The Whitest Neighborhood in New York City

09/24/2009 4:00 AM |

It’s probably New York City’s only Republican-friendly parade. Breezy Point’s Mardi Gras celebration, held during the last weekend before summer unofficially ends, is a family-friendly burlesque, an amalgam of Labor Day, Halloween and the Fourth of July, filtered through the sensibility of the city’s right-leaning tabloids. “It’s like the Halloween parade” in the West Village, one visitor tells me—but instead of political lampoonery from the left (and bare breasts), it’s like a best of the New York Post headlines.

Aside from the cute and benign—an Elvis impersonator, kids dressed as characters from Up and Willy Wonka—marchers mock the Octomom and Michael Jackson’s doctor (a bag of prescription bottles hang from his neck, handcuffs dangle from his wrist). One family wears oversized mock-ups of Green Cards for phony immigrants like “Pierre Beret” and for others from Russia, China and Mexico that are in more questionable taste. One man tows a crudely constructed “Love Shack,” sporting a list of politicians mired in sex and corruption scandals—all conspicuously Democrats, even though the G.O.P. seems to lead the league in those infractions. Jim McGreevey, according to the handscrawl on the model house’s roof, likes to make deals in the “backroom.”

Kids in camos shoot toy machine guns, in keeping with the neighborhood’s military sympathies. Many residents are obviously veterans. One house along the parade route is slathered in USMC insignia and jingoistic banners: “Peace through strength.” A towel hanging to dry in one yard, printed with the American flag, reminds passersby that “Freedom isn’t free.” Down the road, one woman adorns her home using Halloween decorations, including a cardboard tombstone to mock (prematurely) the failure of President Obama’s healthcare overhaul.

Despite the deeply conservative sensibility, the 40th anniversary of Woodstock looms large over the parade, too. One magic-markered piece of oak tag reads, “Legalize It,” printed across a hand-drawn-and-colored pot leaf. But the hippie sympathy seems more rooted in Q104 nostalgia, a yearning for youth rather than an embrace of hallucinogen-fueled mud wrestling. I suddenly realize why I feel so out of place; it isn’t the antithetical political sympathies (I’m from Bay Ridge)—it’s that I’m the only childless twentysomething in a party full of middle-aged parents, grandparents and kids of all ages.

30 Comment

  • It does sound like the South… which is why I’ll take my chances in the Bronx any day of the week.

  • Even in the South, “It’s like the South” is rarely a compliment…

  • Only in New York City would a reporter describe a neighborhood comprised of 71.66% registered Democrats as a Republican stronghold.

  • @jan: I never called Breezy Point a “Republican stronghold”; I said its parade was “Republican-friendly” and that its political sensibilities were “deeply conservative”. Either could be possible even if a plurality of voters were registered Democrats. (Being a Dem doesn’t automatically mean you’re a gay Communist, a la Obama.) Where’d you get that statistic from, anyway?

  • You used the term “right-wing fantasy” in close reference to the number of homes with American flags. Why is the display of patriotism cynically labeled as “right-wing”; and mistakenly so in a neighborhood that is not particularly right wing? It is a very private community that is primarily Catholic and very patriotic. I will agree that most locals won’t be welcoming strangers with open arms, but one must realize; it is a neighborhood, not a resort town. It is very interesting that in New York City, what is supposed to be the most free and progressive city in the world, any small display of Republican ideals makes a neighborhood “right wing”. Whether you are from Bay Ridge or not, it seems the idea of someone publicly voicing a non-democrat opinion bothers you, as it does many New Yorkers. Freedom of speech, as long as you agree with me, seems to be the increasingly popular ideal amongst young people in a not so politically diverse New York City. Breezy Point is friendly to republicans as much as it is democrats, like it should be everywhere in America. And it is just that, friendly and hospitable, like “The South” as one resident stated. Not the implicated interpretation of “The South” as being somewhat intolerant and backwards. I suspect you were implying this, but can not tell for certain. Yet it seems some of your readers gladly picked up on your hints in this less then “friendly” editorial about an increasingly modern, thriving community. Looking at the skin color of the neighborhood should not be as important as understanding that it was a strong immigrant culture that built the community; and that culture remains. Areas throughout the city are celebrated for their immigrant cultures, which they maintain for generations, but this one in particular seems to grab negative attention for being primarily white.

