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PS64 / El Bohío, A Place That Matters

el bohio ps 64

The former PS 64/El Bohío building at 605 E. 9th St. on the Lower East Side — adjacent to Tompkins Square, the landmarked home of jazz great Charlie Parker, and other important sites, such as the (threatened) St. Brigid’s Church.

The Landmarks Preservation Commission recently designated PS 64 in recognition of its service to generations of immigrants and its role in the community preservation movement of the 1970s and ’80s. Just this past weekend its stretch of E. 9th Street between Avenues B and C was renamed Armando Perez Place to honor the memory of one of the leaders of this movement.

When low-income neighborhoods throughout the city were being abandoned and burned in the 1970s and ’80s, activists saved this building and turned it into El Bohío community center. Landmarks Commissioner Roberta Gratz said, “It served as a unique incubator for the community-based programs that saved the neighborhoods and, in turn, the larger city. Adopt-A-Building, CHARAS, and a multitude of smaller efforts anchored the local population, engaged their energy in “sweat equity,” gave them hope and in so doing created the revitalization momentum that professional planners and politicians had no clue how to do.”

Despite its landmark status, PS 64’s owner has been stripping the building’s architectural detail using a permit obtained before the designation.