From NYC

We’ve finally settled into a place in NYC, a cool little place in the Upper West Side bordering on Harlem. The apartment search took us through one of NYC’s hippest, coolest, trendiest neighborhoods (Williamsburg) which really only is an excuse to charge $2000 for a meat locker with exposed cracked concrete floors and chipping lead paint coming off the exposed brick. However, these sorts of spaces are godsends to artists as we saw another place that was equally dilapidated for an equally ridiculous price.

This brought up an idea about gentrification that wasn’t immediately obvious to me before: artists play an important role in the revitalization of a community. And it’s not just any artists, I figure that they are predominately white, college educated artists.

It feels like a cycle. A nice neighborhood turns bad when poor people move into it. Poor neighborhood gets better when they evict all the poor people and let young professionals move in. The gap in the concept is how a poor neighborhood gets better and that’s where the artists come in.

Through the works, ideas and concepts they create, they are able to give the area culture, which is the type of social currency that draws capital to the area in the form of galleries, restaurants and bars. The reason why an artist from the displaced community couldn’t produce the same amount of social currency is the product of prejudices and discrimination in the form of what “art” is to the people who consume it.

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6 responses to “From NYC”

  1. joe says :

    The bigger picture is oppression.

  2. wu says :

    dude! your blog frequency is thinning out. busy with real work? =)

  3. joshy drops hammers! says :

    I think you got it right when you said “young professionals.” I don’t think the artists have much to do with gentrification of a neighborhood, if anything they retard the process. they’re low on cash, can’t improve the homes, and are looking to pay the inflated rent and move on. true gentrification happens when young families move in. they buy houses, fix ’em up, are interested in putting cash into schools and other neighborhood infrastructure… true, hipsters increase property value, but there’s a glass ceiling on how much and for how long…

  4. Nien says :

    i disagree.

    i still think that artists provide some sort of social currency that turns the ghetto into some sort of hip area. true- they have no money to make the homes better, but they’re kind of like the front line or first wave. they are there to test the waters to see if it’s okay for white people to live there. if some sort of artsy community develops, then the developers come in a remodel stuff for all the yuppies.

    there’s no reason a yuppy would move into a ghetto. they’re not trend setters or culture junkies – they just sort of enjoy the lifestyle of.

  5. joshy drops hammers! says :

    how would you explain my hood up on union hill?
    zero artists, few students, plenty of drug dealers on the block, crack heads living in every abandon building and yet all of the newcomers are families or young couples looking to carve a place for themselves in the world. our parents were the pioneers of the burbs. these are the pioneers of our generation.

    plenty of artists on the front lines in NY, but I think NY is it’s own phenomenon.

  6. Nien says :

    you’ve got a good point. i did draw that from observing what’s around here in NYC.

    i guess what im talking about is a more “stylized” version of gentrification?

    good point though.

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