It takes all kinds, and that’s what makes New York great. At the same time, gentrification has created resentments that can bubble up without warning.
The corner of Prospect Park West and 16th Street in Brooklyn’s Windsor Terrace is a prime example.
On one corner sits Farrell’s, the legendary cop and working-class watering hole that opened in the 1930s and is reputed to serve more Budweiser than any NYC tavern.
Across the street is The Double Windsor, a more upscale neighborhood hipster tavern that launched in 2009, offering an extensive menu and microbrews.
Management at both establishments radiates good will. “Sure the neighborhood has changed, but still good people,” Farrell’s co-owner Jimmy Houlihan cheerfully told me.
At The Double Windsor, bartender Khara Gilvey agreed: “The owners and bartenders at Farrell’s are kind to me.”
But scratch just under the surface, and the picture becomes a bit less rosy.
“They call us leftovers,” said Ronnie Homan, a regular at Farrell’s. “I was brought up in this neighborhood, but some of the newcomers look down on us, like we don’t belong here.”
Nearby, Ann Marie Perry nodded her head. “I’ve been coming to Farrell’s for decades, since I was 16,” Perry said. “Oops, maybe I shouldn’t say that . . .
“This neighborhood has turned into Yuppieville, and I don’t mean that as a compliment,” Perry said. “No offense to that place across the street, but the real men drink here.”
In The Double Windsor, “that place across the street,” some regulars returned fire. “Who wants to hang out with a bunch of retired cops?” asked a young woman would ID herself only as Mel. “I don’t come to a bar to be policed. No thanks!”
Her friend June jumped in. “For years, the Farrell’s crowd would stand outside on the sidewalk and guzzle their containers of beer,” she said. “If we did that, we’d be busted. Double standard.”
When I told Mel that some Farrell’s regulars feel some of the new crowd look down on them, she said, “Maybe they have a complex.”
Call me cynical, but I don’t see these two taverns having joint picnics in Prospect Park anytime soon.
Playwright Mike Vogel blogs at newyorkgritty.net.