November 4, 2012, Sunday, 308


From The Peopling of New York City


About me

My name is Stan Timerman, I am a freshman at Brooklyn College. I was born in Zaporozhye, Ukraine on august 16th 1989. Me and my whole family is Jewish, and I studied in Jewish schools since fifth grade. I moved to America in 2003, with the majority of my family (parents, grandparents, aunts etc.). Here I graduated a yeshiva called Sinai Academy, and went to Brooklyn College right after.

Although I still don’t know what to major in, I really enjoy math and art, although modern art does not impress me at all. I like to play volleyball, cards, and sometimes videogames.

My Utopia

From a very early age I’ve had my own interpretation of utopia. It has all the common characteristics, such as a peaceful life for every citizen. However my idea of perfection is different from most people. I don’t believe in the stereotype of rich people being the happy people. That’s why in my imagination a community did not use money at all. Instead of using green little pieces of paper, or imaginary numbers called “credit”, people exchange a service for a service. For example, if a person needs food, he can go to a store owner and ask for what he needs. In exchange the store owner can ask him for a service that is within his ability, depending on person’s profession. This way everything gets done but with no role for money. Such system would require everyone to be trained in different fields, which is a good thing. Such system would probably get rid of majority of crime too. If money didn’t exist we would not have to deal with thieves, corruption, and, most horrible of all, taxes. Although I have to admit murder would exist in money-free world as well, because in the past people killed each other over pride and honor more often than over treasure. Nowadays honor is extinct and pride is not strong enough to kill for, but money is. Obviously it wouldn’t be as simple as I see it in my head, but it sure would make the world a better place.


I chose a scene from “Godfather II”. It shows Don Corleone as a child arriving to America. I chose this scene because of its visual power. First it shows the ship arriving to New York and everyone crowded on the deck get a glimpse at their new home. Then we see the Statue of Liberty, but it’s not shown standing on clear blue water, nor does it have the beautiful Manhattan background that we are so used to seeing. Instead the Statue is show in the background of a passing ship, with a sickly orange sky in the back. That view, combined with the beautiful music created a powerful image of America as seen by the newly arrived immigrants. The next scene takes place on Ellis Island where all the immigrants are checked for diseases and registered. This scene has the opposite role of the precious one, it shows the immigrants as seen by America. They are a huge crowd of people, each with his own story (as shown by the man playing the violin), but there are so many that they just blend into an interracial salad, where there are no individuals. It’s just a crowd.

My Neighborhood

Population Density: 15000 to 23000
Age: median age about 40
Median household income is $35000 to $45000
Family Households 50%-70% 
Married Couples: 50%
Education: 40% Highs cool Graduates, 15% BA Degree
Housing: 80% rented
House values: $150000-$500000
Industry: 15%-20% Retail trade, 20% Finance Insurance, 10% manufacturing, 10% Professional  Services.
Unemployed: about 10%
Living in poverty: about 20%
Foreign born: about 60% Eastern Europe, 15% Asia


There to here

I moved to America on July 25, 2003 from Zaporozhye, Ukraine. My parents have been talking about moving to America for years before we actually moved. I never actually believed we would move anywhere. I felt very comfortable in Ukraine and was under the impression that my parents were comfortable too. Later I found out that they have been living in fear of losing their jobs, because Ukraine economy was very unstable. So they had to move out of Ukraine to either Israel or America. They chose America because according to our relatives who live here, it's much easier to find a job in US than in Israel.

Because of 9/11 it took us 4 years to get. We had to go to Moscow for an interview, because we were trying to get the refuge status, but they gave us parole, which wasn’t bad. At least we got food stamps and some money for rent until we could settle down.

After we bought the tickets and were getting ready to leave, my life turned into a blur of packing and saying good-bye to everyone I know. Before long, we were dragging our bags to the car and leaving forever. The airport is in Kiev, which is about 300 miles away from my city. We had a cat and my one-year old brother with us, as well as three other families who decided to see us to the plane. So it was a five-hour trip, because we had to stop a lot.

When we finally made it to the airport, we had to wait a few hours for the plane to arrive. We encountered problems with our luggage, having one bag over the allowed limit. Fortunately in Ukraine a little cash solves such problems. Later on during boarding yet another problem came up, one of our cooking pots looked suspicious on the x-ray so we had to spend an hour in the security office and eventually, not to miss the flight, just leave the pot there.

