Ten things I’ve learned from New York City neighbourhoods

Note 1: I still have many guestposts to publish, which I will do over the next couple of weeks. There are still some amazing entries, and they keep coming in (and please, keep sending me stuff). I’ve been blown away by the thought, honesty, humour, and energy that was put into these entries, and by the reception they’ve received, so I want to keep this as a regular feature for the blog, interlaced with my own insane ramblings.

Note 2: New York is enough a part of my life that it deserves several entries in various forms. Having just come back from a trip, however, I wanted to smash down some ideas so I don’t lose them.

  1. In Chelsea, brunch can involve all-you-can-drink mimosas, blaring house music, and faux hawks.
  2. Want to get to know your Bed Stuy neighbours? Want to learn what reggae songs are popular? Want to drink beer in public? Go to a block party. They are amazing.
  3. Want to meet young Filipino or West Indian women? Go to the Upper East side during a week day! You get to see a lot of white kids with a lot of non-white nannies.
  4. Taking the ferry to Staten Island is like hiking up a beautiful mountain trail, only to get to the top and discover a garbage dump. That’s not fair…Staten Island is ok. They have good Indian food.
  5. In 1991, there was a riot in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, between black and Jewish residents. There are conflicting views as to why the riot began (quick summary: a Hasidic Jewish man veered off the road and hit and killed a Guyanese child. The article is here), but it symbolizes the delicate balance (and unfortunate occasional animosity) between Jewish and black folks in Brooklyn and, by extension, the rest of North America.
  6. There was a time, not so long ago, when most of the fancy areas in New York were incredibly dangerous and impoverished. Now, New York is generally one of the safest cities to walk around. So…thank you Giuliani? That can’t be right…
  7. In Queens, you have distinct Latino and Greek neighbourhoods, the former site of the World’s Fair, the home of the Mets and the US Open, beautiful parks and reasonably priced rental apartments, and great food. I’m just saying, give Queens a chance!
  8. Park Slope = The Beaches = Point Grey. Soho = Yorkville = Yaletown. Chelsea = Church St = The West End. Harlem = Jane and Finch = ….?
  9. The high cost of living (particularly rent) is making it really difficult for art to thrive in New York. If you are an artist or musician and don’t already have money or family support…good luck.
  10. Smaller arts organizations and theatres have banded together by region to create mutually beneficial arts collectives, like Litny and the Fourth Arts Block. They may write a grant collectively, share a marketing person, or find another way to share resources and cross-promote. I began a project (that I sadly was unable to finish) to create a group like this in Hell’s Kitchen. We had a few meetings…I hope that energy continued. Collaboration is always critical for the arts.

10 Comments

Filed under tenthingsivelearned, Uncategorized

10 responses to “Ten things I’ve learned from New York City neighbourhoods

  1. 8. = East Hastings and Main, Surrey or New Westminster?

    10. Did you ever get involved with the groups who are linking businesses with empty locations and artists who need to display their work? It sounds pretty awesome and win-win: businesses benefit by increasing the chance of selling/renting the space by having the space shown in-use and artists get a free or cheap way to get themselves out there.

  2. Rapson

    8. I think you mean Yorkville, not Yorkdale mall, right? Don’t yet know NYC well enough, but completely agree with the Tor-Van comparisons. Jane & Finch = maybe East Hastings, but not really the Downtown Eastside.

  3. Rapson

    Maybe Hastings & Commercial.

  4. Phillip

    I don’t believe there is a Vancouver analog to Harlem. The others i agree with for the most part.

  5. Daphna

    The corner of Main and Broadway 15 years ago?

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