Maybe you’ve never read The IN and OUT Book by Robert Benton and Harvey Schmidt. But all you really need to know about it is that it’s a guide on what’s in and what’s out that came out in 1959. Largely, not much has changed with regard to the formula. It basically comes down to: Whatever is out is in and whatever is in is out. It’s a very simple pattern to adhere to. And nothing has more clearly illustrated it than the Bushwick/Williamsburg paradigm.
Once upon a time, as late as 2005, Williamsburg was the end all, be all for youth and “artistry.” It was still in the early stages of being transformed into the Brooklyn equivalent of Times Square—condos, chain stores, the whole gamut of gentrification. All of this was largely due to the re-zoning of the North Side that took place the same year. This re-zoning permitted the construction of the endless residences along the waterfront you see before you today. And where there are mid-20s to early 30s affluent people in condos, there are establishments like American Apparel (Berry and 6th).
With affordable rents being one of the chief reasons that artists were drawn to Williamsburg in the first place, it was inevitable that a mass exodus would ensue. And that exodus moved in spades to Bushwick. A mecca for being different, weird or generally unfit for corporate America, Bushwick was the natural and quick solution to remedy the loss of Williamsburg. But as the years have passed, Bushwick has become so saturated with a population determined to believe it is “unique,” that it has, resultantly, become a breeding ground for sameness.
The surge of wealth in the Bushwick area is merely a repeat of what happened in Williamsburg, but, at least now, Williamsburg makes no bones about what it is: A haven for famous people or white parents with one kid to lavish. Bushwick, however, seems to still be deluding itself into believing that it’s maintained an edge—even though said edge probably disappeared around the time the Clintons dined at Roberta’s.
Recent reports on rent surges in Bushwick and Bedwick (a real estate term that should have caused a riotous uprising) also indicate that the neighborhood is doomed to get a chain store in its midst sooner rather than later. And to think there was ever a time when Brooklyn was scoffed at in favor of Manhattan (see: Sex and the City, when Miranda moves to Brooklyn and acts like it’s the equivalent of Guam).
It’s hard to say when this real estate trend will end and reverse back to Manhattan being so out it’s in. Or maybe, at this point, Manhattan will always be moderately out enough to stay out. All you can really know for sure is, you’re probably in the wrong neighborhood.
Written by Genna Rivieccio