Williamsburg, Brooklyn – gentrification, street scenes and dustbin lids

Photos of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York

Rarely has an area gentrified as rapidly as Williamsburg in Brooklyn, and although I’ve been visiting the neighbourhood for well over a decade,  it was startling to see just how much had changed since my last visit in 2010.

Photos of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York

Central to the area’s transformation was the controversial rezoning of the North Side and Greenpoint waterfront area in May 2005, which opened the floodgates for investors keen to capitalise on the area’s proximity to Manhattan.

Industrial warehouses were swiftly converted to upmarket residential use, a tsunami of Tribeca-style loft developments flooded into the area, and vast residential buildings sprouted up on the waterfront.

Photos of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York

The rest of the story is one that should be familiar to Brixtonites:

Officials championing the rezoning cited its supposed economic benefits, the new private waterfront promenades, and its inclusionary housing component – which offered developers large tax breaks in exchange for promises to rent about a third of the newly created housing units at “affordable” rates (which amount to upper-middle class pricing).

Critics countered that similar set-asides for affordable housing have gone unfulfilled in previous large-scale developments, such as Battery Park City. The New York Times reported this proved to be the case in Williamsburg as well, as developers largely decided to forgo incentives to build affordable housing in inland areas []

Photos of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York

Happily, not all of Williamsburg’s character has been subsumed by the influx of the well-heeled.

Here’s a series of snaps taken around the neighbourhood.

Photos of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York

Four dustbin (or should that be trashcan) lids chained to their owners’ fence.

Photos of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York

A jogger passes in front of the Russian Orthodox Cathedral, a 1922 Byzantine revival landmark in Greenpoint.

Photos of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York

Photos of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York

Former Clovis Press book shop (see 2004 view), now a hoity toity cheese shop.

Photos of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York

Stickers on a street sign.

Photos of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York

La Isla Grocery & Organic Foods on 120 Bedford Ave which has probably picked up the worst review I’ve ever seen online. Ouch!

Photos of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York

Books for sale on Bedford Avenue.

Photos of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York

Blue sweatshirt against a light grey wall.

Photos of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York

Curious chalked graffiti.

Photos of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York

Williamsburg bridge – see photo walk here.

Photos of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York

The Birds!

Photos of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York

Cuban flag with graffiti.

Photos of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York

The old Domino Sugar refinery which closed in 2004 after operating on the site since 1882.

More photos from Williamsburg and Brooklyn:

New York photosBoneshakers, Brooklyn
New York photosWilliamsburg, Brooklyn
New York photosP.S.1 MoMA, Queens
New York photosBust Magazine’s Craftacular
New York photosWilliamsburg to Greenpoint
New York photosDumba in DUMBO