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Archive for the ‘New York City’ Category

By any other name…

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on August 20, 2014

I’m a bit leery of this article’s conclusion, which claims that there are four different types of gentrification, but here’s the story in full.
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There Are Actually 4 Types of Gentrification That Could Change Your City
The Huffington Post | By Jessica Cumberbatch Anderson

Posted: 08/20/2014 12:53 pm EDT

In 1985, gentrification was as easy to spot as a bottle of New Coke. According to a quiz published by the San Francisco Chronicle (and recently found by UCLA Ph.D. candidate Devin McCutchen), markers of a neighborhood on the cusp of yuppiedom included the introduction of gourmet bakeries, needlepoint boutiques and, puzzlingly, pet stores specializing in exotic Central American birds.

And while a neighborhood’s rapidly changing demographic is often as easily identifiable today (just look at how New York City has changed before our eyes), the reasons a certain area may appeal to more “upscale” interests is trickier than you’d think.

“Gentrification is a nuanced phenomenon … but most people engaged in any gentrification fail to acknowledge the nuances.”— Pete Saunders

On his blog, The Corner Side Yard, urban planning expert Pete Saunders set out to establish some ground rules for understanding the trend. In short, this isn’t just about mom-and-pop shops being overtaken by the latest farm-to-table restaurant, or high-rise condos looming ominously over one remaining row of single-family homes. Rather, it’s about what makes a neighborhood ripe for gentrification to begin with.

Saunders’ basic premise is that the amount of pre-World War II, walkable areas in a given city (what he refers to as “old form”) combined with the number of African-Americans who live there can forecast gentrification activity.

“Once areas of a city obtain a majority of minorities, particularly a majority of African Americans, it somehow drops from the mental landscape of whites when thinking of the city at large,” Saunders wrote in an email to HuffPost Home. “Because some cities have had historically lower black populations, less of the city has become invisible to current residents. This means that more of the city became ‘available’ for potential future gentrification.”

And, as Saunders writes on his blog, gentrification can look different depending where it is. Most of what comes to mind when we think of gentrification is the experience of those in cities such as New York, San Francisco and Boston. There, the debate is fueled by concerns over affordability, displacement and growing inequality. “But the gentrification debate is quite different in cities like Philadelphia and Atlanta, where seeking ways to more equitably spread the positive benefits of revitalization might lead such discussions,” he says.

According to Saunders, there isn’t one single way to define gentrification, but four: Expansive Gentrification, Concentrated Gentrification, Limited Gentrification and Nascent Gentrification. Here’s where each type is likely to occur.

Here’s how he breaks it all down:

Expansive Gentrification
Best examples: New York, Boston, San Francisco and Seattle
Each city has a strong older core — a pre-World War II, traditional grid street system that you can easily walk, shop and live in without using a car much. Each has also had smaller historical black populations (when compared with Southern cities and Rust Belt cities that had extensive migration for manufacturing jobs). This gave them a leg up when the back-to-the-city movement gathered steam. Gentrification often sprouted from a number of places within a city and those often connected with each other to create even larger and stronger gentrified areas.

Concentrated Gentrification
Best examples: Chicago, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.
Here, the cities share the same type of older layout as the cities above, but have had larger (relative) black populations. This is where you see that larger parts of such cities have been “written off” by many residents. In each case, gentrification sprouted usually from one area that was a last bastion of white affluent residents (Chicago’s North Side, Northwest D.C. or the area around the University of Pennsylvania in Philly) and spread outward from there. Although most large cities have vast inequality, it’s most evident in these cities because they tend to be racially, economically and socially divided.

Limited Gentrification
Best examples: Phoenix, San Diego and Las Vegas
These are largely Western cities that developed after World War II and have had historically small black populations. Gentrification is more limited in these cities because of their largely suburban structure. Some black neighborhoods have grown and thrived here, but they’ve usually been small when compared to the city overall. Many residents see the value of creating walkable and dense areas that they’ve been lacking, and they are leading the charge in developing them. They are also investing in transit in ways that cities in other parts of the country are not.

Nascent Gentrification
Best examples: Houston, Charlotte and Memphis
This a largely Southern phenomenon. These are cities with a newer layout, but higher black populations that are still wedded to the conventional suburban development model. This is not to say that there isn’t any development of walkable/dense areas, but it likely occurs less often than in any of the other three categories.

Posted in City Living, economics, gentrification, life, Manhattanization, Manhattanization of San Francisco, New York City, Oakland, San Francisco | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

“The Last Bookstore” in Los Angeles

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on August 3, 2014

I feel lucky to live in the Bay Area. We have a wealth of riches with regard to independent bookstores in the region, and I do my bit to shop at them every chance I get. I witnessed the proliferation of Barnes & Noble in New York City during the 80s and 90s and how that decimated the indie bookstores there. While I lived in Southern California, I studiously avoided having anything to do with Los Angeles, so I didn’t see firsthand the obliteration of small local bookstores there, other than the demise of the lefty Midnight Special bookstore in Santa Monica. So here’s The Last Bookstore, located at 453 S. Spring St, Ground Floor, in downtown LA:

The Last Bookstore by Bryan Frank
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The Last Bookstore, currently in our third incarnation, began in 2005 in a downtown Los Angeles loft. That was when owner Josh Spencer decided to take his decade of experience selling everything from cars to clothes on eBay and focus entirely on his first love: books. Our online business grew quickly along with the revival of downtown LA. When a small location in the Old Bank District at 4th and Main became available Christmas 2009, we jumped in and opened our doors to the public. The support from the community was overwhelming. Thanks, everybody!

