The New York Post Created a “Thug” Map So Gentrifiers Can Better Navigate Bed-Stuy and Bushwick

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Way back around 2000, I remember being on the subway and hearing two women talking about where they would and wouldn’t live in New York. One of the women said that she would never venture further east than the numbered avenues, and the other replied that this was silly and that she had just put down a security deposit on an apartment on Avenue D. “Of course,” she added,” if it’s after 9 at night, I’ll have to take a cab home, but you should see the size of the kitchen!” (It should go without saying that neither of these women would have considered Brooklyn back then if their lives depended on it. They are probably now living on the Williamsburg waterfront, but whatever.) It took everything in 18-year-old me not to spit out at them that if they were afraid to live—to really live—in a neighborhood, then maybe they should just stick to Murray Hill. Ah, neighborhood stereotypes! Some stay evergreen. 

Anyway, I was reminded of these women and the disgust and indignation that surged through me oh-so-long-ago on that subway ride when I saw that the New York Post, in its never-ending quest to be an altruistic instrument of journalism for the people of this city, had made a “crime map” in order to show potential real estate buyers and renters in neighborhoods like Bed-Stuy and Bushwick where crimes have occurred in relation to where there’s available real estate. You see, the Post finds it absolutely shocking that so many people want to spend upwards of a million dollars on a home that is in an area that has a higher than average crime rate for the city, and so the Post—out of the goodness of Rupert Murdoch’s heart—wants all you Bed-Stuy and Bushwick newcomers to know that life in these neighborhoods is not so nice for the “gentrifiers.”

The Bedford-Stuyvesant and Bushwick real-estate market is exploding with million-dollar townhouses and apartments renting for as high as $20,000 a month.

But right around the corner from the ornamental plaster and restored wainscoting has been a fresh wave of shootings and other bloodshed that doesn’t make it into the listings.

There has also been an uptick in burglaries and muggings targeting the gentrifiers who move in.

“Fresh wave of shootings?” “Bloodshed?” “Burglaries and muggings targeting the gentrifiers?” This sounds awful! Way to fear-monger, New York Post! Well done. The paper also talks to neighborhood residents who claim that nighttime is really when the “freaks come out,” and that “thugs are out shooting and stabbing, and it’s pure chaos.” Scary! Thank goodness the Post made a map to show where all these “thugs” are “shooting and stabbing,” after all, it isn’t like crime happens anywhere other than in these still-predominantly minority neighborhoods. I mean, personally, I’d like a map of where all the investment bankers live in Williamsburg so that I can avoid those areas like the plague, but you still won’t see me scaring off people who are thinking of moving into the Gretsch building because, you know, that’s the kind of thing that people need to learn on their own.

Which is really the larger point, isn’t it? If the kind of people who can afford to spend millions of dollars on a townhouse in Bed-Stuy aren’t doing enough due diligence on their new neighborhood that they don’t understand that it isn’t the Upper East Side, well, then, maybe they deserve to be a little bit uncomfortable. And maybe they should think twice about only moving to a neighborhood because they think they can change it, and should consider moving to a place in which they will already feel comfortable and can contribute to enhancing the existing structures, rather than dismantling them and rebuilding wholesale. Whatever the case, the Post’s “thug” map and scare tactics aren’t doing anything for anyone, other than dismissing all the positive things about an in-flux area and instead reducing it to nothing more than a series of crime statistics and real estate prices. Ridiculous.

Follow Kristin Iversen on twitter @kmiversen

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10 COMMENTS

  1. Well, at least New York Post is being New York Post as in classless and unoriginal. As usual, NYPost is copying this or got the idea from that app SketchFactor.

  2. Although I do think that this article certainly has value, and I absolutely agree with how silly it is to create a fear mongering map of Brooklyn, I can’t help but wonder where the anger comes from when writing about ‘gentrifiers.’ The anger that the author writes about feeling when hearing a woman talk about not feeling comfortable at night in her own neighborhood seems like the anger of a confused 18 year old, much like the sentiment of accepting a map of Williamsburg investment bankers to avoid seems to me to be exactly the same thing as the violence map, it’s just cooler to say, ‘I wanna avoid bros who don’t belong here,’ than it is to say that you want to avoid violence.

    What makes NYC wonderful is not that it stays the same, but that it evolves and that the residents maintain what is already good, and that they create a culture that is interesting and fun. The anger should be that there are people who are violent, non-contributing a**holes, not that there is a woman who fears them. The woman on the subway seems – from this short story – to be someone who probably makes people with children feel safe, and who knows? Maybe she’s an artist, maybe she will spend her money at local businesses instead of robbing them.

    And do investment bankers ruin a neighborhood more than criminals?

    When did it become so okay to be so judgemental and to so harshly criticize people because of their jobs, or because of their fear of being a victim? Why not judge individuals based on their personalities and what they bring to a community?

    Sigh. I sometimes feel like the last NYer left who isn’t constantly talking about how much better things were during the crack epidemic of the 80’s.

  3. Bahh… c’mon Kristen. NY Post isn’t being particularly offensive – it’s just an uninsightful, low brow article that ultimately mocks gentrifiers. Not worth your time imho. Bed-Stuy and Bushwick are indeed still dangerous (though less so if you’re white, actually), and if some strategic reality checking can dissuade the more “frivolous” gentrifiers (and keep rents low for longer) then I’m all for this type of article.

  4. Great article. Thank you! What’s happening in Brooklyn is so upsetting–another playground for the rich, ugh. BTW, I was once advised in the late 90s not to move to below 5th Ave. in Park Slope because it was “dangerous.” WATCH OUT! PEOPLE OF COLOR MIGHT NOT HAVE BEEN DISPLACED THERE YET!

  5. I don’t know anything about NY, tile in Oakland and was raised in SF.
    Have you considered that people coming in and renting an apartment for $20,000 in a neighborhood means someone with a lower income who’s is actually from there will be shut out?
    Could be the thinking behind the map.

  6. Agree with qsht, it’s a lowbrow article and by extension it just makes this article clickbait. NY Post is trash and I hate the fear mongering, but the crime rate in an expensive area is a very true thing.

  7. Yes Bed Stuy is scary thugs are stabbing outside my window right now. Next to a burning car. Please do not come here. Please.

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