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September 27, 2013 8:18 AM   Subscribe

Ask A Native New Yorker: How Guilty Should I Feel About Being A Horrible Gentrifier? Passionate response from a Bushwick native.
posted by The Whelk (205 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite

 
12 years ago my wife and I moved to a neighborhood that was juuuuust about to gentrify in a big way. Every now and again we catch ourselves having thoughts like these.
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:25 AM on September 27, 2013 [9 favorites]


People guilting each other about "gentrifying" a neighborhood is the worst.

People don't gentrify neighborhoods. Real estate developers gentrify neighborhoods.
posted by Sara C. at 8:25 AM on September 27, 2013 [28 favorites]


We live on the Upper West Side, in a building that my husband moved into in 1974, when he honestly did not feel safe going out at night. The change in our neighborhood had much more to do with policing than gentrification, but I don't feel guilty for having a dirt cheap apartment in a great neighborhood. I feel lucky.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:27 AM on September 27, 2013 [5 favorites]


...thoughts like these.

Holy shit that ca. 2008 Starbucks is three blocks from my apartment out here in the boonies.
posted by griphus at 8:29 AM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


As long as people want to live in good neighborhoods and pay cheap rents, and as long as there are artists and gays and bohemians, and as long as we keep producing young people who crave newness and a place of their own, gentrification will continue.

Ok, fine. But nothing can continue indefinitely; are we just going to keep on doing this until all the poor people are safely confined to one neighborhood in Minnesota?
posted by Melismata at 8:29 AM on September 27, 2013


are we just going to keep on doing this until all the poor people are safely confined to one neighborhood in Minnesota?


They already are
posted by sanka at 8:33 AM on September 27, 2013


Ok, fine. But nothing can continue indefinitely; are we just going to keep on doing this until all the poor people are safely confined to one neighborhood in Minnesota?

There are more dead end towns in flyover states, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
posted by zabuni at 8:34 AM on September 27, 2013 [40 favorites]


And then the gentrifiers themselves are pushed out as the truly upper class people move in. And those powerful people ensure that the neighborhood stays expensive through NIMBYism that prevents building of housing that would accommodate more people. When I lived in NYC I lived in newly gentrifying areas that I could never afford to move to these days on my income back then.

Those cute little brownstones that fit 5-10 people sit on land that could fit hundreds. Of course people from there would likely be angered if they were torn down, despite the fact that it would lower housing costs.
posted by melissam at 8:36 AM on September 27, 2013 [5 favorites]


I bought a house in a predominantly poor black neighborhood ten years ago. I still live there. I feel the exact same amount of guilt that a black person who moves into a predominantly white neighborhood should feel: none.
posted by flarbuse at 8:37 AM on September 27, 2013 [17 favorites]


Ok, fine. But nothing can continue indefinitely; are we just going to keep on doing this until all the poor people are safely confined to one neighborhood in Minnesota?

Still plenty of room over here in Detroit. Come on down. I pay about 1/6th the rent NYC'ers pay and yet still get tagged with the 'gentrifier' label now and then.
posted by wikipedia brown boy detective at 8:39 AM on September 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


I bought a house in a predominantly poor black neighborhood ten years ago. I still live there. I feel the exact same amount of guilt that a black person who moves into a predominantly white neighborhood should feel: none

I think moving to a neighborhood and settling in for the long haul isn't what people mean when they talk about gentrification, for the most part. It's the people who move in for a few years and don't try to fit in to the already existing culture that bothers people.
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:39 AM on September 27, 2013


That's great. Being mad at gentrifiers is dumb. You can't pick a point on a timeline and say "everyone from here on out is gentrified scum". It's a continuum of people of different means trying to get the best place to live with their limited resources.

If you're going to be mad at anyone, be mad at people who throw up roadblocks to increased density. There are a lot more people on the planet than there used to be, don't make it hard to house them.
posted by ghharr at 8:44 AM on September 27, 2013 [6 favorites]



And then the gentrifiers themselves are pushed out as the truly upper class people move in.
posted by The Whelk at 8:44 AM on September 27, 2013 [12 favorites]


(no one ever likes my proposal to expand the metro area by seizing tax-base-rich communities nearby all 19th century style...)
posted by The Whelk at 8:45 AM on September 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


Gentrifying happens outside of NYC too but generally a little slower. My neighborhood started gentrifying around 1970 or so but still has some abandoned houses and buildings interspersed between the restored 1860's townhouses. Still no Starbucks (or any other coffee shop, sigh).
posted by octothorpe at 8:47 AM on September 27, 2013


I had an interesting conversation in a coffee shop a few years back, when a young and very extroverted guy was sharing my table. He was a younger guy who'd grown up in Bed-Stuy; I was the older lily-white newcomer who was in the second wave of gentrifiers. So of course the conversation turned to the longtimer's responses to gentrification.

"Yeah," he said at one point, "you'll get all these people complaining about the hipsters coming in and things, but..." he leaned to me closer - "I like it better. I like being able to get good coffee. I like being able to get good produce. I like more shops and business in the neighborhood. I like not having as much crime." He allowed that he was also of an economic level where he could afford it, and acknowledged that many weren't, but he was still in general happy about the changes - or, at least realizing that some of the changes in the neighborhood were things he liked as well. And acknowledging that some of those new business were local businesses, putting money right back into the neighborhoods the longtimers still lived in.

This was 5 years ago or so, though, so I don't know if his views changed any after the economy went bust....
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:47 AM on September 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


I liked both of those pieces. I feel like the ebb and flow of gentrification is like the tide; the forces driving it are both strong and fundamental, it's not good for everyone, and there are upsides to it going in and to it going out, and while no one should be blind to the pain it causes as it moves, there's no reason to be angry about it.
posted by Aizkolari at 8:47 AM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


My sister lives in low income housing in Bed-Stuy, and has for the past 3 years. Over the last nine months or so, her neighborhood has begun to radically change. You can see it, but also feel the tensions rise among long-term residents. When we, a bunch of white, tattooed, hipstery artists, walk around, we get a lot more comments than we used to.

Back in grad school, I lived in Gainesville, Florida in a cute house that had been renovated by a landlord who liked to renovate 100-year old houses in Gainesville's historically black neighborhood and then rent them to college students. There was less tension--the long-term residents were mostly friendly old men who sat on their porches and waved hello to everyone who walked by--but it was no less gentrification. My sister and I have had some interesting conversations about these experiences, but I don't really know "the answer" at all.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:48 AM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


You can't pick a point on a timeline and say "everyone from here on out is gentrified scum".

November 2nd, 1993.
posted by griphus at 8:49 AM on September 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


Everytime I read an article about real estate, I see a comment from someone arguing that there should be no "roadblocks to increased density", and yet in the last 10 years it has felt that the pace of development in NYC at least has been overwhelming. Driving on the BQE past Williamsburg you saw countless cranes, and there was a point when there was a construction related accident in the news at least once a week.

I don't know what more people want.

And yet all of this construction seems to have been for luxury housing out of reach of anyone.
posted by maggiemaggie at 8:50 AM on September 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


Octothorpe, you've brought up a good point inadvertently.

The coffee shop the young guy and I were talking in was actually not a Starbucks - it was a small independent local place. One which, sadly, has since closed (a moment of silence for Tillie's, please). My neighborhood does have a lot of fancier places springing up, but they are for the most part locally-owned (or at least New York City-person owned - the closest thing we have to a "chain" is a Brooklyn-centric coffee thing).

I wonder if much of the aesthetic grumbling about "gentrification" shouldn't be more accurately blamed on "Starbuckification"? You know, where the fancy shops opening up are owned by someone who doesn't even live in the neighborhood but are instead a big faceless corporation?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:51 AM on September 27, 2013 [6 favorites]


Yeah, it's surprised me how gentrified Los Angeles isn't. Or really, what surprises me more is that, aside from a few blocks here and there, certain malls, Beverly Hills, some of West Hollywood, and a few other affluent residential pockets, Los Angeles is uniformly and drably ungentrified. Even supposedly upscale west side neighborhoods are mostly strip malls with faded liquor stores and bad fast food.

In a lot of ways, 2013 LA is what I thought New York was going to be like when I moved there in 2000. I mean, the urban landscape looks different, but it's grimy and downscale in a way that is much more 80s New York than you'd expect.
posted by Sara C. at 8:52 AM on September 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


as americans we know that guilt is the emotion inextricably tied up with shopping. so the question is: if I feel guilty about being a participant in class warfare, what should I buy?
posted by ennui.bz at 8:53 AM on September 27, 2013 [7 favorites]


ennui.bz, I suspect you were being tongue-in-cheek, but there's actually a serious answer:

Doesn't matter what you buy, as long as you buy local. The local coffee shop instead of Starbucks, the local diner instead of Applebees, the local hardware store instead of Home Depot, the local cutesy gift shop instead of WalMart, etc. That puts money back into the neighborhood itself, rather than into a corporation's pocket.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:55 AM on September 27, 2013 [5 favorites]


Even supposedly upscale west side neighborhoods are mostly strip malls with faded liquor stores and bad fast food.

Cars are probably to blame.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 8:56 AM on September 27, 2013


I wonder if much of the aesthetic grumbling about "gentrification" shouldn't be more accurately blamed on "Starbuckification"? You know, where the fancy shops opening up are owned by someone who doesn't even live in the neighborhood but are instead a big faceless corporation?

This is at the heart of why I continue to go back to gentrification being about real estate developers, or really any huge corporate interest, rather than individual residents at the micro level being of a different ethnicity or class or having different taste in coffee than the previous wave of residents. Because the whole thing is much more about money to be made off of bourgie affluent types than it is about Marnie the Oberlin grad moving into a unit formerly occupied by an old Polish lady.
posted by Sara C. at 8:56 AM on September 27, 2013 [7 favorites]


Cars are probably to blame.

Cars and the fact that the L.A Metro area is roughly the size of a central European country.
posted by The Whelk at 8:57 AM on September 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


Cars are probably to blame.

Yeah, but if it were New York, the strip malls would be shiny new and mostly full of Chipotle, funky third wave coffee places, and bodegas that sell gelato. In well-off neighborhoods you just would NOT see the level of grunge that's acceptable in most of LA.

(Note that this is something I like about LA, I just find it vaguely baffling not to be living in a playground for the wealthy anymore.)
posted by Sara C. at 8:59 AM on September 27, 2013


The Whelk: Cars and the fact that the L.A Metro area is roughly the size of a central European country.

I strongly suspect that these two things are related.
posted by fader at 8:59 AM on September 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


Yeah, it's surprised me how gentrified Los Angeles isn't.

It's definitely the cars. In New York or any East Coast city with public transit, there is currently huge value to being on a subway line close in to the city. Look at this map of Boston, for example. In LA though with traffic everything is 45 minutes from everything else, so the pressure from gentrification don't get focused as tightly as they do in eastern cities.