People seemed to especially enjoy selling their used books to us, as one of the last places in LA still buying books. Our inventory quickly overflowed the shelves, and at the end of our lease June 2011 the Last Bookstore moved to the 10,000 sq. ft location at 5th & Spring St. A record shop and coffee bar filled out the ground floor September, 2011. Most recently, we expanded another 6,100 sq. ft. by opening up the Labyrinth Above the Last Bookstore on our mezzanine level, with over 100,000 books all priced at one dollar each! Now we’ve become the largest independent bookstore in California buying and selling used & new books and records.

The name was chosen with irony, but it has become a self-fulfilling prophecy as physical bookstores are dying out like dinosaurs from the meteoric impact of Amazon and e-books. With our constant turnover of stock, regular musical and literary events, vinyl LP and graphic novel shops, and the Spring Arts Collective sharing our space, we book-lovers at the Last Bookstore hope to last as long as we can in downtown LA’s vibrant new community. Join the cause! Buy, sell, trade, and above all read real books…before they’re gone.

Here’s a great KCRW feature that says what we’re all about even better!: KCRW
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Posted in independent bookstores, life, Los Angeles, New York City, San Francisco Bay Area | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

How is this even possible

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on June 7, 2014

San Francisco, Paris, New York; three cities I can never get enough of. That’s why I’ve periodically visited them (or lived in them) over the past thirty years, always marveling at the sights and sounds of these world-class, world famous cities. Photographer Duane Michals has an exhibit currently making the rounds (at DC Moore Gallery through May 31, 2014) titled “Empty New York.” It features black and white pictures of subway cars, barber shops, bodegas, laundromats, even Coney Island, without a single person present, something quite unimaginable to New York City residents. Shooting photographs since the late 1950’s, Michals is inspired by Eugene Atget, who did his own series of photos using the streets of Paris as subject. Here’s the museum page, and below, some of the pictures. Haunting, and gorgeous.
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Empty New York, c. 1964

FROM THE MUSEUM PRESS RELEASE:
Comprised of thirty rare gelatin silver prints dating from the 1960s, the exhibition focuses exclusively on Michals’ early exploration of transitional early morning moments in New York City shops, parks, subway cars, and train stations. This is the first time these photographs have been exhibited as a group.

The images in this exhibition, taken over a half a century ago, include New York landmarks such as Penn Station, the Metropolitan Opera House, and Washington Square Hotel as well as ordinary locales, such as a laundromat, a shoeshine station, or an empty booth in a neighborhood diner. The series reflects Duane Michals’ admiration for the work of French photographer Eugene Atget who memorably photographed the streets of Paris. As Michals has said,

“It was a fortuitous event for me [to discover the work of Eugene Atget in a book]. I became so enchanted by the intimacy of the rooms and streets and people he photographed that I found myself looking at twentieth –century New York in the early morning through his nineteenth-century eyes. Everywhere seemed a stage set. I would awaken early on Sunday mornings and wander through New York with my camera, peering into shop windows and down cul-de-sacs with a bemused Atget looking over my shoulder.”

Of this intellectual revelation and point of departure, Michals recollects that how for him suddenly, “Everything was theatre; even the most ordinary event was an act in the drama of my little life.” The universality of narrative, space, and their limitless capacities would set the stage for Michals proliferous and imaginative career.

Since 1958 Duane Michals has been making photographs which investigate themes of memory, mortality, love, and loss. Constantly interpreting and re-interpreting the world around him, Michals never stagnates and always finds new ways to understand the human experience through his idiosyncratic combination of philosophy, humor, history, and stark emotion.

Michal’s first solo museum exhibition was at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 1970, and he will be honored with a career retrospective opening October, 2014 at The Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh. Duane Michals lives and works in New York City.

Posted in life, New York, New York City, photography, photography opening | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Parrots coming home to roost

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on May 20, 2014

The parrots of San Francisco have gained world fame. I covered them in an earlier blog posting here. The picture posted there was garnered from the internet whereas the ones posted here I took with my Canon PowerShot.
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Colonies of “wild” parrots have come into being in cities wherever tame birds were released by accident or design by their former owners and given the chance to breed. LA and Brooklyn also have “wild” parrots, and I use the term “wild” advisedly because they cannot yet exist outside their respective urban environments. Parrots are native to tropical countries and climates where they fly far and wide. Here, in the US and more temperate climes, they seem confined to their particular cities where they are much more reliant on their dense human populations for their survival.
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A friend in NYC once told me a story about the Brooklyn parrots. As tropical animals, the Brooklyn parrots were not at all accustomed to NYC winters, and had developed a type of colony nest with scores of parrots taking roost in structures of twigs, leaves, branches, urban detritus, etc, all built around the tops of telephone poles. Only problem was that the nesting parrots also had the habit of gnawing on the wires and the transformer boxes, inevitably frying a parrot or two, causing the colony nest to catch fire, and burning down a telephone pole with drastic results for the neighborhood and the power grid.
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These parrots flew up as I was exiting my car with my carrying bag. Their distinctive squawks immediately alerted me to their presence in the trees of a corner house, so I pulled the PowerShot from my bag and grabbed these pictures. The parrots obliged by staying put for the photo session.

