The Times on North vs. South in Williamsburg

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A story in the New York Times today makes a big deal about the difference between north and south Williamsburg: To the north, gentrification, an extension of Manhattan, Brooklyn’s new Meatpacking District. To the south, gritty, real, the old Brooklyn.

Grand Street is more than just the dividing line between streets that are numbered north and those numbered south. The border has become Williamsburg’s equivalent of the Mason-Dixon line, cleaving the neighborhood into two: a sleek, moneyed “North Williamsburg” and a gritty, hyper-authentic “South Williamsburg.”

Our take: Anyone who’s lived in either place for more than 20 years knows the south side has gentrified too, although not as extremely as the north end post Edge and Wythe Hotel. The article correctly notes that more gentrification is heading to the south, in the form of hotels and other development projects, such as Two Trees’ redevelopment of the Domino Sugar factory complex. The Times also says, puzzlingly, that “East Williamsburg” is a coinage of recent arrivals that applies to the area between the BQE and into Bushwick. In fact, it’s the official city name for the Bushwick loft area east of Bushwick Avenue.

The Williamsburg Divide [NY Times]

9 Comment

  • eradicator

    Perhaps they have never been to the Gretsch or Smith-Grey buildings?

  • When you say “official city name for the Bushwick loft area east of Bushwick Avenue”, what exactly are you referring to? There are not really official city names for neighborhoods — even City Planning’s map of neighborhoods has a disclaimer about this.

    Maybe you are talking about the industrial park that is east of Bushwick/Woodpoint and north of Grand (or maybe Flushing)?

    • the “east williamsburg IBZ” as seen on the signs all over the place. not really in residential williamsburg or residential bushwick.

    • ianmac47

      Bushwick is south of Flushing Avenue. If its north of Flushing Avenue its East Williamsburg or Queens.

    • Cate

      Yes, the industrial park east of Bushwick Avenue and north of Flushing is officially “East Williamsburg,” according to the City, and is used that way by the police and fire departments as well as lots of media outlets. Residents call it Bushwick and have at least since the 1930s (and most likely since the area at the crossroads of Bushwick and Metropolitan was settled in the 1600s by the Dutch). Members of my family lived in south Williamsburg off Lee Avenue from the ’30s through the ’50s and owned a factory in Bushwick — in the loft area — and it was always known as Bushwick. (I used to live in Bushwick too, in the residential part south of Flushing.)

      • Everything east of Bushwick Avenue (the factory loft area) was still part of the Town of Bushwick after Williamburg seceded, and even after both towns were merged in Brooklyn, Bushwick Avenue was the dividing line between the wards in what used to be Williamsburg and what used to be Bushwick. I am not sure when these old Bushwick wards disappeared and this area was lumped into CB 1 (along with Williamsburg and Greenpoint).

        It wouldn’t surprise me if they named the industrial park after East Williamsburg in order to avoid the worst connotations of Bushwick post-riots.

  • lamb

    the southSIDE is as distinct in character from south williamsburg as it is from the northside–this article glosses right over that…

    and was there no editorial meeting where someone asked the writer wtf ‘hyper-authentic’ was supposed to mean here?

  • was this article written 10 years ago?

  • ianmac47

    This is a dopey article. The real divide is between Williamsburg — north and south — and East Williamsburg, divided along Union Avenue.