Saturday, May 12, 2007

Sunday's Times celebrates PLG (And: the meaning of racial diversity)

The Real Estate section of tomorrow's Times features a wonderful article on writer Darcy Steinke and her 120-year-old wood-frame Victorian located in the heart of PLG. Steinke got in ahead of the curve -- in 2002, she paid (deep breath) $240,000 for her 1,800-sq ft Hawthorne St. home. Granted, it was a mess, but even a significant fixer-upper anywhere in the historic district would cost upwards of $500,000 today.

Steinke describes the best of PLG, and she does so quite truthfully. On her first visit to the neighborhood, she says she "felt a little nervous about the clusters of young men hanging out on some of the street corners," but also realized she loved the warmth of the residents, the area's racial diversity, and PLG's location so close to the Prospect Park.

The racial diversity is one of our favorite things about the neighborhood, too. The mandated single-family residences in the Manor gives PLG a sort of stability that's unique in the city's (and the borough's) gentrifying neighborhoods, where you often find a kind of reverse white-flight: hipsters move in; longtime, predominantly minority residents move out. Not so here. On our block, we have more diversity within a 10-house radius than we've had anyplace else we've lived; more importantly, virtually everyone in the neighborhood gathers outside after work to talk about their days. In Park Slope (and Carroll Gardens, and Boerum Hill), diversity often seems as if it can be measured in whether you trace your musical lineage back to the Pixies or to Radiohead. I love the Pixies and Radiohead (and I love a lot of the restaurants in the Slope). But I also love the fact that my children will grow up in a neighborhood where they'll experience living next to, and interacting with, people who look differently than they do.

Steinke, incidentally, also illustrates another of our favorite things about the neighborhood: the influx of writers and artists. Steinke's latest book, Easter Everywhere, was inspired in part by her home in PLG. Her partner is a reporter at the Wall Street Journal. A Times writer and a couple of magazine journalists live within several of blocks of us. And there's a sense among all of us that this is someplace we actively want to be...even if initially it was someplace we just happened to end up in.


Jevon said...

Great Post. We need more like y'all! Flatbush is awesome (Sorry I was raised here, I've never known it as "PLG", can't bring myself to call it that). West Indians tend to be warm and welcoming folk. I pray that what happened in Park Slope, Carroll Gardens, Boerum Hill, and to a lesser degree Ft. Greene Doesn't happen in my beloved "Carribean City".

Ed said...

Truthfully, there were a lot of people who lived in Flatbush thirty to fifty years ago who prayed that the area wouldn't become "Caribbean City," but it eventually did. And in fifty years, the yuppies who have turned PLG into Fort Greene II will be complaining that some other transition is occuring. My point is that things evolve and change, and right now, Brooklyn is being taken over by the middle and upper-middle class.

Jevon said...

Excellent point. Flatbush used to be a largely white neighborhood. Babs, Neal Diamond, Moe from the three stooges, Arthur Sackler, Bobby Fischer, Mickey Spillane, Robert Tisch, all went to Erasmus High!

Ed said...

But I'm sure that more than a few West Indians will stay put over the next few decades. It would be nice if the neighborhood could remain diverse as change occurs. I'm hope it will. It will be good for us all.

Sonia said...

this blog makes me sick. its like you're begging to ruin the neighborhood by bringing in every yuppie and their two kids and their dog and their retched collection of art books. when that happens say goodbye to the precious "racial diversity" you claim to love so much.