Many museums are inspired by their location--founded as a way to preserve the building they occupy. The Museum of Reclaimed Urban Space is one such organized. The tiny museum is housed on the ground floor of the famous C-Squat building in Alphabet City. It is dedicated to preserving the history of urban activism and populist organization to drive change in government policies. Its collection of photographs, pamphlets, signs, graffiti, and zines tell the story of a once-fringe movement can slowly change an urban culture.
What You Will See
The tiny museum contains unexpected artifacts from Alphabet City's time during the decades of neglect and decay suffered during the 1970s and 1980s. Visitors are introduced to the grassroots urban activism that addressed issues no considered mainstream, like urban gardening and composting, safe cycling on city roads, and the priorities of community spaces. While still active in local issues, the museum is also a celebration of past successes and the unique culture created by New York Squat houses.
Why You Should Go
Many historic buildings in New York are preserved as a time-capsule of a bygone lifestyle. Unlike the Merchant House Museum, the Mount Vernon Hotel Museum, or the Morris-Jumel manion, the lifestyle preserved by the Museum of Reclaimed Urban Space is not particularly glamorous. During the economically depressed decades of the 70's and 80's, many tenements in Alphabet City and the Lower East Side were abondoned by landlords. Vacant buildings were occupied by squatters who reclaimed the unused urban space. Times have changed and few Squats remain, but one of the most famous, the C-Squat, is a reminder of that unqiue time in New York City history