A twinge of guilt as a Bushwick C-Town gentrifies
The C-Town I helped gentrify. (Photo via MTMONT on Flickr)
By Sara Baumberger
A month ago I knocked a stack of apples onto the floor at my neighborhood grocery store.
I was maneuvering around the usual clutter in the produce section. This grocery store was always a mess: unstocked food was stacked everywhere.
This week, at the same store, I bought Boca burgers.
After living in Bushwick for two years, the C-Town across the street has added a new frozen- foods section. I can finally get my Boca without trudging to the expensive veggie-friendly hippy market in Williamsburg.
The changes in the grocery store don’t stop at Boca, though. A usual trip there used to involve reaching around the boxes — stacked four-high in the aisles — to get to the canned peas, or stepping over dollies to get out of the produce section. All that is now cleaned up, and new tile is being installed.
Even more noticeable: Last week the normal blaring Latin-music station was replaced with an English-language soft-rock station.
I wonder if this revised C-Town will still have produce bags that catch dead flies under the bug zapper this summer.
The changes in my neighborhood have come slowly. But even small changes bring a realization: Gentrification is here.The previous tenants in my apartment say that the block occupied by the new coffee shop and restaurant used to be where all the prostitutes hung out about five years ago.
Now, artists in skinny jeans and flannels sip gourmet brew on that sidewalk. There are now rumblings of a high-end grocery and another restaurant going in.
The condos next door are finally filled. A friend who lives there said that at a tenant meeting last summer, one of his neighbors asked if they could somehow keep neighborhood kids from letting the fire hydrants spout water into the street to cool off: It ruins his shower’s water pressure.
I have to wonder if the people who have lived here all their lives hate me for doing this to them.
I feel guilty for being excited that the new stores are coming. When a friend’s bodega was closed after 10 years of business, I felt myself wondering what would replace it: A bagel shop? A new brunch hot spot?
As I see more and more hipsters and yuppies replacing the Puerto Ricans and Dominicans, I can’t help but feel like new arrivals are invading. I’m invading.
“It’s progress,” a friend tells me.
But I’ll still feel guilty as I pull my boots over my skinny jeans and walk to the hipster restaurant for brunch on Saturday afternoon.