The plane ride was the best part of that day. The seats were very comfortable. I really liked the beautiful view of the peaceful ocean and the far-away land. At one point we were flying over beautiful snowy mountains, most likely Greenland, and everyone ran to the windows to take a look. Sadly, I could not fully enjoy the view and the comfortable seats because, by then, I haven’t had any sleep in almost two days. And my brother was constantly crying so falling asleep on the plane wasn’t easy. Eventually I managed to take a nap for about two hours, which made me feel even worse then before.

By the time we landed and got out of the airport I was barely absorbing anything. I only remember the shock of being in America. The airport was filled with people of different cultures, most of which I have never seen before. When we got to our temporary apartment I fell asleep before my head even touched the pillow.

Midterm answers

Berger - 'Describe how specific neighborhoods have shifted populations over time. Give two examples of different immigrants in different neighborhoods.'

There are many reasons and ways for population shifts in different neighborhoods of New York. I’d like to discuss two neighborhoods where population shifts occurred in different ways: Brighton Beach and Bensonhurst. Originally Brighton was mostly inhabited with second generation Americans, who moved there after World War I. Over the years many Jews, who fled the oppressions of the Soviet Union fled to Brighton. They were attracted by the Ocean, which reminded them of the Black Sea, and the fact that “they could have a free summer vacation by the sea every year while living only a subway ride from work” (Berger p.76). Today Brighton Beach is a well-known Russian community. Many recent Russian immigrants try to live near it, to ease the shock of living in a new country. Bensonhurst on the other hand used to be an “Italian Brighton Beach”. It was the largest Italian neighborhood, where most people knew each other. Over the last forty years, however, Bensonhurst lost more than half of its Italians, and no longer “provides the intimacies of a village” (Berger p.196). These shifts were caused by several factors. One of the major factors is the change of mentality, which causes third and fourth generation Italians to be the first ones in their families to go to college. A lot of them don’t come back to live in Bensonhurst. A lot of Italians also adapt the American Dream and move to the suburbs. Today Bensonhurst is shared by Russian, Chinese and Italian immigrants, although Italians still dominate most of it, which is obvious when you look at 18th avenue, dotted with little Italian stores, and the annual festivals arranged there. So we can see that the shifts in population in these two neighborhoods were caused by different reasons. Brighton’s shift was caused by massive immigration of Russians, attracted to it for whatever reasons. And Bensonhurst’s shift was caused by Italians leaving the neighborhood and newer immigrants coming in to take their places.

Foner - 'Describe one similarity and one difference between the 2 waves of immigrants to New York City in terms of how they adapted to New York life.'

During the last century America has been a Dream Land for almost every nation. During the 20th century there have been several immigration waves, when millions of people immigrated to America and most of them settled in New York City. I will compare the wave of immigrants in the beginning of 20th century, and the immigrants in the beginning of 21st century. Immigrants today live very differently than immigrants of 1900s. The early immigrants had to live in “tenements, and hot running water and steam heat were luxuries beyond the reach of the immigrant” (Foner p.37). Today the conditions have dramatically improved. Many immigrants can afford to rent a two or three-bedroom apartment or even a house. Hot water, heat and gas are no longer luxuries, but are considered a necessity. These changes took place because most immigrants today are middle-class citizen, who are somewhat educated and bring all their savings to get them started in a new country. One similarity between the immigrants from any time is their struggle with the language. The fact that immigrants don’t speak English usually causes them a lot of trouble. They are forced to live in certain areas where people speak their language, for example Chinatown, where most people speak Chinese and have no need to learn English. Also, most immigrants get low-paying jobs, because they do not have good education and don’t speak English. Today this is not as severe, because America is trying to adapt to the immigrants as much as immigrants try to adapt to it. Many companies and services do not require the customers to speak English, providing translations to different languages. However even with all the recent changes immigrants today are still in as much disadvantage as they were a hundred years ago.

Glazer & Moynihan - 'Pick one group and describe its assimilation process. Has this group truly melted in the pot?'

