The Whitest Neighborhood in Brooklyn

04/12/2011 11:00 AM |

I am nowhere in Brooklyn I would ever want to be. Behind me, the New Utrecht Avenue subway station looks like a remnant of human civilization from Planet of the Apes, or at least the 1920s. Its every aspect, from the peeling, probably poisonous paint to the adjacent yard full of trash, suggests a neighborhood not just neglected, but shunned.

There’s nothing ahead but dilapidated industrial warehouses, their broken windows straight out of a textbook on urban disorder. Even the sun this Sunday afternoon seems to be shining absurdly, as if it too fears what might happen here when the light gets dim. That guardian sun is a comfort, my only comfort, as I trek deep into the whitest part of Brooklyn.

According to recent maps of census data, the heart of Borough Park—from 13th to 20th Avenues and roughly 45th to 55th Streets—is overwhelmingly white. Many census tracts report high numbers of white residents—96 percent, 97 percent—but rarely (if never) are there several such areas all together like this. There’s even an area of nearly 10 square blocks that reported 100 percent white. One. Hundred. Percent. White.

What are these 60 square blocks like? There was only one way to find out.

19 Comment

  • Maybe if you came into this neighborhood without already deciding you would be an outcast there, your writing would have some perspective, or an interesting commentary on life in Borough Park. Not the case, obviously, but I truly appreciate your moment of epiphany, that the people that live in this neighborhood ” look professional. Probably harmless.” Good for you!!! god.

  • What is the point of this article? Obviously Borough Park, an overwhelmingly Hasidic Jewish neighborhood, will be heavily white. Why is this noteworthy? And why are you treating a visit to this neighborhood like some sort of safari expedition?

  • So the piece aimed to be funny, I’m figuring; it missed. By a wide mark. The ooh-scary-white-hood conceit wasn’t even sustained, it just petered out into a whine on insularity (based, apparently, on 2 conversations, one of which was apparently cordial and mellow). Trivial snark scented with snobbery and a faint pong of anti-Semitism (whether the writer is a self-announced Jew or not) doth not equal urban comedy.

  • I thought it was a fine piece. Anyone who has ever visited this area knows it’s not welcoming of “outsiders.”

  • Yes, let’s stereotype! What a pathetic article, neither informative or funny. Why would the author state “I try my best to be invisible in plain sight”? That maybe appropriate if you were central booking, but why would one need to be “invisible” in Borough Park anyway? Then in the same article this fool complains that the store owner is not paying her enough attention? I know the L is a free magazine, but do you really need publish this kind of adolescent garbage? Most 10th graders could come up with better. Losers.

  • I can relate. Been there before, felt equally unwelcomed, not going back again. Stop getting your lotkas in a twist, people. The nasty comments on here only attest to the neighborhood’s reputation.

  • “I am nowhere in Brooklyn I would ever want to be”. A super opening.

    Yup Borough Park is Orthodox Jewish and insular. You really wrote deeply about your experience in this community.

    L magazine, why? Why not pay this non-good freelancer to write a poorly written piece of shit? I read your magazine, most of it is very well-written and interesting.

    You know this piece is just massively shitty.

    A quote from her twitter: “Boys are like internships”.

    Come. The. Fuck. On.

    Oh wait, she’s your intern. Yay!!!!!! She gets to write for you!

    Sydney, you wrote hatefully about people you dislike in a hood you don’t want to be in with second-hand “friend of a friend” bullshit vomited into your terrible fucking story. Stop writing about things, you coddled untalented fuck.

  • you edited what I wrote about your intern’s shitty article.

  • @nearkensington
    We pulled your comment because it crossed the ad hominem line.

  • You should have let people decide that. Most of what I wrote is what people have written, maybe an extra fuck or two which I apologize for.

    Jonny Diamond, you know in your heart how bad the writing in that article was.

    I am done with it though, honestly and in future my comments will be less “ad hominem” attacking than that one.

  • @nearkensington
    “I am done with it though, honestly and in future my comments will be less “ad hominem” attacking than that one.”

    Glad to hear it.

  • @LogicalDude, matt wwc
    You guys are fucking idiots

    no ad hominem attacks on this website. You were glad to hear I stopped. Would you like to go to “ad hominem attacks” therapy? I know a place in Park Slope, really cheap.

  • @nearkensington
    “no ad hominem attacks on this website.” I don’t think I said that. Yours just crossed a line.

  • No you didn’t say that. My point was that you seem to engage in the same attack you said I crossed the line with “You guys are fucking idiots” feels like a personal attack if written to me.

    A bigger issue than all this is having an intern on your staff who took the opportunity to slam an entire neighborhood without having anything interesting or intelligent to write about it seemingly other than “This place is creepy”.

    She interviewed people only to slam them. And I am someone who is reform Jew and is fascinated in many ways by Borough Park and it’s 90+% Orthodox Jew resident. But the article was ridiculous. And pretty much every comment here, mine included, have confirmed the cutesy prejudice in your author’s writing.

    I think it’s pretty much covered at this point

  • Apologies for my bad punctuation. Sorry to fill up the Internet with more of that.

  • @nearkensington
    As for ad hominem attacks, it’s obviously a very subjective line. And in the autocratic space of TheLMagazine.com, I’m in control of that line. This may not be fair, or just, but it is so.

  • It’s rare for anyone to acknowledge a mistake (let alone one in the public sphere), but you did. Mazel tov — a very mensch thing to do!

  • stupid article, whats next …Most Russian Neighborhood In Brooklyn—Brighton Beach!!