Thursday, October 4, 2012

Brooklyn Timeline: Williamsburg

Posted By on Thu, Oct 4, 2012 at 9:10 AM

Page 10 of 10

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2005-Present Day: You Know You've Arrived as a Neighborhood When the New York TImes Develops an Unhealthy Obsession With Your Every Move

2005 was a big year for Williamsburg because it was the year of the rezoning of the Williamsburg waterfront. The area was rezoned because it had only been approved for industrial use, a remnant from the days when WIlliamsburg had a booming factory-based economy. 75 blocks and 375 acres were rezoned into mixed use (commercial and residential) land and, as I read on, "in exchange for letting developers build tall luxury condominiums along the waterfront, the city required them to make 20 percent of the new developments affordable housing units — an incentive known as inclusionary housing." The housing market crash changed everything, though, and Williamsburg became known for those vacant skeletal building, just waiting for their glass skins.

And what's the state of the rezoning today? Seven years later? Well, "today, about one-third of the originally projected number of housing units have been created, and about 20 percent of the affordable housing units have been built. The waterfront park, which was supposed to cost $20 million, will now cost the city well over $200 million." Okay, then!

It's difficult to get much perspective on the Williamsburg of today because we are in it—wow, are we IN IT—and Williamsburg has become this idea of "hipsterdom" and "gentrification." However, looking back at its history, it is easy to see that there was no clear trajectory that got diverted by an influx of artists in the 90s. In fact, the history of Williamsburg demonstrates that the absorption of wave after wave of newcomers has been one of the neighborhood's defining characteristics, much more so than other places in Brooklyn. Perhaps it's only because of its location, right on the edge of Brooklyn and across the river from Manhattan, but Williamsburg has always seemed a bit like a port city. People flock to it and then they leave. The neighborhood evolves, the city evolves, its story is in the hands of those who write it, those who live it, those who love it.

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About The Author

Kristin Iversen

Kristin Iversen

Kristin Iversen is the Managing Editor at Brooklyn Magazine and the L Magazine. She has been described as "a hipster buzzword made flesh." This seems pretty accurate.

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