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April 13, 2006
I have been doing a lot of research about the history of our neighborhood lately [and in the process have decided that an in-depth book about Red Hook needs to be written]. Each time I learn a new piece of information, I take a walk and try to identify where exactly it occurred and imagine that period, attempting to place landmarks and imaginary faces with the current landscape.
Recently, I have taken to walking around the projects trying to locate the ghosts of old frame houses and buildings that were razed for the erection of the two waves of public housing. As I have walked, stared, and thought about the history of Red Hook, the current concept/fear of public housing being converted to cooperatives has crept into my mind. I do not know a whole lot about it or how close it could be to reality, but it seems to be a real concern among neighborhood residents. When you think about the volume of people that the houses can hold and then wonder about who might stay and who might go should the buildings flip, you realize how monumentally Red Hook might be altered. I am not taking a stand on good or bad or in between�just simply how modified the fabric of a neighborhood would be. It is overwhelming.
In a speech at the groundbreaking of the High Line, some politician said, "If a city does not change, it dies." This statement churned my stomach. Perhaps it is the cyclic nature of any city, but it leaves me with a great feeling of emptiness.
Posted by callalillie at April 13, 2006 6:59 AM | City Life , Red Hook
Here in the Mission District of San Francisco, there has been an anti-gentrification process going on for about 15 years now (at best guess). It's not about housing projects, but just prices going up and pricing out the predominantly Latino residents.
Yesterday, the city passed a ban on building anything new for some indeterminant amount of time while they do more research about how it will affect the residents.
My view: Pointless. The Mission gentrified ten years ago. The movement is over. It's a done deal.
This is all just ramble on the cyclical nature of cities... it's everywhere.
Posted by: phc at April 13, 2006 2:13 PM
Something else interesting, or disturbing, depending on your perspective, to think about in regards to Red Hook's development is the role of the BQE and Robert Moses. He slammed the highway through Brooklyn, cutting off Red Hook completely from the rest of the community. And don't think it's an accident that that's where the housing projects were put.
Posted by: stephanie at April 18, 2006 4:23 PM
True. Even more interesting is that the projects (1939) came before the highway and the battery tunnel. In many ways, though, Red Hook was always cut off from the rest of Brooklyn, simply by geography. The BQE didn't help things, though.
Posted by: corie at April 18, 2006 4:28 PM