Hipsters. Gentrification. Brooklyn. It is really, really hard to escape these three words lately. One day, Williamsburg is being lauded as one of the hippest neighborhoods in the country by noted hipster aficionado news outlet Forbes, and the next, Brooklyn is being disparaged by THE VERY SAME outlet for being a hollow shell of itself.
MAKE UP YOUR MIND, FORBES. How are all of us who live in Brooklyn supposed to know if we’re living in hipster paradise or if we’re actually living in gentrified hell? Forbes, please be the guiding light in the darkness of my Brooklyn life in the way that I’ve always hoped you would.
In an article titled “The Hollow Boom of Brooklyn: Behind Veneer of Gentrification, Life Gets Worse for Many,” Forbes contributor Joel Kotkin, explores the “two Brooklyns” angle that has become increasingly popular as more and more media attention focuses on this borough of ours. But Kotkin doesn’t exactly tread new ground with this piece. To sum up: Even though the media keeps talking about hipsters and artisanal mayonnaise, poor people continue to live in Brooklyn. To which I can only reply: No shit, Joel Kotkin. No shit.
Kotkin discovered the apparently surprising-to-him fact that parts of Brooklyn are still mired in poverty when he was on his way to Ditmas Park, “one of the finest exemplars of urban renaissance in the country,” with his wife and his daughter. He describes how they “encountered a huge traffic jam on the Belt Parkway, so [they] exited on Linden Boulevard. For the next half hour [they] drove through an expanse of poverty, public housing and general destitution that hardly jibes with the ‘hip, cool’ image Brooklyn now projects around the world.” So, basically, poverty and wealth exist side by side in America? Is this surprising to anyone?