During my younger years, New York City was an icon to history. Buildings that housed opportunity-seeking immigrants stood proudly among the other buildings in the neighborhoods, and people were outside taking in the old styles. Now, it’s just a symbol of how far-reaching the effects of gentrification can be.
Those same tenement buildings are being knocked down for “luxury” apartments to go up until we can’t see what might be right behind it. Often times this can be an annoying problem with keeping the aesthetics of a neighborhood the same. However, this isn’t exactly a problem that anyone seems to be fighting for.
One example of this is 1 Manhattan Square, located at 227 Cherry Street and 250 South Street in Lower Manhattan. This building has come under a great deal of controversy from neighborhood residents because it is a staunch reminder of how gentrification can change the neighborhood. The building, located on the site of a former Pathmark, is a massive 56 stories tall with a new supermarket going in on the ground level. Now there is a 13-story portion that is dedicated to affordable housing.
However, this portion is not going to be a direct part of the main tower and will instead be located next to the main building. Many have considered this a “poor door” and has been viewed as a way of masking that the building must have some affordable housing. Along with this, the building doesn’t fit with where it’s situated, which is among housing projects and other apartment buildings.
New York City, among many other places, has been quick to dismiss gentrification as a means of improving the city. However, this, in fact, can create more problems than the city already has. Many people consider the idea of what the rising rent and mortgage prices of homes and apartments in New York City, not many consider what happens to the soul of the neighborhood.
The word soul is the one that many people attribute with this problem because it is a compilation of their memories, their experiences, good and bad, plus some of the best attributes a neighborhood can have. However, since the rise of gentrification in New York, as well as many other cities, across the country, this soul has been wiped out of the neighborhood. With ever glass tower, people no longer see the reflection of the good times they had in small tenement apartments or the games of hopscotch they would play on the sidewalk.
New York State’s motto has been, I Love New York for a long time, but now, whenever I look around New York City, that affirmation has become more of a question. Now, more than ever, I just look up and say, “And I Love New York?”