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Guide to the Carolyn Ratcliffe Collection on La Plaza Cultural
1980s-2006
 MS 3051

New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024
Phone: (212) 873-3400


© 2011 New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Larry Weimer

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit on March 30, 2018 using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Biographical/Historical Note

La Plaza Cultural de Armando Perez (La Plaza Cultural) is located at the corner of East 9th Street and Avenue C on the Lower East Side of the Manhattan borough of New York City. Occupying a large corner lot, La Plaza Cultural is an outdoor community garden, space for play and social gathering, and a performance venue. It began in 1976 when an artist in the area, Gordon La Matta Clark, led a neighborhood effort to clean up an abandoned lot that had been the site of since-demolished buildings. Into the 1980s, the site developed into a park, with garden and theatre space. By the late 1980s, though, real estate interests sought to rebuild on the site. This led to a series of court battles, ending eventually in 2003 with a settlement that ensured La Plaza Cultural's survival.

Through the 1990s and into the early 2000s, as the court fights went on, the programs at La Plaza Cultural did also. A non-profit, the 600 B/C East Ninth Street Block Association, was formed and incorporated to rebuild the park and manage programs, such as the performance of "Demeter's Daughter" in 1997 and the annual Halloween celebration. Among the active members of this non-profit was Carolyn Ratcliffe, a resident of the La Plaza Cultural neighborhood. Ratcliffe was elected Chairperson of the association in 1990 and held various official positions with the organization over the next thirteen years until the 2003 legal victory. Over that period, she acquired various grants in support of La Plaza Cultural's programming, organized many of the programs, wrote publicity materials in support of the organization and site, and was an overall active participant in building La Plaza Cultural's role in the community while defending it from development.