Clayton’s Corner: The 1980s, Lest We Forget [PHOTOS]

Posted on: May 24th, 2016 at 9:26 am by

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4th Street between Avenues A and B, Photo: Clayton Patterson

The 1980s, lest we forget…

On the one hand we tend to over-romanticize how wonderful the old Lower East Side was. Fact is, it was dangerous, dirty, and often with poor living conditions. There was a blur between the good guys and bad guys; a number of cops were as deeply involved in the illegal drug trade as the street drug bosses. Difference was the street bosses went to jail for decades and the cops lost their job and pension.

On the other hand there was room for everyone. People could afford to live on the LES. This dirty soil bred and fostered many creative souls who went on to make considerable contributions to the creative history of America. The list is endless.

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Arlene’s Grocery when it was still one, Photo: Clayton Patterson

Unfortunately, we exchanged wild and wooly for sterile and greedy; lost opportunities for corporate takeovers; historic building for glass boxes; junkies for drunks. The purge and eviction of the people who lived here is tragic. It has become almost impossible for a new struggling creative person to ever burrow into to the fertile soil. The future will tell what will grow in this new landscape.

And yes, for those lucky enough to make the cut, to have a ceiling on their rent increases, they have a better life. Good for the few and bad for the many.

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Hydrant shower on Stanton St., Photo: Clayton Patterson

We have become a land of Trump with the few winners and a mass of losers.

All photos were shot by Clayton Patterson in the 1980s.

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