The Resurgence of Brooklyn, Explained

In the latest issue of City Journal, Kay Hymowitz, who adventurously moved her young family to Park Slope in the early 1980s, charts the fall and rise of Brooklyn over the last century and change, from its industrial heyday through the drug- and crime-addled decades of the sixties, seventies and eighties and to its remarkable turnaround of the last fifteen years in which it’s become a magnet for the city’s burgeoning creative class. The first section of the article starts on a personal note, describing the boarding house next door run by the widow of the postal worker who owned it; house became progressively more run down and depressing until it finally burned down in 1995 when one of the bed-ridden elderly tenants fell asleep with a lit cigarette.

If you’ve been in Park Slope recently, you can probably guess how things turned out for the Lehane house. But you may not know why. How did the Brooklyn of the Lehanes and crack houses turn into what it is today—home to celebrities like Maggie Gyllenhaal and Adrian Grenier, to Michelin-starred chefs, and to more writers per square foot than any place outside Yaddo? How did the borough become a destination for tour buses showing off some of the most desirable real estate in the city, even the country? How did the mean streets once paced by Irish and Italian dockworkers, and later scarred by muggings and shootings, become just about the coolest place on earth? The answer involves economic, class, and cultural changes that have transformed urban life all over America during the last few decades. It’s a story that contains plenty of gumption, innovation, and aspiration, but also a disturbing coda. Brooklyn now boasts a splendid population of postindustrial and creative-class winners—but in the far reaches of the borough, where nary a hipster can be found, it is also home to the economy’s many losers.

Hymowitz credits Giuliani’s campaign against crime with laying the groundwork for the gentrification that began in the nineties (“After the 81st Precinct, which encompasses the eastern half of the neighborhood, saw a 64 percent plunge in violent crime between 1993 and 2003, the lawyers, editors, artists, and nonprofit administrators started venturing in.”) as well as the rezonings of formerly industrial neighborhoods that made way for a residential building boom.

The third reason for Brooklyn’s “modern revival,” as she calls it, was…

… the arrival of the college-educated creative types. How’s this for a great stat? Between 2000 and 2008, the number of college-educated residents in Williamsburg increased by 80 percent. Importantly, she notes, these creative types (which includes the “culinary hippies”) were decidedly more entrepreneurial than their predecessors.

And it’s definitely not a happy ending for all, according to Hymowitz:

Brooklyn’s story, then, doesn’t lend itself to a simple happy ending. Instead, the borough is a microcosm of the nation’s “hourglass economy.” At the top, the college-educated are doing interesting, motivating work during the day and bicycling home to enjoy gourmet beer and grass-fed beef after hours. At the bottom, matters are very different. Almost a quarter of Brooklyn’s 2.5 million residents live below the poverty line—in the housing projects of East New York, in the tenements of Brownsville, or in “transitional” parts of Bushwick and Bed-Stuy, all places where single-mother poverty has become an intergenerational way of life. Between 2000 and 2010, the percentage of the area’s population on welfare did decline markedly, but the number of Medicaid recipients almost tripled, to nearly 750,000. About 40 percent of Brooklyn’s total population receives some kind of public assistance today, up from 23 percent a decade ago.

th
How Brooklyn Got Its Groove Back [City Journal]

58 Comment

  • Crime drop is huge factor. However, that Mayor had little to do with it. Total myth. Drop started before him and continues after, drop happened all over USA. NYPD innovators Bratton and Maple were fired by Rudy. There was no actual increase in quality of life arrests. Only thing new was anti-squeeges guys and west village drinking.

    Huge increase in cops was from Safe Streets/Safe City tax surcharge, under Dinkins/Vallone.

    Guiliani refused to complete a contract with NYPD cops for 3 or 4 years. That wasn’t helpful.

  • gentrification is economics, pure and simple…. biggest thing is foreigners invading manhattan, driving out folks to boros

  • Huh? I’m sorry, but Park Slope was one of the nicer areas by the 80′s.