  • I never referred to Breezy Point as right wing. As per the above exchange with “jan”: “I said its parade was ‘Republican-friendly’ and that its political sensibilities were ‘deeply conservative.'” I supplied many examples to illustrate those points.

    The phrase “right wing” appears once in this article, in the phrase “right wing fantasy,” which (clearly) refers to “that imaginary, idealized America that family-values Republicans are always touting,” the idea being that Breezy Point is the actual incarnation of what one could reasonably have thought only existed as myth. It’s a kind of joke! But that doesn’t mean Breezy Point is inherently “right wing,” the same way a song wouldn’t be “a socialist song” just because a socialist enjoyed hearing it.

    As for “it seems the idea of someone publicly voicing a non-democrat opinion bothers you,” I have no idea where you’re getting that, especially since I went out of my way to note that it was NOT the area’s politics that made me uncomfortable, even though I disagree with a lot of them. When did I ever suggest that freedom of speech shouldn’t exist for people who disagree with me? When I went to a neighborhood and described what I saw? Are you trolling the Internet looking to be offended about things that have offended you elsewhere?

    And the comparison to The American South is directly and explicitly connected to the friendliness of strangers, although anyone who’s been to the American South would know that that “kindness” is often quite shallow. If you think NYC is intolerant of political diversity, I’ve got a country to show you.

  • It is very obvious that the occasional display of what you call Republican ideals did somehow bother you, for example ONE home you saw that criticized Obama’s health care plan. And even in your response, you claim it’s not politics that bother you, but you disagree with “a lot” of them. How do your few examples end up being “a lot”? It is just an observation of mine that even the smallest display of opposing opinion really irk young adults in this city. And it is unfortunate that as being an apparent democrat that you feel family values and support of the military are Republican leaning ideals. Overall, it is not an argument I’m wishing to continue, I just think it is unfortunate that your reporting seems quite superficial. For some reason there is something about this small middle-class enclave that clearly makes you “uncomfortable”, but you don’t clearly seem to explain what it exactly it is.

  • Oh, this house?
    “Down the road, one woman adorns her home using Halloween decorations, including a cardboard tombstone to mock (prematurely) the failure of President Obama

  • I personally find the concept of beach ownership quite outrageous. In the UK all the beach to the high waterline is considered ‘crown’ property and 100% publicly accessible. I drove down to this little corner of NYC today and was quite amazed to see apartheid in action in the ‘land of the free’. Well you guys made your own bed, change it or lie in it ! Freedom ? Come on, you have an ethnically and financially based system of apartheid going on here.

  • you coulda got a better picture…jeez

  • As this document is over a year old, I’m surprised it took me so long to come across it. Nonetheless, fate has let the cards fall in such a way that it would be here for me to find.

    @Henry, while I’ll take heavily into consideration that you’re simply doing your job as a non-biased journalist, you have presented a piece on this neighborhood with a residue and undertone upon which the reader (present company included) can easily place their finger. To deny that it’s there would be fraudulent, the question that remains is whether or not it was intentional; I won’t ask, it’s your work and you have a right to lean in whichever journalistic direction suits you. But I would be just as untruthful if I didn’t speak to that undertone, if only to help clarify some things for you and anyone else who may happen to read this in the future.

    As a Bogota-born Colombian who was adopted into an Irish family, one would think that in a town such as Breezy Point, I would be considered ‘weird’ or ‘different.’ If you take into account that as one of the few working musicians from Breezy I am already set apart from the lot of residents here, I would still have to say that I have received the utmost respect and camaraderie from these people. Of course, the argument to this statement would be that I’ve lived here all my life, so people have had time to “Get used” to the fact that I am of a very different creed than most Breezy folk. I assure you that the same courtesy & deference has always been shown to my Non-Caucasian friends or music colleagues.

