In 1987, three years after moving to New York City, Maggie Wrigley found herself on the edge of homelessness. She heard about an abandoned tenament building on the Lower East Side she could move into, and so she did. The building was full of rubble and had no running water, but she stayed.
It wasn’t just the building that was falling down. The whole Lower East Side — a neighborhood that today is filled with expensive boutiques and high-end condos — was struggling in the 1980s. There were trash-strewn lots and empty buildings everywhere. By the late 1980s, squatters like Wrigley would come to occupy more than a dozen old tenements on the Lower East Side [...]