No, not East Brooklyn, East New York!
When I moved here in 2007 I was highly reluctant and devastated to even have to succumb to seeing apartments in this historically impoverished, crime and drug ridden neighborhood. In what I considered to be deep in Brooklyn, I did not want to move here. All I saw was poverty. The train stations had graffiti, the streets looked secluded and empty, without life. I could just smell the crack heads hiding in the crevices, waiting to come out and catch a hit. I assumed every saggy pants wearing hood was a drug dealer. But my situation didn’t allow me to look too much longer for an apartment, or to be able to afford living in up & coming neighborhoods such as Crown Heights, the one I actually grew up in.
I was stuck, East New York was it.
I turned down a large 3 bedroom on a quiet block around the corner from the train because bars covered the entire house, and didn’t have hardwood floors. I am picky. By the time I’d come to my senses and decided I wanted the apartment, the landlord changed his mind and decided to rent out all the rooms to individuals and not me and my small family.
Other apartments I saw were slums. Barely renovated, landlords asking for more rent than the apartment deserved. Finally one of the brokers I saw (in East, NY) understood me, and showed me a large 3 bedroom with hardwood floors and I moved in.
I lived there for three-years HATING IT. East, NY lived up to it’s horrid reputation. Because I don’t want to scare you, I won’t say in which ways. But it was live and ratchet and I was ready to go. I lived on one of the wildest blocks in the hood. As I was ready to find the new space something started changing. Police presence became heavy and the wildness of the block I was on calmed down.
But it wasn’t all peachy keen at first. My son had gotten “stopped and frisked” because he was wearing a hoodie and looking “suspicious” far too many times. It pissed me off! But this was happening in many impoverished or urban, people of color consumed neighborhoods throughout NYC, so that soon came to an end when most of the POC in the city started to go up in arms about this racial profiling tactic the NYPD was using against it’s citizens.
I was on the hunt again, in the same hood that I didn’t want to live in when I first go there. I’d finally gotten used to it. Those reasons will be outlined in the next post.
I got lucky and found a slamming duplex, on a more quiet strip just several blocks away from my former place. Finally, I felt rested. Now that I’ve settled in here, I am starting to find little gems around this neighborhood that make me happy to be here. This is why I decided to start this blog. People are sleeping, not realizing what this neighborhood is and why it’s a good place to come to, to live in. I tried to offer this place to friends to stay with me when they are in between places but they refused claiming it’s too far, and that they’ve never heard of it. I no longer offer my space to New Yorkers, only out of town guests who want to crash with me on the short term.
Sucks for them. Most of the New Yorkers I know are renting rooms in all the gentrified areas because it’s too expensive to live alone. They sacrifice space to live in, rent storage boxes for the things they can’t fit so they can live right near the “action” although they live in a closet.
While I’m not saying this is the best neighborhood to live in, I am saying it’s not the East New York I knew about when I was growing up. And in it’s former life, Crown Heights, the LES and Bushwick, all where people are flocking to now had the same or worst reputations as East New York once did.
Don’t judge a book by it’s cover and let go of the past. I’m not saying I want this area gentrified, I’m saying I want this area to be recognized as having some luxuries others may not offer. Existing, growing, and rich, it’s one of the last places in Brooklyn where you can not only afford to live here on your own, you actually don’t have to live in a closet too.
So, if you know about or preferably live in East New York, Brooklyn and respect the quality of this neighborhood, shoot me a message. Tell me what businesses you’d like to have highlighted. Would you like to show off your apartment? What good things would you like to say about this ‘hood? So many bad things are out there–let’s show love to this forgotten neighborhood.
Updates coming soon…