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The Bowery Boys: New York City History

#417 Walking the East Village 1976-1996

The rebirth of the East Village in the late 1970s and the flowering of a new and original New York subculture -- what Edmund White called "the Downtown Scene" -- arose from the shadow of urban devastation and was anchored by a community that reclaimed its own deteriorating neighborhood.

In the last episode (Creating the East Village 1955-1975) this northern corner of New York's Lower East Side became the desired home for new cultural venues -- nightclubs, cafes, theaters, and bars -- after the city tore down the Third Avenue Elevated in 1955.

By the mid-1970s, however, the high had worn off. The East Village was in crisis, one of the Manhattan neighborhoods hit hardest by the city’s fiscal difficulties and cutbacks. It had become a landscape of dark, unsafe streets and buildings demolished in flame.

But the next generation of creative interlopers (following the initial stampede of Greenwich Village beatniks and hippies) built upon the legacies of East Village counter-culture to create poems, music, paintings, and stage performances heavily influenced by the apocalyptic situations around them.

This was something truly distinct, a creative scene that was thoroughly and uniquely an East Village creation -- punk and hardcore, murals and graffiti, fashion and drag. In this episode Greg hits the streets of the East Village in a special live-on-the-streets event, with musician and tour guide Krikor Daglian (of True Tales of NYC), exploring the secrets of the recent past -- from the origins of skateboarding to the seeds of the American alternative rock scene.

FEATURING: CBGB, Supreme, the Pyramid, Club 57, Niagara, 7B, Brownies, and many others

AND special guests Bill Di Paola from the Museum of Reclaimed Urban Space and Ramon 'Ray' Alvarez from Ray's Candy Store

ALSO: Check out our Walking The East Village playlist, curated by Krikor and Greg -- on Spotify

The Bowery Boys: New York City History
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