Thursday, June 26, 2014

Standard bearer for the state

Thursday, June 26, 2014

The flashes across the sky started when I walked out of City Hall last night just before midnight – the threat of a coming storm that would not arrive until just after I got home, and then came in a gush of rain and rumble of thunder.
The meeting depressed me because it told me that the city I’ve come to love is no longer a city I can remain in for long – destined to become so dense as to become the largest city in the state. And this is being sold as a good thing.
But it is more than just overcrowding and the rise of skyscrapers that will fill the air with peaks and the streets with people. It is about social invasion – a concept I saw in Passaic more gently, and in Manhattan which was more violent, as young wealthy shove their way into old spaces and by default of their numbers and their income, push out those who have invested their lives in those spaces as they are, not as they will become.
One such soul said she could not afford to buy a brownstone, but wanted to live near the park and so willingly supported the construction of a building that would destroy the texture of the neighborhood she so desires to live near.
Other younger, even wanna be young urbanites supported the closing of a street as a pedestrian mall, even though the block contained vital medical services for the elderly, not merely to recreate the Greenwich Village feel overdevelopment has already destroyed in the area, but as a foothold for a new concept of development that would slowly work its way along a one-time viable shopping district after construction of a mall near the waterfront diverted customers from its stores.
This is social warfare as one generation shoves the next generation out of the way, something we have not seen in this town, but has been going on in Manhattan for decades, generation gentrification that will not end well for the older generation that clings to these streets as home.
Even the earlier gentrification that marked the streets I walked along to reach my car is at risk, as the march of tall buildings encroaches on the village-like setting that attracted so many creative people, and like the nearby town of Hoboken which went through this already, there will soon be no room here even for the artists that many claim they came to this space to be around.
It is new vs. old, and the new has control, almost reckless in its ambitions to rival New York across the river, to become the standard bearer for this state much the way New York is for its own.

The big question in my mind as the thunder started and I climbed into my car for the drive home: what is it a standard bearer for?

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