We know that nouveaux Brooklynites, following their Manifest Destiny, are "blessing the Hudson Valley with hipness," turning Philadelphia into "the next borough," and changing the Rockaway boardwalk into another Bedford Avenue. This is how gentrification travels outward into more affordable locations. But what about the increasing Brooklynization of Manhattan?
Most recently, Stone Street Coffee of Gowanus fame opened shop on 9th Avenue in Chelsea:
Pop's of Brooklyn has come from Williamsburg to 8th Street near NYU:
There are lots of examples over the past year--like the Brooklyneer restaurant on West Houston and how the Guggenheim Lab, when they set up shop in the East Village, opted to have the food served by Roberta's of Bushwick. And this year's Lower East Side Ideas Fest showcased a plethora of Brooklyn-based vendors--as Bowery Boogie commented here, it looked like "a Brooklyn takeover."
It's a kind of reverse gentrification, but more twisted, a sort of Mobius Strip of gentrification in which the New Brooklyn, which exists because it was priced out of Manhattan 10 years ago, and which sort of (but not really) resembles the old Manhattan, is coming back to Manhattan, extruded through the New Brooklyn ringer, like artisanal sausage, a kind of monster-mash of flavors, so that it feels nothing quite like Manhattan ever did and only like parts of Brooklyn have come to be in recent years. Which is to say--it feels like somewhere not New York at all.
It feels like Portland on the Lower East Side.
It feels like Nantucket by way of Bergen Street.
It feels like Wisconsin pickled in Brooklyn brine then moved to Greenwich Village.
Brooklyneer menu art
It's someone's fantasy of Brooklyn as a quaint small town, where everything is safe and clean, where people frolic in backyards, leave their doors unlocked, etc. You know the story--and what happens when the story goes terribly wrong. But it's so much more than that.
The Observer recently got to the dark heart of it, writing: "It’s as if the tumor of hipster culture that formed when the cool kids moved to Williamsburg had metastasized into a cluster of cysts pressing down on parts of the borough’s brain... Brooklyn is producing and consuming more of its own culture than ever before."
There's something powerful going on here. This is Greek-sized stuff, the mythic story of maternal cannibalism, only in reverse. Manhattan's cast-off children are getting big enough to eat the mother that rejected them. No wonder so much of this phenomenon comes obsessed with food and oral pleasure.
So what happens when Manhattan is finally devoured by New Brooklyn? You know what they'll tell us: "It's better than a bank."
James Campbell Taylor