Showing posts with label gentrification. Show all posts
Showing posts with label gentrification. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Things about a "Changing City"

Alex at Flaming Pablum has his tickets for the WNYC-hosted forum tomorrow morning titled "The Places that Bind: Examining Preservation and Culture in a Changing City."

Meanwhile, Norman at the Atlantic Yards Report posted WYNC's program from Monday that serves as a sneak preview for tomorrow. Brian Lehrer talked with Rosie Perez, who's hosting the event, and writer/filmmaker Nelson George, on "the importance of mom and pop shops, stoops, civic gathering places, and neighborhood character in a changing city."

Atlantic Yards noted one of the comments from a caller to the program:

"A caller named Manny, who grew up in the Lower East Side and Washington Heights, expressed understandably mixed feelings. 'Is the city safer, yes, but at what cost?' he asked rhetorically. 'To have $90-a-plate food [at restaurants] on Avenue B is crazy... It's good, but it's also bad, because the poor people at the end have to pay.'"

Norman also posted two videos of the Dictators doing "Avenue A," from their 2001 record "D.F.F.D."

In this performance, as Norman, wrote, Mantioba "disses Avenue B (home of his bar Manitoba's) as 'Avenue Bistro,' laments seeing a New York University dorm go up where AC/DC opened up for the Dictators, and snarls, 'Give me back my fuckin' neighborhood.'"

In case you missed it.... last week, WNYC hosted Lou Reed, Santigold and string quartet Ethel in a program Titled "Downtown: World in a Word."

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Looking at Avenue C between Sixth Street and Seventh Street (and coming soon: brick-oven pizza)

Plenty of change has come to Avenue C in recent years, of course...Let's just take a look at one small section of it...There are six storefronts along Avenue C between Sixth Street and Seventh Street on the east side. There's the nice Alphabet City Wine Co. that opened in well as the NE Salon. And the Alphabet Lounge, which was revamped in 2006 (doesn't seem the same anymore, though the owners do at least appreciate the neighborhood's history). And there are two storefronts for rent.

I'm told the sixth space on the block (pictured below) is going to be a brick-oven pizza place. (A beer and wine liquor license is pending.) A beleaguered acquaintance of mine from across the street said, "It least it won't be another bar." Here's what the spot at 102 Avenue C looks like now...No word on an opening date.

The revamping of this block saw the relocation of two longtime businesses, CHP Hardware (which moved north one block) and Joselito's Restaurant, a delicious and inexpensive Dominican spot that moved to Avenue D between Eighth Street and Ninth Street. (And what became of the tenants who lived above the businesses...?) By the way, the upstairs units at 94 Avenue C are currently serving as "New York City Vacation Homes," in which "suites" are available for up to $395 a night ("sleeps eight persons!").

And here's Joselito today on Avenue D...

Previously on EV Grieve:
More changes coming to Avenue C: "The possibilities are endless!"

[Top photo of Joselito Restaurant via]

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Looking at the LES: "Those bridge-and-tunnel places are what made this area better"

A few passages from the real-estate section in the Post today, specifically the cover story titled "More or LES."

The neighborhood, one of the city's largest — spanning from the Bowery east, from Houston to Canal streets — offers Manhattan's least expensive two- and three-bedroom rentals, averaging $3,023 and $4,095 a month, respectively, according to Citi Habitats' January data. (Compare that to $4,311 and $5,450 in Chelsea, and $5,086 and $7,169 in SoHo/TriBeCa.)

What about that kinda weird-looking Blue condo thing?

[T]he glass 16-story, 32-unit Blue condo, out of place among its five- and six-story neighbors, is a different story. It averaged $1,140 per square foot when it sold out, says Corcoran Group broker Barrie Mandel.

"The people who bought [at Blue] were people who 10 years ago would have bought in the Village and five years ago would have bought in SoHo and two years ago would have bought in NoLIta," Mandel says. "The majority of people have traditional work that they do all day long, they dress in a suit and tie, a dress and proper heels and come home at night and lead a different life, go to the clubs or the lounges."

