• PhotoGenie

Brooklyn Changing

This week’s Photogenie theme is titled "Trendification". Through visual stories, our curators research the question “How is gentrification affecting cities and their citizens?”.

Gentrification is a controversial phenomenon with both negative and positive effects. The change and development of an area leads to a rise in more affluent residents and businesses which increases the value of the property, improves safety and spawns the number of restaurants, cafes and clothing stores. However, the most significant downside is that gentrification leads to an increase in rent which subsequently displaces low-income residents, people may have to move against their will and are at risk of becoming homeless. Furthermore, it is argued that gentrification makes neighborhoods less diverse as it leads to a decrease in the mixing of people of different socioeconomic strata.

According to the Economist Intelligence Unit, Singapore, Paris and Hong Kong are the most expensive cities in the world. The ranking encompasses not only the price of rent but also factors like property prices, transport, utility bills, etc. New York is the 7th most expensive city in the world, making it the most expensive city in the US. Cities with high costs of living are a very clear indicator of the extent of gentrification that has taken place. In addition, the increase in rent is similarly tied to the cost of living as not only the buildings but also the surrounding areas have increased in value.

RentCafe conducted a study ( https://www.rentcafe.com/blog/rental-market/real-estate-news/top-20-gentrified-zip-codes/ ) comparing data in order to determine which areas in the US saw the biggest changes in median home values, median income and the proportion of residents with at least a bachelor's degree from 2000 to 2016. Seven Manhattan and Brooklyn ZIP codes have seen huge demographic changes in the past 16 years, placing them among the 20 most gentrified neighborhoods in the United States. Central Harlem in Manhattan, Williamsburg, and Greenpoint in Brooklyn are the 5th, 7th and 9th fastest gentrifying neighborhoods in the US respectively.

Kristy Chatelain moved to Greenpoint, Brooklyn in 2006 and has been photographing different areas in Brooklyn for almost a decade, very accurately visualising Brooklyn’s gentrification. Her photo series portrays the changing urban landscape in Brooklyn, with a focus on Williamsburg and Greenpoint. She depicts how certain buildings between 2006 and 2015 are renovated or demolished and then turned into wineries, restaurants and modern apartment buildings. In an interview, she stated “I didn't initially conceive of it as a before-and-after project. I knew Brooklyn was changing, and I wanted to document it because I loved the area and found the rapid change fascinating,” adding that “the photography evolved as the neighborhood did.”

The changing urban landscape leaves you wondering how the social landscape changed with it, as gentrification not only changes buildings but also communities. What do you think of this trend? What are the good and bad sides to you?

About the Artist:

Originally from New Orleans, Louisiana, Chatelain moved to New York in 2006, where she received a degree in digital photography from the School of Visual Arts. She began her career in New Orleans, then relocated to Berlin after receiving a Fulbright Young Journalist Grant, and later returned to the US to work in New York with National Geographic photographer Ira Block. You can find another article about the project here (https://www.wired.com/2015/09/photos-brooklyn-hipsters/).

Check out Kristy May Chastelain’s full body of work at www.kristymay.com and @kristychatelain on Instagram.

Let us know what you think in the comments!

Our weekly themes always include three photo series by different photographers.

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Written by Max Zarzoso Hueck

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