Ah, change is in the air. Neighborhood change that is. Like the scent of fair-trade organic coffee or hot garbage, Gentrification comes in waves. Even though it is really hard to measure and almost nobody knows how to talk about it right, you’ve probably been told that your neighborhood is gentrifying because all of the gentrifying gentrifiers are gentrifying it up.
If you find yourself getting nasty jeers, or your friends tease you about moving to Brooklyn you might be asking yourself: Am I a gentrifier?
Yes, dear reader, you probably are. Below, a short guide on some of the different kinds of gentrifiers you might find taking over New York City. Who are you?
The “Rent Is Cheap” Gentrifier
Occupation: This person is sometimes genuinely strapped for cash, sometimes just really worried about all of their student loan debt. They are often a starving poet/novelist/playwright/musician/college student/hippie.
Defining Characteristics: Displays extraordinary frugality when it comes to the price they pay for their 3 by 5 foot sleeping closet, but appears to have much looser purse-strings when it comes to seamless.
Hobbies: Thinking of new and creative ways to save a little cash, parks, libraries, and long walks getting to know the city
Shops at: Bodegas and Corner Stores, orders from local restaurants without visiting
Motto: “Can I seamless that?”
Find them in: not-so-nice Bushwick, the Bronx, Crown Heights, East New York, Jamaica, LES,
The “I’m Renovating A Brownstone” Gentrifier
Occupation: Business executives, managers, consultants, lawyers.
Defining Characteristics: These folks have the disposable income that makes you cry yourself to sleep at night. Your apartment has bad heat, and every single doorway is crooked. They can afford both the cost of the land, the yearly taxes, and the cost to renovate into their dream home complete with backyard patio garden and 15 foot ceilings.
Hobbies: Selecting paint swatches and having drool-worthy pinterest boards full of the best interior decorating ideas.
Shops at: West Elm, The Container Store
Motto: Something about hard work getting them everywhere in life
Find them in: Crown Heights, East Bed-Stuy
The “This Neighborhood Is So Charming” Gentrifier
Occupation: Designer, artist, some form of tech company employee, architect
Defining Characteristics: These folks are in love with that mural near the subway, adore the local restaurants that have been around forever, and cannot even with those window boxes and that front door right now.
Hobbies: Pinterest, traveling to quaint towns in Europe and North America.
Shops at: Vintage Stores, boutiques
Motto: “I just *have* to live here”
Find them in: Astoria, Clinton-Hill
The “I Want To Live In The REAL NYC” Gentrifier
Occupation: Musician, performer, aspiring novelist
Defining Characteristics: This group fetishizes the grime, grit, and decay made famous by cult films and documentaries that discuss the constant cycle of growth, death, and rebirth in the city. Their focus on this narrative leads them towards mistakenly thinking they are discovering “The Real New York”.
Hobbies: They spend days and nights looking for the least well known venues, the diviest bars, and the most outrageous local flavor. They are ahead of every neighborhood-establishment closing announcement and party. Pieces of them “totally died with CBGB”.
Shops at: Absolutely no chain stores (Except still Starbucks, and fast fashion stores)
Motto: “Nobody has ever heard of this place, its great”
Find them in: Red Hook, Bed-Stuy, Jackson-Heights, Harlem
The ”Naive Grad Student”
Occupation: At least full time course load/ part time work load/part time internship. They will soon become part of the (not new) slash phenomenon sweeping up all Millennials.
Defining Characteristics: Came to NYC to follow their dreams, decided to go to grad school to give them a leg up on job prospects or to totally change careers. They want to make the world a better place, they want to do meaningful work, they dream of making money in a job they love.
Hobbies: Writing their thesis, drinking about their thesis, pontificating on the virtues of some obscure theory/author/text
Shops at: Bodegas, coffee shops, the library, the local 24hr diner
Motto: “….as soon as I get a full-time job…”
Find them in; East Williamsburg, Bushwick, Bed-Stuy, Gowanus, Long Island City
The “Jaded Non-Profit Employee”
Occupation: Social justice/human rights/activism/organizing/policy analyst/artist/content writer for one of the many non-profits in NYC. Formerly some version of naive grad student.
Defining Characteristics: This gentrifier is fully aware of their impact on a neighborhood, and despite being constantly concerned about their existence contributing to local displacement, they need to eat and sleep somewhere too. Sleepless nights on their stoop are spent learning about local history from longtime neighbors or wondering when they will be priced out too.
Hobbies: Reading alternative news, progressive blogs, and getting involved with local organizations/politics/activism
Shops at: Food Co-Ops and farmers markets. Likes clothing swaps and second-hand stores. Splurges often on americanos at the local coffee shop.
Motto: “When I start my own firm…”
Find them in: Same places as the Naïve Grad Student, especially Bed-Stuy (because this is me). The crucial difference is these folks loans have come out of deferment and they are in the job market.
The “New Parents”
Occupation: Full time new parents (and probably something else, but this is their new job!)
Defining Characteristics: Always puts baby first
Shops at: The local children’s boutique.
Motto: “Someday this will be Park Slope.”
Find them in: Cobble Hill, Bed-Stuy
The “Too Rich To Be A Real Gentrifier”
Taylor Swift, Spike Lee, people who think “celebrity” means they are automatically welcomed into new places…