That's my theory, anyway.
posted by Aizkolari at 9:01 AM on September 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


We don't have strip malls in Manhattan, but my neighborhood has a Chipotle, a small greeting card store that's owned by a neighborhood family, a family owned diner, and a bodega that does not sell gelato.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:01 AM on September 27, 2013


I really haven't gotten the anger against gentrification. In my city, people protest the rising rents along one trendy street, but they don't mention that 1) the street is getting investment it hasn't seen in decades, and 2) there is a street with similar character, but none of the gentrification literally one block over!

I know that gentrification feels like being robbed, but really property values are just a reflection of how much people want to be there. If rents are rising, the city is prospering! As commented above, there are plenty of cities who would love such a problem.

I also know that gentrification is a bigger issue when it grips an entire city, like NYC or Vancouver. In that case, the city can use the high demand as leverage to mandate a certain percentage of affordable housing. That would take a big bite out of the wealth ghetto problem. As for the "trendy bohemian feel", that's transitory by nature. We'll always be on the lookout for the next Brooklyn, and we will always gripe about prices in the last Brooklyn.
posted by Popular Ethics at 9:02 AM on September 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


I don't know what more people want.

And yet all of this construction seems to have been for luxury housing out of reach of anyone.


NYC has, according to wikipedia, grown by around a million people since 1990. That's a lot of housing.
posted by ghharr at 9:02 AM on September 27, 2013


The complaint wasn't that the bulk of the construction was housing - the complaint was that the bulk of the construction was luxury housing. Not all of the million people new to New York since 1990 have been among the super-wealthy.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:04 AM on September 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


there is a street with similar character, but none of the gentrification literally one block over!

This is why people get so outraged about it. In New York, there is no "just as awesome street, but half the price" street a block over. Or in the neighborhood. If it exists, it's way off the beaten path, far from public transit, in an inaccessible area most people don't want to live in. And even then, it's debatable how charming it really is.
posted by Sara C. at 9:05 AM on September 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


Doesn't matter what you buy, as long as you buy local.

My sister works in a grocery store in Brooklyn. It's locally owned by a young "retired" ibanker and she can't afford to shop there.

That "passionate response" is either the most bitterly sardonic thing I will read all day or the most depressing thing; I can't tell.
I tell you all of this because for eight years I've tried to make sense of my uncontrollable anger at gentrification. It's not a race thing, it's not a class thing, it's a place thing. I do not understand why my anger is so deep and so hot.

But when I read your article today the machinery of forgiveness and understanding began to whir. You have made me realize that this horrible journey that all of us working and poor kids in this city endure is not new. That while this anger is justifiable, it's also poisonous. It has prevented me from getting to know the new businesses and the newcomers. I see that this gentrification bullshit is going to happen no matter what, but maybe it can be done a little more humanely and a little more compassionately (on both parts).
posted by ennui.bz at 9:05 AM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also, I think the idea that gentrification is on just this one block is the reason I don't see most of "gentrified" Los Angeles as gentrified. So Silverlake has that one little three-block stretch of Sunset with the Intelligentsia and the record store and the boutiques. Williamsburg and Park Slope are swallowing Brooklyn whole. So I find it hard to get worked up, you know?
posted by Sara C. at 9:07 AM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


In my city, people protest the rising rents along one trendy street, but they don't mention that 1) the street is getting investment it hasn't seen in decades, and 2) there is a street with similar character, but none of the gentrification literally one block over!

Something your first point misses, though, is that the people enjoying that development might not be the people who have lived in the neighborhood for a long time, either because they can't afford to live there or they can't afford the amenities. If you lived in a neighborhood and prices for going out to eat or buying clothes or whatever started rising and your friends and neighbors were moving away because their rents got too high you might not be super pleased about it.

Mr. Pterodactyl and I do live in a neighborhood that's beginning to gentrify (in DC) and it's tricky; we get along pretty well with our neighbors and there are some new bars and restaurants and stuff coming in which is great with us, and many of the local business owners seem pretty happy, but I wonder if in ten years people will feel differently or even if they'll all have moved to PG County.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 9:08 AM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


the tl;dr for the first link is: New Yorkers have always gotten ahead by fucking the people below them, so with a compassionate heart and a big smile go out there and find someone to screw.
posted by ennui.bz at 9:09 AM on September 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


if I feel guilty about being a participant in class warfare, what should I buy?

I live at the far end of Bushwick -- 5 stops out from the block Rosa Rivera references, but still rapidly gentrifying -- and I suspect that this is a big part of it. There's tons of shops along Knickerbocker between Flushing and Myrtle, but until recently I never went in them; this is exactly the issue at hand.

When money circulates within a community, everyone benefits. But if we do all of our shopping in Manhattan and only pay rent in Brooklyn, the existing community withers.
posted by modernserf at 9:10 AM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is a must-read. Or, at least it was for me. I found this article by googling the free real estate broker I had been using to try and find a place to live:

By all accounts, MySpace, which is the most visible real estate firm in the neighborhood, does much more business as a brokerage firm working with landlords than it does as a landlord itself. But rumors abound about shell corporations that principals of the company create and then use to purchase property. A undated marketing letter from a group called IDG Holdings but signed by a principal of MySpace informs building owners: “We buy properties ‘As is’ and in any condition and price range. We pay Top Dollar, in Cash, without any Broker fees. We can close as fast as 7-10 days…”

“They try to harass you into selling,” said a West Indian man named Mike, who owns a building just off of Franklin on St. John’s Place. Two years ago, he put his building up for sale, but subsequently withdrew it from the market. He claims that MySpace NYC agents have been hounding him ever since.

“They call you at all kinds of hours,” said Mike. “They’ve come to my house and I have to chase them away…They make offers to you: ‘Oh, we’ve got lots of cash. Let’s do it right now,’ like you’re desperate…Every day the same thing. You tell them no, and no don’t mean nothing!”

posted by showbiz_liz at 9:11 AM on September 27, 2013


My sister works in a grocery store in Brooklyn. It's locally owned by a young "retired" ibanker and she can't afford to shop there.

I'm not sure what you're getting at here. I mean, buying local doesn't have the quid pro quo that "everyone who lives in a neighborhood is going to be able to afford absolutely everything that is sold in that neighborhood," but that's the case in ungentrified neighborhoods as well. I don't shop in any of the foofy boutiques in my 'hood because I can't afford them.

Where I do benefit from the foofy boutiques, though, is that the business tax they pay goes into repaving my streets, and the contributions they make to the local BID makes the local neighborhood-wide events happen.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:13 AM on September 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


That "Passionate response from a Bushwick native" is excellent. Read the whole thing.
posted by languagehat at 9:15 AM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


languagehat, I read the whole thing. I felt a passionate dislike for the author who said it wasn't about race, when clearly, it is.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:21 AM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah I know what Rosa Rivera from Bushwick is saying.

I gotta let this shit go for my own mental health. I can't fly into a rage all the time over people opening art spaces and pickle stores in Red Hook. It actually caused me to lose quite a few friends as I outright refused to visit any transplant's totes adorbs Brooklyn apartments. I was never able to just keep my mouth shut when they said shit like "You should totally come see it Brooklyn is nice now, it isn't the ghetto anymore." Mortherfucker, I'm from Brooklyn.

Anyway I gotta let this shit go. I mean, sure in my own little neighborhood I got no place to buy bagels, hardware, stationary, or meat because all the shops closed. Replaced by Chipotle, Starbucks and fucked up bro bars brimming with fucked up bros. I've drank a lot in my time but these people give drinking a bad name. 20 year olds falling in the street and puking. Fucking ambulances lined up at the curb. Crying arguments at 4am and screaming every fucking night.
But at least I got a Starbucks and Chipotle.

Talib Kweli, who is also from Brooklyn, said the same thing as Rosa yesterday on reddit.

Gentrification is inevitable as the tide. I can't be mad at the tide can I?
posted by Ad hominem at 9:21 AM on September 27, 2013 [17 favorites]


“We buy properties ‘As is’ and in any condition and price range. We pay Top Dollar, in Cash, without any Broker fees. We can close as fast as 7-10 days…”

Huh. I see those flyers all over the place but I had never really thought about it before. I guess that says a lot about where Wilson Av will be in 2015.
posted by modernserf at 9:23 AM on September 27, 2013


The complaint wasn't that the bulk of the construction was housing - the complaint was that the bulk of the construction was luxury housing. Not all of the million people new to New York since 1990 have been among the super-wealthy.

There's not an infinite market for NYC luxury apartments. If developers had the hypothetical freedom to build luxury skyscrapers anywhere they wanted, eventually they would no longer be able to profitably do that and they would move on to their 2nd most profitable option: building middle-income skyscrapers. And then maybe they would move on to their 3rd most profitable option, maybe lower-income skyscrapers.

Plus, some/many people moving into the new luxury buildings were living NYC already, so some less-rich person can move into their old place. And so on.

I'm not trying to make a free-marketer "just so" story but I think that encouraging additional development of any level will help the city as a whole.
posted by ghharr at 9:30 AM on September 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


For the record, Ad hominem, I think most people in here are advocating a middle ground between "ungentrified" and "Starbucks and Chipolte". That's kind of why I wondered if we shouldn't push "Starbuckified" as a separate thing, distinct from "gentrified".

And the bro bars would be around no matter what, from what I've seen in every city everywhere ever.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:34 AM on September 27, 2013


We don't have strip malls in Manhattan

Allow me to direct your attention towards St Marks between 2nd and 3rd.
posted by elizardbits at 9:35 AM on September 27, 2013 [8 favorites]


Brooklyn has changed a lot over the years.
posted by brookeb at 9:40 AM on September 27, 2013


Allow me to direct your attention towards St Marks between 2nd and 3rd.

And that....thing in Herald Square.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:41 AM on September 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


Allow me to direct your attention towards St Marks between 2nd and 3rd.

I worked on that block for a while back around '04 or '05 and you could just watch it turn into what it is now. Hell, my old store is now a fast food noodle shop.

(Cue entrance of representatives of punk rock for each generation 1977-2003 to claim it was already a strip mall by the time they got bored hanging out there.)
posted by griphus at 9:44 AM on September 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


Also it was never the same after Ray's Occult Books went out of business.
posted by griphus at 9:45 AM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


For the record, Ad hominem, I think most people in here are advocating a middle ground between "ungentrified" and "Starbucks and Chipolte". That's kind of why I wondered if we shouldn't push "Starbuckified" as a separate thing, distinct from "gentrified".

And the bro bars would be around no matter what, from what I've seen in every city everywhere ever.

