Thursday, January 04, 2007

Is Life in Brooklyn Nasty, Brutish and Short?

The year is only a few days old, but we already have our first Brooklyn Blog Debate of 2007 in the form of a discussion about whether Brooklyn--and specifically Park Slope--is less safe than Manhattan and, say, the Upper West Side. This all started when writer Douglas Rushkoff was mugged on Christmas Eve in Park Slope while taking out the garbage. He blogged about it, including how he negotiated with the mugger for his health insurance card. He wrote, in part, in his blog:
Getting a knife pushed into your ribcage now and again is just part of the price we pay to live in a city, and New York is supposedly one of the safer of the bunch. But I have to admit, it makes me question working two extra gigs (I won't divulge which ones they are) in order to pay the exorbitant rent this part of Brooklyn - when the streets are less safe than they were in the supposedly bad parts of Manhattan where I used to live.
Then, his wife, who does a blog on Babble, weighed in with her own item about how the couple was not only going to move from Park Slope and Brooklyn, but would leave New York entirely. Too dangerous, she wrote, which is an understandable reaction when your mate is faced with possible loss of life while taking out the garbage. A sample of what she wrote in her blog, A Girl Grows in Brooklyn:
Brooklyn, Schmooklyn. Yeah, it's pretty here, but we are surrounded by crime. Kings County (Brooklyn's county) is one of the highest crime areas in the country. Insurance is more here than almost any other place. It costs $2000 a year to insure my wedding ring. Most other cities it would cost $150. The other day we saw a coke deal go down in front of the post office while Bugaboos passed. The diner up the street (the one next to the hospital) was robbed on Friday night. Nah, I am not liking it here much now.
Yesterday, Park Slope author and founder Steven Berlin Johnson weighed in with an item called On Leaving Brooklyn that is sympathetic to his friend while offering an analysis of whether Park Slope is, in fact, more or less dangerous than other neighborhooods. He writes:
Barbara talked on her blog about feeling much safer in the east village in the 1980s. If you look at the precinct data on the NYPD site, you can see that the there were literally FIVE times as many crimes committed in the east village in 1990 than in the Park Slope precinct in 2005, even though the east village has only about 20% more people in the precinct. (Exact numbers: 5,991 crimes in the east village in 1990 vs. 1,138 in the Slope in 2005.) Interestingly, the east village in 2005 had slightly more crime per capita than Park Slope.
Gothamist has reviewed the simmering debate in a post that includes a very long discussion thread and there is a long and ongoing discussion over at the Park Slope Forum. It includes a great deal more detail from Mr. Rushkoff and concludes with the following observation:
I don't hate Brooklyn. But I do feel certain parts have gotten too expensive, and that the super-expensive "communities" within Brooklyn that some of us are buying into aren't as substantive as ones that are more heterogeneous and less gentrified.

If there is an "us and them" thing that's annoying, I'd suggest that it is exacerbated by unnaturally accelerated gentrification.
We're pretty certain the discussion isn't finished.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

hm. i left nyc because i felt it was becoming facist and that there was no free thought in art. it was a very pc politically myopic approach feeling in the city and i felt very hemmed in. almost trapped in a bubble. that was a sad thing to say after 20 years in the city i love that allowed me such freedoms. but i don't believe it's a good place for art anymore. however, i spent 10 of it in brooklyn and to compare the crime rate in brooklyn to the crime rate of the east village in the 80s is PREPOSTEROUS. yes, i admit especially as one grows older one is willing to make fewer compromises for one's safety, but what brooklyn is experiencing is no different than what cities all over the country are going through. frightening, yes. disappointing sure. but if you were tripping over junkies and in tompkins square with the rest of us, you wouldn't ever compare it to park slope.

10:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rushkoff is a pussy.

7:47 PM  

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