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Thread: Culturally, how much of the pre-gentrified Manhattan still remains?

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    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Culturally, how much of the pre-gentrified Manhattan still remains?

    I'm not talking about old buildings or remnants of trolley lines in Brooklyn: of course they're still there.

    I'm wondering if, in Manhattan at least, there's any remnants of the New York that was the norm about 30-40 years ago. I'm thinking about the Manhattan of Woody Allen more so than the Manhattan of Carrie Bradshaw and her friends; you know, such things as:

    * Surly cabbies that are native New Yorkers, not immigrants from the Asian subcontinent or Middle East.
    * Neighborhoods where Italians spend the day screaming down from windows to the street below. "YO FRANKIE! AYYYYYYYYYY! ANGELO! YO!!!"
    * Old-school Choc-Full-O-Nuts/Edward Hopper Nighthawks-style coffeehouses.
    * Tacky electronics stores with ghetto blasters piled high in the windows.
    * Little four-story and five-story walk-up buildings with the floors above filled entirely by a warren of independent jewelers, watchmakers, and the like.
    * Clusters where the streets are filled entirely by Orthodox Jews, all speaking Yiddish as a first language.
    * Really rough neighborhoods south of Central Park.
    * Places where fire hydrants are opened during hot weather to cool bored kids.

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    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Off-topic:
    Yes, and do rival gangs still square off with a dance number first and can a guy still stand in Spanish Harlem yell out "Maria" and only have one woman look out the window?
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

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    It's been about 2-3 year since I've been there, but I'll try my best.

    * Surly cabbies that are native New Yorkers, not immigrants from the Asian subcontinent or Middle East.
    Nope.

    * Neighborhoods where Italians spend the day screaming down from windows to the street below. "YO FRANKIE! AYYYYYYYYYY! ANGELO! YO!!!"
    They've been all but transplanted to Staten Island and Northern New Jersey. Meaning now they'd be shouted that into cellphones and out garage doors. Urban-wise, a few token enclaves remain in Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx. I don't think there have been any real Italian-American neighborhoods in Manhattan since the early 1960s. And no, that 3-block tourist trap known as "Little Italy" doesn't count.

    * Old-school Choc-Full-O-Nuts/Edward Hopper Nighthawks-style coffeehouses.
    Still some rustic/old school businesses in the grittier parts below 14th street, Alphabet City and other parts of the LES. Go above 110th street and you'll still find plenty of "authenticity".

    * Tacky electronics stores with ghetto blasters piled high in the windows.
    In the still seedier parts of upper Manhattan. Not sure though bout the rest though.

    * Little four-story and five-story walk-up buildings with the floors above filled entirely by a warren of independent jewelers, watchmakers, and the like.
    Yes, there's still some specialized "districts" on a few Midtown cross-streets that have such enterprises still in existence.

    * Clusters where the streets are filled entirely by Orthodox Jews, all speaking Yiddish as a first language.
    The Hadisic enclave in the southern section of Williamsburg Brooklyn is still going quite strong. Nowhere in Manhattan except a few walking through the diamond district on 49th st.

    * Really rough neighborhoods south of Central Park.
    Nope, not even the LES anymore. A few shady housing projects and rundown walkups remain in those parts but not clustered enough to form a critical mass to constitute a rough neighborhood.

    * Places where fire hydrants are opened during hot weather to cool bored kids.
    Harlem, maybe parts of Washington Heights and Inwood.

    ...Sorry to say but there is very little of the original Manhattan left over. It's been over-gentrified to the hilt, so much that even most yuppies earning decent salaries (by national standards) can't even afford to live there anymore. It's all about the super-rich, celebrities, international jetsetters, investment bankers, trustafarians, and those crazy enough to live on someone's kitchen floor for $900 a month.

    Go toward the outer boroughs and you'll find some of the "real" stuff. There's a lot of recent immigrant groups living more realistic lifestyle and some older leftovers of the previous immigrant groups who haven't yet moved to Del-Boca-Whatever, Flordia yet.

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    Cyburbian Seabishop's avatar
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    Is Hell's Kitchen still a rough neighborhood or has it been gentrified?

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    Cyburbian MacheteJames's avatar
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    I was just in Hell's Kitchen a few weeks ago to hit up a highly recommended Thai restaurant, so I'd say it's definitely gentrified.

  6. #6
    Harlem, Washington Heights, and Inwood are still mostly ungentrified. In particular, the massive line of housing projects in East Harlem will probably stem large scale gentrification on that side for a while longer.

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    Cyburbian TexanOkie's avatar
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    This is one of the most depressing threads in these forums. Although, if there are still "normal" enclaves in other boroughs and New Jersey, how have they changed with the different, slightly-less-dense-and-sometimes-suburban environments?

  8. #8
    Streetwall: You nailed it with your reply. I've lived in NYC my whole life (26 yrs) and am 3rd generation NYer. My parents and grandparents (3 of 4) were born and raised in Brooklyn. (I'm a Manhattanite) And sadly, all of the original posters real NYC qualities have been washed or buried away for the wealthy, the trust-fun babies, or others who are willing to pay through the nose or limit their personal space. I love the NY of Woody Allen and am very sad that my home is now a stranger to me. I currently live in Forest Hills Queens and I do really like it. But I am planning to relocate from NY altogether next year. My husband and I are currently seeking a new city. If anyone can suggest a great city to move to, we'd really appreciate it!

    We are: mid-20's, liberal, my husband is an artist, we're not looking to have kids anytime soon, we can't afford NYC at all, we love to be active and hang out.

    Thanks again Streetwall for your accurate assessment. By the way, everyone I know here shops at Target. Can you believe it?!

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    All the above posters are right - the only places within Manhattan that have their own character are Inwood and Washington Heights, the neighborhood's furthest away from midtown.

    New York's gentrificiation is really coming at full speed from three different neighborhoods: downtown Harlem (or is it south Harlem?), west Brooklyn (check out the NY Times piece about Bed-Stuy gentrifying) and the Bowery. Even the South Bronx is slowly developing with big boxes.

    But is gentrification truly an evil, or is it both benign and benevolent? I'm not a scholar in the matter, so I'll probably sound stupid on either side of that argument.


    Quote Originally posted by MoveNYC View post
    But I am planning to relocate from NY altogether next year. My husband and I are currently seeking a new city. If anyone can suggest a great city to move to, we'd really appreciate it!

    We are: mid-20's, liberal, my husband is an artist, we're not looking to have kids anytime soon, we can't afford NYC at all, we love to be active and hang out.
    Although i'm pretty biased, you might like Westchester county. Sure, its VERY expensive to purchase a home and taxes are high, but (again, biased), some of the villages along the river are really quite quaint, peaceful places. Westchester isn't very chic, even though White Plains is trying hard with new resturants and strings of bars, but its more than just rich soccer moms and investment bankers.

    Take a metronorth train up north, you might like it!

  10. #10
    Cyburbian MacheteJames's avatar
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    I live in Westchester and find it to be the worst of both worlds in some ways. An extremely high cost of living (higher than the outer boroughs, on par with Manhattan) and lots of congestion but without the cosmopolitan feel of the city. Some of the river towns are indeed quaint and pretty but the street life isn't there... they could be so much more than they are. Tarrytown is the sole exception. I think it's because so many of the residents are driven investment banker and lawyer types with families that work themselves to death down in Manhattan and have no energy or inclination for nightlife once they arrive home.

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