Wednesday, April 16, 2008

More on Changing Manhattan Neighborhoods

My neighborhood has changed a bit since I moved west from Yorkville around eight years ago. OK, maybe not so much ... my favorite bodega closed down two years ago; Sesso, the restaurant where I took my future wife on our first date, has since gone out of business; and hole-in-the-wall bars like the Snug and the Raccoon Lodge West have changed into the Dead Poet and Crossroads.

Anyway, it looks like our little corner of the Upper West Side is right on the cusp of a significant transformation. There are half a dozen high-end luxury condos going up. The Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle is acting like an anchor and seems to be pushing brand-name retail (Pottery Barn, Best Buy, Brooks Brothers) up Broadway towards the heart of the UWS. Celeb Chef Daniel Boulud opened a new wine bar across from Lincoln Center, while Lincoln Center and West 65th Street are getting a much needed facelift.

I don't see neighborhood change as an altogether bad thing - sure, I would prefer fewer Starbucks, Duane Reades and retail banks in my neighborhood, but I surely wouldn't want the neighborhood to be restocked with the SROs, junkies and prostitutes from The Panic in Needle Park days. Not everyone agrees, of course:

Gentrification as "Benign Ethnic Cleansing".

Ethnic Cleansing. Umm, OK. Just as long as we don't get hysterical or anything.

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