Come hear the sad story of an art community’s struggle to survive

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HOBOKEN – David Goodwin, author of “The Left Bank of the Hudson: Jersey City and the Artists of 111 1st Street,” will read from his book and be interviewed on Wednesday, April 4 at 7 p.m. at Little City Books, 100 Bloomfield St., Hoboken.
This story about the fate of a building in Jersey City is highly relevant to Hoboken and fast-developing Hudson County, a cautionary tale about art, real estate, development, the life and culture of a city, and lots of drama from Hudson County politicians.
David will be interviewed by WFMU DJ Trouble and JC Heights resident Lynn Mullins.
In the late 1980s, a handful of artists priced out of Manhattan and desperately needing affordable studio space discovered 111 1st Street, a former P. Lorillard Tobacco Company warehouse.
Over the next two decades, an eclectic collection of painters, sculptors, musicians, photographers, filmmakers, and writers dreamt and toiled within the building’s labyrinthine halls. The local arts scene flourished, igniting hope that Jersey City would emerge as the next grassroots center of the art world.
However, a rising real estate market coupled with an uncooperative political establishment threatened the community. The artists found themselves entangled in a long, complicated, and ultimately futile fight for their place in the building and for the physical survival of 111 1st Street itself, a site that held so much potential, so much promise for Jersey City.
“Left Bank of the Hudson” offers a window into the demographic, political, and socio-economic changes experienced by Jersey City during the last thirty years. Documenting the narrative of 111 1st Street as an act of cultural preservation, author David J. Goodwin’s well-researched and significant contribution addresses the question of the role of artists in economically improving cities.
As a Jersey City resident, Goodwin applies his knowledge of the city’s rich history of political malfeasance and corruption, including how auspicious plans for a waterfront arts enclave were repeatedly stymied by the city administration.
In writing this story, Goodwin interviewed thirteen artists and residents, two businesses, three government officials, and five non-profits, civic organizations, and community activists. The book chronologically explores the history and business of the P. Lorillard Tobacco Company, its evolution into a bustling arts community, the battle to preserve the warehouse as a historic structure, and the lessons to be drawn from the loss and ultimate demolition of the building in 2007, as well as the present state of the neighborhood.
Educated at St. Bonaventure University, Drexel University, and Fordham University, David J. Goodwin works by day as a librarian at Fordham University School of Law. He is a past commissioner and chairman of the Jersey City Historic Preservation Commission. Currently, he serves as a board member of the Jersey City Landmarks Conservancy.
He writes regularly at anothertownonthehudson.com.