    I feel that what alot of NYC living & property commentators tend to miss when browsing through Breezy and its people is that, while conceding to the incredulity that such a place exists in an area where we’re used to a more multicultural (and crowded) environment, Rockaway & Breezy Point represent one of the oldest American living situations: a small town. John Melloncamp wrote a song of the same name to codify the things that those of us from small towns already know, but those who’ve never experienced would never fully understand. In small towns, there is bound to be fellowship, friendship, financial solidarity, and an unspoken bond even between the most distant of neighbors. Likewise, because of its modest population and limited geographical boundaries, there also exists prejudice, ignorance, a lack of the broader understanding of the world (for some), and the overall feeling of living in a bubble.

    News about Breezy Point is hard to come by, and it’s usually presented in a more moody tone by its observers. I suppose it is because small town drama rarely spills over into the rest of the world, but to those living in it, it can seem like the world is falling down around them when it does occur. In all this, though, there is little variation in the way Breezy Point conducts itself than any other small town in the United States (outside of the beach-front property), and any attempt to single out or vilify this Cooperative for its lesser qualities would hypothetically be a moot point. Of course, you’ve gone out of your way to make sure these points were present in your article too, I’m fairly certain?

    At the conclusion of this commentary, I would like to point out several things that pertain directly to your text. You have noted (with poignant italics), that NYC Police Presence in Breezy Point is on an invitation-only basis; this is only partially true, due to the fact that the patrol areas of the 100th Precinct includes Breezy Point, which, as statistics will indicate, has one of the lowest crime rates in the region – there has never once been an issue where NYPD was required where their arrival and assistance was not prompt and professional; I can personally attest to this. You have also stated that people “in general” are not invited to Breezy Point; again, this is a blanket judgement, and were it truth, it would still be within the right of the community to enforce it since it is a privately owned & operated cooperative within the City of New York (even though this is not the case, and visitors are certainly welcome; your note about the parking issues strikes me as odd too, since you would probably encounter similar – and arguably more expensive – complications by doing something stupid like myself and say, leaving your car parked without looking to see that West twenty-something street is a tow-away zone with night hours. Just an example). Finally, that quip about the seasonal Irish residents and their “tow-headed children” is missing the mark, if only by a few theoretical inches. Yes there are Irish, and yes, Breezy retains a population that is mostly White, but let us not forget the German, Norwegian, Dutch, Scottish, English, Greek, Spanish, Italian, Latino, and West Indians that at have at one time or presently call Breezy Point their home.

    If you’d like more information about Breezy Point, I’d be happy to invite you down. Just make sure to wear some sunscreen/insect repellent. It is the beach, after all.

    Joseph P. Murray

  • why dont you write a piece about boro-park brooklyn, and they’re “tight-knit” community and personal “security service?” Isn’t it the same thing really? A group of people who happen to share the same culture, living close to one another and looking out for each other? Your whole “undertone” of this article is to label Breezy Point a
    “quiet racist” town, unfriendly to anyone but they’re own. It doesnt take a journalist or “intellectual” to get the gist.

  • I just took a sh!t !

  • Dear Author of this Article,

    YOU MADE MY DAY. Any “follow-up” articles I would be GLAD to provide Hitchhiking Advice/ etc.

    Forced to Live in Breezy with parents because to broke to move out.

  • The main problem with breezy point is, the racist community
    blocks access to a state park. There are signs and fences blocking the entrance to a state park! I recommend to people of all colors to visit the park, it’s beautiful and blocking it to the public is illegal.

  • @lulacleo. At no point in this community is there a fence blocking you from government property. There is access to all parts of the park from public accessible roads. If you have a problem with the access of those entrance’s take it up with the federal government and tell them to fix your so called “ILLEGAL” problem. We are a gated community. There are gated communities across the country. Why is Breezy point such a big deal?

