Tuesday, November 13, 2007

South Slope

Some people, those living in the outer boroughs, like to tell me that New York is not vanishing at all because it's still alive and well in places like Queens and Brooklyn. But as we know, these boroughs are vanishing, too, neighborhood by neighborhood, and it's only a matter of time before they are completely sheathed in glass and Starbucks.

Park Slope’s South Slope, for example, is rapidly becoming condo-ized. Over the past year, at astonishing speed, sleepy little blocks long made up of working-class, aluminum-sided townhouses, brick and tar-paper tenements have been systematically leveled and rebuilt to look like the rest of the former city.


558 5th Ave rising over soon-vanishing neon sign

Much has been said about 16th Street. In just one block, there are more than half a dozen new developments. Between 5th and 6th Aves, there's Suite 16 at #198-210, something with semi-lunar balconies at #226, a primed empty lot at #228, Prospect Gardens at #251, The Athena at #245, and a rather dull gray number at #231 that has really upset the neighbors. Go across 5th and you've got the big, bad, controversial Vue.


#226 16th Street


#245 16th Street


#231 16th St.

Walk down 5th Ave and there's another condo building at #558 rising above the low-rise 99-cent stores, bodegas, and nail salons. A fenced lot at #514, surrounded by stone foundations, is littered with antique iron columns. At 13th Street, there is the monstrous #515 -- it used to be a Salvation Army where a chain-smoking woman at the back door presided over mounds of donated clothing, computers, and paperback books.


#558 5th Avenue


#515 5th Avenue

If 16th Street is over, 13th Street has just begun.

At the corner of 13th and 6th, there's a massive McFrankenMansion. It began its life as a multi-family tenement. Someone with the taste and sensibility of Russian mobsters added several rickety-looking roofdecks, suburban-style stonefacing, and an "exhibitionist special" glass-encased central stairway. The result is a three-car garage, single-family monstrosity.


McFrankenMansion


13th Street's new fuck-you finger

Further up the block, amid low-rise brick buildings and odd little houses with front porches, another sore-thumb asserts itself as different, special, and immune to the established rules and norms of the block. In a word: narcissistic.

Interestingly, both of these developments, like many of those going up in the South Slope, are topped by an extra turret-like structure, a mini-tower that makes the buildings look like they’re giving the fuck-you finger to the neighborhood. Which, in a very real sense, they are.

5 comments:

Rambler said...

what's even funnier is the nickname--South Slope. That did not exist in 1990 when I lived on the edge of Park Slope and Windsor Terrace. Park Slope pretty much stopped at Sixth Avenue then and certainly didn't go past 14th Street. Now it's all the way into 20s and Fourth Avenue.

Same thing happened in DC. They came up with Dupont East, which was really a good half-mile from Dupont Circle.

I fear Windsor Terrace will go soon too.

Icky said...

Ditto on the neighborhood name - When I lived over there, the name "South Slope" did not exist. Hell, when I first moved into the area, "Park Slope" didn't go past 9th Street.

We're trying to hold strong in Windsor Terrace! Lots of condos going up on the East side though.

Jeremiah Moss said...

even the east village wasn't the east village until kerouac and ginsberg moved there. when i say "east village" to anyone over 80 they're like, "you mean the lower east side?" who dubbed it the EV? the real estate people. i'm surprised the now trendy lower east side hasn't been renamed the lower east village or east village south.

Rambler said...

Ah, but lower east side has a cool sound to it. That's why Clinton never really took as a new name for Hell's Kitchen.

Where I live used to be considered a no man's land between the upper westside and morning side heights. Hell, maybe it was Manhattan Valley, but that only seems to be a few blocks. Now I guess it's considered upper westside or the upper upper westside.

I like how Bushwick is now East Williamsburg or something like that.

sandra said...

YES GLEASONS AREA HAS CHANGED..BORN ON CLINTON ST. STILL HAVE FAMILY HERE...ALL OF BK IS MAKING A CHANGE THE MIDWEST (PLAINS) PEOPLE ARE COMING TO ALL NEIGBORHOODS I POWER WALK AND SEE THE DIFFERENCES IT'S AMAZING . THE GHETTOS ARE FILLING UP TOO...LOW RENT..EXCEPT WHERE ARE THEY GOING ??? SANDRA