Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Rust Belt Chic Brooklyn Is Dying

Working class cool Brooklyn is hard to find these days. That's the price you pay for gentrification. Eventually, even the hipsters get priced out of the neighborhood and move to Cleveland. From BBC News:

In the years since, the neighbourhood has transformed not once, but twice. First came the arty hipsters scene and now gentrification has turned old industrial sites into residential developments with rents almost as expensive as Manhattan.

Some of the old stalwarts remain. "The neighbourhood very drastically changed from immigrant to artistic", says the owner of Beata Delicatessen, Mieszko Kalita. Most of the newcomers, he notes while packing the shelves with Polish foods, are English speakers.

Zach Schieffelin, the owner of CarbonNegative, an upmarket shop for scooters, is catering to this new crowd. "I had friends who rented a big studio here for $800 10 years ago, now I don't know anybody who is paying less than $2,000", he says.

Check out the video associated with this story. One of the people interviewed was an urban pioneer in Greenpoint. There is a romantic attachment to those early days of gentrification, when a neighborhood is still an undiscovered gem. Eventually, the migration is seen as wrecking the authenticity of a place.

The stabilization of a neighborhood's identity is an indicator of a dying community. Residential churn is a hallmark of vitality. The best times for a place seem to be when the two are in balance. There is churn, but not enough to change the current dominant identity. That's the tipping point. It's all downhill from there and the urban pioneers move somewhere else in order to get that Rust Belt Chic fix.

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