Yeah, I agree with that. I would have no problem with new faces taking over the old stores. I just hate to see neighborhood institutions replaced by pinkberry.

Starbucks is a whole different issue really. They will open a store and take a loss just to drive other businesses under. They will open two stores across the street from each other just to kill another coffee shop.

I just wish bros could have stuck to Yorkville or wherever they were before.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:47 AM on September 27, 2013


There is tons of middle income housing being built in New York City.

It is being built in Elmhurst, Queens and Staten Island and other places where some people seem to feel it would be a violation of their civil rights to live there ... but it is being built, and it is being built without government subsidy and occupied at market rates, too -- infinitely better for the taxpayers than the dog's breakfast of corporate welfare and regular welfare and perverse incentive that is urban "affordable housing" development.

Also, the woman who wrote that response had the gall to argue that she was felt oppressed because hipsters liking Brooklyn forced her to get a real job.
posted by MattD at 9:49 AM on September 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


I was sad when Tillie's closed since it was very community-oriented, what with the open mics etc. It was also very unfriendly and often packed to the hilt with people on their laptops who stayed there for long periods of time. I can see why it failed.
posted by grumpybear69 at 9:53 AM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


...hipsters liking Brooklyn forced her to get a real job.

Yeah, I mean, why would someone want to work in a non-profit anyway? It's right there in the name: non-profit. She wasn't gonna make any real money there, so god knows it wasn't real work.
posted by griphus at 9:54 AM on September 27, 2013 [20 favorites]


I worked on that block [St. Mark's] for a while back around '04 or '05 and you could just watch it turn into what it is now. Hell, my old store is now a fast food noodle shop.

Dude, I was an NYU student in 1990. Who had a membership at the flagship storefront for Kim's Video over on Avenue A. Y'all don't wanna start.

(Cue someone coming in to give me a justly-deserved smackdown now.)

I just hate to see neighborhood institutions replaced by pinkberry. Starbucks is a whole different issue really. They will open a store and take a loss just to drive other businesses under. They will open two stores across the street from each other just to kill another coffee shop.

And the coffee just plain isn't good.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:56 AM on September 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


My mom used to spank me so I can't help but get turned on when the invisible hand does the same thing.
posted by Teakettle at 9:56 AM on September 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


It is being built in Elmhurst, Queens and Staten Island and other places where some people seem to feel it would be a violation of their civil rights to live there

You can't get to work from those places.
posted by Sara C. at 9:57 AM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


You can't get to work from those places.

I have plenty of friends who live in both those places and get to work just fine. The Staten Island Ferry is free. A MetroCard is not all that expensive in comparison to owning a car.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:00 AM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'd really like to see more land value taxes in big, US cities. It seems like an elegant way to let "the market" gnaw at some of these issues. But of course nobody ever wants their neighborhood to change so it'll never happen.
posted by Skorgu at 10:00 AM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


I gotta let this shit go for my own mental health.

Yeah, I'm pretty much at this point now, too. Gentrification "discussions" are so rife with nastiness and bad faith, posing and posturing, on every single side that it's just not a productive thing to even have a conversation about anymore.

I'm going to live in a neighborhood that I like, that fits my lifestyle and aesthetic, and I'm going to do my damnedest to support and give back to the community around me. That's the best that I, as an individual human being, can do.
posted by downing street memo at 10:01 AM on September 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


That's another thing. There used to be jobs in the outer boroughs that paid enough to live there. People went to "the city" for court or to see some specialist doctor like once every few years.

Maybe there still are. Gothamist should do an article on it.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:02 AM on September 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


Also it was never the same after Ray's Occult Books went out of business.

The real for serious loss to the community was when they turned what used to be the old community meeting rooms into Quizno's and the like. I blame NYU.
posted by elizardbits at 10:02 AM on September 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


As a native, I've always been more pissed about NYC becoming a fucking theme park for the rich. The hipster thing sucks but is more of a nuisance than anything else. But I DO object to the prevailing attitude that an above poster mentioned; how a lot of the Brooklyn transplants say things like "Oh it's nice now, it's not ghetto anymore..", or, "Washington Heights, isn't that where all the Mexicans live?" Or simply, "I hate Queens.", and yes I've been told that. To which I reply, well, then you hate the most ethnically diverse borough in the city with the widest array of authentic food from around the world, and the most diverse selection of regular working-class New Yorkers. Or if they say "Oh I never go above 14th street if I don't have to.", I tell them, you're ignoring the cultural landmarks of the city, Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, the ballet and opera, MoMA, the Met museum, Guggenheim, Frick Gallery, Morgan Library, Harlem soul food and countless fantastic restaurants. If the Brooklyn Museum, fucking Roberta's, Fette Sau and Blue Bottle are any indication, those specific parts of Brooklyn currently excel at hype, trendiness, superficiality and inflated prices.
posted by ReeMonster at 10:03 AM on September 27, 2013 [13 favorites]


I have plenty of friends who live in both those places and get to work just fine.

Sure, with a few caveats:

- They don't work in Manhattan or in some other random part of NYC, they work in Queens or Staten Island. Just about all the "non-gentrifier" New Yorkers I know who live in Floral Park or Bay Ridge or wherever are teachers or nurses or social workers or the like and don't have to commute into Manhattan for work every day. Instead they work near where they live.

- They have cars and commute at least partially by car.

- They work in Manhattan, but like right next to Grand Central, so that hour they spend on the 7 train is their entire commute. When I lived in New York I commuted to Chelsea, which would have been going on two hours each way to even the close parts of Staten Island.

Look, people aren't stupid. They don't want to live in Bushwick because they are dumbasses who just really love paying $5 for coffee. They live there because it's the best they can afford. If Elmhurst was a better deal, we'd be lamenting the gentrification of Elmhurst.
posted by Sara C. at 10:09 AM on September 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


It takes a really long time, disturbingly long, life-ruiningly long, to commute between manhattan
and the back end of queens. I'm a big fan of unrealistic solutions - I'd prefer it if we could get the market out of housing altogether - but Queens-off-the-subway (which is the only place you can really find housing for mortals) is, I think, actually even more unrealistic and impractical than that.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 10:09 AM on September 27, 2013


If you go to Lincoln Center, you're part of the problem.
posted by Ghost Mode at 10:09 AM on September 27, 2013


Isn't the problem of gentrification in our era that White Flight disrupted what would have been a limited, tidal process, and turned it into a tsunami, first disinvesting and degentrifying huge parts of urban America, then a generation later in return in a wave that seems to rise without retreat.
posted by wotsac at 10:11 AM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sara C. I could not disagree with you more. I commuted for three years from Bay Ridge to lower Manhattan. It took all of 40 minutes.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:11 AM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


I blame NYU.

This is absolutely correct. NYU owns a lot of the East Village and has very specifically been the driving force behind gentrifying/sanitizing it over the last decade.

This is yet another example of how the individual people who live in/spend time in a neighborhood aren't really to blame for gentrification, but instead it should be laid at the feet of real estate developers.
posted by Sara C. at 10:13 AM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sara C. I could not disagree with you more. I commuted for three years from Bay Ridge to lower Manhattan. It took all of 40 minutes.

People weren't talking about Bay Ridge-to-Manhattan, they were talking about Forest-Hills-to-Manhattan. Or Gerritsen-Beach-to-Manhattan. Or something like that.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:13 AM on September 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


If you guys had just let Robert Moses build the expressways, you'd have no problems with commute times. /s
posted by sonic meat machine at 10:13 AM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


If you guys had just let Robert Moses build the expressways, you'd have no problems with commute times.

FLAMES

FLAMES ON THE SIDE OF MY FACE
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:14 AM on September 27, 2013 [20 favorites]


I actually enjoy it now when they try and get on my case about alum donations. I'm like I CAN SEE YOUR 990 MOTHERFUCKER YOU ARE GETTING NOTHING FROM ME.
posted by elizardbits at 10:14 AM on September 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


"If you go to Lincoln Center, you're part of the problem."

Haha! Yeah, it's a problem to witness operatic perfection, I suppose. Especially with $20 rush tickets. Or would you rather pay 80 bucks to hear Arcade Fire?
posted by ReeMonster at 10:14 AM on September 27, 2013


Also, the woman who wrote that response had the gall to argue that she was felt oppressed because hipsters liking Brooklyn forced her to get a real job.

Um, holy shit, I'll have to tell my boss- and all of the indigent people she spends all day defending the civil rights of- that she and I do not have "real jobs." Excuse the fuck out of me for having a job at a nonprofit. I guess I only get to work in Brooklyn if I work at a bank.
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:15 AM on September 27, 2013 [21 favorites]


I commuted for three years from Bay Ridge to lower Manhattan.

Yes, because you worked in Lower Manhattan.

If you work in the Financial District or Midtown, it's easy to commute to work from almost anywhere and that is not a factor in where to live. In that case, yes, people who choose Bushwick over Bay Ridge absolutely are doing it for aesthetic reasons. (Which is still fine, of course.)

If you don't work in either the Financial District or Midtown, there's a complicated calculus for where it's possible to live and have a reasonable commute.

One of the very specific reasons I left New York was that, despite moving up at work and doing perfectly OK for myself, my commute kept inching longer and longer as I got priced out of another neighborhood and had to move further away. I reasoned that eventually I was going to be commuting from Philadelphia, so I cut my losses and got the fuck off out of New York.
posted by Sara C. at 10:16 AM on September 27, 2013 [6 favorites]


I actually enjoy it now when they try and get on my case about alum donations. I'm like I CAN SEE YOUR 990 MOTHERFUCKER YOU ARE GETTING NOTHING FROM ME.

I actually for serious told one alumni drive type of person that "look, you just asked a theater alum to donate to a university whose law school nearly razed Eugene O'Neill's theater. Fuck no."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:20 AM on September 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


"If you go to Lincoln Center, you're part of the problem."

Haha! Yeah, it's a problem to witness operatic perfection, I suppose. Especially with $20 rush tickets. Or would you rather pay 80 bucks to hear Arcade Fire?
posted by ReeMonster at 10:14 AM on September 27 [+] [!]


The construction of Lincoln Center necessitated the destruction of San Juan Hill, a mostly black neighborhood of tens of thousands of residents. Hope you really love the opera.
posted by Ghost Mode at 10:23 AM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


The construction of Lincoln Center necessitated the destruction of San Juan Hill, a mostly black neighborhood of tens of thousands of residents

That was 40 years ago. How does seeing an opera today hurt those people?
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:25 AM on September 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


Ghost Mode, just curious whether you feel the same about Central Park.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:27 AM on September 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


That was 40 years ago. How does seeing an opera today hurt those people?
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:25 AM on September 27 [+] [!]