What other changes have there been on the LES?

Since Anne Hugard moved to the Lower East Side in 2001, she has seen a dramatic transformation.

"There were no stores, and it was Chinatown to the south and very Puerto Rican to the east; that's what we liked about it," she says. "It got gentrified, which is good and bad. We enjoy the convenience of stores, but the drawback is that the population gets to be all the same."

Hmm, still. Is it safe?

"I've watched this area go from street fights to kids puking in the streets," says Chris Scott, co-owner of Fat Hippo, a newish restaurant on Clinton Street. "Those bridge-and-tunnel places are what made this area better."

Saturday, February 21, 2009

What's doing in San Francisco?

This Page 1 article in the San Francisco Chronicle today caught my attention...:

It's one of the seediest stretches in San Francisco, filled with homeless people slumped against vacant storefronts, the stench of urine, graffiti, drugs and crime. Many maps and travel books explicitly warn tourists to stay away.

But the three blocks of Taylor Street just north of Market Street would become an arts district -- some say akin to New York City's SoHo, which became an area of cheap artists' lofts and studios in the 1960s and '70s -- under a plan being cobbled together by city officials, landlords, artists and Tenderloin-area nonprofit workers.

The transformation gets under way today with the groundbreaking of Gray Area Foundation for the Arts, which is taking over a vacant 4,000-square-foot building that once was a porn theater. The old marquee on the building reads "Art Theatres," apparently a euphemism that also foreshadowed its future use.

And later:

The North of Market Neighborhood Improvement Corp. is one of the nonprofits involved with remaking Taylor Street. With city funds, it hired a new director, Elvin Padilla, who has 20 years of experience infusing the arts into low-income communities.

He said artists moving into a neighborhood can scare low-income residents who fear gentrification. But if done right, he said, the improvement can make a neighborhood safer without driving out residents.

"The arts can be an effective way to address tension and conflicts and empower neighborhoods that are going through stress," he said. "The arts can be a common denominator for many different people in terms of race, class, socioeconomics, the whole thing."

For further reading:
The Lower East Side: There goes the neighborhood

[Photo of the liquor store by Brant Ward/Chronicle...the store is being replaced by a cafe]

Thursday, February 12, 2009

LES survey: "Small businesses are constantly facing the possibility of rent increases or eviction"

This week's issue of The Villager reports on the results of the Good Old Lower East Side survey titled, “No Go for Local Business: The Decline of the Lower East Side’s Small Business Identity.”

It's about as grim as you'd expect:

The survey found that small businesses are constantly facing the possibility of rent increases or eviction. Almost half of small business owners reported that their overhead costs were rising. Nearly one-third identified rising commercial property rents as their “greatest challenge,” and three-fourths said that their profits are not growing at a sustainable rate compared to the substantial increase in the cost of doing business on the Lower East Side.

Ninety-five percent of small business owners surveyed rent their store space, and nearly half of them hold leases of five years or less.

Redevelopment and gentrification of the Lower East Side were cited by 46 percent of business owners as directly affecting their businesses.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Pandering to hipsters: This ad must have been a hoot back during the initial pitch

Spotted on Third Avenue near 11th Street. I mean, if you're in this target demographic, are you supposed to find this cute? "Oh, ha ha, they totally get me. When I have to move, I'm totally calling these guys!" Meanwhile, why would this appeal to anyone else in the rest of the population?

And why is it so Brooklyn specific? What if you want to move from, say, the Lower East Side to Chelsea?

Two uses of ironic! T-shirts and facial hair!

Resolve daddy issues? And ensure speedy blogging in your new co-op/loft/art space? Um, OK. Man, they nailed us!

Check out BoweryBoogie's take on this annoying campaign.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Recessive economy, high unemployment, falling housing market: What year is this...?

I'm currently reading a rather academic book titled "From Urban Village to East Village: The Battle for New York's Lower East Side." It was first published in 1994. The chief author is Janet L. Abu-Lughod, at the time of the book's release a professor of sociology at the Graduate Faculty of the New School for Social Research.

