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Squatters' notice at C-Squat.

C (See)-Squat is a squat house located at 155 Avenue C (between 9th and 10th Streets) in the Alphabet City neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City.



Journalist and author Robert Neuwirth described the situation that gave birth to many of New York's squats, including C-Squat, in the late 1970s and early 1980s, "In the 1970s, scores of landlords walked away from old tenement buildings. Many buildings slid into vacancy and rot. By the 1980s, squatters took over many of the structures in fringe areas such as Alphabet City (Avenues A to D) in the Lower East Side and in certain areas of the Bronx and Brooklyn. They had to fight to stay. The city dispossessed hundreds of squatters, sometimes mounting massive paramilitary attacks on their buildings. In the end, 12 squatter buildings survived, and they outlasted official resistance."[1]

In 2002, the government of New York City granted ownership of 11 squats on the Lower East Side, including C-Squat, to the Urban Homesteading Assistance Board (UHAB), a private not-for-profit organization.[2] The twelfth squat mentioned above elected not to participate in the UHAB process, and its residents are suing for ownership under adverse possession.[3]

UHAB is in the process of securing loans to help repair the remaining eleven Lower East Side buildings, after which ownership will be turned over to the occupants. Accordingly, C-Squat is no longer technically a "squat," but rather a legally occupied building, bought by the squatters in a deal brokered with the city council by the Urban Homesteading Assistance Board in 2002 for one dollar.[4]


The building had a half-pipe for skaters in the basement[2] and used to regularly host punk rock shows.

Members of the bands Leftöver Crack,[5] Morning Glory, Casa de Chihuahua, Comrades,[6] Star Fucking Hipsters,[7] d60, Planned Collapse, Banji and Dog That Bites Everyone live there. In the past, it has been home to members of the bands INDK, Choking Victim, No Commercial Value, Old Skull, Eden and John's East River String Band, The World/Inferno Friendship Society, Crash Worship, Pig Shit Engine, Death Mold, The Alienz, Aus-Rotten and Nausea, among others.

The building has also hosted a number of artists and activists throughout its history, as Neuwirth discovered when he wrote his article, Squatter's Rites for City Limits Magazine, "To climb the steps in C Squat is to walk up a living graffiti artwork. The halls resemble subway cars a few decades ago. But instead of monikers, these tags are battle cries for revolution, outlaw logos, complaints and humorous takes on official slogans..."[8]


When it was first squatted, the building was falling apart and central joists had to be replaced. These were sourced second-hand and as cheaply as possible. All repairs on the gutted structure were performed by the squatters themselves, transforming the space as they worked on it.[2] The DIY rehabilitation of the building was no small task, as Neuwirth noted in his article, "At C Squat, the beams were so rotted that the building had sunk almost a foot in the center. The squatters replaced the joists one by one. They got their replacement beams from workers at a nearby gut rehab. The workers saved the old but still usable joists they were removing and passed them on to the squatters."[8]

Under the terms of the homesteading agreement made in 2002, the Urban Homesteading Assistance Board will provide a loan for essential renovations (bringing the building up to city code regulations), which the squatters will perform as much as possible themselves to reduce costs. When the work is finished, the residents will own the building as a limited equity housing cooperative. They will be financially responsible for maintenance and UHAB loan repayment.[2]

Museum of Reclaimed Urban Space[edit]

The Museum of Reclaimed Urban Space is a living archive of the Lower East Side’s squats and gardens. It runs neighborhood tours highlighting the efforts of local residents and organizations to clean up vacant lots and fix up abandoned buildings for community use, also promotes scholarship of grassroots urban space activism by researching and archiving efforts to create community spaces. The exhibitions feature materials that document these actions in order to educate people on the political implications of reclaimed space.

East Village neighborhood activists began planning the museum in May 2011 and opened it with public tours in October 2012. The building was constructed in 1872 and thus is a pre-Old Law Tenement. The building formerly housed a pickle shop and a Republican meeting hall, and began being squatted by some of its current inhabitants in 1989.

The museum's storefront displays materials such as photographs, posters, zines, underground newspapers, comics, banners and buttons that show how local residents cleaned up vacant lots and buildings in the area and made them organizing spaces for the community. The museum offers three public walking tours that lead participants to the East Village’s most legendary community gardens, squats and sites of social change and explain their complex and often controversial histories. Tour guides are generally longtime activists, squatters, gardeners, academics and journalists who were directly involved in some aspect of the neighborhood that is relevant to the museum.[9][10]

External links[edit]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Neuwirth, Robert (2005) Squatter Cities: A Billion Squatters, A New Urban World, p. 236. (Routledge Press, New York, NY) ISBN 0-415-93319-6
  2. ^ a b c d Ferguson, Sarah (August 27, 2002). "Better Homes and Squatters". This process was documented in the documentary film, Your House Is Mine [1]. The Village Voice.
  3. ^ Anderson, Lincoln (2008). "Former squats are worth lots, but residents can’t cash in". The Villager, Volume 78 - Number 31 / December 31, 2008 - January 6, 2009.
  4. ^ Wilson, Michael (August 21, 2002). "Squatters Get New Name: Residents". New York Times.
  5. ^ Barker, Samuel (October 2, 2001). "A Conversation With Stza and Ezra". Rockzone. Retrieved on 31 January 2009.
  6. ^ Kviza and the comrades (august 2013)
  7. ^ Butler, Roya (August 1, 2008). "Leftover Crack Interview - Stza". ThePunkSite.com. Retrieved on 31 January 2009.
  8. ^ a b Neuwirth, Robert (2002). "Squatters' Rites". City Limits Magazine, September/October 2002.
  9. ^ http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/05/nyregion/east-village-museum-shares-a-piece-of-activist-history.html?_r=1&ref=nyregion
  10. ^ http://eastvillage.thelocal.nytimes.com/2012/03/07/31421/

Further reading

Coordinates: 40°43′33″N 73°58′40″W / 40.72589°N 73.97786°W / 40.72589; -73.97786