Yeah, it was 40 years ago! They should just get over being eminent domain-ed and having their land and businesses explicitly stolen from them.
posted by Ghost Mode at 10:27 AM on September 27, 2013 [5 favorites]


...there's a complicated calculus for where it's possible to live and have a reasonable commute.

I am from and grew up with people from these distant neighborhoods everyone is talking about -- Bay Ridge, Gerritsen, etc. -- and that was never an aspect to anyone's job search. Our parents took jobs where they could get them. My mom worked in Harlem and commuted from Bensonhurst, for instance, but she had a car. Our generation got apartments where we could afford them -- Gravesend, Ditmas Park, Kensington -- and, again, commute times weren't a part of it. My best friend and fiancee both commute to Long Island City from Kensington and Bensonhurst, respectively. For years I commuted to 65th and Lex, which was about 1:45 each way. I'm lucky now that I have a hourlong trip (half hour in the mornings) but part of the issues brought up in the FPP is that being able to pick where you live and work and raise a family is very, very difficult to pull off.
posted by griphus at 10:28 AM on September 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


Ghost Mode, just curious whether you feel the same about Central Park.

Central Park was planned and reserved long before the city had developed to its location.
posted by sonic meat machine at 10:29 AM on September 27, 2013


Cars and the fact that the L.A Metro area is roughly the size of a central European country.

Yeah, across the river in North Jersey, or up by Bridgeport, things get grungy in a fucking hurry.
posted by Slap*Happy at 10:29 AM on September 27, 2013


Seneca Village was indeed destroyed to make way for the park. It was also, what? 3 acres? 100 people?
posted by Ghost Mode at 10:30 AM on September 27, 2013


Also I find it kind of hilarious that the papers and the people are talking about moving to Kensington or Ditmas Park as some sort of escape, whereas for me it's literally Movin' On Up.
posted by griphus at 10:30 AM on September 27, 2013


I understand the feelings of people who start finding themselves priced out of their neighborhoods but unfortunately policies which claim to address it are often worse than the disease (and, frankly, are usually lying about what they are trying to accomplish). You end up with things like Prop 13 in California which are supposed to help people stay in their homes and neighborhoods but instead end up putting more and more money in the hands of the rich and the corporations while doing little or nothing to help the poor and non-white.
posted by Justinian at 10:31 AM on September 27, 2013


I don't think that anyone would disagree that Robert Moses made many questionable decisions during NYC's 60s "urban renewal" era but I am not sure it is entirely fair to characterize opera/symphony/ballet patrons or performers, or Fordham students for that matter, as "part of the problem".
posted by elizardbits at 10:32 AM on September 27, 2013 [6 favorites]


(sorry for the use of "excessive" "quotes", if they seem to convey an unintended sarcasm)
posted by elizardbits at 10:33 AM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


I used to have a great neighborhood til all these fucking ballerinas started moving in.
posted by Greg Nog at 10:33 AM on September 27, 2013 [9 favorites]


Sigh, I guess I just have a longer memory than most.
posted by Ghost Mode at 10:34 AM on September 27, 2013


One of the very specific reasons I left New York was that, despite moving up at work and doing perfectly OK for myself, my commute kept inching longer and longer as I got priced out of another neighborhood and had to move further away. I reasoned that eventually I was going to be commuting from Philadelphia, so I cut my losses and got the fuck off out of New York.

This is why I left Boston. Even four years after the crash, houses were still priced out of our range (two working professionals) - even dilapidated messes in incredibly questionable areas. If I was going to commute from Rhode Island, I'd commute from a part of RI that I liked, to another part of RI that I liked.
posted by Slap*Happy at 10:34 AM on September 27, 2013


Seneca Village was indeed destroyed to make way for the park. It was also, what? 3 acres? 100 people?

Just checking whether you were confining yourself to the 20th Century was all.

Although, if you really wanna go back, Nieuw Amsterdam evicted some Lenape settlements, I'm sure.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:35 AM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sigh, I guess I just have a longer memory than most.

Unless you're willing to raze the city and give it back to the Lenape, this is a bit disingenuous.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:36 AM on September 27, 2013 [7 favorites]


(sorry for the use of "excessive" "quotes", if they seem to convey an unintended sarcasm)

I thought it was a Zagat review.
posted by griphus at 10:37 AM on September 27, 2013 [7 favorites]


My mom also commuted from Kensington to Harlem every day. When we moved there it was definitely a step up from Red Hook, or Gowanus or whatever that area near the Smith 9th street F station is called now.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:38 AM on September 27, 2013


but she had a car

Exactly.

If you don't have a car, you have to live where it's possible to get to work without a car.

Again, if it was convenient to live in Howard Beach, we'd be complaining about gentrification in Howard Beach.
posted by Sara C. at 10:38 AM on September 27, 2013


Again. I know plenty of people who commute more than an hour to another borough, every day. It's certainly better than sitting in traffic in LA.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:39 AM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


If you don't have a car, you have to live where it's possible to get to work without a car.

My commute to 65th and Lex was about five or ten minutes more on the train to Harlem.
posted by griphus at 10:39 AM on September 27, 2013


Unless you're willing to raze the city and give it back to the Lenape, this is a bit disingenuous.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:36 AM on September 27 [+] [!]


Yeah, that'll solve the housing issue.
posted by Ghost Mode at 10:40 AM on September 27, 2013


Sigh, I guess I just have a longer memory than most.

No, dude, you're totally correct in that it was a fucking disgusting thing to do, ESPECIALLY considering the history of that neighborhood and the very ugly racial implications of destroying it to make way for what were, at the time, largely white/privileged class pastimes.

I just don't think that letting blame carry over to modern-day attendees of Lincoln Center events is a useful expenditure of time and emotional resources. It is totally okay that you feel otherwise.
posted by elizardbits at 10:40 AM on September 27, 2013 [12 favorites]


New York City's population is increasing because it has much higher salaries than the rest of the country, and the city proper has become much safer than it once was. But current zoning codes (including parking requirements, even near subway lines, and vast historic districts) make it difficult for the type of densification that was common in the period from 1900-1940 when the city's population was often increasing by a million people a decade:
http://southslopenews.com/blog/history/photo-flashback-before-the-prospect-park-ymca

Since sufficient new housing units aren't being built to house everyone who wants to live here, the existing ones and few new ones are bid up high enough to drive some folks who'd like to live here to move away. That's pretty much the crux of the issue: a unaddressed housing crisis.

Nor are new subway lines being built to underdeveloped areas, nor are the LIRR/Metro-North being upgraded to rapid transit services to bring further areas into convenient commuting range of Manhattan, as happened in Brooklyn at the beginning of the 20th century.
posted by akgerber at 10:40 AM on September 27, 2013 [15 favorites]


Yeah, that'll solve the housing issue.

Okay, so you're just here to be a brat. Gotcha.

thanks for the memo.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:41 AM on September 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


What is driving this trend in NY? Is the population of the city growing? Are wealthy people moving to the city from elsewhere, like the suburbs? If the center of the city is getting increasingly more expensive, then it seems like people would have to be coming to NY from outside. On preview, if it is because the salaries are higher in NY, is that a new thing?
posted by thetruthisjustalie at 10:42 AM on September 27, 2013


I just don't think that letting blame carry over to modern-day attendees of Lincoln Center events is a useful expenditure of time and emotional resources. It is totally okay that you feel otherwise.
posted by elizardbits at 10:40 AM on September 27 [+] [!]


I am completely and 100% in favor of demolishing Lincoln Center and letting the land go to minority-owned developers. This is what the "modern-day attendees of Lincoln Center" should be doing instead.
posted by Ghost Mode at 10:42 AM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


People who commute from one part of manhattan to another via car, unless they are a delivery service/service provider who requires a car/truck as part of their job, are bad people doing a bad thing.
posted by elizardbits at 10:43 AM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


I reasoned that eventually I was going to be commuting from Philadelphia, so I cut my losses and got the fuck off out of New York.

shhhh don't tell them about us

i enjoy having a rent that is below four figures a person and close to fancy coffee and microbreweries
posted by jetlagaddict at 10:45 AM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oops. I was responding to this comment "What is driving this trend in NY?" which I misread as "what is this driving trend in ny" but the accusation of badness stands.
posted by elizardbits at 10:45 AM on September 27, 2013


What is driving this trend in NY?

Brooklyn (well, north Brooklyn) specifically because it became a serious cultural mecca in the early-2000s. I went to Brooklyn College and it was really, really striking the amount of young people from not-NYC who matriculated there in 2003 as compared to 2008.
posted by griphus at 10:45 AM on September 27, 2013


I am completely and 100% in favor of demolishing Lincoln Center and letting the land go to minority-owned developers. This is what the "modern-day attendees of Lincoln Center" should be doing instead.

Okay, so since you also spoke scornfully about Central Park, are you also in favor of turning that over to be redeveloped as well? If not - why not?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:45 AM on September 27, 2013


Okay, so since you also spoke scornfully about Central Park, are you also in favor of turning that over to be redeveloped as well? If not - why not?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:45 AM on September 27 [+] [!]


The three blocks of Seneca Village? Sure. (Was the land even properly owned? I ask that sincerely.)
posted by Ghost Mode at 10:47 AM on September 27, 2013


I am completely and 100% in favor of demolishing Lincoln Center and letting the land go to minority-owned developers.

Believe me, as someone who occasionally ponders the idea of forcibly reclaiming all US land for native americans and making white people live on shitty reservations, I understand this feeling. But I also recognize that it is highly unlikely to ever, ever happen.
posted by elizardbits at 10:48 AM on September 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


(that is not at all to disparage the legitimate concerns about gentrification in and around Philadelphia, which also suffers from an enormous wealth gap between neighborhoods and most especially the suburban tax base, but although gentrification in and around 40th, Queen's Village, and NoLibs/Kensington etc. has been furious, it's still more affordable an area than NYC)
posted by jetlagaddict at 10:48 AM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Elmhurst, Queens has 2-4 subway stations and from the eponymous station is around 20 minutes from midtown, and in that regard is not at all atypical of many of the fast-growing market-rate and yet middle-class neighborhoods in Queens. Far better than Inwood to anywhere or Bushwick to midtown, maybe even downtown.
posted by MattD at 10:49 AM on September 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


If you just want to live near fancy coffee and microbreweries, there are a whole lot of places in the Midwest where you can do that for quite cheap. Not "under four figures a head for rent" cheap, but "under $100,000 for a house" cheap.
posted by akgerber at 10:51 AM on September 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


Is the population of the city growing? Are wealthy people moving to the city from elsewhere, like the suburbs?

Yes, and yes.

What's causing this to happen now, specifically, is that, in the 80s and 90s, there were all these blighted and somewhat depopulated/underdeveloped* parts of the city that new arrivals and upwardly mobile locals were moving into and fixing up. So the population boom wasn't being felt very strongly as there was plenty of room for everyone to find their own old brownstone to fix up or warehouse to convert into residential space.

