Photos by Stacie Joy
After celebrating its 50th anniversary this past month, the Nuyorican Poets Café has closed for a long-awaited $24 million, three-year renovation project.
This so-called "Nuyoricanstruction" phase will usher the organization into into the next 50 years, leadership says.
Here's more about the extensive renovation at the iconic space on Third Street between Avenue B and Avenue C, as reported by The City:
There will be new elevators, a new first-floor performance space, a green room and changing area in the basement, and more offices and performance spaces on the second, third, and fourth floors, according to a spokesperson for the city's Department of Cultural Affairs, which is partially funding the renovation along with the City Council and borough president's office. The electrical and mechanical systems will also be completely overhauled.
The space at 236 East 3rd Street was an abandoned tenement building, built more than 100 years ago, when it was purchased in 1971 by the La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club. The Poets Café founders bought it in 1981 after starting off in an East Village living room eight years earlier.The Café owns the building, but has had a restrictive covenant on its deed since 2013, which is a requirement for all city-funded capital projects on private property.
Through the years, the Café has been a venue for for underrepresented artists through weekly Latin jazz, slam poetry, theatrical performances and open mic events.
The staff is planning on staging pop-ups and collaborating with other New York institutions during the three-year renovation. You can check Instagram or the Café website for updates.
Puerto Rican writer and poet Miguel Algarín founded Nuyorican in 1973 as a living room salon on Sixth Street along with Lucky CienFuegos, Bimbo Rivas, Pedro Pietri and Miguel Piñero. Algarín died in December 2020 at age 79.