Aaron Shkuda: The Lofts of Soho

Aaron Shkuda: <i>The Lofts of Soho</i>

Archives of American Art / Smithsonian Institution

It's hard to imagine a time before the era of the New York artist's loft, when big, open warehouse dwellings were untainted by the rich, taken up by squatters, and, oh yeah, totally illegal. In The Lofts of Soho, Aaron Shkuda (of the Princeton-Mellon Initiative in Architecture, Urbanism, and the Humanities) traces the phenomenon of art-as-urban-development strategy. Presenting an illustrated lecture based on the book, he chronicles the Manhattan neighborhood's transformation from the Fifties through the Eighties, a move from industrial squalor to artist's haven and finally to the high-income shopping district it is today. While the Lower East Side and Williamsburg and, well, all of Brooklyn have certainly followed suit, the Soho influence doesn't stop there: To this day, it is the loose model for gentrification in just about every American city. Catch Shkuda here as he defends the artist's role as a critical player in urban development.

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