oh brooklyn

How to Tell the Difference Between North and South Williamsburg

Guess. Photo: Jonathan Percy / flickr

Have you ever accidentally ended up in Williamsburg and thought to yourself — or screamed out loud — Oh my God, where am I? It could be the East Village of the eighties, the Lower East Side of the nineties, or the meatpacking district of the early aughts. It could even be Bushwick. Who knows! The paper of record feels this existential Brooklyn angst and wants to settle it, at least for a fleeting moment.

The New York Times Goes to Brooklyn, Part CXLVIII, is a knowing tour de force of real-estate speak and silly gentrifiers, titled “The Williamsburg Divide,” which attempts to differentiate between the somehow-still-trendy neighborhood’s north and south, as split by the “Mason-Dixon line” of Grand Street. Here’s what you’ll find on either side, according to the evocative journalism.

North Williamsburg is 

sleek, moneyed”
a “Miami-style poolside scene”
“luxury developments”
“million-dollar condominiums”
“$295 dungarees”
a “glitzy playground of glassy condos for banker types”
“Brooklyn’s answer to the meatpacking district”
“a totally homogeneous living experience”
“Manhattan East”
“‘new’ Williamsburg”
American Apparel
Duane Reade
Brooklyn Flea
“dance clubs”

South Williamsburg is 

gritty, hyper-authentic”
“gritty, multiethnic”
“working-class families”
“largely Latino and Hasidic”
“row-houses poke up between graffiti-covered warehouses”
“like New York in the ’80s”
“fire hydrants open, kids playing in the streets”
“backwater of vinyl siding, dusty bodegas, Gen-Y drifters and unrenovated dumps”
“eclectic mix of laundries and art galleries, bodegas and artisanal bakers”
the “Williamsburg That Time Forgot”
“bohemian D.I.Y. roots”
“‘real’ Williamsburg”

But don’t be so sure. As pointed out last year in this very magazine, and noted by the Times at the very end, “Glassy condos, hotels and a new cineplex are already sprouting in South Williamsburg.” Gritty, hyperauthentic glassy condos, to be sure, but there goes the neighborhood.

New York Times on North Vs. South Williamsburg