BY TREVOR HARRINGTON
A look inside the effects of gentrification on Trevor's neighborhood...
Dyckman Street. The cultural wasteland that is the border between Washington Heights and Inwood. The latter being a neighborhood of relative affluence, the former being largely low-income, as well as inhabited by mainly Hispanics, particularly from places such as the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. As with any border, there is a certain amount of spillover between these two areas. Bodegas and graffiti pepper the area above the Dyckman Street border, within the confines of Inwood, as much as indie coffeeshops and fusion restaurants are sprinkled below the border, within the technical confines of Washington Heights. For as long as this cultural diffusion over Dyckman Street occurs, the affluent influence of Inwood paired with the affordability of apartments in Washington Heights embodies what is commonly known as gentrification.
My parents lived on Dyckman Street when I was born, and my mother and I live there now. I suppose you could say the gentrification started the moment my parents moved there. However, I have only witnessed its occurrence within the past five years. It has been rapid and it has been brutal. And as much as I acknowledge the detriment that it poses towards the residents of those living in the more northern part of Washington Heights, I can’t help but rejoice at the resources and establishments that this gentrification has brought to our neighborhood. Naturally, it’s a complicated issue that has its evils and its angels.
Graffiti litters the blank walls of the “GQ Fashion” storefront, a seemingly poor quality cotton, textile, and clothing retailer managed by non-English speaking people. Ironically, the three opposite corners that surround this intersection hold newly opened businesses such as a Chase Bank, Walgreens Pharmacy, and Gamestop.
A modern condominium juxtaposed with the old architecture that comprises the entirety of the neighborhood. It is the only building of its kind. Disgustingly enough, gentrification at its finest.
The latest establishment for the bourgeoisie to roost. Notice the caucasians in the foreground. The rest of the block consists of similar establishments. Sadly, however, these new spaces more or less only attract the same demographic.
A mural painted on the side of a pub/restaurant on the same block as the newly opened Starbucks. The expedited flow of money into the neighborhood provides artists with more opportunities.
The last beacon of literature for quite some distance after the closing of one of the last Spanish language bookstores in New York, only two blocks away. Luckily, the library has a Spanish language section.
A newly constructed sculpture near a public garden, though this “public” garden is often closed to outsiders that aren't paying members. Only on rare occasions is it actually open to the public.
A woman manages two beverage carts. One for orange juice, the other for shaved ice. This is an example of the very kind of businesses that are endangered by the introduction of commercial establishments throughout the area.
Fruit sold at a store that sells mainly cigarettes and lotto tickets. The crowd inside isn’t the most pleasant, but the produce is some of the freshest around.
The latest development in the neighborhood: the filming of a movie. This not only means tax money for the city, but also money going to residences and establishments that are required for shooting.