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.
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