Williamsburg: The Cooler Manhattan

Brooklyn used to be a place for immigrants and factories. Rent was cheap and people lived in neighborhoods with other people like them. At the same time, Manhattan was rapidly changing and becoming more expensive. People from the “creative class” like writers and and artists wanted to find a cheaper place to live, so they moved to Williamsburg. This neighborhood quickly changed to become a place where white, “cultural” people wanted to move to. The industries changed from factories and local shops that were once there to vintage clothing stores, restaurants, bars, and clubs. As the creative class started noticing how “cool” Williamsburg was becoming, they started moving in and rents increased. Private developers and public officials didn’t intervene, allowing for rents to soar, and the people originally living there were forced to leave.

This white flight into Williamsburg created a domino effect along the western waterfront of Brooklyn. Neighborhoods like Dumbo and Brooklyn Heights rapidly changed as well, with prices people in the lower middle to lower classes could not afford. Williamsburg, however, remained the coolest neighborhood in Brooklyn. All these new rich white neighborhoods are developing more and more and are continuing to be increasingly more expensive. We saw a similar effect in Manhattan, and this raises the question will Brooklyn become the new Manhattan, or will we be able to preserve the culture and authenticity?

Williamsburg has not changed as a popular neighborhood for artists, hipsters, writers, or anyone who may describe themselves as “hip.” It has essentially become its own “small village with a unique urban style” as this video describes it. Jane Jacobs would approve of the way Williamsburg has evolved to be. While Williamsburg is a fun place to spend time, while there we must understand what the outcome of this cool neighborhood has meant for the people and businesses that have been forced to leave to make room for what Williamsburg has become.


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