Now all those areas have been redeveloped, and the overflow is spilling out into areas that were already just fine, thank you very much, and don't really want a bunch of 23 year olds moving in and opening gastropubs.

So you get a lot of grousing about who was here five years longer than who, and who pays how much for what kind of coffee.

New York City is filling up.

*Due to white flight and the downturn in NYC's fortunes after the immediate postwar period.
posted by Sara C. at 10:52 AM on September 27, 2013


People guilting each other about "gentrifying" a neighborhood is the worst.

People don't gentrify neighborhoods. Real estate developers gentrify neighborhoods.


Yes. Thank you. People should be able to live wherever they want. And if they want to go to the fucking starbucks because it's better than the local coffee shop, they should be able to do that too.

The ills of gentrification will NOT be solved by encouraging white people not to move places. Or "shopping local". Or being "engaged in your community" and patting yourself on the back about it. It will be solved by policy.

Not going to the local mexican place instead of Chipotle. Policy. Real estate policy. Mixed income housing policy. Rent increase/stabilization policy.

It's the policy, people. Or failure thereof. People being priced out of their communities where they are rooted is a policy problem, not a hipster problem, not a white people problem, not a starbucks problem. It's a policy problem.
posted by windbox at 10:52 AM on September 27, 2013 [20 favorites]


The three blocks of Seneca Village? Sure. (Was the land even properly owned? I ask that sincerely.)

Yes - they bought it from a farmer named John Whitehead.

But Seneca Village was not the only such property Central Park displaced. And I'm sure Mr. Whitehead would rather have kept the land himself. Why turn the land over to developers? Why not revert it to farmland like Mr. Whitehead had it?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:53 AM on September 27, 2013


Why not revert it to farmland like Mr. Whitehead had it?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:53 AM on September 27 [+] [!]


Sure. I never recommended turning our New Seneca Village into highrise superdevelopments. My New San Juan Hill, however, would ideally (re)become a vibrant high-density neighborhood.
posted by Ghost Mode at 10:56 AM on September 27, 2013


We can keep Lincoln Center by building over it like they did with Symphony Space on 96th street. They build a highrise around the old building.

The current Lincoln center plaza becomes the Atrium of the new superblock building. The current facades stay as clear story windows facing into the atrium.

We add some retail space for a Sephora, Thomas Pink, as well as subsidized space local artisans, specialty pickle stores, and whatever else.

30 stories of luxury apartments starting at 1 million.

We can do this, we can lure the rich back from Brooklyn.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:57 AM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


From the renter searching for apartment end of things Myspace nyc is also fucking terrible.
posted by edbles at 10:57 AM on September 27, 2013


The current Lincoln center plaza becomes the Atrium of the new superblock building. The current facades stay as clear story windows facing into the atrium.

This is exactly what it looks like on Amsterdam between 97th and 100th.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:58 AM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


> languagehat, I read the whole thing. I felt a passionate dislike for the author who said it wasn't about race, when clearly, it is.

I wasn't talking to you. You made your position quite clear. I was stating my own position, which is different from yours. Do you have a problem with that?
posted by languagehat at 10:58 AM on September 27, 2013


I never recommended turning our New Seneca Village into highrise superdevelopments. My New San Juan Hill, however, would ideally (re)become a vibrant high-density neighborhood.

A vibrant high-density neighborhood which was built on land formerly occupied by people who got pushed all the way to Ohio so they wouldn't be in the way.

As some wag once said, "I guess my memory is longer than most people's."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:00 AM on September 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'm sitting in a one of the most local of local coffee shops - hidden on a back street, tucked into an old house - they even call themselves a "locavorium" (selling locally sourced food).

And they aren't as welcoming to homeless and poor people as the local Starbucks, nor are they wheelchair accessible. Their workers are allowed to have tattoos and dye their hair pretty colours, but I don't know if they get supplementary health insurance (like the Starbucks employees down the road). They probably don't have the kinds of protections that Starbucks employees do (strict rules about breaks, ability to report managers anonymously, etc). They may not need them - the managers here seem great and friendly with the employees - but I've worked in other small independent businesses that were abusive to employees (no breaks, working when sick, no wage increases above minimum).

And their prices are as high or higher. They are just as much a part of gentrification of this area as a Starbucks -- they serve a different middle-class subculture than the big chain (clearly mine, somewhat), but it's still just as middle class and possibly even more privileged (in education levels, cultural capital, etc).

They have better food than Starbucks, but coffee isn't as good. And no one but Starbucks (and David's Tea, also a chain) seems to carry a decent cup of tea, for the non-coffee people.

Obviously, I like them - I'm here, it's one of my favorite places. But I also really like the Starbucks 10 minutes down the road, I can get a free refill of coffee with my card, and there are more outlets for my computer.
posted by jb at 11:01 AM on September 27, 2013 [7 favorites]


Uh, EmpressCallipygos, there are still Lenape in New Jersey.
posted by Ghost Mode at 11:01 AM on September 27, 2013


Homes Dark and Lifeless, Kept by Out-of-Towners.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 11:06 AM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ctrl + F "capitalism" — no results.

Capitalism is the culprit here, not "gentrifiers" or real estate developers. Focusing on individual actors elides the fundamental force that makes gentrification not just possible, but inevitable. In fact, as usual, our focus on individual actors reinforces the fundamental logic of capitalism, pitting person against person and money against morals. Absent an analysis that explicitly acknowledges this, money will always win.

We need either a whole new system (extremely unlikely) or a strong, values-driven government that sees regulating capitalism as one of its prime goals (slightly less unlikely).
posted by wemayfreeze at 11:07 AM on September 27, 2013 [10 favorites]


And then the gentrifiers themselves are pushed out as the truly upper class people move in.

This is happening to us right now, in the D.C. neighborhood that I moved to ~15 years ago and unwittingly helped to make unaffordable.

It's both amazing and a little sickening to watch.
posted by ryanshepard at 11:09 AM on September 27, 2013



Gentrification is inevitable as the tide. I can't be mad at the tide can I?


no, but you can learn a thing or two from the Dutch and get smart about how to deal with it, maybe even turn some of it to your own uses.
posted by philip-random at 11:12 AM on September 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


I worked on that block for a while back around '04 or '05 and you could just watch it turn into what it is now. Hell, my old store is now a fast food noodle shop.

So St. Mark's 2nd/3rd was with the East Village in general well gentrified by the time of that transition, and what I saw was a bunch more Asian establishments opening up, Japanese, Korean... So basically we're complaining about those people ruining the neighborhood with their noodle shops and izakayas?
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 11:12 AM on September 27, 2013


Okay, I'll play nice -

Ghost Mode, my point is that your complaints and umbrage against the big huge urban developments like Lincoln Center and the like are valid - but the time to act against them was when they happened. In advocating a return to San Juan Hill and Seneca Village, you're kind of implying that "all these people who came after me are gentrifiers because they pushed me out - but I'm not a gentrifier, even though these other people were pushed out before I got there". I mean, if you really want to return the land to the people with the longest claim, we all of us should be getting out of the city. But something tells me that you wouldn't want to do that.

Rather than railing against existing developments which have been there for years, why not focus your attentions on developments that are still in the planning stages? Why not advocate for the building of New San Juan Hill out on Governors' Island, or along East Fordham Road, or in Ozone Park, or any one of the current proposals the city is considering? (Honestly, I suspect a lot of these developments go through because the surrounding community doesn't get much of a chance to make their voices heard about what they want. Granted, the city does a piss-poor job of letting people know how to do that....)

Trying to call for the razing of an established entity - however underhanded the origins of that entity - is unfortunately Quixotic. Working on getting an existing neighborhood development that's still in the planning stages would go far more to actually bringing about the change you seek.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:15 AM on September 27, 2013 [10 favorites]


Oh, hey, I just got an email update with real estate listings because I am trying to buy a co-op. Ditmas Park, $300K for a 1-bedroom. Up from ~$200K this time two years ago. Is that even gentrification anymore?

So basically we're complaining about those people ruining the neighborhood with their noodle shops and izakayas?

No, the actual strip mall that elizardbits was referring to is the structure that used to be Coney Island High (a punk rock venue that closed in '98 or '99,) with the Chipotle, and fancy little market and the Supercuts. The noodle shop that used to be my store was also a Pinkberry knockoff for a little while, but it didn't last. I doubt the noodle shop will last any longer than it did, honestly.

Also, what is it considered when a 7/11 goes out of business and an small indepdendent coffee shop pops up? Because that happened.
posted by griphus at 11:18 AM on September 27, 2013


(The building itself is 19-23 St Marks, aka Arlington Hall.)
posted by elizardbits at 11:20 AM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah landswap because a neighborhood in the center of Manhattan = Ozone Park. Get real.

Rich white people run the world. They get their damn opera wherever the fuck they want and fuck you if you say boo.
posted by Ghost Mode at 11:21 AM on September 27, 2013


Also I can rattle off a long, long list of small businesses that were displaced or closed by the izakaya and noodle shops which were able to pay the jacked-up rent those businesses couldn't. They're certainly not at fault for trying to make money. But they'll be pushed out too, don't worry.
posted by griphus at 11:22 AM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


if you want to imagine the future of the city, imagine a Chase bank inside a Duane Reade, pressing against the walls of a yoga studio. Forever.
posted by The Whelk at 11:24 AM on September 27, 2013 [17 favorites]


Also, regarding East Fordham Road: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH
posted by Ghost Mode at 11:24 AM on September 27, 2013


Rich white people run the world.

for clarity, they're not just white anymore
posted by philip-random at 11:28 AM on September 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


anyways, I was just reacting to the Starbucks hate. I understand the dislike of this large, and very conformist/monotonous company (they don't localize at all - discourage it, even), but I also see another side of it (an insider side, even).

As for gentrification in general: you can't help being who you are. If you're white, were raised middle class -- you can't change this any more than a person of colour or a working-class person can change who they are. A lot of white and/or middle-class people move into working class areas not because they want to gentrify, but because they have been priced out of other areas.

But there are ways to "not be a dick" about being an gentrifyer (willing or unwilling). Don't move into a neighbourhood and then expect people to change the area to suit you. If you move into a gay village, don't get upset when there are big parties during Pride week, or lots of LGBT oriented shops and services. If you move into a block where kids play outside on the street all the time (maybe because they live in tiny apartments and don't have backyards), don't expect them to stop. Similarly for young men hanging out on street corners. Check out the local stores: they won't all suit you if you don't know how to cook/like that sort of food, but you might get something you like. (I don't cook Korean, but I always get my rice from the Korean grocery store, and then I hit the Portuguese one for bread and fresh meat -- and will go another day to the Anglo grocery for my cheddar cheese and other mangia-cake food).