  • Interesting article, especially regarding business and living trends in DUMBO and Williamsburg. Well researched there.

    I do have issues with her characteristics of the ethnic poor in general. I find that these kinds of articles tend to lump people into two categories: the despairing and enduring disadvantaged, to be felt sorry for, and the predatory criminal class, to be gotten rid of. This totally ignores a huge population that the author has no knowledge of, or personal experience with, that is the working and middle class populations of places like Bed Stuy, Crown Heights, Flatbush, etc, where ethnic minorities have been living good lives for generations, in spite of the urban chaos of the last 50 years.

    It’s in the popular Brooklyn ethos that groups like the Irish, Poles, Jews and Italians had their characters and elements that stereotyped them negatively, but the overwhelming popular vision has long been that these are the working class people who made Brooklyn, by the sweat of their hard work and the strength of family values. This is true, but leaves out that black, Hispanic, and other groups who have the same strengths. These latter groups, with a different history, and with racism tossed in, have had a different row to hoe, experiencially, but large parts of these populations have the same work ethic, the same family values, same support for institutions such as church, and in many ways, lived similar lives. The fact that there is a Bed Stuy to be “rediscovered” and “pioneered” is a testament to this group’s existence and perserverance.

    A true history of Brooklyn of the last 50 years cannot leave that out. If you do, you are not telling the whole story.

  • You have to factor in that over the past 20-30 years, the great suburban migration of the 50′s and 60′s has reversed. Baby boomers that grew up in the cities as middle and lower middle class moved out to the suburbs for a better life. Now their children are moving back into the cities for better employment, transportation, and culture. Manhattan prices many out, so It was only a matter of time before the outer boroughs began to see more young and educated people moving in.

  • “Kay Hymowitz, who adventurously moved her young family to Park Slope”
    LOL
    Oh! kay, you’re a regular pioneer, you, your ox-driven cart and all the young’uns.

  • I moved to the Slope in ’85 and it was a lot less dicey then than the author makes it out to be.

  • blofeldofboerumhill – please don’t let your politics get in the way of reality.
    First you can’t say that the Mayor had nothing to do with crime drop and then cite Dinkins as deserving credit.

    Additionally, the crime drop in NYC was far larger than the national (or comparable city) declines – and in fact the rapid decline in crime in America’s largest city (by far) went along way to lowering the national crime rate (i.e. the crime rate nationwide didnt decline much at all – the deline was largely centered in NYC) [violent crime declined by more than 56 percent in the City, compared to about 28 percent in the nation as whole. Property crimes tumbled by about 65 percent, but fell only 26 percent nationally. ]

    Finally, your assessment as to the increase in quality of life arrests is just factually wrong. Misdemeanor arrest rose almost 70% under Giulian.

  • nsider – I think your point is very important. The “american dream” has been adjusted over the last 20+ years. For at least 30 years after WW2 the dream by definition included a house in the suburbs (and subsidized by abundant auto accessible land, tax breaks and fueled by racial undercurrents).

    However for a host of economic and social issues, that ‘dream’ has been confronted by a new urban based one. Where the ultimate achievement by many is not no longer defined by achieving a huge house in the suburbs, but a large enough residence in the city.

    Its only natural therefore that transit rich Brooklyn, with its great housing stock and walkable mixed-use communities would experience a resurgence.

  • I lived in Fort Greene throughout the ’80s. Park Slope and Brooklyn Hgts. were about the safest places you could move to. It was about as conservative an adventure as you could make.

  • Park Slope and Brooklyn Heights were considered “safe” in the 1980′s but they were thought of as self-contained oasis surrounded by chaos and crime. Read Tom Wolf’s “Bonfire of the Vanities”.

  • That article has some real “gems” in it, like: “Only 15 years ago, Bed-Stuy was about as inviting to white-collar home buyers as Islamabad.”

