Gentrification Much? Williamburg Hipsters Move 100 Miles Up the Hudson Valley

05/26/2010 2:51 PM |

market market

Wow, talk about gentrification. This Times piece tells us the story of tiny Rosendale, New York, one of countless small Hudson Valley towns left economically depressed by the departure of industry (in this case, a cement plant). Well, as has often happened with economically depressed, former industrial locales across the First World, pioneering creative types have arrived, looking for space and light and affordability. And honestly, it sounds pretty good to me (well, except for the guy who commutes to the city by bus).

The focal point for the “hipsterization” of Rosendale (and remember, I still think hipsters are good, not evil) is a place called Market Market, a cafe/cultural general store serving such au courant NYC fare as bahn mi, bibimbap and of course, New American comfort food. Market Market was started by former Williamsburgers Trippy Thompson and Jennifer Constantine, who you might remember (if you are old like me) as the funny, amiable bartender at the Brooklyn Ale House, and the lady who DJ’ed at Diner (among many other things, of course).

This Hudson Valley spur of New York hipsterdom isn’t exactly a new thing, as artsier types have been moving upstate for generations, lured by affordability and the absolutely breathtaking beauty of the area. In the interest of full disclosure, my wife and I are lucky enough to have a place on the border of Dutchess and Columbia Counties, about ten minutes from the Bard College campus and its de facto town, Tivoli. Yes, this is the Tivoli upon whose female populace Griffin Dunne once creepily opined:

The women all look like Dylan’s girlfriends from his early album covers. The type of sad-eyed ladies who roll their own cigarettes, have pottery clay under their fingernails and listen to Cat Power bootlegs while driving around in their rickety pickup trucks.

This passage, of course, is from Dunne’s appropriately titled piece, “Brooklyn on the Hudson“—and it’s kind of true, if not quite as impossibly romantic. Bard is basically a Williamsburg finishing school, and the streets of Tivoli occasionally seem like an extension of Bedford Avenue. For some, that seems horrible, for others (like me) it’s not so bad.

But is this particular strain of gentrification a good thing for the towns themselves? Well, in Tivoli’s case, with its built-in source of monied habitués just down the road at Bard, it probably is, as small businesses stand a good chance of lasting, creating a real sense of continuity and community that benefits everyone, newbie and townie alike. However, I’ve also seen cases upstate where really lovely folks from the city have opened wonderful little stores or restaurants in tiny little towns, only to close a year or two later. And that’s probably what’s lacking in this Times piece, the “townie” perspective, which might not have made for such a pleasant little story.

Anyway, I do wish Trippy and Jennifer all the success in the world, and I’ll definitely be making a detour to Rosendale sometime this summer.

3 Comment

  • I was raised in Wappingers Falls, a tiny town upstate sandwiched between Poughkeepsie and Beacon. I’ve been monitoring (from afar – perhaps if I don’t get too close, then it can’t be true) this discussion of the gentrification of upstate since I left my hometown four years ago to attend NYU. I’ve witnessed Beacon’s gentrification, through its main street facelift and the increasing popularity of the tiny gem of a modern art museum DIA Beacon (where I first discovered Sol Lewitt and Bruce Nauman…alas). While I must admit that I do revel in the resulting cozy coffee shops, I wish to do so without the self-consciouss atmosphere of most NYC establishments. After spending my obligatory new-to-NYU time romping around Williamsburg, I returned upstate and realized I much prefer the catcalls of the lurking highschoolers to the indifferent stares of the displaced NYC hipsters. Is it too much to ask to be able to listen to the Smiths while driving a Subaru Outback and NOT be stereotyped as too-hip-for-the-zeitgeist?

  • Thank you for this insight and great humorous writing – a number of mini-Brooklyns have been popping up along the Hudson for the last decade, but maybe we shouldn’t tell so many people about it. After 12 years in Williamsburg I can tell you the drawbacks about endless trumpeting about the artists lifestyle and it’s vibrant culture to your friends in Manhattan. Once they get over their timidity, they come. The Bedford of today is really just a mall version of itself from even five years ago, complete with a total consumer mindset, loud mouthed frat boys, chattering valley girls, their well heeled parents sizing up the suitability of the neighborhood, and the afore-mentioned timid sheep who decided now the area is “safe” enough. Safe? Yes. Nearly dead actually. And while the term is still bandied about by websites, actual hipsters left a little while ago. Granted, rezoning and developers helped kill it, but…..next time I move to a new artists community, I’m keeping quiet.

  • I moved to Greenpoint when I first came to New York about a decade ago and I loved the feeling of community we had then. You never had to call your friends, just pop down to Enid’s and there they were. There were always shows and projects, it was a lot of fun. Now in my mid thirties, I’m a mother of two young boys living in Ridgewood Queens. I often dream of taking off to raise my kids closer to nature where they could dig in the dirt without discovering live bullets (true story). As much as I want to give my kids the access to nature and clean air, I’m stopped by the unknown. I want to do some exploring but don’t even know where to start. I’ve been to Saugerties/Woodstock and New Paltz. What areas do you suggest?