Tag Archives: Brooklyn

Finding romance on the “Love Train”

love train

A world seethes beneath New York where love-seeking straphangers interact with stolen glances between jostling bodies.

Those who enter that world at the L train’s Bedford Avenue stop in Brooklyn take to the Internet more often than riders on any other line to turn furtive eye contact into trysts.

In romance fever’s high-season — the two weeks before and after Valentine’s Day — 421 men and women posted to the “missed connections” thread on craigslist.org hoping to connect with a stranger they chatted with or made eye contact with underground.

Read the rest of my story, also published by chicagotribune.com here.

You can also check out the missed connections mapped out by gender here.

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A whole new world on the other Fifth Avenue

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.

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