This is actually going to be full article based on a random thought I wrote about just last year, regarding the decline of New York City’s diversity and character because let’s face it…it’s just gotten worse and will continue to do so.
So it all started just two nights ago, when I came across this article:
Wait…what the fuck? A new, two floor Target in the East Village? With a 30-year lease on the building?! First off, I’m a bit biased here because I used to work at Target but…ew! Also…why? Why Target and why in the East Fucking Village?? Then, I reminded myself of exactly why: money talk$.
I wrote a year ago that many of the places I used to know were going away at a pretty steady pace, especially at my old haunts, specifically St. Mark’s Place, which I had said was at least hanging on a thread so long as Sounds was still around, even if it was open just three days a week by that point, if anything for the sake of posture. Whoops! Not too long after I wrote that piece Sounds finally did close down for good, signaling THE end of the more culturally diverse St. Mark’s Place I used to know once and for all. Why? Because who the fuck can afford these fucking rent hikes? Oh wait…chain stores can!
Oh, I can go on and on about when I first noticed this change, and how it changed the entire landscape of Manhattan alone – don’t even get me started with Brooklyn! But instead I’m going to rant about who we can all blame for this and if you live or used to live anywhere in New York City (like me) you already know why: yuppies and especially hipsters. The hipsters started fucking everything up when they came to Williamsburg, Brooklyn from whatever bumfuck towns/states they grew up in during the late 90’s/early 2000’s with their daddys’ checkbooks in search of somewhere cheap as hell. In just a few years time a once extremely dangerous part of Brooklyn now had hipster themed bars and vintage record shops on almost every street corner. And not only that, rent was now fucking sky high. I was an intern for a music marketing firm in Manhattan in 2007 and a considerable portion of the hipster fuckheads I worked with lived in “Billyburg”. The only way they could be living there was if their parents were paying the rent because I can tell you right now they sure as fuck weren’t making even remotely decent salaries at this particular firm. I’d look for apartments in Brooklyn on craigslist and some of these prices were retarded. $2000 for a studio off of Bedford Ave? Really? But if you want to know how I truly feel about hipsters just watch this amazing clip from The Gentlemen’s Rant. Skip to the 1:50 mark for my favorite part!
This was just the beginning, of course. Soon, the resulting trickle down effect happened: Manhattan followed suit. The hipsters lived in Williamsburg in order to be as close to Manhattan as possible so before anyone knew it any area near the Williamsburg Bridge, especially the Lower East Side, started changing at that steady paced I mentioned before to cater to these motherfuckers. The trickle down effect here? Long standing Mom and Pop stores began to close shop to be replaced by some really strange fucking things.
This also spread, of course, throughout most of Manhattan, not just the Lower East Side. Old buildings were being knocked down to make room for high rise condos that I know I sure can’t afford. Here’s a quick story. My dad’s been in real estate since 2005, having gotten his real estate license from NYU in 1988, and he was responsible for one of these buildings in the Lower East Side being knocked down in 2007. He told me that while on site a girl came up to him asking him to please sign her petition to stop these developers from knocking the building down, obviously having no idea she was talking to the very person behind the whole thing. Oops!
To some of you reading this I risk coming off as yelling at yuppies and hipsters to get off my lawn like a bitter old man. You’d be wrong. Yeah, I hate yuppies and REALLY hate hipsters. But my big problem is that because of them, and more specifically about their lack of history, having not grown up in the city like I did, they appear to truly lack any appreciation for the charm New York City once had. It was once such a diverse city. I don’t just mean for the reputation of it’s many areas – not just the parts I mentioned – but because you could go into any street corner and find something completely random and enjoyable. Hell, twelve years ago I could just turn to W 48th St in the tourist trap that is Times Square and I’d just happen to find the once infamous Music Row. You’re reading correctly, there was once an entire block of just music instrument stores. Several Sam Ash buildings, each one dedicated to specific instruments, Rudy’s, the world famous Manny’s Music, just to name a few.
Oh, here’s my favorite. A 111 year old art supply store right around the corner from Webster Hall is being forced out of business because the building was sold to some jerkoff who plans to make the building into a hotel geared toward…millennials?? What the fuck does that require exactly that a piece of HISTORY is being forced to close down for this? Someone please tell me. What exactly makes millennials so fucking special? Is it the computer thing?? Since the age range for millennials is between 1982 and 2002 I guess I’d be considered a millennial on paper, being that I was born in 1984. But I’m no millennial because just about anyone born in the 80’s knew how to survive without cellphones and computers. Ask the kids today when they last experienced a fleeting, random moment. You’d probably hear crickets for a long time because that’s how often their heads are down at their smartphones they honestly have NO BUSINESS carrying around at twelve years old.
So here’s my main point to all of this. Gentrification my ass! If I wanted to go to an outdoor strip mall I’d go to probably any other city…or an outdoor strip mall. I used to live in a city that had a very special charm to it, one that was different, one with so much diversity and excitement, one with character. These were the things that made it The Greatest City In The World, because it’s not that anymore, not when I see Subway restaurants on nearly every street corner and increasingly more homeless people on the streets because they were evicted for their inability to pay their rents. If you’re reading this and are as disgusted with what’s become of it all like I was, do yourself a favor and get out while you still can…like I did, because it’s no longer just the East Village that’s dead – all of New York City is!
There are times now where I drive on Route 3 E and if I catch it around sunset I get a gorgeous view of the city from afar. But every time come across this brilliant view I sadly can’t help but always think to myself the same thing over and over again: “New York City…beautiful to look at…ugly to live in…”
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