I’ve lived in New York for more than 40 years, and watched its gentrification from up close.
On Amsterdam and Columbus Ave in the Seventies and Eighties (blocks and decades both), it proceeded in steps, a kind of slow continuum of the spreading of adjacency in which restaurants, not too fancy, slowly diffused from Broadway and downtown and eventually displaced the street-side flat-tire changers with bubble-finding tubs of water operating out of narrow dark doors.
I hardly know Brooklyn at all, and haven’t witnessed its gentrification, though I’ve heard much about it and about the new artisanal but apolitical culture. Last night, I ate at Northeast Kingdom in Bushwick. The food was very good, but the process of gentrification seemed very peculiar. There, in the middle of ungentrified people and storefronts, were a few restaurants that looked as though they’d been picked up from somewhere else and parachuted in. And the people coming too, unselfconsciously dressed up and walking through the streets, out of place and yet not bothered. It was as though someone had taken two decks of cards, different manufacturers and design, and force-shuffled them together just once, pressing cards from one into the middle of the other.
It seemed like a jump rather than a diffusion. Very weird.