This is the kind of writing I love (and I know my friend Josephine loves, too). This quick blog post from the Village Voice is about a particular type of gentrification happening in parts of Western Queens:
It was only a matter of time (and rents) before this happened, but little bits of Queens are starting to look like little bits of Brooklyn. Case in point is the newly-opened Salt & Fat, a restaurant whose name points towards the similarly pared-down North Brooklyn nomenclature favored by certain North Brooklyn establishments (and points a middle finger in the direction of Mayor Bloomberg’s nutritional agenda).
I lived in Astoria for a year or so and much of the areas in Western Queens that I frequented had an interesting mix of old-time residents and newcomers. But this was never a Williamsburg or Greenpoint form of gentrification. In Astoria, the old-time European (Italian, Greek) immigrants lived alongside new folks who can’t afford Manhattan. But there was never really any bohemian element to the new residents in those parts of Queens like there are in Brooklyn.
I mean that Brooklyn’s gentrification often takes the form of grunge and racial replacement. White people in formerly people of color enclaves. In Western Queens (Jamaica and Jackson Heights don’t follow this trend, so I’m really talking here about Astoria and Sunnyside and Woodside), the newcomers and the old-timers are both largely white and the newcomers don’t particularly espouse hipsterism.
But apparently this is starting to change. I guess it was only a matter of time.