The nail salon where elderly Chinese women performed manicures and pedicures now sells pre-prepared organic meals – a side order of macaroni and cheese that serves four costs $14. A boutique clothing store marketing hand made wallets for $35 fills the space where a father and son team ran their plumbing business for fifteen years. The local pharmacy that once supplied neighborhood residents with antibiotics now brews fair-trade espresso.
As rents rose along Park Slope’s Fifth Avenue, the faces of storefronts changed, and in the past five years a new breed of stores have moved in and planted the seeds for future growth and stability by organizing a business improvement district, which taxes participating businesses and then uses that money for overall improvements for the avenue.
“It is a totally new kind of shop coming into Fifth Avenue,” said Carl Hum, president of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce.
This newest wave of gentrification in the south Brooklyn neighborhood, an idea Sharon Zukin, author of The Culture of Cities, says people refer to as super-gentrification, refers to the rich replacing the slightly less rich, which is a stark contrast to the normal perception of gentrification – the displacement of the poor by the wealthy.
Park Slope looks a lot different than it did in the 1980s, when Gentrification 1.0 hit. During that time drug dealers found new corners from which to peddle and the last embers of trash can fires burnt as abandoned storefronts filled and buildings rose in vacant lots. After 9/11, during Gentrification 2.0, wealthy, young Manhattanites fled to Brooklyn, buying up the neighborhood’s brownstones, people some Brooklynites jokingly dubbed “trustafarians,” in reference to the disposable income that came with them. Their presence in the neighborhood courted upscale restaurants and bars. Today, in Gentrification 3.0, a range of savvy business people opening upscale boutiques and salons have set up shop in the area—and they’re banning together to mitigate any risk of being the next business pushed out in Gentrification 4.0.
The Tribal Spears Gallery filled to the brim over the past hours with Obama supporters donning shirts and pins on which the Illinois Senator’s name was emblazoned across. As the results continue to filter in from around the country, the spirits remain high at Harlem4Obama. “We are going to bring this to Denver
,” said Harlem4Obama President Michael Washington. “And continue on in November.”
Rachelle Bradt, a Harlem resident for 27 years chose to vote for Obama after reading his book, comparing his policies to those of Clinton, comparing his website to those of the other candidates and reading Andrew Sullivan’s article in The Atlantic. “I noticed this campaign was something different, back before all the celebrities did in December,” said Bradt. “This is a historic moment. If we don’t seize this historic opportunity, they don’t come again. We don’t get second chances.”
As results from the Texas primaries began to pour in Bradt said, “We’re looking at every number coming in for Texas. I am guardedly optimistic that it might happen. If Texas goes Obama that’s when I’ll be happy, happy, happy.”
As per the New York Times website at 8:20 p.m. Obama wins Vermont, and is projected to take Texas and Clinton projected to win Ohio. Polls close in Rhode Island at 9 p.m.
Not everyone knew what was going on in the Tribal Spears Gallery this evening. Janeka Gray, an employee at Harlem’s Children Zone, stumbled into the gallery to enjoy a muffin, and found herself in the middle of a party in support of Barack Obama. “I am undecided,” said Gray, “but I have been influenced by my friends to support Obama.” Though Gray sees little difference between the two contenders for the Democratic candidacy, she said, “I think people see Obama as a a real American. Most of our Presidents have come from wealthy backgrounds, but he is working class.”
Makeba Lloyd, the media coordinator for Harlem4Obama, never took any interest in politics until this presidential election season. “I was completely disgusted by politics until now,” said Lloyd. “We actually have a candidate that I understand and speaks to the people.” Though the 15th Congressional District – a Democratic battleground
to which Harlem belongs – went to Senator Clinton
during the Super Tuesday primary, Lloyd does not feel disheartened. “We feel good, we really do,” she said. Though Lloyd does not expect Obama to sweep tonight, she does expect him to come out strong, “like he has in the past 12 primaries,
” Lloyd added.