•    Return: Bed-Stuy and Williamsburg   

    Bedford-Stuyvesant and Williamsburg


    People were crowding the train car, not trusting announcements over the loudspeakers that another G would arrive shortly, since they knew from experience that it was one of the rarest of trains. And as there must always be someone, here in New York, who is in a rush at the last minute, a dark-skinned man with a thick briefcase leapt down the stairs onto the platform and pushed himself into the car, crashing into the camera hanging from the neck of the young photographer.

    The photographer did not mind the state of his camera as much as he did that of this society. He casually inspected his lens and then resolved to watch that rude man as the train departed Hoyt-Schemerhorn. The car thinned over the following stations, and as it neared Flushing Avenue, the photographer asked the man for permission to take his picture. The man rose from his seat without responding and stepping closer to the doors told the young photographer that his practice should be banned in the subways, especially this subway, for the time being. He left the G train at Flushing Avenue.

    The young photographer decided that the dark-skinned man must have been some aspiring politician of this black neighborhood of Bedford Stuyvesant. He could not understand why politicians thought themselves so intrinsic in the process of neighborhood development. He thought that youths like himself had wrought the recent changes in Williamsburg, not realizing how powerful central policies such as rezoning really are. The G was now penetrating Williamsburg, and the young photographer decided to get off at its heart, on Metropolitan Avenue. At last a decorated G train station, he thought to himself while inspecting the sparse mosaics on the walls.

    As he prepared to leave the station, he passed by a man in a black suit with an attaché case descending toward the G so determinedly as though he noticed neither people nor art. The young photographer believed that people should generally be more mindful of their surroundings, and once again – as is the way with critical youths – decided that he disliked the fact that such philistine businessmen could control neighborhoods from offices in Manhattan.

    Ah, Manhattan. Here is a chance to visit the control center of the city, he mused, and walked along the platform from the G toward the L. The G does not go to Manhattan, but it provides a means of connecting all neighborhoods to it, to one another. It is only a train, a practical tool that people need to get to work and back home again. But while they serve such routines, trains can pass underneath all the money and politics and racial conflicts that underlie neighborhoods.

    In this final section, we return to Bedford-Stuyvesant and investigate the fundamental relationship between it and Williamsburg.