  • “Unlike their predecessors, however, these grads are not only artsy; they’re tech-savvy and entrepreneurial. Don’t confuse them with the earlier artists and bohemians who daringly smoked pot at Brooklyn Heights parties.”

    Yep, no pot smoking for these new arrivals.

    • It’s just no longer considered daring, and not only for parties. How many of these types think about that weed they buy regularly is still illegal, and that in buying it they are supporting an extensive and violent criminal network?

  • And one last delightful nugget:

    “Lax crime-fighting and overgenerous social programs accelerated Brooklyn’s decline. By the 1960s, tens of thousands of blacks and Hispanics migrating from the South and Puerto Rico had arrived in the borough, almost all of them uneducated and unskilled and hence unprepared for an economy bleeding low-skill jobs. No-questions-asked welfare policies and the easy availability of heroin led many of these new arrivals to become dependent on government, dangerous, or both.”

  • And one last delightful nugget:

    “Lax crime-fighting and overgenerous social programs accelerated Brooklyn’s decline. By the 1960s, tens of thousands of blacks and Hispanics migrating from the South and Puerto Rico had arrived in the borough, almost all of them uneducated and unskilled and hence unprepared for an economy bleeding low-skill jobs. No-questions-asked welfare policies and the easy availability of heroin led many of these new arrivals to become dependent on government, dangerous, or both.”

  • I too loved Park Slope in the 80′s. Only above 7th Ave, though, and only the blocks off PPW. 5th Ave was indeed scary then.

    • 5th Ave was desolate, but I don’t know if I’d describe it as “scary”. It looked like 4th Ave did about 15 years ago. Not a lot going on.

      • I’m confused. 5th Ave in Park Slope (real Park Slope, not way South) was scary as recently as 2004 when I moved there. 98% of the cool upscale restaurants and stores on that avenue arrived just in the last several years, replacing dusty bodegas clearly not in the legit retail business. Give those new business owners credit for the huge changes they brought about.

  • Do you think Jon didn’t know that the City Journal is a right-wing think-tank rag when he posted this? It is his editorializing which describes a move to Park Slope in the 1980s as “adventurous.” I guess he is trying to drive his comment numbers up. Dang it, fell for it again!

  • 2.1 million dollars for 190 President Street.
    How can that be possible?
    It says it all.
    We may look back on this and say “what were we thinking?”

  • 2.1 million dollars for 190 President Street.
    How can that be possible?
    It says it all.
    We may look back on this and say “what were we thinking?”

  • I can’t even read the entire article.
    Some of us who have been in Brooklyn almost all our lives don’t think it ever lost it’s groove.
    I HATE people who move to brooklyn and think they’re pioneers.

  • I can’t even read the entire article.
    Some of us who have been in Brooklyn almost all our lives don’t think it ever lost it’s groove.
    I HATE people who move to brooklyn and think they’re pioneers.

    • Yeah Expert – Brooklyn was always wonderful /sarcasm

      I guess you were unaffected by the 750+ annual homicides; the race riots and killings, the rampant housing abandonment, the arson, the deteriorated public parks and facilities and the total lack of new investment.

      Frankly the 1st sign of a newcomer is a rose-tinted romanticized view of a difficult and in many ways tragic past.

      • For many (myself included) Brooklyn (even during it’s grooveless days) was and still is a wonderful place.

        Yep, unaffected and still here…..30+ years.
        AND how were YOU affected during “Brooklyn’s Decline”?

        • Oh I am SO glad you weren’t adversely affected directly or indirectly by the suffering of thousands all around you. So entirely selfless of you.

          I guess in that light the economy is awesome, global warming is a myth, AIDS never really was all that bad, healthcare in the U.S. is terrific, as is educational system, and the political system is working wonderful.
          I mean ME and most of MY family are doing really well financially, wont be alive to face any real consequences of a warmer planet, never got AIDS, have really good health insurance, and got quality public and private educations – and the political system shows no ability to change things either….Happy days are here again……..

