To be or to remain

VILLAGE PAST, (GENTRIFIED) VILLAGE PRESENT

Gentrification:

will the village's "oomph" eventually be lost?

Greenwich Village, West Village, "anything but the East," even the neighborhood's name is up for constant debate and change. Are its residents and culture up for change, too?

Though Carry Bradshaw lived in the Upper East Side, her apartment’s popular façade is in the heart of the Village. “I believe Sex and the City played a big role on West Village becoming really trendy,” said Antonio Cárdenas. The brownstone front on 66 Perry Street has been flooded by tourists over the years that a stoop sign was made: "DO NOT go on staircase please."

Not even Sarah Jessica Parker can trespass the steps.

The 23-year-old moved to New York about a year ago; even though he’s a recent neighbor, signs of gentrification have not gone unnoticed. “I think in West Village not many people are like hustling, everyone pretty much made it already,” he said.

 

But within that hustle and bustle, financial strains can be seen when walking down Bleecker Street. The juxtaposition of high-end luxury shops and boutiques against papered windows and closed storefronts calls for one to question what the problem lies underneath when there are numerous closed shutters but affluent neighbors.

Greenwich Village – along with other neighborhoods around New York – are experiencing city economics damage, classified as “high-rent blight,” when rent becomes so expensive because of a neighborhood’s prosperity that residents cannot keep up with the locality’s rising property values.

 

Jeremiah Moss has tracked the city’s transforming streetscape on his blog since 2007, Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York. According to him, Bleecker Street is the vivid example of high-rent blight, “a symptom of late-stage gentrification,” reported the New York Times.

In Greenwich Village it seems like no one’s immune. From the closing of long-established neighborhood shops as well as luxury brand stores and Village residents, high-priced rent affects everyone.

 

Professor Terence Moran has been at NYU since 1960 when he enrolled as an undergraduate. “It [the Village] was very inexpensive, and it wasn’t so built up,” he said. When he was an undergraduate, later turned member of the faculty in the seventies, “you could rent an apartment on Thompson or Sullivan Street, let’s say between Third and Bleecker, or Third and Houston, about $70 a month.”

With such high costs for living in the neighborhood now, is there space for freelancers? What happens with local artists and long-established communities? Is the Village’s essence being driven out as well?

The West Village is “where the streets are so tiny, so isolated from the hubbub of the rest of the city, they have managed to stay trapped in a time warp,” said Barry Benepe to the New York Times.

 

Time warped or not, the valley between the Empire State and the One World Trade Center appears to be slowly drifting. To where? Who knows exactly? Predictions vary, but change is ever-happening. Seems like the Village’s “time warp” quality isn’t as safe and sound as one might have thought.

All content is original unless stated otherwise.

Text, design, and multimedia by Laura S. Diaz

2020

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