A new day dawned in Manhattan real estate history at the end of 1961 when the city elders agreed to abandon their bureaucratic quest (a fire code issue) to evict artists from all those assorted run-down ateliers located around lower Broadway.
These were the upper floors of hundreds of old downtown business and manufacturing buildings (most over a century old) that were characterized by their heavy masonry proliferating with faux loggias, balustrades, entablatures and rows of delicately fluted columns - all scattered throughout Tribeca, SoHo and Chelsea. The artists called them "Lofts".
By 1960 there were roughly over 7,000 artists of every conceivable stripe who had taken up residence in these spaces; they included abstract artists like Willem de Kooning, Sidney Geist and Yasuhide Kobashi to such representational painters as Jack Levine, Raphael Soyer and Edwin Dickinson.
As far as we can figure out, this was the first time in history that anybody seemed to care where an artist lived and worked.
Click here to read about air pollution in 1947 New York.