In a signed editorial by Francis X. Clines in today’s New York Times, we learn that gentrification is changing the Lower East Side. While Mr. Clines concedes that this is an old story—”Hasn’t that been the case ever since this sliver of Manhattan was laid bare more than a century ago as the crammed tenement haven for immigrants?” he asks—he does seem to feel that the changes in the neighborhood are once again a pressing crisis:
As coincidence would have it, the blog EV Grieve recently posted a scan of Craig Unger‘s May 28, 1984, New York Magazine cover story “The Lower East Side: There Goes the Neighborhood.” (This comes via Gothamist.)
The story is a great time capsule of the era, featuring disappeared artifacts like three-figure rents, Limbo Lounge, French cuisine and Conran’s. (The latter two were included because New York was forced to mention them in every issue in the ’80s due to some obscure city bylaw to promote French food and “modern, urban living” solutions.)
As Mr. Unger wrote 24 years ago:
Toward the end of the piece, Mr. Unger notes, “[E]ven the new gentry has begun to have mixed feelings about the boom. Some of the so-called pioneers have become infected with a certain nostalgie de la boue. ‘I much prefer the Puerto Rican families to the secretaries who just moved here and are pissed off that they can’t afford the Upper East Side,’ says Patti Astor, of the Fun Gallery.”
How things have changed. Also, what’s a “secretary”? Can you get one at Conran’s?