Her section on the the beginning of 1992 is particularly interesting...perhaps you can draw a few parallels to another time in the city. Like now...

The economy of the city also appeared to be going to seed. Recently released data on jobs and unemployment revealed that in 1991 the city had lost jobs at an even faster rate than in the 1975 recession. And these were jobs not only in manufacturing, which had long been deserting Manhattan, but in the services as well. Service job losses, while they began at the high end of the scale when the stock market first tumbled in 1987, were now being translated, through a multiplier effect, into losses within demand sectors that "yuppies" had formerly supported.

Vacancy rates in hotels were rising. It was easier to get a cab, even in bad weather. Reservations were no longer needed at many good restaurants and tickets to concerts and the theater were once again more available. Employees of commercial firms, both high on the ladder and now, in back offices as well, were being let go, and in the interests of reducing municipal and state costs -- and New York City and the State struggled with mounting budget defecits -- the number of public employees was also being reduced. The 1991 Christmas buying season was one of the most disappointing on record.

The bottom was also falling out of the housing market. Real estate agents, never ones to suggest at any time that housing might be a poor investment, were estimating that sale prices on luxury flats in the city had dropped a fourth to a fifth from their peak values in the late 1980s and that there were "real bargains" to be had in rental units, co-ops and condominia. But sellers, even those offering "bargains," reported months without a single buyer nibble. Advertisements in the Sunday real estate section of The New York Times for auctioned residential and commercial units expanded from half a page to several pages, and the lower auction prices established a ceiling beyond which other prospective buyers refused to bid.

The commercial firms in Lower Manhattan, whose job holders were the "white-collar workers" that a walk-to-work gentrifying zone of the East Village was intended to attract, were especially hard hit. Vacancy rates in privately owned buildings soared from under 3 percent in 1981 to over 20 percent in 1991.

In the East Village, although properties were too downscale to warrant private auctions and many residents were already so marginal to the economy that its collapse left them relatively unaffected, the wind was definitely out of the gentrifiers' sails.

The book includes the map of the East Village's included in a section that discusses 1987. (Click to enlarge.)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

On the Bowery: "It's old versus new -- and these days new would seem to have the upper hand"

The real estate section in the Post today takes a look at an up-and-coming part of town called the Bowery. Sounds interesting.

Street gangs, brothels, flophouses, Joey Ramone - at one time or another, the Bowery has played host to them all. Of the many Manhattan areas to have transformed over the last decade, the Bowery has to rank among the unlikeliest.

Transform it has, though. Homeless shelters like the century-plus-old Bowery Mission still dot the street, and lighting and restaurant supply stores still dominate the retail scene, but gentrification is most definitely on the march.


Yes, the Bowery is booming. Prudential Douglas Elliman broker Rob Gross has worked in the area for more than 20 years. He remembers selling real estate on the Bowery in the early '90s, returning on some occasions from showing apartments to find his car broken into.

"It was definitely off the grid a bit back then," he says.

Today, Gross is handling the new Bowery and Bleecker development - a three-unit building of floor-through condo lofts that includes an 1,862-square-foot penthouse with a private roof deck that's listed for $3.1 million. With Poliform kitchens, 50-inch plasma-screen TVs and prices starting at about $1,500 a square foot, the building is a world away from the formerly dodgy Bowery.


"The Bowery is one of the last areas in New York to experience a kind of seismic shift," says self-storage magnate and neighborhood developer Adam Gordon. "It's an interesting bridge neighborhood. It's at the crux of NoHo, SoHo, the East and the West Village. There are few places that have the access that this neighborhood does."

Gordon owns a plot of land just off the Bowery at 41 Bond St., which he plans to develop as an eight-unit luxury condo building once the financing environment improves. He also owns the Bouwerie Lane Theatre building at the corner of Bond and Bowery, part of which he's recently turned into three condos. One apartment is reserved for Gordon himself, and he plans to put the other units - a 5,200-square-foot triplex penthouse and a 2,500-square-foot full-floor apartment - on the market in March.

