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Tom W.

Lance, you were in Washington Heights and believe it or not, there is gentrification going on there full-square, same as in Harlem. Apartments are selling for record numbers up on the Heights overlooking the Hudson (indeed, some realtors now refer to it as the more fashionable "Hudson Heights"). Down in Harlem, it's condo-mania.

Now, the main drags in those nabes have a little ways to go - some of the commercial strips are stillpretty run down. The other night, I walked across 125th Stree from 7th Ave to the Metro-North tracks and the storefronts can ssome help. Butyou go a block or two north or south of 125th, and the housing stock is rapidly rising.

As for gentrification - well, I'm for a nicer, safer nabe - but I would also like those areas to maintain some flavor - don't need White Plains south.

Anne Laurie

Even 30 years ago, if you went a block too far from the museums anchoring opposite sides of Central Park (the AMNH & the Metropolitan), you ended up in Spanish-language territory. And in those days, there were two ways new small businesses got started in run-down, immigrant neighborhoods: New owners subleased (probably illegally) business space, equipment, etc. from previous owners who'd either done well enough to move to a better neighborhood or given up the fight and gone bankrupt. Or, the local gangsters opened "new" storefronts as a way to make themselves available to their customers. In my day they were candy or cigar stores fronting bookies for off-track betting & "the numbers". My dad said that, when he was growing up, similar stores sold smuggled booze during & after Prohibition. And by the time I left NYC in the early 70s, half the bodegas in the North Bronx made their profits on heroin and cocaine -- along with "the numbers". These days I'd guess it would be phone-card & money-wiring stores that served as front operations, because the stock is portable & doesn't expire like groceries. Whatever the new stores are selling, I'd bet a chunk of their base profits still comes from "the numbers"...

El Loco

Anne Laurie makes a valid point; unfortunately she's also stereotyping the Latino community... the "Broadway" phenomenon is not new to America. Irish, Italians and Eastern Europeans were subject to these calumnious claims, and proved their critics wrong.

bitchphd

As recently as two years ago, my best friend and her husband and their son lived in a very nice co-op in Enwood (the northern end of Washington Heights). The building was great: a mix of single moms, working-class families, gay folks ("the shock troops of gentrification," as a gay friend of mine says), professionals like my friend (who by the way is Puerto Rican), very family friendly, and yes, affordable. My sister-in-law had a one-bedroom apartment with her boyfriend in Washington Heights (until they broke up and she moved to Brooklyn). It's a good neighborhood, I like it a lot--'twas always my "home" in Manhattan.

Anne Laurie

Whoops. Must've phrased my comment badly, El Loco. The "front shops" my dad knew, growing up in what would become Spanish Harlem, were run by Jewish immigrants, and the ones in my Bronx childhood were run by Irish immigrants fronting for Italian gangsters. Many of these had been turned into bodegas by the early 1970s as their former owners "gentrified" and moved to Yonkers or the outer boroughs. I am second to nobody in my admiration for the hard work each new generation of strivers put into choosing their path to a better life through the jungle of impossible choices that is NYC, its streets & its bureaucracies. However, 30 years ago, the "ungentrified" areas outside the Central Park bubble were Spanish-language, with the Cubans moving out & complaining about the low standards of the incoming Puerto Ricans, who were moving in & complaining about the low standards of the Dominicans taking over the "Fort Apache" area of the Bronx. I'm sure the Puerto Rican middle class has moved to nicer areas (cf RESCUE ME, which show is a nice capsule of the people I grew up among), but Lance said that the storefront signs are still in Spanish. I did not intend my observations to be "calumnious" & apologize if it sounded like I considered Spanish-speaking immigrants any less honest than my own immigrant Irish ancestors (who were never more honest than they could afford to be, frankly).

DPS

Yep, that's Washington Heights. And yes, gentrification IS pushing its way north, but slowly. My girlfriend and I are both dirty theater people working in the off-off scene and we share an apartment with another roommate in the 160's and Riverside Drive because it's affordable. We have a heavy latino/dominican population, and a lot of families living in the neighborhood (which is one of the things I like most about the area.) Really the only reason I can tell you there's any gentrification going on is that I've seen a steady increase in the caucasian population over the last two years. It doesn't hurt to be so close to Columbia Presbyterian Hospital, either. But the rent is steadily rising from year-to-year, and I'm sure it's only a matter of time . . . oh, and "llamadas" have to do with phone calls -- I'm assuming it's phone cards being sold, as that's a big business in the bodegas.

BSD

Envios are basically money sent home (home being the Mother Country). Llamadas are, as I understand it, not phone cards, but phones-for hire onsite.

El Loco

Annie babe:
Your words not mine: "Whatever the new stores are selling, I'd bet a chunk of their base profits still comes from "the numbers"..."
Unfortunately, you seem to be offended, but you are unable to prove your claim. Show me the money ..!

Elayne Riggs

I wouldn't hold my breath for gentrification in Washington Heights. We looked for apartments there a half dozen years ago and were assured repeatedly by the real estate agent that "the neighborhood is on its way up." I haven't seen any evidence of that yet. I'm glad we ended up in Riverdale.

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