There’s no shortage of discussion about gentrification in Crown Heights. It seems every week brings a new twee little coffee shop (if not a Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts), a new condo development, or yet another announcement that the neighborhood has been “discovered,” Columbus-style.
In “Crown Heights in Color,” photographer Alicia Atterberry documents the street life of this rapidly changing neighborhood, posting weekly galleries to her website, along with quotes from subjects. After moving to Crown Heights in 2012, she started snapping photos of people and places she saw while walking around, from high school students in a drum line on Eastern Parkway to domino players and the buildings on Bedford. It’s a way of visually preserving the neighborhood before it becomes totally unrecognizable to longtime residents.
“When Starbucks opened, it simultaneously opened my eyes to the changes in the neighborhood,” Atterberry says. “Then the car wash near me closed down, and new developments seemed to pop up every 5 seconds. I realized that the neighborhood was transforming, and I needed to do something before the people and places that I associated with this area no longer existed,” so she started Crown Heights in Color.
“It’s great to see new bars, coffee shops, and restaurants pop up close to my apartment,” Atterberry says, but not all change is positive. “On the other hand, people are being pushed out of their homes of 30-40 years because their landlord can make more money renting to someone else.” She fears the neighborhood will lose the sense of community it had when she moved there in 2012, something that reminded her of her native Pittsburgh. “I remember when I first moved into my building, an older woman invited me to the church down my block,” she says. “People sat outside my building and talked into the wee hours of the night. When I walked down the street, people said hello or good evening. It was, and still is, a warm, bustling neighborhood. I don’t want to lose that.”
See more of Crown Heights in Color here. All photos courtesy Alicia Atterberry.
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