Also coming to the once-seedy street: a new five-unit residential building at 263 Bowery from developer Shaky Cohen, a 152-unit luxury rental building at 2 Cooper Square, a Lord Norman Foster-designed gallery building at 257 Bowery and restaurants from Keith McNally and Daniel Boulud.

It's the Cooper Square Hotel, however, that provides perhaps the best metaphor for today's Bowery. Because two residents of the apartment building next door at 27 Bowery refused to give up their units, the hotel was forced to build around them and incorporate their building into its design. And so at the northern end of the street, there sits an old brick tenement building that from the sidewalk looks as if it were being swallowed up by a sleek, glassy high-rise hotel.

It's old versus new - and these days new would seem to have the upper hand.

Or, as Gordon says when asked if he fears the loss of old, edgy Bowery he once knew, "I don't think it's fear. It's an inevitability."

Gordon adds: "I don't pine for the Bowery of 50 years ago. It was a hole."

Monday, November 17, 2008

Still a landmark

Good news from the City Room about the former school at 605 E. Ninth St. between Avenue B and Avenue C:

A justice in State Supreme Court has rejected a developer’s bid to overturn a 2006 decision by the Landmarks Preservation Commission to designate the former Public School 64 in the East Village, which closed in 1977, as a city landmark. The ruling is another step in a complex, decade-long battle over the fate of the building, which has become a symbol of broader struggles over gentrification.

Here's some history of the school, via the East Village Community Coalition Web site:

During the summer of 1911 P.S. 64 became the first Public School in the City to offer free open-air professional theater to the public. One of the reasons the school was chosen to premiere the series is because it was the first school in the city to have electric lights in its yard. Julius Hopp, director of the Theatre Centre For Schools tried unsuccessfully to stage The Merchant of Venice on the raised courtyard facing 10th street. The noise from the trolleys rumbling down 10th street made the performance inaudible but the thousands of people gathered across the street, packed onto the courtyard and peering from the tenement windows were treated to an impromptu rendition of Kipling's Gunga Din, recited by Sydney Greenstreet, one of the actors in the production. (Greenstreet became famous as the "fat man" in The Maltese Falcon and Casablanca.) Undaunted, Hopp regrouped and presented the play two days later in the school auditorium. The thrilled audience got a chance to see the young Greenstreet and Warner Oland (later to play Charlie Chan) in Shakespeare's grand Comedy. Needless to say, the harsh stereotypical imagery of the play was not lost on the neighborhood's burgeoning Jewish community.

In the 1920's P.S. 64 was a required stop for politicians campaigning in New York City. Governor Alfred E. Smith, Mayor Jimmy Walker, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt all recognized how important it was to make time to speak in the school's auditorium. Walker railed against his opponent, then Mayor Hylan, Governor Smith confronted the Hearst News Empire, and Roosevelt assessed his strength with Jewish voters by the neighborhood turnout for his speech at P.S. 64.

(Photo: Marilynn K. Yee/The New York Times)

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

An end to the real estate boom

Excerpts from a Times piece titled "Failed Deals Replace Real Estate Boom:"

After seven years of nonstop construction, skyrocketing rents and sales prices, and a seemingly endless appetite for luxury housing that transformed gritty and glamorous neighborhoods alike, the credit crisis and the turmoil on Wall Street are bringing New York’s real estate boom to an end.

It is hard to say exactly what the long-term impact will be, but real estate experts, economists and city and state officials say it is likely there will be far fewer new construction projects in the future, as well as tens of thousands of layoffs on Wall Street, fewer construction jobs and a huge loss of tax revenue for both the state and the city.

After imposing double-digit rent increases in recent years, landlords say rents are falling somewhat, which could hurt highly leveraged projects, but also slow gentrification in what real estate brokers like to call “emerging neighborhoods” like Harlem, the Lower East Side and Fort Greene.

