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Wished You Lived Here!

How relentless real-estate hype remade the city, hot nabe by hot nabe.

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The view from DUMBO.  

1. ASTOR PLACE: As the sixties came to a close, the area just south of Max’s Kansas City and Warhol’s Factory became home to artists’ lofts and the Public Theater. The gateway to the then-still-wild East Village.

2. SOHO: In 1973, this highly flammable commercial slum was designated a historic district—the officially scenic microclimate for artists. Extra Bite >>>

3. BROOKLYN HEIGHTS: The Soho for preppies, who colonized the shabby brownstones in the late sixties and seventies, renovated them, and frequented the performing arts at St. Ann’s Church. Extra Bite >>>

4. PARK SLOPE: This Victorian suburb got its historic-district designation in 1974, becoming a brown-rice-eating island of food-co-op culture. Extra Bite >>>

5. COLUMBUS AVENUE: In the early eighties, the West Side story—drugs, violence, vast apartments broken up into SROs—got a new yuppie score, and the Charivari shoppers moved into new condo towers.

6. ALPHABET CITY: Remember when Avenue B was where you bought drugs and not steak-frites? First came the mid-eighties galleries, then the condos (Christodora House on Tompkins Square in 1987), then the de-squattering of the park (1991).

7. TRIBECA: Odeon opened in 1980 and the Washington Market closed shortly thereafter, but the neighborhood didn’t really take off till the nineties, with condo conversions brought on by Robert De Niro–JFK Jr. celebrity hype.

8. CHELSEA: First came the young gays, priced out of the West Village, then the big-box retailers (Bed Bath & Beyond!), then the art galleries, and finally the apartment-tower developers.

9. DUMBO: Cobblestones and lofts! Brooklyn’s mid-nineties try-to-be-Tribeca.

10. WILLIAMSBURG: The bedroom community of the Internet bubble, circa 1999. Highly polluted, but the L-train commute was easy to most groovy downtown offices-with-pool-tables. Extra Bite >>>

11. MEATPACKING DISTRICT: At the (still) underdeveloped borderland between Chelsea and the West Village, the real-estate speculators smell blood.


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