Like an immigrant to a new country, accept your neighbourhood and its history. And if there is a serious issue - like needles and condoms appearing in your backyard - don't just look to push out the people who were there before, but help the place be at once accepting and safer. Advocate for safe places for sex workers, so that they don't have to work in your backyard, and for safe injection spaces for injection drug users. If there are homeless people living in the park across from your house, don't just get the city to spend $1.4 million renovate it to keep the "wrong sort" out, get them to spend some money on some goddam homeless shelters. Last night, I met a woman who would be sleeping on the street, though she was afraid of being attacked (she'd been threatened already by someone else), because there were no beds in any of the women's shelters in the city. The city will spend money beautifying parks to keep people like her out, but won't help find a place for her to be safe.

/some of this was a bit Toronto specific. but the principles are general.
posted by jb at 11:28 AM on September 27, 2013 [10 favorites]


"Why do people with money displace the artists? Because money wants what it can't buy."--One Fifth Avenue
posted by Melismata at 11:32 AM on September 27, 2013 [5 favorites]


Rich white people run the world. They get their damn opera wherever the fuck they want and fuck you if you say boo.

And now we're back to the fact that I don't see you talking about giving it back to the Lenape, but rather keeping it for yourself. So what makes the rich white people evil and your plan not?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:32 AM on September 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


And now we're back to the fact that I don't see you talking about giving it back to the Lenape, but rather keeping it for yourself. So what makes the rich white people evil and your plan not?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:32 AM on September 27 [+] [!]


You keep saying this.

My solution to New York City's gentrification problem is to reverse racist land grabs that whites executed in establihed neighborhoods in order to build their rich pleasure palaces. (Amongst other solutions.)

You have extrapolated that to mean that we must destroy New York City and give the land back to the Natives.

These would both solve the housing problem, I suppose.
posted by Ghost Mode at 11:37 AM on September 27, 2013


My solution to New York City's gentrification problem is to reverse racist land grabs that whites executed in order to build their rich pleasure palaces. (Amongst other solutions.) You have extrapolated that to mean that we must destroy New York City and give the land back to the Natives.

That's because the Lenape (I don't think they quite appreciate being called "the natives", btw) are the people from whom the land was originally grabbed. Who'd you think these "racist land grabs" were taken from?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:39 AM on September 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


Gentrification is weird where I live.

Yesterday I got off of the commuter rail and was nearly mauled by some rich lady's panther. She didn't even do anything! Just stood there holding this damn animal's Sbux Food Pouch while it attempted to devour my clavicle, all the while cooing like it was the most precious little darling ever.

Finally I was all, Ma'am? But she just turned up her LL Bean Xenophobia Hoodie and walked on, the panther looking back at me with lust in it's eyes.

Still, the new restaurants are cool.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 11:41 AM on September 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


My solution to New York City's gentrification problem is to reverse racist land grabs that whites executed in establihed neighborhoods in order to build their rich pleasure palaces.

Who is white? Go back a hundred years (or less, depending who you're talking to) and Greeks, Italians, Irish and Jews certainly weren't. Are they exempt from this reversal?
posted by griphus at 11:41 AM on September 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


Duh. And righting that historical wrong would leave us all hopelessly fucked. Righting the wrong of Lincoln Center would improve many many thousands of lives and would leave the rich whites to find a new home for their songs.
posted by Ghost Mode at 11:41 AM on September 27, 2013


[You two maybe drop it in here and continue this in mefimail if you want to keep arguing about it. Thank you.]
posted by cortex at 11:41 AM on September 27, 2013 [5 favorites]


People, the solution is very simple. We bring back guns and drugs into the city. Obviously the only thing that will create affordable housing is another crack epidemic.

You're welcome.
posted by cazoo at 11:54 AM on September 27, 2013 [12 favorites]


The real solution to gentrification is that everyone, every human being in this city, gets up and goes to Westchester. Then, in Westchester, the government organizes people by their relative privilege. Then, one by one, everyone picks someone else's life and gets their apartment, job, clothes, stuff, everything. The people most screwed by life in this city catch a break. The people who claim that hard work brought them all they have can prove they can do it again without the head-start they got. The incredibly wealthy find out how much food actually costs.

I call it the Westchester Redistribution and I have gone mad with power.
posted by griphus at 12:04 PM on September 27, 2013 [13 favorites]


"Also, I think the idea that gentrification is on just this one block is the reason I don't see most of "gentrified" Los Angeles as gentrified. So Silverlake has that one little three-block stretch of Sunset with the Intelligentsia and the record store and the boutiques. Williamsburg and Park Slope are swallowing Brooklyn whole. So I find it hard to get worked up, you know?"

Hey, due respect, but you don't know what you're talking about here. Looking at housing prices and historical migrations, LA is becoming more and more gentrified — the obvious example is the downtown loft explosion. I mean, it's not SF, which is just fucked, but LA's got serious problems regarding how the working class is being forced out of areas that used to be affordable.

(Also, you know that Silverlake isn't just on Sunset, right?)
posted by klangklangston at 12:12 PM on September 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


this thread is about NEW YORK klang

god
posted by elizardbits at 12:14 PM on September 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


Certainly feels like thread about New York filled with New Yorkers; everyone is so brusque and cranky!
posted by Panjandrum at 12:22 PM on September 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm pretty sure that my thread is all about Toronto.

Which makes sense, since that is the centre of the world. New York is just some place south of us. We're also brusquer - we won't even talk to you long enough to express our crankiness.
posted by jb at 12:23 PM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


but LA's got serious problems regarding how the working class is being forced out of areas that used to be affordable.

Of course.

But compared to New York, it's nothing. Compared to Philly or Boston or DC it's nothing.

I don't mean to belittle the plight of poor Angelenos, or to say that LA is an unchanging blighted wasteland.

But it's just... way not gentrified.

And it seems weird to me that Angelenos are coming in here wanting to claim "no, no, our city is TOTES just as gentrified!" as if the important thing is to be just as much of EVERYTHING as New York is, even the shitty stuff. Los Angeles should be glad that the vast majority of the city is simple down-to-earth grungy taco stands and car washes. It's one of the best things about Los Angeles.

(Also, I know there's a lot more to Silverlake than just Sunset. It's just... not gentrified. Not in the way east coast gentrification works, anyway. The only part of the area that even remotely qualifies is that little "Sunset Junction" patch.)
posted by Sara C. at 12:29 PM on September 27, 2013


Sara C., gentrification means change from what was there before, it's not an issue of if things look a certain way it means they've been gentrified-- I assure you if you'd been here for 20 years you'd be really shocked by how much actually has changed. The pace of it is nothing like Brooklyn, although the current pace of Highland Park gentrification is happening quickly. Koreatown and Downtown are completely different places than what they were when I was in HS in the mid 90s. Lots of other pockets as well.

I imagine NYC is a very hard place to open a business but Los Angeles makes it really, really hard. This is perhaps why we see residential gentrification in Los Angeles seemingly outpace the retail side so much. Rents in Echo Park and elsewhere have shot up, while retail hasn't seen the same level of development.
posted by cell divide at 12:37 PM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Gentrified" Los Angeles (especially if we're talking about Koreatown, which LOL) is a lot like NYC before it was gentrified. That's really all I was saying. It is un-gentrified compared to New York City.

Again, not really commenting on housing prices or the plight of the working poor or whether it's difficult to start a business.
posted by Sara C. at 12:49 PM on September 27, 2013


And yet you are, because it's all relative. Brooklyn is completely ungentrified compared to Zurich, even less so Laussaune, thus New York is ungentrified by that standard and it's funny how people there think it is and worry about it. New Yorkers should be thrilled that their neighborhoods are still so basic and poverty-stricken by Swiss standards.
posted by cell divide at 12:59 PM on September 27, 2013


So what you're saying is that L.A looks kinda shitty.
posted by The Whelk at 1:00 PM on September 27, 2013


A vibrant high-density neighborhood which was built on land formerly occupied by people who got pushed all the way to Ohio so they wouldn't be in the way.

I have equal sympathy for colonial-era indigenous Manhattanites and residents of shat-upon neighborhoods during the latter half of the 20th century, but if you're implying that these inequities are of similar reparability and have a similar degree of direct relevance to present-day urban decisionmaking, I would characterize that as either extremely misinformed or extremely disingenuous.
posted by threeants at 1:01 PM on September 27, 2013


So what you're saying is that L.A looks kinda shitty.

No, it just looks... normal. Koreatown, for instance, reminds me of Washington Heights when I moved there in 2000. A perfectly fine place. But very simple. No Starbucks or Pinkberry or wine bars or yoga studios.

Brooklyn is completely ungentrified compared to Zurich, even less so Laussaune, thus New York is ungentrified by that standard and it's funny how people there think it is and worry about it.

I think you're assuming a tone that I didn't intend in any of my comments about how refreshingly normal L.A. is compared to the insanity that is the Brooklyn of 24-hour bodegas that serve freshly prepared sushi and local microbrews.
posted by Sara C. at 1:08 PM on September 27, 2013


threeants - I was overexaggerating someone else's argument as a tactic and I've taken it to memail now.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:26 PM on September 27, 2013


Popular Ethics: I really haven't gotten the anger against gentrification. In my city, people protest the rising rents along one trendy street, but they don't mention that 1) the street is getting investment it hasn't seen in decades, and 2) there is a street with similar character, but none of the gentrification literally one block over!

I know that gentrification feels like being robbed, but really property values are just a reflection of how much people want to be there. If rents are rising, the city is prospering! As commented above, there are plenty of cities who would love such a problem.


I agree with what you're saying, but one thing I want to add is that in many cases the city would ignore or not pursue requests made by the community back before it was gentrified. For example, an older, traditionally low-income/black/Asian/whatever community pre-gentrification (when it was "the ghetto") would go and request things like bike lanes so that the residents of that community could get around town more easily, which makes sense if they can't afford a car and need to be able to job hunt, or if they can't afford a car and need to be able to get to the job they have already, or grocery shopping. Really a multitude of things that would have made it easier to just get around. The city (and this is a very broad, general statement) sometimes wouldn't do it for whatever reason. Then as wealthier/white people moved into that neighborhood, displacing those residents (and this isn't the fault of the individuals moving in there), only then would the city finally decide to put a bike lane in, because it was suddenly hip to bike everywhere, and maybe real estate developers prodded the city to install them so that they could market to hip people that, hey, you don't need a car in this neighborhood! This would also cause rents to go up. It's sort of backwards-assed.
posted by gucci mane at 1:46 PM on September 27, 2013 [6 favorites]


I forgot to mention that that isn't the only thing, it's just the example I thought of off the top of my head.
posted by gucci mane at 1:46 PM on September 27, 2013


I lived in Queens and commuted to Upper Manhattan and it was not bad until the 7 train suddenly went in the toilet due to problems with the Queens-Manhattan tunnel. I credit that as one of the three reasons I moved to Chicago. I loved Queens though. I think people who complain about it haven't spent enough time there and I suspect it will gentrify seriously in the next five years. But it was seriously neglected transit-wise. They cut three bus lines running through Sunnyside the last year I lived there. You can see Manhattan looming on the horizon, so close you could almost touch it. But good luck getting there.

