“Someone drove up with a truck and hooked a chain around the gates of the furniture store, then used the truck to pull them off. Investigators arrested one local welfare family that had collected $40,000 from the city for 13 fires that it set. Our super was an ex-con who would regale us with stories of the local drug trade that used to be here. By the 1830s, Bushwick had begun to lose its rural character. A toxic combination of housing fraud, nightly arson, and declining city services left Bushwick desolate. It may look like an old-man dive bar, but the scene inside Birdy’s is super young. Finally, though, Bushwick burst into national headlines. The industrial area north of Flushing Avenue, east of Bushwick Avenue, and south of Grand Street is commonly considered part of East Williamsburg. Typical is this December escapade recounted by a twentysomething Manhattan woman on the blog New York Adventures: “After an afternoon spent at the Bryant Park Christmas market and the Clinique counter at Lord & Taylor, I convinced Rachel that it was a good idea to do something a bit more adventuresome for dinner on Saturday night . In the middle of a bitter mayoral race, with the fiscal crisis as backdrop, candidate Ed Koch journeyed to Bushwick to survey the devastation and promised, if elected, to begin rebuilding the neighborhood. Conventional history of the exodus out of cities ignores numerous complex and interrelated causes. They were finding laughter.” Meryl Meisler is a photographer who documented and worked in Bushwick during the late ’70s and early ’80s, capturing moments of joy and hope in the neighborhood when it … Kids literally played in the streets in Bushwick in the ’70s, and cars and people respected that. After discovering that the city also paid generous relocation costs if fires displaced them, the welfare tenants began setting their own government-subsidized apartments ablaze. Nothing better exemplified the growing defeatism of the NYPD, which was reacting to crime rather than aggressively fighting it, than a detective’s response when asked why the local precinct hadn’t responded: “We do what we can with the gang. During the forties and fifties, Brooklyn was home to manufacturing and industry that kept its economy thriving. After the breweries closed or moved, starting in the 50s and continuing into the 70s when all were gone, Bushwick suffered a slow decline, culminating in July 1977 when, during a blackout, Bushwick , in effect, was destroyed by arson and looting. Yet the scenes of anarchic destruction, broadcast around the world, also brought the first faint signs of hope. Watch fullscreen. If a bunch of boys were playing spinning tops in the middle of the street, cars would stop, wait for the boys to gather up their tops and move to the curb. By Katarina Hybenova. . Many were artists, writers, or students, either unaware of Bushwick’s fraught history or willing to risk living in a place where the crime rate, while declining, was still higher than in many other neighborhoods. There, a joint effort by the New York Housing Partnership and a leading community group, the Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizens Council, has built 300 housing units. By 1998, Bushwick saw 1,500 fewer annual robberies, 1,000 fewer burglaries, and 675 fewer assaults than it had eight years earlier. By Katarina Hybenova. Advances in water transportation had remade the nearby Brooklyn waterfront into a bustling zone of shipyards, warehouses, distilleries, sugar refineries, and manufacturing plants, all attracting German, and later Italian, immigrant workers. On some streets, the only thing left standing was the local church. “I remember sitting in the living room of some longtime residents of Bushwick who described what they had been through,” Koch says. By Terri Ciccone. Central to this success was Bratton’s innovative use of computers to track citywide crime patterns quickly, deploy extra officers to the hardest-hit areas, and hold commanders accountable for the results in their precincts—a crime-fighting approach that has remained in place ever since. By 1990, murders had nearly tripled in Bushwick, reaching a high of 77 that year, one of the worst rates in the city. “I was looking for a place I could afford to live in on my own,” remembers freelance writer Hrag Vartanian, “and the price was right here, though the place still had an edge to it. Beer barons and factory owners even erected elegant mansions on Bushwick Avenue and a few other streets. Bushwick Brooklyn (70s) Lesley Arias. Surveying the devastation a few days after the riot, a priest told his congregation: “We are without God now.”. Birdy's, a Bushwick bar that channels the 70s rock era, brings in a young crowd. One worrying sign: lenders made a huge number of subprime mortgages in Bushwick—more than half of all mortgages in the area in 2005 and 2006—which could mean lots of foreclosed and empty homes back on the market as the subprime crisis continues. Five desperate 911 calls went unanswered. Yet the mid-nineties saw a breathtaking restoration of order in the neighborhood, beginning when Mayor Rudolph Giuliani’s first police commissioner, William Bratton, revamped the NYPD and its crime-fighting methods. 