  • Note to Kay Horowitz: I could have saved you a lot of work- People got priced out of Manhattan. Snowball starts rolling. End of story. No wonder nobody’s ever heard of City Journal.

  • hasn’t the “resurgence of brooklyn” been analyzed enough?

  • I cant for the life of me figure out why people are attacking the author or this article on political grounds. The article is frankly spot on to the recent history of Brooklyn and actually raises many of the social issues (ex – lack of good employment for the not-so blessed) that many of you constantly cite as the underlying rot in the bro, city, country.
    I mean maybe this article has been done 1 too many times, and 2 maybe its a bit narrow of how it expresses racial components of each class, but I mean come on – what SPECIFICALLY in this article is inaccurate or overtly political?

  • “the last fifteen years in which it’s become a magnet for the city’s burgeoning creative class.”

    **

    The creative class has been “burgeoning” in NYC for a lot longer than the last 15 years.

  • too many of these explanations for what’s happened to brooklyn make no mention of what’s happened to manhattan. 20 years ago, many of these “hipsters,” bohemians, and “creatives” would have moved to the lower east side — but who in their right mind would want to be there today? brooklyn’s intrinsic attributes only explain why this happened here instead of the bronx, hoboken, etc. — and part of that is simply because it’s directly across the river from the formerly “cool” parts of manhattan.

  • too many of these explanations for what’s happened to brooklyn make no mention of what’s happened to manhattan. 20 years ago, many of these “hipsters,” bohemians, and “creatives” would have moved to the lower east side — but who in their right mind would want to be there today? brooklyn’s intrinsic attributes only explain why this happened here instead of the bronx, hoboken, etc. — and part of that is simply because it’s directly across the river from the formerly “cool” parts of manhattan.

  • Sounds like I moved out of Brooklyn in the nick of time.

    In other news, my derogratory comment about dees-kus yesterday appears to have been censored.

  • Sounds like I moved out of Brooklyn in the nick of time.

    In other news, my derogratory comment about dees-kus yesterday appears to have been censored.

  • As Montrose said, the article ignores the long standing, middle class, black American and Caribbean homeowners who remained in Bed Stuy and Crown Heights, maintained their homes well, supported key neighborhood institutions like churches and block associations, and generally kept the area stable through the years leading up to the well-documented upsurge in values.

    The author doesn’t mention these folks, and worse relies on time-worn characterizations that obscure the entire picture, likely because the author doesn’t know anything about those folks. On that basis, her reporting is incomplete at best and lazy at the worst.

    And yeah, it largely follows the pattern laid out by ditmassnark. Not that we haven’t see this kind of thing before.

  • I moved to Park Slope in 1981, shortly post-college. I did not feel like a ‘pioneer’ (always hated this use of that term anyway.) The sense among my demographic then was that I picked the nice, safe route…the adventurous lived in the East Village, in lousier apartments, sometimes with bathtubs in kitchens, with more drug sellers around. Park Slope appealed to those who wanted more for their money (buying or renting), larger spaces with old, lovely detail, lovely architecture to look at when walking around, more trees, more visible sky due to lower building heights, and Prospect Park. (When I lived in the west village for a few years in the early 90′s, I really missed living by a big park, and moved back to the Slope.)

    It was a lovely neighborhood in 1981, and I lived beween 5th and 6th, moving to a block between 4th and 5th two years later (which block, while geographically on the slope, didn’t then yet feel culturally part of the slope, as the slope was then…what is considered Park Slope has grown over the years. Yes, 5th Ave was scary at night, largely because it was deserted then, with few businesses open at night.)

