Tuesday, April 8, 2014


Banks, developers, New York politicians and the filthy rich set out to usurp this active multi-racial, multi-ethnic community. Following their plans, they succeeded in forcing out middle class Caucasian residents, factories and scores of diverse shops.
The planners replaced communities with high-rise condos for the filthy rich. As one resident said in the America Reframed documentary - (paraphrase) - Building condos will bring many jobs, for a short time. But condos do not provide long-term jobs.
Ordinary people, some who had lived and worked in the area for decades, could no longer afford to live there. The neighbourhood around the rising condos decayed. Joe Sitt, the developer who apparently - along with New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg - initiated this butchery - pulled out billions in profits.
Phyllis Carter

This article  appeared just hours ago in the New York Daily News, announcing a new night market that will be installed along Grove Pl. in Downtown Brooklyn.

The writer describes the alleyway as "dingy," "forlorn," and "neglected," which are perhaps reasonable descriptors if you take Grove Pl. as an isolated alley disembodied from any surroundings.

But Grove Pl. sits in the context of the Fulton Mall area, a historically thriving African-American and Caribbean space that has long been maligned by journalists and city officials using similar descriptors.

This article thus relates to a wider American discourse associating black spaces with failure, decline, and social pathology. Such seemingly benign media tidbits contain a subtler and more insidious message, though. They suggest that spaces that are suddenly desired by wealthy, privileged people were previously of no value to anyone.

While some spaces are definitely abandoned, often times they are simply (and incorrectly) perceived as abandoned, or forgotten, or "forlorn," because they are unappealing to outsiders.

"I wouldn't go there, so it must not be in use, or of importance to anyone," is how the logic generally goes. It may well be that Grove Pl. as an isolated stretch of street is indeed empty and forlorn, but its immediate surrounding context is anything but.

By itself, this article is harmless enough. But in the context of the carefully constructed public discourse that for decades has been pushing an image of Downtown Brooklyn as a failure, it does just a little bit more to distort the reality–and trumpet the gentrification–of one of New York City's most interesting and celebrated urban spaces.



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