Emptying a Building Long Home to Activists



The building at 9 Bleecker Street must be vacated by Friday to make way for new tenants. Ozier Muhammad/The New York Times

The three-story brick building at 9 Bleecker Street in Lower Manhattan, long a celebrated bastion of countercultural activity, was in a state of transitional disarray.

The upper floors were mostly emptied out, except for some stickers bearing slogans like “Impeach Reagan” and “No Nukes.” Moving boxes were piled on the ground floor on Monday, next to a framed copy of the manifesto of the Youth International Party, or Yippies, a written time capsule from 1968 with lines like “They cut our hair, ban our music festivals, put cops and narcs in the schools.”

For 40 years, the building has been a meeting place and way station for freethinkers and political firebrands.

“Tens of thousands of people walked through that door or were impacted by the social justice work done there,” said Aron Kay, who lived in the building, known as Number 9, from 1973 to 1978. The building, he added, “survived all these years when similar gathering spots around the country went under.”

But now it is Number 9’s turn. Foreclosure proceedings led a State Supreme Court judge, Jeffrey K. Oing, to order that the Yippies and their possessions vacate the building, which they bought in 2004, by Friday to make way for new tenants.

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Jack Herer at 9 Bleecker Street