Sunday, July 29, 2007


VANISHED: July 29, 2007

Harlem's landmark soul food restaurant Copeland's closed today. When it comes to closing businesses that have survived the worst, what has more destructive power than AIDS, crack, crime, and arson? Gentrification -- according to the story in the Times.

From the New York Times:
Calvin Copeland was there when rioters burned and looted stores in 1964, when crack cocaine and AIDS tore families apart, when brownstones were for sale for $50,000 and few outsiders dared move in. He endured fire and financial ruin, yet each time he picked up the pieces and prospered, as bold and resilient as the neighborhood around him.

If he could be the master of his fate, he would live out his days in Harlem, Mr. Copeland, 82, said yesterday, serving soul food from the restaurant he has owned for almost five decades, Copeland’s, a relic of the past anchored in a place fast in transition.

Gentrification has pushed away many of the black families who used to patronize his business. “The white people who took their place don’t like or don’t care for the food I cook,” he said. “The transformation snuck up on me like a tornado.”

Photo and text copyright, New York Times, 2007

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