A few weeks ago, officials at New York City’s Metropolitan Transit Authority announced preliminary plans to repair and fortify the Canarsie subway tunnel beneath the East River, a job that would require temporarily shutting down L train service between Williamsburg and Manhattan (either completely for an entire year, or just on weekends for three years). The announcement was initially greeted as a joke aimed at the neighborhood’s creative residents—the L train? Shut down? Hahaha!—but now those residents have begun to register actual alarm. Gothamist has the details from a recent town hall meeting (bolding ours):
“There will be no businesses if they shut the L train down,” said Thomas Dodd, who operates Brooklyn Fire Proof’s creative spaces in Bushwick. “You will devastate the entire community...I will have to shut down all of my businesses, relieve all of my employees, and move, quite frankly, from Brooklyn. There’s just no way around this. Zero.” [...]
David Hubschman, a real estate agent who lives in Williamsburg, told Gothamist that if businesses start leaving the area, no one will want to live there once the train gets up and running again.
Eater New York captured another attendee’s sense of gloom at the same gathering, held at Williamsburg’s Brooklyn Bowl:
A large emphasis of the meeting, which was co-hosted by a slew of elected officials and local bar and restaurant owners, was the impact a potential shutdown would have on the economy. “The businesses, quite honestly, will shut down,” says Carlo Scissura, president of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce. “The people will move out of this vibrant neighborhood.”
Should you be worried? Besides the L train, Williamsburg is serviced by the G, J/Z, and M trains (and the 24, 32, 39, 43, 44, 57, 59, 60, 62, and 67 bus lines), so the predictions of Williamsburg becoming a transportation desert are likely overblown. People will, in fact, still want to live in Williamsburg. The closure’s effect on the neighborhood’s character will be harder to predict, though, since the people most affected by the closure—and thus most likely to move—would seem to be those with the strongest ties to Manhattan. Broad City aptly captured this demographic in a short scene from Season 2:
To Williamsburg residents reading this: What do you plan to do about the L train closure?