New York After Rent

(I of III)

A new series about life in the post gentrified city


In the fall of 2008 something really big went down in New York City, something that changed the city forever. Something bigger than the financial crisis — the end of Rent. A new website called Airbedandbreakfast.com enabled New Yorkers to share their apartments with strangers.

On September 7th, 2008 Rent the musical ended its historic 12 year run on Broadway. Did airbedandbreakfast.com hook a Renthead up with a place to stay in New York that weekend?

Also in 2008, the Australian housing activist and photographer Murray Cox showed up in New York City as well. He currently lives in Bedford–Stuyvesant, and last summer he found himself questioning the Airbnb advertisements that blanketed his neighborhood — the ones proclaiming how great the service is for the city.

Murray Cox has built a website called inside Airbnb — data visualizations that show Airbnb’s impact on every single neighborhood in New York City.

Red dots indicates listings of entire home, green dots indicates listings of private room and blue dots are listings of shared room.

Airbnb likes to boast how it owns no real estate but Murry Cox’s data visualizations reveal that in New York City all that was once solid has simply melted into Airbnb.


There are a lot of bars in the Lower East Side, a large majority of them are in Hell Square (Delancey/ Houston/ Allen/ Orchard). Sociologist Richard Ocejo says places like Hell Square can help us understand just how much New York has changed since 2008.

In his book Upscaling Downtown Ocejo tracked the rapid expansion of the nighttime economy and the battles between residents and bar owners. It turns out that community boards actually have no real power when it comes to licensing nightlife— they don’t even get to define what the public interest is — the state liquor authority or the SLA gets the final say.

“The argument that the SLA was using during the flush years that bars and licensed establishments are good for economic growth almost became a solution to the economic recession that was going on in the city.”

But if the nighttime economy is based on the visitor and built around the idea of New York as destination — then perhaps a better name for it — is the Airbnb economy.


“Outside the wounded spirit of New York cries out:
Gentrification is over! Hyper gentrification is over! We have been colonized.”

The City of New York has always been a theme for performance artist Penny Arcade. In her latest show Longing lasts longer she give us a tour of the post gentrified city .

Welcome to the big cupcake.

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