Today we read of the ruination of Williamsburg, starting much conversation about that neighborhood-in-flux. But, as one commenter reminded us, this problem is not specific to the L train, or even New York! Attend the sad tale of South Beach.
This happens to every cool neighborhood, everywhere. Believe it or not, South Beach used to be a dirty, hyper-bizarre bastion of the arts and (to a lesser extent) gay culture. As the neighborhood became cooler, a new set of people moved in. They wanted so desperately to be cool, and according to magazines and TV, this was the coolest place there was.
They came in droves, with their leased Porsche convertibles and conspicuously-branded sunglasses, renting in the same odd art-deco buildings as the gays and the artists. But they weren't happy. "Ugh, window air conditioners are so ghetto. Why aren't their any places with central AC?" "I hate parking outside. It's screwing up my clearcoat." "The only coffee place near me is some Cuban bullshit. I just want a venti soy latte." "I saw some homos making out in the park. That shit is messed, bro."
So they brought their chain stores, and their indoor garages, and created demand for boring glass towers where there used to be stubby stucco bungalows. The artists got priced out, and the gays got bored once the new people shut down their clubs for "lewd conduct." Soon it was a vertical suburb. Tall buildings filled with dull wealth drinking itself to death, and tidy sidewalks devoid of pedestrians. The stores and restaurants were relegated to a pedestrian mall, where artificially thin women try on outfits available in every other American city. Newspapers and magazines mentioned South Beach less and less, and the new people became uneasy once again. "It's such a shame," they would say while they talked to their friends about moving. "This used to be such a cool area."
Somehow, this seems appropriate.
[Photo via Shutterstock]