    Park Slope was then a neighborhood many moved to post-college, both native NYers and people moving the NY from elsewhere. It was already known to have a high concentration of lesbians. The conversion of rental buildings (brownstones and larger buildings) to coops, what I see as the real engine for the gentrification of the slope in the 80′s, had just begun. Major changes, as much of the housing stock changed from rental to coop, happened throughout the 80′s, as landlords learned they could cash out by converting to coops. The biggest population shift happened with the change from renters to apartment owners, which continued on ever since.

    Gentrification happened in the usual stages, only then it took decades, while it now happens much more quickly. The availability of real estate financing had much to do with that. First banks had to be convinced to lend to purchasers of brownstones in what were once redlined neighborhoods (which happened before 1980), then to lend to purchasers of apartments in small brownstone buildings (the conversion of brownstone rental buildings to coops could not have happened without some banks lending to purchasers); and then the craziness of price increases in the past decade happened. Still a nice neighborhood, now pricey.

    Also agree with MM. But not surprised author skipped middle and working class African-American homeowners – happens all the time.

  • I moved to Park Slope in 1981, shortly post-college. I did not feel like a ‘pioneer’ (always hated this use of that term anyway.) The sense among my demographic then was that I picked the nice, safe route…the adventurous lived in the East Village, in lousier apartments, sometimes with bathtubs in kitchens, with more drug sellers around. Park Slope appealed to those who wanted more for their money (buying or renting), larger spaces with old, lovely detail, lovely architecture to look at when walking around, more trees, more visible sky due to lower building heights, and Prospect Park. (When I lived in the west village for a few years in the early 90′s, I really missed living by a big park, and moved back to the Slope.)

    It was a lovely neighborhood in 1981, and I lived beween 5th and 6th, moving to a block between 4th and 5th two years later (which block, while geographically on the slope, didn’t then yet feel culturally part of the slope, as the slope was then…what is considered Park Slope has grown over the years. Yes, 5th Ave was scary at night, largely because it was deserted then, with few businesses open at night.)

    Park Slope was then a neighborhood many moved to post-college, both native NYers and people moving the NY from elsewhere. It was already known to have a high concentration of lesbians. The conversion of rental buildings (brownstones and larger buildings) to coops, what I see as the real engine for the gentrification of the slope in the 80′s, had just begun. Major changes, as much of the housing stock changed from rental to coop, happened throughout the 80′s, as landlords learned they could cash out by converting to coops. The biggest population shift happened with the change from renters to apartment owners, which continued on ever since.

    Gentrification happened in the usual stages, only then it took decades, while it now happens much more quickly. The availability of real estate financing had much to do with that. First banks had to be convinced to lend to purchasers of brownstones in what were once redlined neighborhoods (which happened before 1980), then to lend to purchasers of apartments in small brownstone buildings (the conversion of brownstone rental buildings to coops could not have happened without some banks lending to purchasers); and then the craziness of price increases in the past decade happened. Still a nice neighborhood, now pricey.

    Also agree with MM. But not surprised author skipped middle and working class African-American homeowners – happens all the time.

  • Its like you people want to find something to dislike about this article (shocking when talking about brownstoner)…

    the article doesnt “ignore middle class blacks or hispanics homeowners” its just they are largely irrelevant to the question the author is asking:

    I quote: “How did the borough become a destination for tour buses showing off some of the most desirable real estate in the city, even the country? How did the mean streets once paced by Irish and Italian dockworkers, and later scarred by muggings and shootings, become just about the coolest place on earth? The answer involves economic, class, and cultural changes that have transformed urban life all over America during the last few decades.”

    It was irrelevant that in the 80s and early 90s that there were (some, many) middle class blacks, hispanics (or whites) living in these Brownstone neighborhoods – crime was out of control, banks were reluctant or unwilling to lend, and businesses were unwilling to invest – i.e. Brooklyn was on the decline. Now you may believe that some or ALL of these conditions might be racially based, but that isnt the subject of this article; The subject of the article is how did Brooklyn go from that (declining) place to such a vibrant place.

