Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Sunset Parker Fights Losing Battle with Gentrification..

The Daily News has a story on local resident Imani Henry and his project to try to stem the tide of gentrification in our borough. It is not the first nor wilt be the last. When I came to Sunset park in 1970  the neighborhood was a mere 6 years old. Modern Sunset Park having been created by taking northern Bay Ridge and southern Park Slope to cobble together the areas that were in decline and separate them from the  other two neighborhoods to preserve their real estate values which the city uses to raise revenue via real estate values.  The place has changed radically in all that time. It is now the largest Chinatown in New York City. Most of the predominantly Puerto Rican population has left. The Norwegians, Finns, Irish and Italians who once dominated the southern part of the nabe have mostly moved on though a few are left. There are still strong pockets of Dominicans left but most of the Hispanics in the nabe are now Mexican or Central Americans. On my block gone are the Puerto Rican and Italian neighbors replaced by Chinese on either side who rent to Mexicans and Hipsters that have started to move in due to the cheaper rents. The northern part of the neighborhood has become a subset named Greenwood Heights since realtors have renamed the area in a marketing ploy to get higher prices for rentals and houses. The irony is that they have to revert back to naming it Sunset Park if the gentrification wave continues though old timers still living there will tell you it's still Sunset Park. If there is one constant in this neighborhood it's change and the only recourse is to be able to adapt to the new conditions. If there were no change the neighborhood would have remained the depressed, drug infested, crime ridden area that it had been in the late 60's and 70's. I am not at all nostalgic for those days when the Park Itself had become known citywide as "Needle Park". Some residents will remain behind like myself. Others will be newcomers. The Chinese will stay here for some time since they tend to settle long term in an area for generations. But even there change has occurred with the original Cantonese settlers being quickly replaced by Fujianese .  The only constant is change and like it or not our neighborhood is gentrifying. We may not even recognize the place in ten years..


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onemorefoldedsunset said...

Thanks for the link! As for the library situation you've been covering, this seems to be part of a borough (or city) wide public library crisis, in part due to underfunding, but also tied to efforts to "repurpose" the role of libraries by means of selling (or trying to sell off) valuable assets (the downtown & Pacific branches for example), shrinking library space, and reducing book collections. Unfortunately the people in charge of the library systems are far too chummy with developers, and not so interested in the importance of the library to its community. Have a look at the Noticing New York blog. There's a group Citizens Defending Libraries which is very active in the fight to save our branches.

Franc said...

It's a bit more complex than that. I was at BOOK EXPO at the Javits Center about a month and a half ago and only 1/3 of the floor space was rented as opposed to past years. Many publishers are going out of business not being able to adapt to the new digital age. Over 70% of book sales on Amazon are digital. Big Box book retailers are in dire straights such as Barnes and Noble. Some books are not even being printed with digital formats being the only ones available. Libraries are in the same bind as traditional book publishers disappear fewer physical books are available. Libraries are finding it hard to adapt to the new realities and need to transform themselves to be relevant. The other problem is the crony relationship which the Real estate industry has with the municipal political system. At the main Library they are catering to a more upscale crowd. They got rid of the food vendor that sold coffee at a reasonable price and brought in another one that sells over priced coffee by the thimble sized cup. The world is changing and many publishers and libraries are simply not adapting to the new reality..