“So many of the civic successes heralded by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg,” Ginia Bellafonte wrote in The New York Times back in 2012, “might have happened in Lithuania for all the effect they have had (or could have) on the lives of people in Brownsville,” which Ms. Bellafonte then goes on to helpfully identify as a neighborhood in northeastern Brooklyn.
We’re not sure if gentrification counts as a “civic success,” and we aren’t aware of any pasty-faced, heritage flannel-wearing hipsters wandering around Pitkin Avenue, the neighborhood’s main drag, yet. But if trends in nearby neighborhoods are any indication, it won’t be long before Brownsville—a byword for blight, home to the largest concentration of public housing towers in the city and to this day a place that some mail carriers fear to tread—is selling something artisanal besides stamp bags.
As Vishaan Chakrabarti, a principal at SHoP Architects, was unveiling the Southside Williamsburg master plan they designed for Two Trees, he evoked the image of Manhattan’s skyline. “Just like in the dead center of New York,” he told the assembled group of reporters, “we have this parabolic moment—there’s this moment of exuberance that happens” as Read More
The say that New York is not the city it once was is a statement so obvious and oft-repeated that it is all but meaningless. And yet, even for the blasé, who view negative neighborhood change as a losing battle, there are occasionally startling changes, changes that suggest the city has reached an altogether different stage in its gentrification and development.
Like the impending closure of a hip Soho hot spot that has consistently studded its small, intimate tables with celebrities over its 20-year run. And, less than a mile away in the West Village, the opening of a juice bar.
THERE GOES THE NEIGHBORHOOD
It can be hard to pinpoint the moment when a neighborhood passes from one phase of gentrification to the next—was it the wine bar that opened on the corner, the coffee shop that only served espresso, the French language pre-school? But the West Village, whose change has been a source of constant hand wringing for at least the last two decades, has undoubtedly crossed a new threshold: the gentrification of even the XXX establishments.
The Villager reports that the new owner of a seedy 24-hour adult video store at Clarkson and West Streets is looking to revamp the space into a high-end topless bar for an upscale audience. The new place will reportedly be “classy.” Or at least way classier than a XXX video store with a naked dancer on duty in the back. In fact, the owner is so serious about turning the space into a sophisticated establishment for gentlemen (and are not all men who visit such establishments gentlemen?) that he has ended the naked lady’s gyrations.
Silicon Alley U
It wasn’t all politicos and power brokers at the ribbon cutting for the FDR Four Freedoms Park gathered at the tip of Roosevelt Island earlier this week. Cornell had a strong showing, too, since their new tech campus will be the park’s neighbor to the north within a few years. Cornell president and jockey David Skorton was there, and so was Eric Schmidt, the Google executive chairman who is serving on a three-man advisory panel for the campus.
Wearing a natty tweed blazer and jaunty blue scarf, Mr. Schmidt was wandering just south of the sloping lawn, near the massive bust of the 32nd president that is a centerpiece of the park, when The Observer caught up with him. “I would say first it’s probably the most beautiful new public structures in America today, it’s so visually arresting,” Mr. Schmidt said. He thought is was a stunning space both to look at and to look out from.
THERE GOES THE NEIGHBORHOOD
Gentrification has taken hold in every corner of the city over the past decade or two, but few places have felt it as acutely as Harlem. Demographics, tastes and prices are all shifting and skewing, for better and worse, often all at once. Last week at Harlem’s Studio Museum, a confab of the neighborhood’s business owners and power brokers came together to try and figure out what comes next for their community.
Hosted by the Harlem Park to Park Initiative, a self-styled community improvement association and business alliance, the conference brought together city officials, real estate developers and noted executives from the dining, hospitality and entertainment worlds. Among them were the CEO of the country’s largest African-American real estate development company, R. Donahue Peebles, and Tren’ness Woods Black, the third-generation owner of Sylvia’s Restaurant.
men of manhattan
The Awl interviewed Jonathan Van Meter, the man who penned the much beloved/much maligned New York Magazine essay “I Hate Brooklyn” back in 2005. Mr. Van Meter’s essay included a multitude of wonderful zingers, including his thoughts on a visit to Brooklyn Heights: “You can see the entirety of Manhattan across the river, a fact I found both oddly comforting and deeply disturbing. Why can’t we just be over there, in actual Manhattan?”
Mysteries of Brooklyn
When it comes to Brooklyn, the rising tide of wealth that has flooded into the borough over the last two decades seems, more than anything, to have lifted housing prices. The well-being of the borough’s longtime residents has not, as the New York Daily News points out, been similarly buoyed.
THERE GOES THE NEIGHBORHOOD
Chelsea is the new Park Slope, only better!
Why, there are so many cool places to take your hip, urban children—the High Line, Chelsea Piers, the Chelsea Market, all the art galleries and, starting this fall, your terrifically-gifted little one can even attend school nearby at Avenues.
Now if only you could just stamp out those last edgy, transgressive elements from the neighborhood. Sure, those things made you feel superior to your Brooklyn-dwelling friends when you first bought that sleek new condo, but now you’re all about playgrounds and preschools and you don’t want to push your toddler through a crowd of scantily-clad men.
the way things were
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?