North 6th Street in Williamsburg. Photo by Mary Hautman

Gentrification. It’s one of those words that gets thrown around in the media and casual conversation. It’s a diagnosis slapped onto the opening of a funky coffee shop or the closing of a well-loved store. It can mean whole communities displaced, significant racial change, and increased homelessness.

But what exactly is gentrification? And is it always a bad thing?


A scene from the block party, circa late 1970s. Photo via New York Magazine

Through a combination of census data, sweet potato pie recipes and interviews with 62 block residents, both current and former, New York Magazine reporters attempted to gauge the essence of one block of Bed Stuy’s MacDonough Street, from Patchen Avenue to Malcolm X Boulevard.


In honor of Brownstoner’s Steel Anniversary, we asked a number of longtime Brooklynites — from borough bigwigs to longtime Brownstoner readers, in neighborhoods from Cobble Hill to Flatlands — for their thoughts on how Brooklyn has changed since the site was founded in 2004.

Here’s their take on gentrification, Brooklyn’s international reputation, the real estate market, Atlantic Yards and more.


Brooklyn is known as the “borough of churches,” but it is gaining a reputation as a borough of books. Steeped in literary history, it is home to some of the greatest writers and characters in literature.

We all know the classics. But what are the best books that embody Brooklyn’s spirit today? On Friday, the Brooklyn Eagles, volunteer fundraisers for the Brooklyn Public Library, gave their answer.