“I just thought the whole thing was fabulous – what a great childhood you had!,” responded my mom when I asked her why in the world she ever decided to raise her children in Manhattan. In the 1980s. On Eighth Avenue and 53rd Street. “You got to see a side of the world other kids don’t.” Words of truth from a great mom.
“The lifestyle is so different in Texas,” my friend Rhett said to me recently, citing…
“I was born in the South Slope on 11th Street off Sixth Avenue,” said Matthew Roff, 33, owner of the new Crown Heights beer garden Franklin Park. “Bar Toto was my bodega.”
Apparently it’s quite controversial to discuss the experience of living in Brooklyn when it comes to the topic of race. A few weeks back, I dared to talk about it and received a lot of flack. But in my hood, Prospect Heights, and anywhere really, race, class and gentrification are heavy topics, and I’m not going to shy away from them.
On a recent chilly night, I was bundled up and on my way to Boerum Hill to have dinner at a friend’s apartment. As I walked down Washington Avenue the B45 bus pulled up next to me, and I hesitated. “Which would be faster, the train or the bus?” I thought. Before I could make a decision, the bus doors had shuttered. Luckily, the light at Atlantic and Washington was still red and I approached the bus and knocked on the door. The driver, a middle-aged African-American man, refused to open the door, gesturing to the next stop, three street crossings away, even though his bus was still idling perfectly in front of a designated stop. It was 15 degrees outside and I’ll admit it, I felt like the driver was sticking it to me for being white.
As I briefly mentioned last week, amenities and good location are hard to come by, especially at the same time and at a decent price. While looking at an apartment three (very long) blocks off the Dekalb L stop, I noticed little signs of revival in the outstretches of Bushwick—the facade of a tenement building repaired, construction workers milling about in paint-splattered overalls with ladders. A sign that the tidal wave of Williamsburgian revival will soon fall upon it. However, thus far, it hasn’t.
For three years I lived in Greenpoint, the northern Polish colony of Brooklyn. Though I wasn’t part of the first wave of gentrification, the wheels of which were long turning—fast—my indigenous neighbors didn’t necessarily seem thrilled with the influx of youthful college graduates. But, over the time I spent living there, the process completed itself. Greenpoint, close to Williamsburg and now home to hip bars, natural markets, galleries, brunch spots, fashion-forward boutiques and even a book store, became the convenient and affordable “choix de la jeunesse.”