Loisaida, a prominent 1970’s grassroots movement that emerged in the Lower East Side (LES) neighborhood, also know as Loisaida, was driven by the fervent leadership of Puerto Rican community organizers and artists, including the likes of poet; Jesús “Tato” Laviera, and bi-lingual educator; Doña Petra Santiago. Throughout this era and the subsequent decades, these leaders made notable cultural and socio-political contributions, mobilizing the community politically and fostering cultural identity through artistic and place-keeping endeavors that promoted positive change in the neighborhood, now more commonly known as Alphabet City.

Established in 1979, Loisaida Inc. is as a multidisciplinary community development organization, focusing on the economic and social empowerment of Latinx/o/e residents through youth development programs and social services spanned decades. The late 2000s marked a challenging phase for the organization, facing eviction from its original location at the 709 East 9th Street Community Center. Despite the threat posed by the neighborhood growing gentrification and the building’s potential re-development, local support and the unanimous resolution by Community District Board 3 ensured Loisaida Inc.’s inclusion in any future property development plans.

Photo of Loisaida Avenue, NYC circa 1979-82 by Marlis Momber, courtesy of the artist.

photo by Marlis Momber

In September 2012, to bolster its sustainability, Loisaida Inc. joined the Acacia Network, becoming its first Arts & Culture affiliate. This partnership with New York State’s largest Hispanic-based non-profit community development organization enabled Loisaida Inc. to enhance its focus on innovative place-keeping programs, projects, and collaborations.

Today, the Loisaida Inc. Center continues to offer community development activities at the intersection of media, technology, and social justice, celebrating the cultural heritage and contributions of Puerto Rican and other migrant communities in New York City. Loisaida Inc. Center’s stands committed to education, arts, culture, and community development partnerships and collaborations, building on its legacy of innovation for years to come.

More about our (Her)story

Photographer Marlis Momber, and the launch of the Loisaida Cultural Archives coming in 2024.

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