Brooklyn may have been re-branded from “the Rodney Dangerfield of boroughs” into an “internationally recognized icon of cool,” but the borough is large and not everyone has been invited to the party. Supposedly, some people don’t even want to be! The Times talked to locals from as-yet-ungentrified neighborhoods like Sheepshead Bay, Brownsville, Marine Park, and East New York, and their feelings on the matter are decidedly mixed.
“I’m glad Brooklyn is making a name for itself and it’s coming up, but if it’s coming up, it should be spread out,” said Joycelyn Maynard, a Brownsville librarian. “Even in certain parts of Bedford-Stuyvesant you find a cafe table to sit out in the sun. Here, how can you have a cafe where people eat in the sun if they’re concerned about gangs shooting each other?” A valid point if ever there was one.
Meanwhile, others are staunchly against the rise of said outdoor cafes. “Here, everything remains the same,” said the chairwoman of Community Board 15, which encompasses neighborhoods including Homecrest, Sheepshead Bay, Manhattan Beach, and Gerritsen Beach. “They don’t want Trader Joe’s. They don’t want sidewalks crowded with cafes. They want a residential, suburban lifestyle. We’re not looking for innovative ways to do things. I have a hard time setting up a DVR [...] When people hear about the new Brooklyn, they say let them have it.”
The only thing everyone seems to agree on is the lopsided amount of civic attention given to the schmancier, more politically powerful neighborhoods. “We should continue to promote Brooklyn as a trendy destination but cannot forget the bread-and-butter economic issues that many distressed Brooklynites continue to deal with each day,” said local assemblyman Hakeem S. Jeffries.
If anything, maybe this will serve as a rallying cry to up-and-coming gentrifiers that there’s still much work to be done here! Think of it as a lower key version of Manifest Destiny for this crowded, expensive city. Or, you know, a nice opportunity for civic engagement and community building. Either-or!