Posted in life, New York City, parrots, San Francisco | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Going, going…

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on May 18, 2014

Shakespeare_and_Company_store_in_Paris
The famous Shakespeare and Company bookshop in Paris is a well known tourist destination. Actually, it was a bookstore begun by Sylvia Beach in 1919 which closed during the German occupation in 1940 and then a second bookstore founded by George Whitman in 1951, a tribute to Beach’s original which is still around.
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Shakespeare and Company is also a small chain of locally owned bookshops in New York City unaffiliated with its Paris namesake. With three locations all in Manhattan, Shakespeare and Co started in 1981. In May of this year, it was announced that the Broadway location will close due to an astronomical rent increase.
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I often visited Shakespeare and Co when I made regular pilgrimages to New York City in the 1980s and 1990s. The scourge that was (and remains) Barnes and Noble, which spread like cancer across the City and systematically killed off most of New York’s independent bookstores, is still around if financially ailing due to competition with Amazon. This mainstream New York Times obituary hopefully does not portend the overall Shakespeare chain’s demise.
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I’m constantly lamenting the death of all the joys that make living in San Francisco and New York so wonderful. The steady destruction of independent bookstores, record shops, cinemas, etc. due to urban gentrification and stratification doesn’t make me nostalgic, but rather sad and angry. A marvelous blog, Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York, had this to say about Shakespeare and Co. Jeremiah’s is where I first heard that Little Rickie, a famous novelty store in Manhattan, also recently closed. Little Rickie is where I bought a smokin’ fez monkey.
smokingmonkey
So fucking sad!

Posted in gentrification, independent bookstores, life, New York City, Paris, San Francisco, Shakespeare & Co | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Darkness visible

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on January 5, 2014

I’m a city person, but I’ve sometimes missed the splendor of a rural night sky. And I’ve wondered what my favorite urban environment might be like if I could see a full night of stars. Photographer Thierry Cohen provides these composite shots of my three favorite cities sans urban lighting and moonlight. Maybe like the blackout of 2003 in New York City or the 1989 Loma-Prieta earthquake in San Francisco, with no urban unrest but no electricity either. Thierry Cohen identifies each photo with the precise time, angle, and longitude and latitude of the exposure.
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New York 40° 44’ 39’’ N 2010-10-13 lst 0:04
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New York 40° 42’ 16’’ N 2010-10-09 lst 3:40
Paris 48° 51’ 03’’ N 2012-07-19 lst 19:46

Paris 48° 51’ 03’’ N 2012-07-19 lst 19:46
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San Francisco 37° 48’ 30’’ N 2010-10-09 lst 20:58
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Paris 48° 50’ 55’’ N 2012-08-13 lst 22:15
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Paris 48° 51’ 52’’ N 2021-07-14 utc 22:18

Posted in life, New York City, Paris, San Francisco | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Giuliani time by the bay

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on July 4, 2007

After some thought, I don’t believe suburbanization is the right word for what Mayor Gavin Newsom has in mind for San Francisco. Newsom fancies himself a “new democrat,” someone who is moderate, centrist, and capable of creative solutions to social problems that are business-friendly at the same time. He has repeatedly cast his eyes toward New York City, and in particular, Giuliani’s time as its mayor. He has emulated NYC’s efforts to clean up Central Park with respect to problems in Golden Gate Park. Newsom has asked New York officials for advice on how to handle the homeless. And his latest idea has been to propose setting up special courts for “quality of life” crimes. Gavin Newsom wants to Giulianize San Francisco.

Newsom’s special courts idea has hit a snag with the SF Board of Supervisors. Board President Aaron Peskin reduced the proposed court’s budget from $750,000 to $500,000, then agreed with other supervisors on the Budget Committee to put the money on reserve. This has increased tensions between the Mayor’s office and the Board of Supervisors, as well as split the Mayor’s own people as to how to handle the Board.

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That “quality of life” crimes are committed by folks with little quality of life should be apparent to all. There needs to be more of an effort to debunk the myths of Giulianism. Jennifer Roesch’s excellent piece “The Mussolini of Manhattan” is a start, as is Robert Lederman‘s vendor and artist news from New York City. That Giuliani might be our next president scares the bejesus out of me.

Posted in Aaron Peskin, Central Park, Gavin Newsom, Giulianism, Giulianize, Golden Gate Park, homeless, new democrat, New York City, news, nuisance crimes, quality of life, quality of life crimes, Rudolph Giuliani, Rudy Giuliani, San Francisco, San Francisco Bay Area, San Francisco Board of Supervisors | Leave a Comment »