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Block Party Celebrates “Past, Present, Future” of SPURA

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By the fall, the first phase of the Essex Crossing project in the former Seward Park Urban Renewal Area (SPURA) will be mostly completed. So it’s a good time to look back on the long and turbulent history of the Lower East Side development sites. A few organizations are coming together to do just that on Saturday Aug. 4.

“Imagining the LES Block Party” will take place from 5-10 p.m. on Norfolk Street (between Grand and Broome streets). Have a look at the Facebook invite:

SPARC (Seward Park Area Redevelopment Coalition), Below the Grid Lab and The Illuminator will host Imagining the LES Block Party, a day of activities to celebrate the past, present, and future of the SPURA community (now renamed Essex Crossing). Fifty years ago a vibrant community of multi-racial/ethnic residents and the tenement buildings they inhabited was destroyed by Urban Renewal. Now a new community of mixed income buildings–including 500 affordable apartments–is rising from these empty lots. Today’s event attempts to begin to knit together the old and new and imagine a strong vision of a more equitable and just neighborhood… There will be food, music and activities including: an interactive historical walking tour featuring former residents of SPURA; chalking on the sidewalks; painting of banners; oral history interviews; and dance & theatre performances from local arts organizations.  The day will culminate in a series of large projections by artist collective The Illuminator that will feature historic photos of the neighborhood and its people, and raise questions to engage attendees in conversation: “How do we honor the past with a more just future?,” “How do we bring together the old and the new?,” and “How do we imagine a truly equal city?” This exciting and vibrant day is the official launch of the SPURA Living History Project, an initiative of SPARC and Below the Grid Lab to raise the profile of this complex history, inspire a new integrated present and future, and with it a new generation of activists and organizers who will carry the legacy of the Lower East Side into the next fifty years!



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