Bed-Stuy Gentrification Defined in One Handy Map

by |
09/08/2010 4:54 PM |


Brownstoner got to walk through 315 Gates, the newly constructed 72-unit condo development that’s been going up on Bedford and Gates, across from the Bed-Stuy YMCA (go Piranhas!). As you can see from this map, on their website’s Neighborhood page, these “Clinton Hill & Bed-Stuy Condos” have a bit of a problem.

So, ok, look. If you own a building and are advertising apartments in that building on craigslist, and that building is east of Classon Avenue and west of Marcy Avenue (don’t say Tompkins, don’t even try to say Tompkins), it is acceptable to label that apartment as being in “Clinton Hill/Bed-Stuy”, even though everybody knows that Bed-Stuy starts at Classon. (Yes it does. Don’t say Franklin. DON’T EVEN TRY TO SAY FRANKLIN.)

Mislabeling this section of Bed-Stuy as “Clinton Hill” just saves Pratt kids and other young creative professionals time in finding the Fort Greene-area apartment they can actually afford. And then everybody drinks beer at Sweet Revenge and coffee at Tiny Cup and works out on the ellipticals at the Y and occasionally gets their iPhone stolen and swells with pride every time somebody asks them where they live and they say “Bed-Stuy,” and the neighborhood becomes fractionally gentrified but in a nice way that doesn’t result in the black families abandoning their beautiful brownstones and then everybody is happy.

But there is something a bit different, and a bit more ambitious, about telling home-buyers that your new condo development “is located at the intersection of the growing art-infused community of Clinton and the historic, tree-lined neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant.”

It’s not at the intersection, it’s in Bedford (as in Bedford Avenue) Stuyvesant. Christ, look how far from the center of its own neighborhood map this condo development is. “See this vibrant neighborhood, that you will be adjacent to?” It’s like if they hide Bed-Stuy, and all its playgrounds, fast food, churches, and alternately beautiful and desolate blocks, from prospective buyers, tucking that part of the map under the legend—if everybody looks really hard in the same direction—then the Western border of Bed-Stuy will become Clinton Hill. And then, of course, the demographics will change in ways that renters would never have been capable of pulling off, and that even the gentrifiers never intended.

2 Comment

  • Hi. Not grasping the point of your article. Are you simply examining or explaining a component of the process of gentrification (that’s been around for a while) whereby a neighborhood map is created showing the “new” center of a neighborhood, thereby influencing a customer’s decision to buy or rent? Or are you just realizing that these maps are frequently used as marketing and financing tools to assist in the process of rebuilding and revitalizing a neighborhood? It might be prudent to take a drive (or walk) through Detroit sometime where you will see blocks and blocks and blocks of abandoned brownstones and homes that have been in that state for years, long before the current recession. Maybe someday, someone, somewhere will draw a new map for Detroit’s neighborhood revitalization.

  • Yes, maybe somebody will draw a map of a Detroit new development in which Detroit is pushed far to the side of the map, which identifies all the cool things there are to do in Ann Arbor. That is how Detroit will be revitalized: through the positive energies of people who have to be tricked into living in Detroit.