The Jewish nation is one of the mysterious nations in our world. It is not clear what makes one a Jew. Is it the religion, or is it the distant relatives who once lived in Israel? Whatever the answer is Jews have been rejected and prosecuted for centuries, slowly driving the majority into the land of United States. The first wave of Jewish immigration took place in 1654. They were Sephardic Jews who “had been driven from Spain and Portugal at the end of fifteenth century and settled in Holland” (Glazer & Moynihan p.138). They built the first synagogues in New York, making way for a much larger wave of immigrants coming from Germany in 1880. These new immigrants set up their own businesses in America and were doing very well. Their success attracted many Jews from Russia and other East European countries. They kept pouring in until a law was passed limiting immigration in 1924. Jews tried hard to get to the US during and after World War II, but many were turned away due to immigration policies. The last large wave of immigration came right after the collapse of USSR, when thousands of Jews were finally released from the clutches of the Union. Over the course of all these events, Jews have managed to keep their origins and identities. This is probably due to the many anti-Semitism movements all over the world. Today life in America is very easy and comfortable for Jews. There are hundreds of organizations that help new immigrants get on their feet, as well as help second or third generation Jews to start businesses and schools. The other side of the coin, however, is the thousands of Jews who are completely assimilated into the modern culture, who want absolutely nothing to do with their Jewish roots. Of course, these people can’t escape the constant conflicts and wars that surround the Jewish History. People always single out Jews, which is a negative thing most of the time, however it has been keeping Jews from “melting into the pot”.

Class - 'Discuss multiculturalism, cultural pluralism, and assimilationism. Which one most accurately depicts New York City?'

New York is known around the world for many things, such as the Statue of Liberty, World Trade Center, Wall Street, etc. Among these things is the vast diversity of New York’s population. Every single culture in the world can be found here. They all live together, yet each one is different and unique. Three terms can be used to describe how these cultures live under one American roof: multiculturalism, cultural pluralism and assimilation. Multiculturalism is a state of cultural equality. It means that several, or all, cultures and religions can live in single country and enjoy the same rights, with no domineering culture. This can be seen from the holiday system. We get days off on not just official American holidays, but also on holidays of other cultures and religions. Cultural pluralism is term that describes cultures that are part of the larger society, but still have their unique traditions and practices. For example Jews and Muslims, who go to their regular jobs as any American, but still have their own holidays, go to synagogues and mosques. Assimilation is term used to describe a culture blending into a larger, dominating, society. This usually occurs over large periods of time. When people immigrate to America, for example, they live their lives as if they never moved from their homeland, they dress the same, they eat the same food, and they speak the same language. As time goes on, however, they will become more comfortable with American traditions, and begin learning English. First generation immigrants most likely will not assimilate, their children and grandchildren on the other hand will probably be closer to American culture than their original culture. In my opinion New York cannot be described by any one of these terms, it would take the mix of all three. On one hand every culture in New York enjoys equality (multiculturalism), but there is a dominating, American, culture, which partly consumes other cultures. Some people completely forget or abandon their traditions (assimilation), and some consider themselves as part of both cultures (cultural pluralism). So New York is a melting pot, where certain cultures melt into the general taste, and some keep their original flavor.

Final Essay

The Four Moral Careers of Inner-City Residents
Inner-City residents develop different attitudes in regard to the stigma of their neighborhoods. Generally there are four types of people, each with their own reaction to the stigma: the Unawares, the Failures, the Achievers and the Activists. The Unawares are the people who are, as suggested by the name, not aware of the stigma of their neighborhood, or simply do not understand the meaning of it. These people are usually poor or illegal immigrants who are just happy they have a place to live in America. Because of their status these people rarely meet with outsiders and are not inspired to do anything to improve their neighborhood.
The Failures are the people who know of and accept the stigma of their neighborhood, but unable to move to a different place. These people are mostly poor elderly who are unable to accept the new ways and blend into the changing community. They cause their neighborhood a lot of trouble by spreading bad rumors and news about it. They are also unwilling to participate in any attempts to improve the neighborhood and often mock such attempts. For example they might leave their cars parked on the street during a “sweep-up” making it hard for others to clean near the curbs.
The Achievers are, like Failures, aware of the stigma in their community, however what separates them from the Failures is the ability to move to a better neighborhood. These people have given up on their neighborhood and feel the need to move to a better place. Thinking mostly about the negative aspects of the neighborhood they want to move as fast as possible and do not concern themselves with carefully picking a buyer for their home. If Achievers come back to the neighborhood to visit some friends they will usually be quick to point out the decline of the neighborhood since they left, possibly making he host think of moving away as well.
Lastly, the Activists are people who know everything about the stigma, accept it and have the ability to move away, but they stay. They stay trying to improve the community, or to prove the stigma unjustified or inaccurate. They form groups to improve the neighborhood, because although individual effort is inspiring it is not enough to make a real difference. These people are usually the last to give up on a neighborhood.
So in conclusion, we see that a very small part of the people is actually willing to do something for the welfare of their neighborhood. Most people either prefer to stay “out of it”, or abandon the neighborhood completely, which eventually might bring about some very negative changes in New York.