Willimsburg, Brooklyn: A neighborhood seemingly synonymous with capital-G Gentrification by capital-C Caucasians, an longstanding association no doubt perpetuated by the continued development of Manhattan imports like The Meatball Shop and luxury developments like The Wythe Hotel—”Snooty Williamsburg,” as it were—that keep flooding the neighborhood. But was it really all that diverse to begin with?
Compared to the past? Not really. The New York Times put together a fun little infographic comparing and contrasting New York City neighborhood demographics of yesteryear (pulled from 1940 New York City census data) to what they look like today.
As for Williamsburg, well, here are some numbers:
Williamsburg 1940 2006-2010 Change
POPULATION 179,764 131,875 -27%
Native White 114,598 81,497 -29
Foreign White 61,488 16,808 -73
Black 3,298 10,477 +218
Other races 380 23,093 +5,977
There are less native white residents and less foreign-born white residents (as well as less people and less renters) than there were in Williamsburg in 1940. Notably, most of the other neighborhoods the Times picked in outer-boroughs do represent this change to some degree (this may have to do with the fact that all the White People either moved further out or further in, ahem, Manhattanwhites), but Williamsburg gentrifiers may now assuage themselves with the fact that they still have plenty of other people to push out before the neighborhood looks like it did Way Back When.
Speaking of which, much of this data was pulled from a 1943 “Market Analysis” of Williamsburg that included some old photos of what it looked like, way back when. Check out the slideshow above for some pulls from Google Maps compared to the photos of Williamsburg from the 1943 Market Analysis.
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