The Lower East Side of the 1970s was a gritty, perilous place. Gang violence, drugs and poverty peppered the streets and rubble-strewn lots, threatening the livelihood and lives of the many Latino families who called the area home. Not about to see their population ravaged by the disorder, a group of Puerto Rican activists, along with residents of the neighborhood, started a movement to combat the conditions and bolster the community. Loisaida, Inc. was formally established in 1978, the name coming from a Spanglish nickname for the Lower East Side coined by poet Bimbo Rivas.
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