Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Lower East Side/East Village: The neighborhood continues to go (AGAIN AND AGAIN AND...)

I recently posted the May 28, 1984, New York magazine cover story titled "The Lower East Side: There Goes the Neighborhood." WELL! Turns out New York wasn't the only media outlet in town to notice something going on in the East Village/Lower East Side.

On Sept. 2, 1984, the Times took a similar look at the neighborhood in a piece cleverly titled "The gentrification of the East Village."

To some excerpts!

WHEN Susan Kelley looks out her window she sees a beginning. ''There are so many young professionals sitting on the stoops, ties undone, just talking,'' said the 24-year-old Wall Street real-estate broker as she surveyed East 13th Street, where she has lived for two years. ''There's a feeling of togetherness, of movement. A feeling that things are different every day.''

When Barbara Shaum looks out her window she sees an end. ''I see them walking down the street in identical blue suits with their briefcases and I think, 'There goes the neighborhood,' '' said the leathercrafts maker who has lived in a loft behind her studio on East Seventh Street for 21 years. ''Why are all these people coming here, where they're so riotously out of place? I don't want my neighborhood to change.''

In the meantime, residents of the East Village live in a mixture of past and present, hope and anxiety.

The neighborhood is now home to people like Miss Kelley, who graduated from the State University of New York at Binghamton two years ago with a degree in art history and works for a Wall Street real estate broker. She moved to her renovated two-bedroom apartment on 13th Street because the rent was low - $900 a month, which she splits with a friend - and ''because it was an adventure - I liked the idea of being part of the change.''

It is also home to people like Mrs. Shaum, who watched her neighbors come and go in waves for more than two decades - first immigrants, then flower children, then drug dealers and now young artists and professionals. The rent on her store and adjoining loft was $200 until last year, when her landlord tried to evict her and renovate the building. After a court fight he agreed to give her a three-year lease at $450 a month for the first two years, $500 a month for the last year. ''But when that is up,'' she said ''he's going to try to make me leave again.''

Their neighbors are people like Sally Randall, a fashion editor whose tastes run toward magenta eye glitter and who moved to the area as a student nine years ago and stayed because ''I liked the atmosphere.'' Or Carolyn Dwyer, a clothes designer who opened her boutique, Carioca, on East Ninth Street eight years ago ''because I didn't want to live someplace slick like SoHo.'' Or Mark Clifford, a business writer who has lived near Tompkins Square for three years and felt the need to defend the red Lacoste shirt he was wore to brunch one Saturday morning. ''I'm not one of the preppies everyone's railing against,'' he said. ''This shirt happens to be older than me.''

They recognize the changes they and their peers have brought to the neighborhood.

''When I took these spaces over, nobody wanted them,'' Miss Dwyer said. ''It was a mess outside. People threw garbage in my doorway. I cleaned up, I did my time. To be threatened after you helped to make it a nice place is an insult.''

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I remember Carioca--I bought some lovely clothes there in the day! When I first moved here--I was called yuppie scum for no other reason that I was a new person to the area with an idiot lawyer husband.Years later and no lawyer husband--I am an actress calling others Yuppie scum now! Go figure.