The New Yorker recently had a story called “Park Slope is Dead,” which consists mostly of the co-owner of Southpaw, Matt Roff, bitching about how the neighborhood has changed. He is closing his 5th Avenue club Southpaw not for financial reasons but because Park Slope isn’t what it used to be, yet somehow he neglects to mention the other thriving music venues in the neighborhood (The Bell House, Union Hall, Littlefield.)
Matt says, “My folks came (to Park Slope) in the seventies and it was rough, dude. Just bodegas and stuff, and this wave of ex-hippies buying houses for twenty thousand dollars.” He is just keepin’ it real. Except that it was his parents who were the gentrifiers, at least in the eyes of the people they were pushing out.
Park Slope has become the punchline of jokes about yuppie parents, and overprotected children on a diet of pastured free range chicken and organic kale. The common wisdom among the blogs is that that yuppie families have killed Brooklyn, or at least Park Slope. In the last few years they have forced out the minorities and are destroying the fabric of this neighborhood with their gourmet coffee and cookies, and the neighborhood is now overrun with breeders and their double-wide strollers!
This is, of course, nonsense! Sure, gentrification is going on in Park Slope, but it started in the late ’60s when the middle class were being priced out of Manhattan, and they found they could afford brownstones in the blue collar Park Slope.
The Brooklyn lifers thought the people moving in were nuts, ”I couldn’t understand why a nice couple like that would buy into a neighborhood like this,” said a long time resident when the first “pioneers” moved in in the late ’60s.
But by the early 80’s the “post-pioneers” were complaining about new interlopers moving in and driving up the price of real estate. They had to create an “other” to blame their problems on, “lawyers from Manhattan,” ”People don’t know their neighbors. It isn’t families coming in any more.”
Can you believe that, people were complaining that there were not ENOUGH families in Park Slope? They even had a name for them, “DINKs,” dual income, no kids.
Of course, people who moved in the 80’s complained about the people who were moving in in the ’90s and so on. The moral of this is unless you were neighbors of Gil Hodges, you should probably not complain about gentrification.
POST SCRIPT- I’d like to correct one misconception in the newyorker article about Park Slope not being cool anymore. It is impossible for Park Slope to not be cool anymore, because PARK SLOPE WAS NEVER COOL! It was always a bedroom community with a few nice restaurants and bars. It was never the “It” neighborhood that Williamsburg, Dumbo, and Brooklyn Heights were. It was always the also-ran where you moved because you weren’t cool enough to live in “Greenpoint”.