In the 1980s, the idea that Avenue C would eventually be home to condo developments with names like Boutique 67 would have sent most local residents into a fit of laughter and possibly a fit of rage. At the time, heroin was so widely available in Alphabet City that junkies would simply line up outside local tenements and wait for dealers to lower their next hit out the window in a bucket (such practices were well documented by local activist and photographer Clayton Patterson and some of this footage appears in the 2010 documentary, “Captured“). Of course, Alphabet City in the 1980s was about much more than drugs. It was the epicenter of New York City’s fight to maintain affordable housing at a time when gentrification was already beginning to reshape both the West Village and Soho. The neighborhood was also home to the city’s then thriving punk music scene.
Most vestiges of the Alphabet City of the 1980s are already long gone, but at least a few reminders of the era and the old neighborhood remain, including C-Squat.