291 was one of the few functioning structures on the block; it felt like a hybrid school, shelter and prison. The number of Bushwick residents on welfare dropped from 37,000 in 1994 to about 17,000 in 2000 to under 12,000 today. At the time, he found the Bushwick streets desolate and frightening at night. Arts & Culture; Favorite Places … NEW YORK CITY | BUSHWICK BROOKLYN | STREET ART + GUITAR | VIVIENNE GUCWA. It’s not the easiest job in the world. “I.S. Bushwick’s residential resurrection is also spurring bold entrepreneurs to gamble on the area’s commercial future. Below, we look at twenty-nine pictures of what Brooklyn looked like before it became a haven for luxury condos and artisanal pickle shops: And if you liked this post, be sure to check out these popular posts: Next, look at when the New York subways were the most dangerous place on the planet, then check out photos from 1970s New York. Browse more videos. To collect on fire insurance, owners began torching their own empty buildings; gangs set fire to abandoned buildings, too, and then waited for the fire department to do the hard work of knocking down walls and floors, making valuable fixtures and copper wiring easier to steal. Bushwick represents one of the last places in rapidly changing New York City where bootstrap entrepreneurs can still get a business off the ground with a minimum of investment (and a lot of hard work). Camilo José Vergara Photographs. Bushwick's borders largely overlap those of Brooklyn Community Board 4, which is delineated by Flushing Avenue on the north, Broadway on the southwest, the border with Queens to the northeast, and the Cemetery of the Evergreens on the southeast. Toting a camera during her teaching years, Meisler captured some of the impressions that the collapsing neighborhood made on local children— an abandoned playground overgrown with weeds, a view from a classroom of ruined buildings and empty lots. News; Top 5 Bushwick Events This Week. Bushwick Brooklyn (70s) Report. In this once-family-friendly area, nearly 60 percent of all children were born out of wedlock, and two-parent families constituted fewer than half of all households, down from 64 percent a decade earlier. AbukusPlace recently put together this great roundup of street photography from an unknown photographer showing the Brooklyn neighborhood of Bushwick back in the early 1980s. This chaos broke out just as New York was rocked by a deep fiscal crisis, largely the product of Lindsay’s wild overspending on social welfare. Lindsay won kudos—and eventually a spot on a national commission on race—for keeping a lid on racial tensions in New York, which didn’t experience the kind of cataclysmic riots that tore apart Watts in 1965 and Memphis, Newark, and Detroit in 1967. Nevertheless, her photos were filled with as much liveliness as the dance floor at Studio 54 (which the photographer also documented). Take a look at these stunning nostalgic photos that will take you back to 1970s Brooklyn. “Young kids from Manhattan are now getting married here because it’s something different.”, Now that it’s safer, Bushwick’s still-somewhat-gritty, blue-collar feel does lend it cachet among New Yorkers who find heavily gentrified areas like the East Village no longer edgy enough. I quickly figured out this wasn’t really Williamsburg.”. Revamping some of the national highway system makes sense—but basing those decisions on vague notions of social justice is not the way to do it. Back in the late nineties, Tom Le, a choreographer who moved to Manhattan from San Francisco, found himself regularly visiting artist friends who had staked out a piece of Bushwick, attracted by the large loft spaces in abandoned warehouses that ringed the area. The neighborhood’s wooden row houses, tightly packed together and often sharing attics, proved particularly vulnerable; a fire would erupt in one building and swiftly spread, sometimes consuming half a block. Crime in general in Bushwick soared 50 percent during the first half of the seventies, with burglaries and robberies leading the way, increasing to nearly 8,500 per year—up from 4,500 in 1971. An apartment above a pharmacist in Bushwick, Brooklyn, has a revolutionary theme. Murders dropped from 1990’s 77 to 12 in 1998. Broadway, which with Bushwick Avenue comprise the main arteries of Bushwick, are still attempting to recover from the destruction that happened in just one night. And for the residents of Bushwick, for so long a bleak landscape, those fruits couldn’t be sweeter. The death of Tony Hsieh is the loss of an urban pioneer. Finally, to defend his family, Piccione grabbed a gun and blew away several of his assailants (he was charged with manslaughter but acquitted). This is the goal of photographer and queer artist Meryl Meisler whose first monograph "A Tale Of Two Cities: Disco Era Bushwick" juxtaposes the worlds of the '70s disco era scene in NYC and '80s Bushwick, Brooklyn through photography. According to the New York Times, “In a five-year period in the late 1960s and early 70s, the Bushwick neighborhood was transformed from a neatly maintained community of … 6 years ago | 17 views. “Things that resonated with me in Bushwick [in the 70s] ....They were finding joy. One group of investors, for example, recently purchased an empty warehouse on Bushwick’s fringes and revamped it into office space for artists and designers. But last year, there were 13. On the side streets along Broadway—not so long ago, pockmarked with desolate lots where stray dogs wandered amid burned-out cars—more new homes arise and old ones get impressive face-lifts. Despite this buzz of activity, Bushwick’s revival remains precarious. 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