“Any continued impediment to the credit markets is awful for the national economy, but it’s more awful for New York,” said Richard Lefrak, patriarch of a fourth-generation real estate family that owns office buildings and apartment houses in New York and New Jersey.

“This is the company town for money,” he said. “If there’s no liquidity in the system, it exacerbates the problems. It’s going to have a serious effect on the local economy and real estate values.”

Friday, September 19, 2008

"Its quirky feel has come to symbolize the avant-garde, rebellious East Village spirit"

The Daily News takes a look at Red Square on East Houston:

Conceived by self-proclaimed radical sociologist-turned-real-estate-developer [Michael] Rosen in 1989, Red Square occupies land that served as an automobile service station for more than 25 years. Rosen's wife's family bought the property in the 1960s, and, he points out, no homes were destroyed and no businesses were displaced.Red Square was designed by graphic artist legend Tibor Kalman, a Hungarian immigrant. Its quirky feel has come to symbolize the avant-garde, rebellious East Village spirit.


Previously on EV Grieve:
Looking back: Red Square and gentrification

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Looking at the current fair housing and anti-gentrification movements

Politics as Puppetry has an essay today titled New York City Anti-Gentrification Movements - A Catalog of Failure

An excerpt:

Rising rents in New York are driven by the cultural product of the city - the skyline and nightlife sold in dozens of movies, hundreds of TV show episodes, and by the government of New York itself. That image has gone global, and makes it possible for foreign investors to pour capital into the city by puchasing buildings wholesale (as is happening in el Barrio), or buying up apartments for vacations (as is happening… well, everywhere). Cheap rents and rent control made New York’s globe-spanning cultural products possible in the first place. (think grafitti, Jay-z, SoHo artist lofts, Punk Rock, New York’s literary avant guarde, etc.) Fair housing and anti-gentrification movements will only get off the ground and into serious change by starting with the popular idea of New York and using those cultural norms against the rapid transformation of New York City into a playground of the rich.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Boston Globe visits the Bowery

There's a piece in the travel section of The Boston Globe today titled "New art museum in the Bowery attracts galleries -- and gentrifiers."

Among the observations made by the Globe correspondent:

The streets were busy with shoppers, merchants, and tourists on the days I explored. It felt as safe as anywhere in New York, though less crowded than SoHo, where I exited the subway to walk along Prince Street to the museum.

Change is part of the fabric of New York. The Lower East Side is the former home to the world's largest Yiddish-speaking community, but that language is rarely heard on the streets anymore. Even the Streit's Matzo factory is moving to New Jersey, although Katz's Delicatessen (remember "When Harry Met Sally") remains largely unchanged. Locals complain Little Italy is losing its true Italian heart but summer festivals still pack the streets. Chinatown bustles with sidewalk Asian markets and new construction.

If history repeats, the influx of galleries and tourists to the Lower East Side will be followed by the likes of such nearby SoHo icons as the gourmet emporium Dean & DeLuca's flagship store and trendy hotels like The Mercer. Gentrification has begun.

Um, OK. So who wants to tell the correspondent about the Whole Foods on Houston and the Bowery? Or take her for a walk on Ludlow (and how do you go to Katz's and miss, well, everything?)...Or...

Meanwhile, a quick look back [video via John LaCroix]:

Friday, June 27, 2008

Looking back: Red Square and gentrification

[Photo by Stephen L Harlow, via his Flickr page.]

In the last few weeks, I've posted several archival articles that discussed the gentrification of the East Village/Lower East Side, including one from the May 28, 1984, New York magazine ("The Lower East Side: There Goes the Neighborhood") and one from the Sept. 2, 1984, New York Times ("The gentrification of the East Village").

The New York piece focused on the Christodora House, which some viewed as a symbol of gentrification in the neighborhood, and later a focal point of the "yuppie scum" protests during the 1988 Tompkins Square Park riots. I recently came across an additional good read that examines another symbol for change in the East Village/Lower East Side: Red Square, the luxury apartment building (featuring a statue of Lenin on the roof) that opened in June 1989 at 250 E. Houston St. between Avenues A and B.

