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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Bed-Stuy to Bushwick

A lovely walk with a lovely lady up Nostrand through Crown Heights and Bed-Stuy, and then over through East Williamsburg into Queens. Nostrand's an interesting enough commercial drag, pretty typical working-class borough fare, nice Brownstone side streets as you go further up. Around DeKalb the area starts to change to Hassidic, with a smattering of Pratt art student types (is this considered "Clinton Hill" yet by the Real Estate crowd)? By the time I get to Marcy it's almost entirely Hassidic - in addition to the people, apartment buildings with a million tiny balconies (used to house Sukkahs for the Jewish holiday of Sukkot) give it away. I have to give it the Hassids - instead of the ticky-tacky used to throw up pretty much any housing development today, all the new buildings are legitimately made solidly out of brick.

We head up into Hassid Williamsburg, and walk the main the main commercial drag for a bit. The strollers are everywhere, and signs saying "no strollers in store" are also everywhere. The default seems to be to just leave the stroller (complete with baby) outside while you shop, knowing someone will keep an eye on everyone.

I'll be interested to read the language data for the area in the 2010 census. According to the 2000 census data, Yiddish still seemed to be the lingua franca of the community, but judging by what I hear and read on the streets, English seems to be becoming the dominant language. There's still some Yiddish signs and conversation in the streets (although a lot of Hassids have a habit of mumbling so low while talking it's pretty much impossible for a passerby to even tell what language they're speaking, much less what they're saying), but I'd say it's running about 60-40 English nowadays - still though, a lot more Yiddish is used than other Hassidic communities, never mind Jewish communities in general.

There's actually a lot more interesting Demographic differences among the different Hassidic communities. If you're super-interested in this stuff, you can download (Word Format) my paper demographically comparing the Crown Heights and Williamsburg Hassidic communities.

We leave the Hassidic area and head East into the industrial part of Williamsburg by Newton Creek. There's a few loft conversion of the old industrial buildings, and we encounter some 20-something hipsters doing skateboard tricks on one of the streets, but in general it's pretty empty - lots used for old auto storage, stuff like that. I cut my head open ducking through a hole in the fence to take a leak behind an abandoned factory. We cross the Grand Street bridge and head Southeast to Bushwick.

I figured there would be some stray exiles from Williamsburg, but there also a couple young ladies of the big-sunglasses, ill-fitting tight designer jeans variety around the Jefferson street L-train stop (although they are looking lost). We make our way down St. Nicholas and Wykoff, before heading north into Ridgewood. I can't tell who the recent arrivals are - the area seems to be becoming more Mexican and maybe a bit South American as the older Puerto Rican population moves out. Again, I can't wait for the 2010 census data.

Neighborhoods: Crown Heights, Clinton Hill, Bed-Stuy, Williamsburg, Southside, South Williamsburg, East Williamsburg, Bushwick. Tracts Walked: B317.01, B317.02, B315, B247, B245, B243, B241, B239, B531, B509, B511, B505, B493, B483, B455.97, B447, B445, B443, B441

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