  • Breezy point is not a’s part QUEENS! These neighbors banned together, put gates and flags around their houses..Gated Community! LOL MOTHER NATURE just moved in!!! gate That!


  • How is it possible that the NYPD can only enter when invited?!? Correct me if I’m wrong but…didn’t 15 of their houses burn down??? So I just wanna know if they ‘invited’ FEMA, NYPD…fire brigades etc to help them or suits they use their own resources to help themselves?

    Feel sorry for all Hurricane Sandy victims but perhaps this could be…karma? We reap what we sow

  • What a racist headline!

  • You need to stop getting information from teenage kids who are mad at the parents because there friends are from Brooklyn or the rockaways. Listen breezy has its faults(like everywhere) but this the most inaccurate article I have ever read about breezy point. Breezy is an amazing place to retire/raise your children. Where else in all of new York city can you allow a 13 year old child go out to the beach or just walk around and hang put with thier friends alone without having to worry about them getting mugged or jumped? Please stop hating on breezy.

    A former breezy point resident

  • The celebrated racism is exactly why hurricane Sandy wrecked that sh*thole. There’s Mexicans and Blacks are in the lower part of the Rockaways and lost absolutely nothing. God know’s what he’s doing.


  • I’m sorry for Breezy Point because Hurricane Sandy gave them a blow that’s going to take some time to recover from. I’ll say a prayer for all of those who lost everything!

  • Folks on both sides of the issue, please talk reasonably and give your points of view so we can start understanding one another. I have no problems with folk wanting to live with their own! I like that when we’re in total control just like in Breezy Point!

  • Hi,

    I grew up a typical Upper Middle Class White/Jewish Liberal in Westchester, NY. I have lived in NYC, and mostly Brooklyn, for almost 2 decades now. You are flat out wrong when you say Breezy Point is the whitest community or the only right-wing community in NYC. ALL of the white ethnic strongholds in NYC are right-wing… All native-new yorker, native Brooklynite whites, including the Jews (and almost all white Native New Yorkers are Irish, Italian or Jewish), are right wing now. They all display American flags everywhere (as a big f-you to Third World immigrants, which they drown in)….

    And you know what? I’m on their side now too…

    I agree some of the parade goers carried inappropriate signs.

    But you must try to understand “these white people”, these working class white folk you are so quick to point fingers at. Many have had 100’s of awful/racist/nasty experiences with blacks, latinos, asians , etc. Many are “Fed Up” with political correctness on black/latino crime and the entire paradigm of “white racism” being the problem.


    So what’s the difference between that and a gated community?

    I know African Black, Caribbean and Latino folks down in the Caribbean and Africa who almost always live in gated communities with armed security guards…the wealthier ones, that is…. They almost have to. The violent crime in such places is out of control. Living in a gated community is one way to keep your head from being blown off over a piece of jewelry.

    You guys are coming across as typical Rich White Liberal/Stuff White People Like Hypocritical Double Standard bearers.

    You’re too busy attacking other working class “white” people to care about the onslaught of anti-white hatred ALL “whites” and people of European descent face, including Jews.

    I only wish you could have walked in our shoes…

    Btw, I do NOT live in a gated community or have a doorman or a buzzer…I live in a community in Brooklyn that is so safe, none of that is needed. While the community in it’s totality is predominantly white middle/working class, I would argue I live on one of the most ethnically diverse streets in NYC. I have neighbors of all races and from 100’s of national backgrounds. They also enjoy living in a “safe”, non-ghetto, non-thuggish neighborhood.

    I don’t hate you… I can’t… I was one of you. Please try to understand where people like us are coming from.

    How’s little Johnny’s application to Private School going?

    Us “right-wingers” actually go to schools with (ghetto) Blacks, actually ride the subways to work, actually have to interact with all these lovely, perfect “diverse peoples” you put on a pedestal but have no real world experience with.

