Gorgeous Displacement

The New York Times’s willful sublimation of truth to its self-defining real estate interests is nothing new, but I guess as the “times” themselves become more transparently oppressive, the Times’s oblivious “objectivity” becomes more galling. Just published yesterday and accessible through a moderately visible link on the “New York-Region” page, the graphic above is headlined “Then As Now–New York’s Shifting Ethnic Mosaic.” According to data recently released by the American Community Survey, say the authors, in the past 10 years, “Traditional ethnic enclaves sprawled amoeba-like into adjacent communities. Once monolithic tracts of white and black and native-born residents have become bespeckled with newcomers.”

It sounds delightful, doesn’t it? One-term African-American mayor David Dinkins’s “gorgeous mosaic” prophesy fulfilled! But wait a minute, check out those mini-maps below:


The first map, representing “whites” (who are by definition non-Hispanic), shows big increases in Uptown Manhattan neighborhoods, the same areas where, as shown in the second map, “blacks” (“native,” non-Hispanic) show big decreases. The Times acknowledges African-American displacement, but only offers an iffy explanation for this regarding Southern Queens:

Black populations are declining in some traditionally black areas; in central Brooklyn and Harlem, where whites are moving in, but also in southeast Queens, which black families may be leaving for the suburbs.

As for “Latinos,” curiously divided into “Latin American” and “Caribbean,” the assessment is more frank:

In what could be a classic ethnic replacement pattern, Mexican populations are growing in the Bronx and Corona, where native blacks are moving out, as well as in northern Manhattan neighborhoods, where older Dominican populations are decliningWhites are supplanting Dominicans in northern Manhattan neighborhoods.

No speculation about “may be moving to the suburbs” here, nor any indication that Dominicans are possibly about to unseat Puerto Ricans as the city’s largest “Hispanic” group. In fact, Puerto Ricans go completely unmentioned in this entire analysis! Why bother? There are only 780,000 of us left!

One place where Puerto Ricans have “sprawled, amoeba-like,” out of is Williamsburg. In fact, a recent Times Real Estate section puff piece was a fitting elegy to our presence there. For many years the epicenter of “bohemianism,” Williamsburg is now being sold as Toddlertown. For a mere $720,000 to around $1 million young hipsters who find Park Slope stodgy can now dress their children in punk-rock pajamas and party like it’s 1999–with a view of the East River. “You can go out in the neighborhood on a Friday night and feel sexy and single-ish,” said one young parent. “And then wake up next morning with the kid and take him to the farmers’ market and the play center.”

In other words, it’s a feel-good story about Generation x and y’s answer to the boomer style of child rearing pioneered in the previously gentrified Upper West Side, the West Village, and Park Slope. But look closely at the splash foto:

According to the caption, it’s Rich Kessner, apparently the son of Steven Kessner, who has been called Spanish Harlem’s biggest slumlord, and whose family continues to manage a portfolio of buildings in El Barrio after selling them to the international firm Dawnay Day, which has since gone bust. The buildings have been managed by Michael Kessner, another of Steven Kessner’s son’s, under the rubric of E.H. Property management, which shares an address, 1790 Third Avenue, with Rich Kessner’s hardwood flooring installation company, New York Floorman, LLC.

I know what you’re thinking. I need to get out more on Friday nights so I can feel sexy and single-ish.

Just as long as I stay in my own neighborhood.

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