Frederique Krupa, a Paris-based designer and writer who teaches at the Parsons School of Design, wrote a fascinating article on Red Square that was published March 10, 1992. The article is online here at

In the article, she interviews two key people involved in Red Square's creation, Michael Rosen, a former NYU professor of radical sociology who now lives in the penthouse of the Christodora, and Tibor Kalman, the renowned graphic designer who passed away in 1999. (In a review of the 1998 book "Tibor Kalman: Perverse Optimist," The New Yorker wrote, "A witty, eclectic tome of images and writings . . . spanning the career of the graphic designer . . . the man behind Benetton's Colors magazine; a Communist-theme apartment building called Red Square that hastened gentrification on the Lower East Side while seeming to subvert it...")

Krupa's article on the revitalization of the East Village, and the role of Red Square in this, is far too complex to summarize in a blog posting.

However, one passage is particularly interesting: The Red Square marketing campaign. She notes, "[I]nstead of doing a slick brochure like so many buildings now have, they are marketing the coarseness of the area as the primary selling point.

"The Disneyfication of the area and its population, written like a movie script, is obnoxious."

She then quotes part of the Red Square brochure copy:

"A seamstress and a presser, shy as villagers falling in love over the accompaniment of whirring sewing machines and sweet tea...[fade to...] The lint of sweat shops swept out by raucous Spanish accents...[fade to...] Long haired poets silk-screening posters for the revolution...Today it's an after hours club. Or is the apartment where the incredible Dutch model with one name lives with Mr. Wallstreet?"

Krupa continues with a description of the brochure, which I'd love to see for myself:

"Considering that Mr. Wallstreet is most likely one of the prospective tenants of Red Square, the last quote reads like bad subliminal seduction. Never mind that the account executives may well be forcing out the pressers, seamstresses and long-haired poets. The sepia-toned cover features a kissing, tangoing white couple swinging a piece of cloth in a standard tenement apartment, with its open shelves and small windows. He wears a large, stylish suit; she wears a plain, loose dress. He has short brown hair in a standard businessman haircut; she has long, peroxide-blond hair. The standard clock is on midnight. Wires dangle down from strangely placed sockets. The picture appears ordinary, yet it is incredibly strange that it would be chosen for the cover. These people are probably celebrating the fact that they will be able to trade in the five story climb for an elevator and crumbling walls for new construction. In other words, they are trading reminiscence for amenities."

Perhaps this trying-to-be-provocative approach served as the template for the free-for-all that is now the Lower East Side with the multiple hotels and high-rise condos like The Ludlow, which according to its site, "connects the buzz of the neighborhood with the tranquility of home."

By the way, the community work of Michael Rosen since Red Square should be noted. Krupa writes that he "is now focusing solely [on] subsidized housing for the poor . . . as well as construction of half-way houses and shelters for battered women. His early ventures are then seen as an anomaly to his social convictions." As a Nov. 23, 2006, article in the Times on Rosen notes, "He dresses shabby chic and rides his bicycle to community meetings to fight what he sees as insensitive development." As this article in the Aug. 4-10, 2004, issue of The Villager reports, Rosen has held various fund-raisers to protect the special character of the East Village. He and his family have been part of helping save St. Brigid's, creating the Kids' Art Bike Ride for the Lower East Side, among many other admirable endeavors.

[For more of Stephen L Harlow's amazing photos like the one above, please visit his Flickr page.]

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Jimmy Carter, Jesus and the Lower East Side

The Sep. 17, 1984, issue of Time magazine included this brief:

After three days of hammering and sawing, Jimmy Carter, 59, looked more like a seasoned construction worker than a former President, with good reason. While most Americans were using Labor Day to putter around the house or relax, Carter and about 40 members of a Georgia volunteer group spent their holiday renovating a six-story tenement building in downtown Manhattan. "I'm liking the work," said Carter, who was joined on the second day by former First Lady Rosalynn, 57. "I've done a lot of carpentry before, but not like this. The tallest building in Plains, Ga., is two stories high." After work the former Chief of State read from the New Testament at a local Baptist church, whimsically relating his group's good deed to the Bible: "If Christ came to New York he would probably spend lots of time on the Lower East Side -- before it's gentrified that is."