As far as capitalism, I'd like to know of any examples of places that did non-capitalistic housing well? When I lived in Stockholm they were transitioning away from that because it just wasn't working. Though the market-based system they replaced it with is also a total disaster.
posted by melissam at 1:48 PM on September 27, 2013


The "passionate response" article is really excellent. I don't understand roomthreeseventeen's comment about how it's really about race, because I don't see that there.
posted by sweetkid at 1:49 PM on September 27, 2013


No, the actual strip mall that elizardbits was referring to is the structure that used to be Coney Island High (a punk rock venue that closed in '98 or '99,)

ugh i've only been to nyc once in my life and it was to see the mr. t experience at coney island high in the late 90s and now i'm really sad.
posted by misskaz at 1:50 PM on September 27, 2013


No Starbucks or Pinkberry or wine bars or yoga studios.

Technically speaking. K-town has all of those things galore (I think there are like 5 Starbucks and about a billion pinkberry clones), plus an insane amount of upscale karoake bars, SoJu bars, themed restaurants, imported noodle shops from Japan and Korea... one of the best bars serving microbrews is there, plus one of the more expensive "speakeasy" style bars in the city. Most of which wasn't there in the mid 90's, hence gentrification. Again, the term is about change not about conforming to a particular style.

I think you're assuming a tone that I didn't intend in any of my comments about how refreshingly normal L.A. is compared to the insanity that is the Brooklyn of 24-hour bodegas that serve freshly prepared sushi and local microbrews.

Yes but when taken together with your comments upthread, you are essentially conflating aesthetics with social change:

LA's got serious problems regarding how the working class is being forced out of areas that used to be affordable.

Of course.

But compared to New York, it's nothing.


The evidence you provide for it's nothing is that things don't visually look like Brooklyn. As a long-time resident I'm explaining to you that things truly have changed, the issues of affordability for the working class are very real, and that serious changes in neighborhoods have absolutely happened.
posted by cell divide at 2:19 PM on September 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


Starbucks is a whole different issue really. They will open a store and take a loss just to drive other businesses under. They will open two stores across the street from each other just to kill another coffee shop.

Starbucks tried something like that on 15th in the Capitol Hill neighborhood in Seattle. It didn't work, and they also embarrassed themselves getting caught doing a renovation that copied the style of the restaurant next door, in the bargain. The coffee shop they went up against opened up another two locations in First Hill and South Lake over the next couple years. It is possible for local coffee shops to thrive if they offer a better product — which for Starbucks isn't really hard.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:21 PM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Starbucks is a whole different issue really. They will open a store and take a loss just to drive other businesses under. They will open two stores across the street from each other just to kill another coffee shop.

There's at least one Starbucks in DC in a location that went through 5 restaurants or so in nearly as many years. Why put it there, despite the odd location and almost-certain losses? Because they wanted to make a Starbucks present in a cool and gentrifying area. (It didn't drive out any coffee shops because there were none, but it sure was a marker of where the neighborhood was going.)
posted by jetlagaddict at 2:26 PM on September 27, 2013


I saw a duane reade yesterday that had closed.
Against all logic a duane reade closed in new york
on 23rd st.
It was 1 block away
from another duane reed. Inside a
mist of rats and roaches had started coalescing
into an occupy cell. They heard a socialist
mayor was on the way back into city hall, and wanted to start
squatting as soon as possible
in the abandoned duane reade. There
were some pigeons too, circling the entrance
so nobody could get in.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 2:37 PM on September 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


The duane reade on Bank and Hudson closed a little while back, which I only discovered after a late-night excursion to buy those lotiony tissues what don't scratch your nose all up, and then I could not get my tissues and I got very mad and wiped a booger on the old storefront and it was not as satisfying as I had hoped it would be because I still had to walk up to the CVS on 14th and 8th for tissues.
posted by elizardbits at 2:41 PM on September 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


needs more line breaks
posted by Potomac Avenue at 2:41 PM on September 27, 2013


They closed the small Duane reade in the west seventies
So they could demolish the building
A three story brick, with a diner in the base
So they could up another condo tower
With a larger Duane reade
In the base.
posted by The Whelk at 2:45 PM on September 27, 2013 [6 favorites]


Duane Reade is actually Walgreens now. The manager at mine told me that they can't get Arizona Iced Tea anymore because Walgreens deprioritized this zone and sends all the Arizona Iced Tea to midtown.

On the plus side, they renovated the hell out of it and there are actual employees at night.

I wonder what we have more of, Duane Reade, Starbucks, or Chase storefronts.
posted by Ad hominem at 2:46 PM on September 27, 2013


Such names:

Two streets,
a sailor
and the act of hunting.

What better signs
of the city's real
preoccupations?
posted by Potomac Avenue at 2:50 PM on September 27, 2013


This Is Just To Say

I have opened
an artisanal mayonnaise shop
in the building where
your family has lived for 40 years

and which
you were probably
hoping to continue
renting for the foreseeable future

Forgive me
the world needs sea urchin-flavored mayo
more than
it needs you
posted by neroli at 3:31 PM on September 27, 2013 [26 favorites]


""Gentrified" Los Angeles (especially if we're talking about Koreatown, which LOL) is a lot like NYC before it was gentrified. That's really all I was saying. It is un-gentrified compared to New York City."

No, actually, comparing migration patterns and shifts in affordable housing availability, Los Angeles is more gentrified than New York City.

Again, not really commenting on housing prices or the plight of the working poor or whether it's difficult to start a business."

Well, since those are pretty much the biggest quantifiable markers of gentrification, they're actually where you have to start to have an informed opinion.

"No Starbucks or Pinkberry or wine bars or yoga studios."

There are several Starbucks in Koreatown. More than in Silverlake, actually.
posted by klangklangston at 4:19 PM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


And then the gentrifiers themselves are pushed out as the truly upper class people move in.

The gentrification cycle
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 4:42 PM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Do gastropubs count as a "need" or a "want"?
posted by fraxil at 5:28 PM on September 27, 2013


You can't get to work from those places.

If you take the train from Astoria/Ditmars to the first stop in Manhattan it's only one stop shorter than if you took the R from the Elmhurst Ave stop. Also, from Elmhurst you have the option to transfer to the E/F express after one stop.

No one complains about getting to work from Astoria so I don't understand why Elmhurst is a problem.
posted by laptolain at 7:24 PM on September 27, 2013


Another city feared desegregation,
And demolished their Brooklyn
Using eminent domain.

The displaced people fled,
Both near and far,
And downtown stood empty.

The bankers built palaces and towers,
Expressways and arenas.
They glitter above parking lots.

Still fearful of the earth,
And especially those upon it,
They built a sheltered labyrinth.

Over time the city has become rich,
A young and beautiful débutante,
And makes no mention of misdeeds.

In New York, people still remember;
In Charlotte, everything is new,
And all memories are sand.
posted by sonic meat machine at 7:49 PM on September 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


sorry sometimes I drink beer and then write poetry
posted by sonic meat machine at 8:27 PM on September 27, 2013


I'd like to know of any examples of places that did non-capitalistic housing well

I can't say I would want to live there, but Singapore has a system that seems to be working for them. (The relevant part of the video is from 13:36 to 18:07)
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 11:06 PM on September 27, 2013


Sonic Meat Machine; ya know, Charlotte is weird. All my family is from NC, so when I was very young and my dad still in the military, we'd go visit my Papaw in Shelby and then my aunts and uncles in Charlotte and High Point. My folks have been in Winston since 95, when we moved after a year in Charlotte, and I've been in ILM now for a bit.

Wilmington has changed a lot since we used to come down to Carolina Beach to drink beer when we were in high school; I dislike it more now than I ever did when I was just a tourist. I work in the public sector, so to see what the city has done to hide and disperse the lower SES folks is disheartening, although the whole area has a problem with violence and substance abuse.

The Triad hasn't changed much, except all of the downtowns are much safer.

Charlotte, though... I have family in Cotswold that has a condo uptown that they bought in the late 70s, where you'd see nothing from the balcony. Just open space. You can see the stadium now. Other family lives in Park Road; the year we were there ('95) we lived in Southpark. There is no way any of my family could afford any of this now. Places that I remember visiting as a child and great little restaurants no longer exist. Takes forever to get across town. And Charlotte attracted the banking industry from Winston, causing a devastating effect on the Triad's economy; now everyone just works for the hospitals. Despite all of this, I wanted to move to Charlotte, mostly to be closer to home and my Panthers and the Speedway, but I'm not really what the city is looking for. I'm sure I'll just end up back in Winston at some point.
posted by sara is disenchanted at 2:03 AM on September 28, 2013


They don't work in Manhattan or in some other random part of NYC, they work in Queens or Staten Island

I live in Staten Island and work in Manhattan. Every day, I commute to work just fine (via public transit!). It happens. You can get to work just fine. It is not impossible. You might have a slightly longer commute. But that's not what people are pissed about with Staten Island and Queens. They're pissed because they just plain don't like the ambience, or it's quiet at night, or there aren't enough bars, or the politics, or the people, or a ton of things. Really, I think it's just that these places aren't "cool", even though there is totally affordable housing and you don't have to live in a closet anymore.

My transplant husband asking us to move out of Park Slope so we could have real space and live better was honestly the best move we ever made.
posted by corb at 4:50 AM on September 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


there is a street with similar character, but none of the gentrification literally one block over!

This is why people get so outraged about it. In New York, there is no "just as awesome street, but half the price" street a block over. Or in the neighborhood. If it exists, it's way off the beaten path, far from public transit, in an inaccessible area most people don't want to live in. And even then, it's debatable how charming it really is.
posted by Sara C. at 9:05 AM on September 27 [2 favorites +] [!]


This makes me think of 4th avenue and 5th avenue in Park Slope. 5th avenue is much nicer, in my opinion, but much more expensive, but 4th avenue has much newer construction and is on the subway lines. But 4th avenue doesn't feel gentrified to me and, from what I've heard, is much less expensive than 5th avenue (or anything closer to Prospect Park, really). My theory has always been that proximity to the Gowanus is the reason; that thing is basically a cesspool snaking through west Brooklyn.
posted by ben242 at 6:37 AM on September 28, 2013


Again, not really commenting on housing prices or the plight of the working poor or whether it's difficult to start a business.

