#17) Being forced to move to Bushwick
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Although I do not identify with being a full-blown hipster, I openly admit that I have some hipster traits (call me a hipster chimera if you will). One trait that I currently share with the non-trustfunded hipster (which is a much more elusive breed than its well-off counterpart) is the state of being really effing broke (moneyless!). This, coupled with my inability refusal to enter into the corporate jungle or serve others prepared food with a smile on my face (even though I am not happy to be there) presents quite a predicament.
So, with less than two weeks remaining before my sublease squatting arrangement is up, I have been grudgingly doing something that many-a-hipster has been forced to do over the past few years due to the powerful financial forces of yuppienization pushing the hip out of Williamsburg: I have been looking for an apartment in Bushwick.
In light of this, I thought I would narrate for you a brief history of Bushwick courtesy of Wikipedia and a few other sources.
Believe it or not, the area once called Bushwick used to include Williamsburg and Greenpoint too (note: good thing Bburg seceded! Otherwise hipsters wouldn’t be able to afford living in Bushwick, and that would be really sad). The all-inclusive Bushwick was founded by 14 people, including a handful of French dudes, someone called Franciscus the Negro* and a Dutch translator. He must have been a pretty bad translator though, because the English took over 3 years later, and after they “bought” parts of today’s Bushwick from the Native Americans, they chased them the hell out of there and probably took their money back and also their crops, which were mostly tobacco. (*Note: OK. I’m also just going to go ahead and say, that with a name like “Franciscus the Negro,” it’s no wonder there’s gentrification today.)
Later on, when everyone was getting big on industry in the city, the fine area of Bushwick produced staples of the American way of life such as chemicals (tobacco+chemicals… Philip Morris are you from Bushwick?), glue, oil, plaster, glass and beer.
Then, in the time when the hippies were raging, Bushwick experienced the immigration of blacks, Puerto Ricans simultaneously with white flight, which the New York Times summed up nicely in an article on Bushwick:
“In a five-year period in the late 1960′s and early 70′s, the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn was transformed from a neatly maintained community of wood houses into what often approached a no man’s land of abandoned buildings, empty lots, drugs and arson.”
According to Blackout author Josh Goodman, “one out of every 8 buildings was damaged or destroyed by fire every year from 1969 to 1977.” I mean, WOAH. I’m pretty sure that’s more damage than the US has done in Iraq — and the people of Bushwick did it all without driving the country $9.6 trillion in debt! If only George W would have been there taking notes…
There were blackouts, riots, more looting, immigrant flight (which is when you know it’s really bad if even the people the whites were fleeing from had to leave), influxes of dugs, murders, rapes and more robberies — all the makings of a future “hip” neighborhood.
With this knowledge, it all makes sense now! The reason why Bushwick appears to be a horrid lifeless slum covered in trash and broken glass is because the glass factories and brewries were looted by angry minorities who smashed their contents on the streets; the city planners co-opted the plaster and glue factories, coating the streets in an attempt to keep the minorities there when they tried to leave to other parts of New York; the vacant lots and gutted buildings show that some arsonists were more successful than others; and the acid from the chemical plant killed everything living (except for cockroaches, bedbugs, AIDS, herpes and hepatitis A, B and C, unfortunately enough for residents of the McKibbin lofts).
I would like to leave you now with this passage from Wikipedia, as it does a good job of summing up the current situation:
In the 2000s, in the wake of lower crime rates citywide and a shortage of cheap housing in “hip” neighborhoods such as Williamsburg, Greenpoint, and Gowanus, an influx of young professionals and artists moved into converted warehouse lofts, brownstones, limestone-brick townhouses and other renovated buildings. And, while murders and car thefts are higher in the 83rd precinct now than they were to start the decade, property values are increasing.
Call me a conspiracy theorist but I do not think Bushwick is all that hip! I think its popularity is the result of real estate hegemony and that hipsters and yuppies alike are being lured into this neighborhood with false hopes of it becoming as cool as Williamsburg.
Well, whatevs, I guess. A slum is only as hip as the hipsters that live there. Let’s all go to Bushwick! And let’s all hope we don’t get murdered or fall victim to infectious disease spread by intravenous needle use.
Picture from the “Bushwick, Brooklyn” entry on Wikipedia.com.