. Years from now, when the construction actually begins, the collective will be long gone; like a couple of other studio spaces in the neighborhood, the building has already been sold to Columbia, and the lease is up this year. Gayer, who is also a community-board member, says it's a symbolic shift in the city. A decade ago, Hint House was squeezed out of its downtown space; now it's being pushed out of one of Manhattan's dwindling manufacturing zones. In this idiosyncratic neighborhood, where artists and mechanics have been known to trade favors—mechanics have helped weld sculptures, and artists have painted murals for the neighboring auto shop—that will mean the end of an era.


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