    And the author cites 3 reasons that he believes that changed in the early 90′s. 1. Crime reduction, zoning changes and 3, an influx of new people as a result of 1 and 2.

    The author did not attribute the change to the long standing Italians or Irish residents OR to the long standing african-american or hispanic homeowners OR his generation of gentrifiers BECAUSE all were there during the decline (i.e. the author did not believe this was the catalyst for the change)….
    Now you are free to disagree and suggest your own reasons for the dramatic turnaround in the early 90′s that continues unabated until today but to call this article right-wing propaganda, or racist is just hyperbole for the sake of itself; not an honest evaluation of the article.

    • I’m sorry, frsrg, “but its just they [middle class blacks and Hispanics]are largely irrelevant to the question the author is asking” is cow patties. If one is going to tell the story of the resurgence of Brooklyn, as Ms Hymowitz is saying that she is doing, then you don’t leave out half the players. Even if you are only telling the story of Park Slope, which she was not, you have to include those people, as they were living in Park Slope, as well.

      Reading this is like looking at Seinfeld or watching a Woody Allen movie. Look, real tales of New York, but no black people.

      The more I think about it, the more pissed off I am that she could condense the history of the black and Hispanic populations of Brooklyn in the mid 20th century into “By the 1960s, tens of thousands of blacks and Hispanics migrating from the South and Puerto Rico had arrived in the borough, almost all of them uneducated and unskilled and hence unprepared for an economy bleeding low-skill jobs. No-questions-asked welfare policies and the easy availability of heroin led many of these new arrivals to become dependent on government, dangerous, or both.”

      That statement is outrageous, incendiary, and wrong. Yes, a lot of unskilled people came here (from a whole lot of places, btw) But in the case of black folks, since I know them well, there were also black professionals who couldn’t practice their skills in the South, an educated middle class who came here for the same reason, and a strong working class with skills.

      They joined the African Americans who were already here, already working for the city, post office, teaching, and for private enterprise. She totally ignores the very large Caribbean community that started coming here in the 1940′s and 50′s, a very motivated bunch who worked three jobs to be able to buy houses, and get their children educated. The achievements of the Caribbean American community has never been well told, especially to the audience that Ms Hymowitz is reaching. (and this blog) Their role in saving Brooklyn is relevant to the story of Brooklyn, as ENY so eloquently stated above.

      Yes, there is a segment of the black and Hispanic community that has never made it, is dependent on social programs, and some of them are even dangerous. But to forget everyone else, and write that Brooklyn only had the black and Hispanic disadvantaged and the criminal, both of them sucking from the social service teat while every other group in Brooklyn was working hard to bring the borough back, is just pure fiction.

    • I’m sorry, frsrg, “but its just they [middle class blacks and Hispanics]are largely irrelevant to the question the author is asking” is cow patties. If one is going to tell the story of the resurgence of Brooklyn, as Ms Hymowitz is saying that she is doing, then you don’t leave out half the players. Even if you are only telling the story of Park Slope, which she was not, you have to include those people, as they were living in Park Slope, as well.

      Reading this is like looking at Seinfeld or watching a Woody Allen movie. Look, real tales of New York, but no black people.

      The more I think about it, the more pissed off I am that she could condense the history of the black and Hispanic populations of Brooklyn in the mid 20th century into “By the 1960s, tens of thousands of blacks and Hispanics migrating from the South and Puerto Rico had arrived in the borough, almost all of them uneducated and unskilled and hence unprepared for an economy bleeding low-skill jobs. No-questions-asked welfare policies and the easy availability of heroin led many of these new arrivals to become dependent on government, dangerous, or both.”

      That statement is outrageous, incendiary, and wrong. Yes, a lot of unskilled people came here (from a whole lot of places, btw) But in the case of black folks, since I know them well, there were also black professionals who couldn’t practice their skills in the South, an educated middle class who came here for the same reason, and a strong working class with skills.

