Mihai Pruna's impressions on Gentrification in Manhattan, 2007

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Information about Mihai Pruna's impressions on Gentrification in Manhattan, 2007

Published on February 20, 2014

Author: mihai_pruna

Source: slideshare.net


Mihai Pruna takes a trip to Manhattan to explore the state of gentrification in 2007.

Mihai Pruna on Manhattan Gentrification Impressions from 2007 “If gentrification is a war, then I am a war reporter” thought Mihai Pruna.He had already decided what to wear, but doubts plagued him as he examined himself in the mirror: Camouflage military shirt, with lots of pockets to be filled, gray military style hat, wraparound sunglasses and…jeans, t-shirt and sporty shoes. He was always self conscious going in the city. He wanted to fit in. Because Mihai Pruna is ashamed to be part of the bridge and tunnel crowd. Yes, even though he is writing about gentrification in Manhattan, Mihai Pruna has to use two modes of transportation to get there. And he fears that somehow shows in the way he dresses or acts in the city, and true New Yorkers will call him out. But in the end practicality won. The shirt would allow him to carry his wallet, keys, camera, map, hipster PDA and cellphone without bringing along a bag or using his jeans pockets (uncomfortable during long periods of sitting on the subway). Mihai Pruna would explore Harlem and the Lower East Side today and hopefully write a great article for his site. The plan calls out for Mihai Pruna to get off the A train (C’s not running today) at 125th street, Martin Luther King Blvd. Except for some bumping into the passengers seated next to him, because this particular train has some sudden noisy departs, he makes it into Harlem without incident. But after he gets off the train, he realizes he forgot the map at home. The map had neighborhood maps s Mihai Pruna would not stray in his preambles. After all, Mihai Pruna usually hangs out in the West Village , East Village and SoHo area, and has only been to Harlem once before, by car. But now, he’ll have to guess where Harlem ends and Morningside Heights starts. Oh well, he’ll figure it out. Go east and he’ll be in Harlem for sure. Harlem looks like fun. Mihai Pruna has traveled around the world so he’s not phased by the loud but relaxed atmosphere and the colorful crowd (no racist pun intended, I swear…Get swears too) milling around 125th street. Mihai Pruna checks out the Apollo theater quickly, after all, he’s not here for sightseeing. He goes east on 125th, goes down 7th avenues, and gets very excited when he sees his first condo looming over the brownstones, still under construction. There it is, first sign of gentrification. Other than seeing Yuppies on the street. Mihai Pruna goes back west, then again north on Frederick Douglas, where a park with a bust of a guy named Hancock does not bring any recognition to our uncultured amateur reporter. Back on 125th street, Mihai Pruna goes even further East, and notices to the North the gentrification stoppers,…Projects. He comes back west, and goes down on Frederick Douglas. More and more signs of gentrification on this avenue, and Mihai Pruna is pleased he is finding so much material so easily. He hears two elderly gentlemen talking about how Donald Trump is buying the whole block (heard somewhere around 120th street and 8th ave) . Especially when he notices a sign, on an art gallery, and on the opposite side of the street, proudly declaring “SOHA 118”. SoHa comes from South Harlem. Here is a fine

example of the real estate lingo which is making up new neighborhood names that sound cool…downtown cool. As in SoHo. A famous example of textbook gentrification. Except that according to the map he didn’t bring along, 8th avenue is the boundary between Harlem and Morningside heights. Which would make the condo on the west side of the street technically in Morningside heights. But maps do not usually agree on neighborhood borders anyway. Other maps push Harlem a bit further west, to the eastern edge of Morningside Park. No biggie. But Mihai Pruna doesn’t know that right now and he doesn’t care. He gets on the A train downtown and then switches to the F and gets off at Houston Street and First Avenue. He remembers that Houston Street is the northern edge of the Lower East Side, but he can’t figure out where the Western border is. So to be safe, he heads East again, after a bit of confusion trying to figure out which way is East. On the Southern side of Houston, he sees new Condos being erected. Yay, more gentrification! Mihai Pruna dutifully snaps pictures. A few southgoing streets with blooming trees look beconing, but he doesn’t intend to get distracted, and snapping a shot in passing, continues Eastward. He notices that there are no more signs of gentrification , and rather suddenly, reaches the East River and a park with an adjacent street for walking, running and biking. Mihai Pruna is a bit confused, as his hazy recollection of the geography of the area, which he’d never been into, told him he should have encountered East Broadway. He had planned to take East Broadway south and thus go smack through the middle of the Lower East Side.Mihai Pruna is forced to follow the park south. Well, not forced, but he likes the scenery, with the post industrial Williamsburg to the left. A huge sugar factory and condos can be seen north of the bridge. Mihai Pruna knows he will soon chronicle the gentrification of Brooklyn, and snapping these shots is good preparation. Under the Bridge, Mihai Pruna takes a bunch of shots of the Williamsburg bridge, to be stitched together into a panorama. There’s a walkway crossing the FDR and Mihai Pruna takes it, intent on getting into the heart of the LES. He notices the projects of the Two Bridges area in passing. No gentrification here. He follows the bridge west…..and the bridge and projects seem to stretch forever…. Mihai Pruna is afraid he will end up in Chinatown, as he sees more and more Chinese lettering on firms. He grabs a milkshake from a Baskin Robbins on Delancey street…and he is sure Delancey and Houston are the same street…but he went south so much, and there was no bridge at the end of Houston…darn he needs that map! He heads south on Essex street. To the East, projects….to the west, looks like Chinatown. Is this neighborhood gentrifying or not? But suddenly he notices a fashionable outdoor café, and behind it the firm sign of a traditional Jewish store. Here it is…a perfect example of gentrification in progress. At the same time Mihai Pruna feels sad knowing that there are fewer and fewer ethnic stores in the neighborhood. Is New York going to become posh and nothing else? Mihai Pruna finally intersects East Broadway, and spots some condos as well. He snaps some shots around East Broadway and Rutgers. Tired but satisfied, he exits the Les through Chinatown and heads back home to the ungentrifiable parts of Jersey.

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