I spent 10 days exploring New York and my time spent in Brooklyn was easily the highlight of the trip. The area is very hip and most would say it is dominated by hipsters, but I would like to think the area is full of young people creating and experimenting with art, business, music, food and theatre that gives the area such an inspiring/trendsetting feel.
It was my first time to New York and I stayed with my brother Tom and his roommates Tori, Rachel and Maggie, at their house in Brooklyn.
His house is in the Bushwick area, which is in the northern part of the New York City borough of Brooklyn. The area kinda reminds me of a much larger, more diverse Bellingham, which is rapidly changing. As the rent in most areas like Williamsburg, Brooklyn have skyrocketed, young people have been begun to retreat deeper along the L Train subway line to Bushwick area from what I was told while I was visiting. Now the prices in Bushwick are rising also, so people have to move further down the subway line since it is more affordable.
Bushwick has changed a lot over the past decade. According to the Center for Urban Research in New York City, from 2000 to 2010, the number of white residents in North Bushwick has nearly doubled and the number of Asian residents has increased nearly fivefold. Just in the last two years, the average rent for a studio has increased 27 percent. The serious crime rate has dropped from 36% in 2000 to 24.4% as of 2011.
Bushwick’s emergence as part of cutting-edge Brooklyn has not completely erased memories of the bad old days, when the working-class neighborhood was notorious for crime. Maria Hernandez Park is named for a woman who was killed in 1989 after standing up against drug dealers. Today the park is filled with flowers, skateboarders, dog-walkers and families.
The streets are full or art, bars, foodie restaurants, organic markets, bike shops, alternative libraries, vintage clothing shops, record stores and more.
During the time I spent in Bushwick surrounded by warehouses, semi-trucks, hipsters and organic markets I could see how much the area has transformed and how it will continue too. My brother’s house is scheduled to be demolished this summer to make way for new apartments or a new business buiding and that appears to be the case with other areas of the Brooklyn.
At the moment though Brooklyn hosts small unique businesses. My brother’s friend Jacob operates an alternative library called “Mellow Pages” and he was named one of the 100 most influential people in Brooklyn. The area is full of people trying to create art and find their own niche.
I also met Winston Scarlett owner/operator of Slackgaze, Pre-Millennials with 90s panache”, (http://slackgaze.tumblr.com/) who organized a party with six bands at my brothers house. “To me the slackgaze zine is a living archive for our generations fascination with 90s revivalism,” Scarlett said. “It’s a combination of the aesthetic influences of bands, artists, and fashion from that era, and the political anti-capitalist stance of the ‘slacker’. But at it’s core, it’s a community of artist and musicians that seeks to create alternative spaces where culture can breathe freely.” Wintson also said he wants to rent a larger space in the area and start an artist/community of his own. I also attended one of his other shows the following Friday after the show at my brother’s house and it was a damn good time.
Overall I am glad I got to witness Bushwick in it’s current state. Being able to see the area while artwork decorated the old factories, warehouses and even apartment buildings before it turns into an area for the wealthy causing the youth/art culture to move down the L Train subway line to another more affordable location.