So much potential for a smartass reply.

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.''

Friday, June 13, 2008

At the Bowery Wine Co. protest Friday night

Here are a few videos from the Bowery Wine Company protest tonight. (Apologies if they look as shaky and grainy as Cloverfield. Still learning the ways of the camera.) Not sure how much narrative you need, though I'll likely add some later...The fellow in the first and third video was the lone dissenter. He kept yelling "pussies go home." He also repeated, "We're republicans, and we're here to stay!" No word yet whether he was an official representative of the New York Young Republican Club.

As I note in the post above this, I was only able to stay for the first leg of the protest, which, as Jeremiah reports, continued on to CBGB/Varvatos, the Bowery Hotel, 47 E. 3rd St., then down to Avenue A, through Tompkins Square Park, and finished at the Christodora House. His Flickr pool is here. Bob Arihood was also with the group the entire time. He took many compelling photos, as usual.

Monday, April 28, 2008

EV Grieve Etc.: New group to fight gentrification in Chinatown

From The Village Voice:

The ongoing war between the forces of gentrification and the middle and working classes of the "old New York" has hit Chinatown too.
A new organization, calling itself the Coalition to Protect Chinatown and the Lower East Side, has taken aim at what it says are three threats to the neighborhood: a lack of affordable housing, a rezoning plan that could push upscale high-rise development from the Lower East Side to Chinatown, and a potential Business Improvement District that they say would tax small businesses out of existence.

[Image of Chinatown from 1909 via]

Sunday, April 27, 2008

"Everything old is new again"

The latest issue of The L Magazine has a piece a short piece on the new John Varvatos boutique on the Bowery:

In many ways, it’s the perfect setting for a designer looking to cater to aging rockers (Joe Perry, holla!) and I-have-a-job hipsters ($100 John Varvatos for Converse kicks!). Varvatos is trying to shelter the ghosts of the space, even if it does feel like Rent.
Yeah, yeah, it’s “oh so shocking” and “a classic example of the gentrification of the Bowery,” but, realistically, real estate is real estate in this city, and nothing is sacred. Take for example the sleek and stylish Stuart and Wright boutique in Fort Greene, which used to be a dry cleaner’s — the owners chose to keep the fantastically retro façade, including a big sign that reads “French Garment Cleaners” with an Eiffel Tower graphic. A lot of the stores in Soho have a gallery-esque look because, well, they were art galleries before they were overpriced retailers. The gargantuan Prada shop on Prince and Broadway used to be the visitors’ entrance and bookstore of the Guggenheim Museum’s Soho branch. Parasuco — the obnoxious denim giant on Spring Street — made the old East River Savings Bank into its flagship, a grand space composed of vaulted ceilings and marble. Everything old is new again.

Not sure if I'm following this logic.

Uh. In any event, I've been thinking about this space since Jeremiah Moss wrote this essay on the "it's better than a bank/Starbucks" syndrome. Specifically: Could there be something worse than a bank/Starbucks in that space? How about a Tennessee Mountain or Olive Garden? Or a Hooters? Or a Stage Deli-esque type theme restaurant with sandwiches named after bands who played at CBGB? (I'll be having the Television -- ham and turkey on rye with American cheese and traditional greens. You get the idea. And you can do better.) A Disney Store featuring a new line of punk-rock Mickey Mouse? A Madame Tussauds on the Bowery featuring interactive experiences like sing along with Joey Ramone? A Pinkberry spin-off called PunkBerry? What if the Bowery Residents' Committee sold the building to NYU, who promptly tore it down for a 40-story dorm?

[Photo by Jeremiah Moss at Jeremiah's Vanishing New York]