Change. It’s a fact of urban life. Businesses come and go. Neighborhoods rise and fall and rise again. But a new interdisciplinary project — popping up in businesses throughout Prospect Heights — explores the effects of the neighborhood’s recent dramatic changes in an effort to inform the future of Brooklyn development.
In the early 2000s, urbanist Gabrielle Bendiner-Viani asked Prospect Heights residents to take her on tours of the area, sharing the landmarks of their personal experience. Her impromptu guides brought her to places like the Met Foods grocery store, P.S. 9 and Sharlene’s Bar — the hotspots of normal, everyday life.
Bendiner-Viani documented these places and recorded their stories as part of her PhD research in Environmental Psychology. Now, 15 years later and under the auspices of her critical studio Buscada, she’s revisiting the same spots in a new project: Intersection | Prospect Heights.
The interdisciplinary project includes a series of neighborhood guides, small pop-up exhibitions about the area’s recent past, guided tours and public conversations exploring how the Prospect Heights neighborhood has transformed over the last decade and a half.
Many of the old stores have closed, and new venues catering to a different clientele have sprung up. When Bendiner-Viani began researching Prospect Heights in the early 2000s, the neighborhood’s African American population was at 55 percent and only 15 percent of residents earned more than $100,000 a year. In the intervening years, the African American population shrank to 30 percent and the number of residents earning more than $100,000 a year grew to 41 percent.
“Construction underway today in Prospect Heights is expected to add more than 14,000 new residents over the next decade — a population increase of more than 70 percent,” said Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council (PHNDC) Chair Gib Veconi in a press release for the project. “We hope the dialogue fostered by Intersection| Prospect Heights will help our neighborhood approach the changes yet to come.”
In addition to on-site exhibitions and events, Intersection | Prospect Heights encourages New Yorkers to share their own stories about neighborhood places — both online and at two events hosted by the Central Branch of the Brooklyn Public Library.
For a full list of events and activities, visit www.inter-section.org.
[Photos: via Gabrielle Bendiner-Viani]
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