Seconding that this is actually the crux of gentrification, isn't it? I don't think it's the aesthetics at all. Just because gentrification in LA looks a bit different doesn't mean it isn't happening. Housing prices on the east side are massively inflated over the last 10-20 years.

Echo Park was an entirely different neighborhood ten to fifteen years ago. I remember the artist hipsters moving out of Los Feliz and Silverlake to buy houses in Echo Park at that time because they were more affordable, as Los Feliz and Silverlake were taken over by the people who could pay $1M for a house. And there was plenty of crime and gang violence going on at the time. Now there are artisanal beer shops and vegan restaurants. (and possibly still gangs)

Since Silverlake started to have good public schools I believe the gentrification has accelerated even faster. Watching semi crappy houses in Silverlake go for way over the city median price at a rate faster than the city average is basically the same thing that's happening in Brooklyn. Now the artists and hipsters are moving to Highland Park and Mount Washington as Echo Park gets too expensive for the average person to buy a house.

Koreatown is a totally different microcosm at work with lots of investment coming from S. Korea and not the same "white artists moving into the neighborhood" dynamic. According to a google search, K-town has had over $1B in investment from S. Korea since the early 2000s. It's still fairly economically depressed, but there are pockets of luxury high rises and you can see a parade of luxury cars pulling into the high end Korean BBQ restaurants and karaoke bars on a Saturday night.

LA and NYC are just really different cities with different dynamics - I think that while NYC is very concentrated people in LA tend to see more of the city outside your car window even if you don't spend time there. I drove through Westwood, Beverly Hills, Burbank, K-town and Silverlake/Echo Park on a regular basis just going around town, so could see all of the sprawl-y ugly parts of the city in between. I probably spend less time observing different neighborhoods in NYC since my commute time is spent mostly underground.
posted by rainydayfilms at 7:40 AM on September 28, 2013 [3 favorites]


My transplant husband asking us to move out of Park Slope so we could have real space and live better was honestly the best move we ever made.

Corb, if I remember correctly, I think you have both a husband and a child. Which is a pretty particular social situation that means that most of your outside work life is conveniently located in the same place you sleep and eat. I think a lot of people do move further out when they have that. It makes a longer commute more feasible (because you're probably doing it right after work, instead of after meeting with friends and trying to get home when everything runs less often and sometimes slower), and it makes living remotely less isolating.

Right now I feel pretty lucky to have a rent stabilized place within a ten to fifteen minute walking distance of a handful of friends. I don't think that's a crazy thing to want. In fact, the social benefits of living where you're from and where your community is a big cost of what gentrification is doing to the people it is hurting.

You just seem really harsh on people who have made different choices than you have.
posted by Salamandrous at 3:09 PM on September 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sorry, meant to add that your cheap rents in Staten Island *depend* on other people not moving there. If everyone thought like you did, you'd be priced out of Staten Island too.
posted by Salamandrous at 3:12 PM on September 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


> I live in Staten Island and work in Manhattan

Sorry if this is too far afield, but it caught my eye. I would have said "live on Staten Island," and I don't remember hearing "live in Staten Island" before (I used to live in NYC). Have I just never noticed it before?
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:15 PM on September 28, 2013


I've used on/in interchangeably with Staten Island (and Long Island,) because they're proper names as much as descriptors and I wouldn't use "on" for any other borough.

I also stand on line rather than in line.
posted by griphus at 9:28 PM on September 28, 2013


I've said it like five times in this thread, and I'll say it again.

If it was objectively better to live in/on* Staten Island, we would all be complaining about how gentrified Staten Island is getting.

The problem, for the most part, isn't the particular neighborhoods that are becoming gentrified. The problem isn't that Young People Today are a bunch of morons who would rather pay a zillion dollars a month to live in Bushwick just because it's cool, like the residential version of Blue Bottle coffee or those $200 rain boots.

For the most part, everyone is trying to figure out the best place to live. For some people, that's Floral Park, Queens. For some people, that's Yorkville. For some people, that's Bushwick.

Telling people "you are dumb and should obviously just live in Brighton Beach like the elderly Russians do" is vastly beside the point, since if Brighton Beach were the best place for young people to live, we'd all be bitching about how Brighton Beach is all gentrified now, and its Russian character is lost, and where can you even chug a handle of vodka on the beach in broad daylight anymore now that Brighton Beach is RUINED FOREVER by yuppies.

*I also use in/on interchangeably for Staten Island. On the other hand, you live on the Upper East Side, and in fact "on" the east vs. west side in general. As opposed to "in". Here in Los Angeles I'm still very confused about whether I'm supposed to be saying that I live "on" the east side vs. "in" the east side. Or whether "side" is even a thing if you're not talking about the west side. And is that "westside" or "west side"? If the latter, where's the verbal emphasis supposed to be? WEST side or west SIDE? So confusing.
posted by Sara C. at 9:47 PM on September 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


" Here in Los Angeles I'm still very confused about whether I'm supposed to be saying that I live "on" the east side vs. "in" the east side. Or whether "side" is even a thing if you're not talking about the west side. And is that "westside" or "west side"? If the latter, where's the verbal emphasis supposed to be? WEST side or west SIDE? So confusing."

If you live east of the river*, you live on the east side. The Westside is anything from WeHo to the sea, pretty much, but you'd still say that you live on the west side, or in West LA. (Handily, this mostly follows AP rules, e.g. the South versus south of here.)

*Many Anglos will describe the east side as starting at Vermont, or even (if they're especially bourgie) Fairfax, much to the derision of any Latinos you talk to. It usually ends at the 710, 'cuz then you're just in Montebello.
posted by klangklangston at 10:56 PM on September 28, 2013


Whew, glad I've been correctly referring to myself as living on the east side.

And Fairfax? Sheesh. In that case I've barely ever even been out of the east side.
posted by Sara C. at 11:12 PM on September 28, 2013


We used to live a couple blocks from Culver City off Venice, and yeah, there are people who seem to think that the city just tails off at about Hollywood and Highland, and think everything east of Fairfax is the east side.

They're the same people that spread all the crazy myths about L.A. as a endless suburban car culture (despite the fact that there are plenty of Westside places you can get to on public transit); it's no coincidence that Steve Martin's L.A. Story house was over there.
posted by klangklangston at 1:38 PM on September 29, 2013


I live west of Fairfax and now I feel bad.
posted by Justinian at 4:15 PM on September 30, 2013


Vanity plate: ALMYFALT
posted by klangklangston at 8:57 PM on September 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Telling people "you are dumb and should obviously just live in Brighton Beach like the elderly Russians do" is vastly beside the point, since if Brighton Beach were the best place for young people to live, we'd all be bitching about how Brighton Beach is all gentrified now, and its Russian character is lost, and where can you even chug a handle of vodka on the beach in broad daylight anymore now that Brighton Beach is RUINED FOREVER by yuppies.

I think it's a little of both, right? Because obviously I'm totes married and kid-having and GET OFF MY LAWN, YOUNG PEOPLE, but at the same time, the perspective lets me say that "Hey kids, financially you would be way better off ten years down the line if you lived in the cheap places and accepted a longer commute to work and bars and suchlike." And that advice is stuff I had access to when I was young, and I still blew it off because BROOKLYN and closeness to lower Manhattan and whee drinking. When I was young, living in Staten Island was like death, but now that I am older I think I was totally dumb for not doing it and saving a bajillion dollars and having a nice down payment to buy later.

And at the same time, yeah, if everyone moved where I am now, I'd totally be all "What happened to my nice little Italian neighborhood and my favorite bakery, and why are there all these vegan gluten-free fusion restaurants here now? I just want to get a heart attack from butter!"

But I think really New Yorkers just love to bitch. Either we're bitching about people from New Jersey or people from Staten Island or people from certain parts of Manhattan or tourists or young people or old people or Park Slope Mommies or whatever has attracted our bile for the moment. Telling us not to bitch about things is taking half the joy out of life.
posted by corb at 5:52 AM on October 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Hey kids, financially you would be way better off ten years down the line if you lived in the cheap places and accepted a longer commute to work and bars and suchlike."

You continue to vastly overestimate how much cheaper it is to live in an unhip neighborhood.

This is a bit of calculus I did about once every six months during my dozen years in New York. I kept thinking, "Well but what if I moved to Ungentrified Neighborhood X? I bet I could [have my own place/live closer to the subway/have a yard/cut back on work hours/save more money] if I lived there!"

And every single time I would do the math, it would turn out that I wouldn't achieve the desired effect at all. Or if it did, it would be at the cost of an hours-long commute, needing to buy a car, or killing my social life. Or it would only work if I was willing to otherwise drastically reduce my quality of life (like a basement apartment).

Seriously, last time I checked a studio in even the shitty, dangerous, and inconvenient parts of Staten Island is like $1000/month. Living with a roommate in a hip Brooklyn neighborhood is like $750 a month, less if you're willing to live somewhere a little fringey like Prospect Lefferts Gardens or Ridgewood. Moving to shitty dangerous Staten Island makes even less sense when you consider doing it with a roommate, because multiple-bedroom apartments aren't much cheaper than elsewhere in the city. You could have a roommate in Ridgewood for $600 a month, or a roommate Dongan Hills for, what, $550? That's a false economy if I ever heard of one.

The point at which it makes sense to forgo the hip neighborhood and instead move out to dullsville is when you find yourself paired off, possibly with kids, and thinking about buying something. Real estate prices level off to almost sane once you get out of Williamsburg and Park Slope. New construction means there is actually something out there to even buy. You can get a lot more for your money, and thus approach a reasonable middle class type of existence, in a neighborhood like Ozone Park.

That is simply not feasible for a single renter, unless we're talking about how you can save money by not renting a $4000/month penthouse on McCarren Park. For most struggling twentysomethings trying to make ends meet with roommates and takeout and metrocards, moving to Forest Hills is not really a solution.
posted by Sara C. at 6:20 PM on October 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, people tend to ignore the price of commuting big time. In LA, it's almost always cheaper to live near where you work and use public transit than it is to live further out and commute, especially when you look at maintenance for vehicles. You move further out to have things like yards and (sometimes) better schools, but in terms of cheapness, it doesn't actually come out that well on balance.

Having been desperately poor in more than one city, the part of the budget that's often easiest to control is food — you can save more by planning out meals well in advance, and buying bulk, that sort of thing. (Though that's a skill that has to be taught too.)
posted by klangklangston at 6:44 PM on October 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, it's expensive to be a single person in NYC, especially a single woman. I decided to walk around 4th avenue area last weekend way later than I should have and almost got in a Bad Situation before Oh Look! A Cab! Great! Better neighborhoods are not just for "hipness."
posted by sweetkid at 7:29 PM on October 1, 2013


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