2003-2015: 12 Years in the Life of One Very Big Borough and One Very Tiny Magazine

07/15/2015 6:39 AM |



Weird news you may have heard already: As of today, July 15th, The L Magazine will no longer be published as a print magazine. This is neither tragic nor particularly sad nor further proof that everything is fucked. It is rather–and we realize this may seem like a line of bullshit–a decision we’ve made so that we can focus on and grow our sister publication, Brooklyn Magazine, which, starting in September, will go from being a quarterly publication to a monthly one. This is very exciting.

It’s become common to sentimentalize the Brooklyn of the very recent past; it doesn’t take much encouragement before people begin to wax nostalgic about the way things used to be before the condos went up, or this bar closed, or that chain store opened, or these people moved out, or these other people moved in. It’s an understandable tendency, this need to reflect upon a now-broken past; we do it in order to better understand our present, and to make sense of the decisions we’ll need to make to build our future.

Understandable as it is, though, we’ve always rejected this type of precious remembrance at The L—even when this magazine turned 10 a couple of years ago, we spent no time celebrating our own history, but rather took the opportunity to highlight a host of other Brooklyn businesses which had taken root and thrived in this borough long before anyone had ever heard of a ramen burger.

And so now, in this last print issue of The L, we can’t really just break character completely, can we? We can’t just reject everything we’ve ever stood for and rhapsodize about our place in Brooklyn’s recent history, can we? No, we can’t. And really, we don’t want to. Because in looking back over the things that have happened in this borough over the last 12 years, since the very first orange L box appeared on a street corner near you (or maybe not near you? we never quite perfected that part of our distribution), we realize how transient all of this stuff that makes up this borough, these neighborhoods, these streets—our lives—really is.

But don’t just take our word for it. We thought we’d take you back through the last 12 years of Brooklyn history so you could see for yourself how fleeting everything really is, yes, but also how some things might die a real death, whereas others become transformed, reborn. Ok, fine: Maybe we’re getting a little nostalgic. It happens.


March 27
The Smoking Ban
It’s hard to remember a time when going out for the night meant you were guaranteed to come home reeking of cigarette smoke—about as hard to remember as a time when a pack of Camel Lights cost $2.50. Well, this was the year everything changed; in March, Bloomberg enacted his pet public safety act—a smoking ban in all bars and restaurants—and New York instantly got healthier. And, you know, much less cool.

April 3
The L Magazine Is Born
Founded by brothers Scott and Daniel Stedman and based on the French weekly Pariscope, this designed-to-fit-in-your-pocket magazine was given what would prove to be an endlessly confounding name (is it like Elle? the L train? The L Word? uh, no) and distributed in orange boxes around lower Manhattan.

Apr 30
The Rezoning of Park Slope
While not as talked about now as the massive rezoning of the Williamsburg waterfront, the rezoning of Park Slope is to thank for all those condos lining 4th Avenue. You know, the ones that stand tall among the squat profiles of the taxi garages and auto repair shops. So, thanks?

June 21
Albany Extends Landlord Powers:
Lest you think that the high rent insanity of 2015 is a recent development, rest assured that the groundwork for all this was laid in Albany more than a decade ago, when Senate Republicans pushed through a measure allowing landlords to get rid of rent regulations on thousands of apartments. One State Senate Democrat called it a “declaration of nuclear war on rent-regulated tenants in New York.”

Murder of City Councilman James Davis by political rival Othniel Askew:
It was a dark day for Brooklyn politics when Councilman Davis was gunned down by Askew inside City Hall. Askew was at City Hall as a guest of Davis’s that day, which is why both men were allowed to skirt the metal detectors. Askew was shot and killed on the scene.

July 27
The New York Times asks “Has Billburg Lost Its Cool?”
Is there something we love more than when the Paper of Record visits Brooklyn? Not that we can think of! Crazy to think that the Times had apparently given up on Williamsburg years before it even discovered the existence of man-buns.

August 14
The City Goes Dark:
Definitely the most notable thing that happened in 2003 (sorry founding-of-The-L: You’re number two!) the Great Blackout of 2003 affected not only Brooklyn, but all of New York City. (And, you know, much of the Northeast corridor. So, like, “upstate.”) This blackout was notable not only because, you know, TOTAL DARKNESS, but also because there was very little looting or crime associated with it, and there was an overall feeling of citywide harmony and togetherness. This stood in stark contrast to the fire- and looting-filled hellscape that was the Blackout of 1977, but seemed instead to carry on the spirit of a city that had, in recent years, weathered so much worse than just a temporary lack of refrigeration.

December 10
Jay-Z and Mayor Mike Bloomberg Head Out to Brooklyn to Support the Announcement of Bruce Ratner’s New Arena:
Capping off the year came the official announcement that Brooklyn would be the home of its very own arena. Brooklyn’s own Jay-Z and Boston’s own Mike Bloomberg came out in support of the Underworld’s own Bruce Ratner as he made the announcement about the impending arrival of the as-yet-to-be-named Barclays Center.

The City Starts Counting Days Between Homicides:
While the crime rate had been steadily dropping for years at this point, this was the first time that the city was able to say, Hey! We can actually go whole days without a murder! We should record that. And so they did.

• The Mark Bar, Greenpoint
• Videology, Williamsburg
• Gimme! Coffee, Williamsburg

• Fiery Furnaces Gallowsbird’s Bark
• TV on the Radio Young Liars EP
• Jay-Z The Black Album

The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
Lucky Girls by Nell Freudenberger
Oracle Night by Paul Auster
What I Loved by Siri Hustvedt
The Fortress of Solitude by Jonathan Lethem
The Hipster Handbook is published by the people behind great local blog Free Williamsburg.

Real Estate Notes
Average sale price for a home/condo
• Williamsburg, $331K
• Park Slope, $471K
• Brooklyn Heights, $279K
• DUMBO, $908K