In a piece from the Times‘ Real Estate section about how Grand is the new Bedford, the owner of a bar on Roebling (that’s “in a former liquor store that had a bulletproof window where you’d slide your money in and a bottle would come sliding out”) explains how far the neighborhood has come. “Back then,” the bar owner-sculptor, who lives in Williamsburg with his wife and two young children, told the paper, “we’d find nine-millimeter shells in the street outside.” Oh, wow. When is he talking about—like, 1977?
While there may well have been casings littering Grand Street sidewalks less than a decade ago, the imagery’s implication of a gun-infested ghetto strikes some as ludicrous. “Anecdotal evidence from agents of gentrifications about ‘how the neighborhood used to be’ are always suspect,” Williamsburg resident and gentrification-critic Dennis Farr wrote on his Facebook page. “Five years from now, when interviewing agents of gentrification who will be moving into Williamsburg then, there will be reference to 2005 as ‘the bad before,’ and for agents after that it will be 2010, and so on and so on. The point is that this fictional terror is used by real estate to make a sale, not to tell about a community.”
“When agents of gentrification describe ‘crime’ in Williamsburg,” he continues, “it is typically vicarious, not directly expressed or suffered. Here, there is no gunshot fired, no gunshot struck, no gunshot heard—merely ‘9-millimeter shell casings’ found.”