  • @Joseph P. Murray

    I am an ex-liberal/right wing white person who also has an adopted Latino/Brown relative who I care for like a sister…At the same time, I hold pretty strong anti-immigration views, for a pleathora of reasons, cultural, racial, economic , etc. It is what it is… You’re an ASSIMILATED Latino.

    White Liberals don’t “get” that just because certain whites are angry about black/non-white racism or political correctness on race or black crime doesn’t mean that translates into being abusive towards non-whites, it just means we’re more honest about the situation. We’re tired of the abuse we receive from non-whites being denied away and also tired of being called “racists” for not wanting to put up with endless racial tension and black crime.

    I would imagine Breezy Point is surrounded by some pretty thuggish, ghetto hoods and housing projects… There is no reason people would want to live around that riff-raff and the crime and tension it brings. It’s barely “living”. White Suburbanites do the SAME THING when they go to live in 90%+ white suburbs… Except you white liberals LIE to yourselves about why you move to those suburbs….

    Also, BREEZY POINT IS *NOT THE ONLY 90%, 95%, 98%+ WHITE NEIGHBORHOOD IN NYC! ARE YOU KIDDING ME? PARK SLOPE 100% WHITE LIBERAL/LEFT WING YET IS LILY WHITE, ALL OF MANHATTAN BELOW HARLEM IS LILY WHITE… Open up your eyes! And your Latino Door Man doesn’t count as “diversity”, White Liberal. Yeah, Ok, there’s a few white males in the building with Asian wives… get over yourself! Yeah, ok, there’s like 2 Housing Projects in Park Slope that add a few blacks to the neighborhood… and they live in their own sub-world, their own sub-section of Park Slope. I see you White Liberals never eat the Mcdonalds with them there, do you? And they notice that too.

    Btw, I lived in a Puerto Rican hood for 2 years and experienced no crime and no tension, no racial nastiness, so this is really an American Black problem we’re talking about. No one wants to live around/deal with (ghetto) American Blacks… and they all have their reasons. It’s not just the crime, it’s the hostile attitude and endless racial fighting.

    IT’S A KNOWN AND OBVIOUS FACT THAT IT IS NOT JUST “WHITES” SELF-SEGREGATING ANYMORE… EVERYONE IS DOING IT… Why don’t you go beat up on the Chinese for having China-towns… How does China-town become China-town? Not through diversity… through a lot of self-selection I would say. Ditto for Latinos. Everyone has their own hoods in NYC… it’s what makes NYC NYC…


    A White Ex-Liberal

    PS…. Really, you guys are so hypocritical with your 95% white liberal /non-diverse neighborhoods (do I have to list them all? UWS, UES, The Village (blacks may pass through, but none live there), Midtown, Carroll Gardens, Park Slope, Brooklyn Heights, on and on and on) and the worst part about it is you’re not even aware of it or conscious of your own hypocrisy.

    Most of the white right-wing hoods are now more diverse than yours… Grow up and join the real world. Almost all right-wingers have more experience living with/dealing with/working with/interacting with large groups of blacks, latinos, and asians than you do.

  • Hey Rich White Liberal Hipster Yuppie Transplants:

    This is “The Real NYC”…
    Some of us still live in “Real” Neighborhoods too… Perhaps some of this right-wing bashing is just your residual resentment of white native new yorkers coming out?

    Oh, and if it seems “racist”, maybe you will take into consideration this movie is directed by Spike Lee , a real Native New Yorker, albeit , in my opinion a hateful black racist. That being said, I have to give him credit (and whatever Jewish guy who wrote the film) for being honest and encapsulating in it’s most perfect sense what NYC , the Polyglot, is really like.

  • My only comment is that the majority of those residents in”Boozy Point” get either a government income or a government pension of one kind or another, and yet most are enthusiastic supporters of people like Limbaugh, Hannity, and Beck, who would privatize almost all of the public sector and turn secure pensions to Wall St. backed IRA’S. Another example of voting against ones own interest!