Gentrification is a huge topic in NYC with a lot of pain and passion mixed into it. The thing is NYC has never stopped gentrifying from the very earliest times of European Settlement.
NYC has always been a mixture of cultures and socio-economic groups and areas that were originally populated by poorer NYC inhabitants for whatever reason. Then those same areas would suddenly become attractive to wealthier people who would slowly but surely push those poorer inhabitants out and everthing about the built and social environment of this newly popular area would change.
Right now living anywhere in NYC is something so many people want to do so that competition for apartments, space to build new condos and the pull of very attractive older brownstones is so strong that the pressure from gentrification is just cascading through one NYC neighborood after naother.
Here’s a recent article describing what’s happening in Bed-Stuy right now Gentrification In Bed-Stuy
And the video is about the impact of gentrification in Chinatown NYC.
If you’re someone being pushed out it is painful on so many levels that it is very difficult to talk about and impossible to justify. Even for people who don’t live in a gentrifying area it is hard as historical parts of NYC crumble under the developer’s onslaughts but nothing like how hard it is for people being displaced and who lose their own history.
For someone living through as opposed to being shoved out it can be like a slow unfurling as grimy industrial buildings start to be spruced up, old landmarks lose their graffiti, or a shiny new tower of apartments is suddenly up there in the sky somewhere.
Then come the coffee shops. There is no surer sign of a gentrifying neighborhood than suddenly excellent coffee being on tap. Because the people who can afford to buy up the rehabbed industrial buildings demand good coffee.
Then come the shops that sell high end home accessories or groceries and would you believe there’s a new bar that stays open really late and offers cool jazz, craft beer and a very snazzily dressed crowd.
At the same time you will notice more and more stories in the media about the problem of homelessness in NYC as more and more people find it extremely difficult to find a place to rent in NYC.
It is both impossible to justify and equally impossible to stop because the hard economics of living in NYC has been built on this very process of change happening over and over again. As you sip a coffee at one of those new cool cafes enjoy and also reflect on what an instrinsic part of NYC life is represented by that cup of coffee.