“The little house where I was raised, it doesn’t look like my little house anymore. They fixed it so nice. That whole neighborhood changed, and I’m so glad.”<br /><br />
“The little house where I was raised, it doesn’t look like my little house anymore. They fixed it so nice.”
Tap to see price history of home
Tony Pabon, 76Current Tenant, Retired Court Officer and Grocery-Store Manager
History: Moved in ten years ago, paying $950 for a two-bedroom garden apartment. Now pays $1,300, which he splits with a roommate.
I grew up in Williamsburg, on Berry Street and North 11th. My parents were very poor. My parents were, I’m not ashamed to say, but they were a little bit illiterate. My mother never learned to read and write. My father, he was much better. He gave us the opportunity to at least graduate high school, and in those days you could get a good government job with a high-school diploma. For a black Puerto Rican, I did very well. And oh my God, that place is outrageous now. The little house where I was raised, it doesn’t look like my little house anymore. They fixed it so nice. That whole neighborhood changed, and I’m so glad. McCarren Park looks like a little Central Park with all these brand-new beautiful buildings. It’s gorgeous, gorgeous, the way they fixed it up.
I was married for 29 years. All of a sudden, my wife didn’t need me anymore. She served me with separation papers. After the year was over, I tried to get back home, she says, “Go.” So I didn’t fight it. I just packed my things.
I was living in Levittown, Long Island — that had been an all-white community. Those houses were built with the condition that they shouldn’t sell those houses to us. It was right on the deed. “These houses are not to be sold to” — certain individuals. I don’t want to mention the words. A friend of mine who I went to school with got a few houses around here. I called him up to see if he could help me out with a place to stay, and he says, “Hey, I just bought a house.” And here I am.
I have the ground floor. It’s a two-bedroom apartment. I rented out one of the rooms, which helps me with the rent. The rent for the whole place: $1,300. It was cheaper, $950. The houses and the apartments were cheaper then. Now you can’t even find one here for $1,500. But the neighborhood is changing for the better. The people that are moving in here, they are fixing the houses beautiful.
Interviews by: DW Gibson, Christopher Pomorski, and Kim Velsey. Photographs by: Francis Agyapong for New York Magazine. Additional reporting by: Katie Levingston, Kiannah Sepeda-Miller, Eleanor Shanahan, Danielle Smith, Manuela Tobias, and James Walsh. Edited by: Genevieve Smith. Production: Sarah Caldwell and Abraham Riesman. Design and Development: Leslie Shapiro, Sarah Ruddy, and Kristen Dudish.