The thought of Brooklyn changing is not a new concept. It is one that has been looming for years, before my own existence, but has been more heavily on the lips of New Yorkers in the past five years or so. As a native Brooklynite, I am very observant and see the change around myself each day. Gentrification is the number one cause for this of course. Having worked in real estate during the years of 2009 and 2010, I saw firsthand new developments in neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Harlem that as a child I would have seen as less desirable. It boggled my mind that areas that were desolate and a site of housing projects were now prime real estate. My knowledge of the market made me understand why this was so, so I did not question it so much, and carried on.
In my eyes, the day Brooklyn changed was Friday, September 28, 2012. Why this day you ask? This was the day that the Barclay’s Center opened in the heart of Fort Greene. It was also the day of my first blogger conference with The Blogger Collective, appropriately located in DUMBO. Once I exited the F-train at York St., I almost hypervventilated. I’m very familiar with DUMBO, but on that evening I saw something I had never seen before. The time was approximately 7 PM, the skies were dark and the streets were FULL. Young couples and their children, volunteers giving out flyers, and locals making stops for after-work drinks filled the streets on this night. You may think this is not an uncommon occurrence, but for me, i was. Prior to that evening, I had never seen so many people down under the Manhattan Bridge overpass. The one marker that stuck in my mind of this change was a placard directly across the train entrance that read “DUMBO” with a map of the area. This visual gave light to what I decided to title this post, “The Day Brooklyn Changed”.
Let me be clear. I’m not an angry Brooklynite (at least not all the time) complaining about new people moving in and taking all the housing. I am a Brooklynite whose memories of her hometown are fading as her landscape is changing. I’ve always been on both sides of the fence when it comes to gentrification. In the case of being in support of gentrification, I like the fact that it brings opportunities, in regards to new jobs from new businesses being built. I like that I can walk a few blocks up Cortelyou Rd. and eat food that surpasses the likes of some of its Manhattan counterparts. I like that I can take a 20 minute bus ride to the Barclay’s Center and see some of the hugest acts in entertainment. I. LIKE. THAT.
So what don’t I like? I don’t like that I may be doomed to live with my parents for eternity because I’d have to sell a kidney to afford the apartments I like in the neighborhoods I find desirable. I know you kids nowadays are really into Williamsburg, Bushwick, and Greenpoint, but Miss Brooklyn South over here isn’t about that life. Word to Kanye. I don’t like that in the realm of new development, our city is taking over vacant school buildings for the purpose of real estate when our public schools are overcrowded and our children aren’t getting the attention they deserve in class. That’s that sh*t I don’t like (I don’t agree with a lot of Chief Keef’s foolery, but it felt appropriate to put that little quote in there).
So what is my solution? It is very hard to say. At the end of the day, Brooklyn will continue to grow in the manner that it should. It will evolve, it will continue to welcome new people. All I want for my little old Brooklyn is to never lose it’s soul. I know there are others like me out there that want the same thing. Move forward Brooklyn, just don’t forget where you came from.