I’ve been in New York for a little over a week now (although it seems much longer and I was shocked to just do the math; I was guesstimating closer to two weeks.) When I come to New York, I stay with various friends, including one friend who lives in Bushwick, the land of gentrification.
It is truly mind-blowing to see how this neighborhood has changed. I once lived in Bushwick, six years ago, for two years. When I moved in, I lived above a strip club called Angels and across the street from a questionable establishment called Platinum Lounge. We did not fit in in such places, although I did occasionally, drunkenly peek into Angels and it never failed to disappoint for illegal activities. There were two bars nearby that had other gentrifying people, although neither was particularly popular and they held weird hours due to their sparse clientele. There was one coffee shop, roughly ten minutes away, that was very hip and was only open for like four hours of the day. But on a daily basis, we were the only gentrifiers we encountered. It was impossible to get anyone to visit us, so we socialized elsewhere. The neighborhood was just a fantastically cheap place for us to live.
This year, my friend and I have almost exclusively hung out in Bushwick. People from other parts of Brooklyn and Manhattan have went out of their way to converge here to hang out with us. There is no shortage of trendy bars and restaurants to hop between. We head out around noon for our first meal and don’t make it back until 4am or later, after closing a bar that still had multiple people in it, regardless of the day of the week. Every other person clearly did not grow up in this neighborhood (while the person in between clearly did.) There are very few blocks that don’t have some sort of business that is catering to the gentrification population.
I don’t really care one way or another about the morality of gentrification (gentrification is inevitable, so the morality is irrelevant,) but I am amazed at the speed of it. When I visit my hometown, it’s revolutionary if there’s a new shop opening anywhere in a three town radius. Here in Bushwick, it’s a plethora of new everything, all the time. By next summer, it will be a totally different world, yet again.