Another View from Brooklyn

Many journalists, commentators, writers, and everyday citizens (including yours truly) have observed how New York and other red-hot cities have grown expensive, homogeneous, and bland within the past decade or so.

Yet, inspiration stubbornly remains. Continue reading

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(New) Brooklyn & Jersey City: A Comparison and a Challenge

In the past fifteen or so years, Brooklyn has emerged as the grassroots cultural and creative capital of not only the New York region but arguably the entire country. Brooklyn entrepreneurs, musicians, artists, writers, and all-around boosters have crafted an attention-grabbing and marketable image of the new Brooklyn: gritty, outrageous, quirky, and weird. Simply put, Brooklyn has become cool.

The desirability of the borough has transformed the socio-economic, demographic, and cultural weave of certain neighborhoods. The word “gentrification” is whispered with a mixture of fear, anger, and resignation. Old ways of life are fading away, and some have disappeared altogether. That’s one part of the story.

Kay Hymowitz analyzes the changing Brooklyn in her new book The New Brooklyn: What It Takes to Bring Back a City (Rowman & Littlefield, 2017).BC-TheNewBrooklyn_0 In part, Hymowitz attempts to dispel the worst anxieties associated with the new Brooklyn and to dispel the powerful spell of nostalgia blinding residents to the ugly elements of “the good old days.” She sees the true story of contemporary Brooklyn as far more complicated, diverse, and uneven than the simple narrative of gentrification and displacement promoted by the majority of commentators and the creative class.

While reading Hymowitz’s book, I recognized that the remaking and remapping of Brooklyn resembled that of Jersey City in many ways: new immigration, rapid development, an emerging affluent class, and stubborn pockets of poverty. However, the story of Brooklyn differs from Jersey City in several key areas.

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