In her 9:30-10 a.m. segment today on CBC Radio, The Current’s Pia Chattopadhyay had an interview with Will Hermes (pictured). He’s a senior music critic at Rolling Stone, and he’s written a book called Love Goes to Buildings on Fire that chronicles the vibrant music scene that New York had going on in the mid-70s.

The city was in tatters then — bordering on bankruptcy, with a big-time crime problem and lots of derelict neighbourhoods. Bad for society as a whole, but for artists a dream come true — the derelict neighbourhoods, that is.

During the interview, Hermes noted how you could rent a large warehouse space in lower Manhattan for a couple of hundred dollars a month. Cheap enough that even musicians and other artists could afford to rent them. And that created the perfect breeding ground for all sorts of artistic innovation to happen. And down the road, that paid dividends by helping restore New York’s reputation as the pre-eminent cultural capital in the world. 

Here’s a link to a New York Times review of the book.