      They joined the African Americans who were already here, already working for the city, post office, teaching, and for private enterprise. She totally ignores the very large Caribbean community that started coming here in the 1940′s and 50′s, a very motivated bunch who worked three jobs to be able to buy houses, and get their children educated. The achievements of the Caribbean American community has never been well told, especially to the audience that Ms Hymowitz is reaching. (and this blog) Their role in saving Brooklyn is relevant to the story of Brooklyn, as ENY so eloquently stated above.

      Yes, there is a segment of the black and Hispanic community that has never made it, is dependent on social programs, and some of them are even dangerous. But to forget everyone else, and write that Brooklyn only had the black and Hispanic disadvantaged and the criminal, both of them sucking from the social service teat while every other group in Brooklyn was working hard to bring the borough back, is just pure fiction.

  • Its like you people want to find something to dislike about this article (shocking when talking about brownstoner)…

    the article doesnt “ignore middle class blacks or hispanics homeowners” its just they are largely irrelevant to the question the author is asking:

    I quote: “How did the borough become a destination for tour buses showing off some of the most desirable real estate in the city, even the country? How did the mean streets once paced by Irish and Italian dockworkers, and later scarred by muggings and shootings, become just about the coolest place on earth? The answer involves economic, class, and cultural changes that have transformed urban life all over America during the last few decades.”

    It was irrelevant that in the 80s and early 90s that there were (some, many) middle class blacks, hispanics (or whites) living in these Brownstone neighborhoods – crime was out of control, banks were reluctant or unwilling to lend, and businesses were unwilling to invest – i.e. Brooklyn was on the decline. Now you may believe that some or ALL of these conditions might be racially based, but that isnt the subject of this article; The subject of the article is how did Brooklyn go from that (declining) place to such a vibrant place.

    And the author cites 3 reasons that he believes that changed in the early 90′s. 1. Crime reduction, zoning changes and 3, an influx of new people as a result of 1 and 2.

    The author did not attribute the change to the long standing Italians or Irish residents OR to the long standing african-american or hispanic homeowners OR his generation of gentrifiers BECAUSE all were there during the decline (i.e. the author did not believe this was the catalyst for the change)….
    Now you are free to disagree and suggest your own reasons for the dramatic turnaround in the early 90′s that continues unabated until today but to call this article right-wing propaganda, or racist is just hyperbole for the sake of itself; not an honest evaluation of the article.

  • Why were new people willing to move in? In part because black middle class owners who had been here since the 1950s and beyond helped keep the neighborhood stable and the housing intact even through the down years that followed. The author naievely seeks to attribute the improvement to three factors (crime reduction, zoning changes and an influx of whiter, wealthier residents). There’s much more involved. Her synopsis is simplistic at best,and relies on the same, tired characterizations that fail to give a complete picture. These folks are not “irrelevant” to the improvement that followed, they’re as much a part of it as the other factors she mentioned.

  • I stopped reading as soon as I saw “City Journal”. I made the mistake of buying this conservative trash a couple years ago and will never make that mistake again. Thanks montrosemorris for speaking truth…

  • Looks like I missed all the fun. Can’t bear to read yet another article on this topic, especially one that sounds so unoriginal. But have to agree with Montrose’s and EastNewYork about the solid working class & middle class in Bed Stuy that gets ignored.

  • Fourth Avenue was beautiful tree-lined street until city widened it in the 1960s, cut down trees and made lawn areas into more parking. Did it because area had become hispanic, had no political clout. Third Avenue had been full of stores until construction of the Gowanus destroyed street-level lliveability.

    I’ve been in Brooklyn Heights since the 1960s. Plenty of crime here in the 70s-80s, mostly burglaries, though a woman was raped in my building. Knew neighborhood was changing when nannies and then airline stewardesses started appearing on the streets. And when PS 8 improved, many families stopped moving to suburbs to raise their kids, schooled them here instead.