Raising the windmill on the roof of 519. Photo credit: Travis Price via Gothamist
If you want to build a windmill today, you can thank a handful of dedicated tenants in a building at 519 East 11th Street in the East Village of the 1970s.
The story of the Alphabet City windmill is one of many stories, recounted in Gothamist, from the bad old days of Loisaida–as the East Village‘s far eastern avenues, also known as Alphabet City, were once called–the kind the neighborhood’s elder statesmen regale you with, knowing well that you know nothing firsthand of a neighborhood of burned-out buildings and squatters who bought their homes for a buck. But this particular story isn’t one of riots or drug deals on the sidewalk; it’s one of redemption, no matter how brief in the context of time.
The windmill was installed above an East Village building that was saved by the community, built and lifted to the roof by hand–or many hands. According to legend, the windmill kept the lights on during the chaos of the 1977 blackout.