Gentrification Makes NYC A Changing Island
Monday, May 11, 2015, by Isabel Franco
NEW YORK: It has long since been those days when the East Village and SoHo were once considered “the hip” place to stay. It attracted many artists, musicians, students and hippies in the late 1960s. But in the 21st century, New York City has experienced gentrification in all five boroughs, causing certain neighborhoods to transform.
One of the boroughs greatly afffected by the change has been Brooklyn. What used to be mostly made up of blacks and those of lesser income, has now been replaced with a higher income demographic. Mom and pop stores like corner delis and laundromats have been transformed into cafes and fancy restuarants. Most notably, Williamsburg, Brooklyn has become the “trendy” place to live, attracting artists and younger generations.
Abandoned and run-downed buildings are no more, with established condominiums in their place, causing rent to dramatically rise, making one-studio apartments available for around $2,709 . Organic supermarkets are a common thing to encounter as well as the occassional thrift store, such as Beacon’s Closet. Williamsburg has become indistinguishable to what it once was considered: neighborhood of high crime and the “most toxic places to live in America”, according to a 2007 Vice documentary.
New York City has been known to be culturally and ethnically diverse as a whole, but Queens comes in #1 when it comes to its diversity in demographic. The borough is home to many Asian and Hispanic backgrounds. Between 2000 and 2006, its foreign-born population increased 6.3%. But it seems that gentrification may be changing the demographic population of Queens.
If you are waiting for the 7 train in Queensborough plaza, you can immediately see occupied condos, one or two coffee shops, and several condominium projects in progress. And if you walk several blocks down to the waterfront, you would reach Long Island City, center of a gentrification wave in Queens.
Where it used to attract artists and the likes, it now attracts new families, consisting mostly of the white majority. This is due in part that Long Island City is located close to Manhattan and Brooklyn. The neighborhood is slowly getting rid of its industrial trademarks and converting it into a family friendly environment, where kids can play in the playground in the Long Island City WaterWay and where parents or newlyweds can enjoy a picnic by the waterfront.
It is no surprise that the Big Apple is the site of gentrification. It may at first even occurred in the borough itself. And in the Upper West Side, it is evident that gentrification has taken over. It has become a little more local driven than if you were to go into lower Manhattan, where everything is city-like. Yes, there are condos being built in the area, but local restuarants can be seen throughout the areas with one or two organic supermarkets.
Just like the Upper West Side, East Harlem has experienced gentrification recently. Dominated by a large Hispanic community, mainly those of Mexican and Dominican background, East Harlem has changed its demographic as that in Queens. According to the 2010 census, the white population increased by almost 5,700, while the Hispanic population declined by almost 2,500 people.
The drastic change follows by increase of rent prices in lower Manhattan. Middle class families have found apartments to be more wider for a decent price in East Harlem and the Upper West Side, compared to small sized apartments in lower Manhattan.
As surprising as it may sound, the Bronx, more specifically the South Bronx has undergone urban development. For many decades, the South Bronx has been considered a violent and dangerous place to live, housing those of very-low income. With rent increasing everywhere else, Bronx has become sutable for those seeking lower rent, especially those who live by their artwork.
Infrastructures that have been ‘dying’ due to lack of care, have been reinnovated to provide housing for middle income individuals and bars and restaurants. Apartments in the Clocktower building have become available for rent from $1,300 to $2,500 per month. With the South Bronx on the radar in urban planning, it may soon become the next Williamsburg
While Staten Island may already include a white, middle income demographic, it appears as though the “forgotten island” may not be so forgotten for long. In the North Shore, there have already been plans to include a mall and other shops where a lighthouse has been abandoned by the Coast Guard. Urban developers have already started transformation in 2013 and future projects will go underway as time progresses.
WHAT TO THINK…
Gentrification not only brings small business opportunities but brings neighborhoods to light, creating a better community. But anyone who has experienced the effects of gentrification believe its effects are there to damage rather than benefit. Gentrification slowly creeps into neighborhoods , increasing rent for those long-time residents, forcing them to leave the area in pursuit of cheaper rent.
Living in a gentrified community myself, I have seen the Ditmas community in Brooklyn drastically change. When walking through the streets of Cortelyou Road, coffee shops that were not there 3 years ago are present as well as small bars and several fancy restaurants. Hispanic and black- Carribbean people that once invaded the area are now leaving because of incoming white, middle class families. Even the price of produce and other grocery items have increased in supermarkets due to the change.
Viewing the entire concept of gentrification as negatively is unjust. I do not dispute that it does provide a family friendly, oriented community. I do have to agree that it provides lesser opportunities for those of lesser income. And now the question is, if rent is increasing all over New York City, where would those who are of low income live?