Scenery Sells

A walk around New York City probably ranks as one of, if not the absolute, the most diverse walks a person will ever take in their life.  This city of almost nine million people can be thought of as a melting pot for many different faces and races, and while this is true to some extent, the housing situation in NYC encourages a lot of separation among its citizens. Most New Yorkers attribute the most expensive neighborhoods as those with large white populations (particularly young adult to middle aged) as these are the areas where rent is highest. Walking around in Williamsburg, Brooklyn between North 7th street Bedford Ave and North 10th street Kent Ave, I couldn’t help but notice how the quality of the apartment buildings increased as I got closer and closer to the part of the neighborhood overlooking the East River.  The apartments were simple back to back spaces in buildings (image 2) at the start of my walk and then on 10th Street Kent (where both the East River and a very picturesque view of the Manhattan skyline meet) they were luxury units (image 3). It is not surprising to me that the closer a building is to a unique piece of scenery, the more expensive the rent is as most young Americans like to live in these ‘exciting’ and ‘hipster’ areas. The demographics of Williamsburg are, but not limited to, young white Americans between the ages of 23 and 45, Polish Americans and a small population of Hispanics. The young white American population tended to live closer and closer to the river setting (where I presume the rent was higher) and the Hispanic population was found closer to the more industrialized areas of Williamsburg. The Polish American population was somewhere in between these two areas but almost always in ethnic enclaves. I think this phenomenon of expensive real estate existing around water-front areas started many years ago when NYC was still a very young city and still in the process of the segregation we observe in some areas today. I postulate that the affluent were able to purchase and live on waterfront properties for a means of easier transport and thus this created a trend that would be adopted for the years to come; the most expensive housing in the City tends around the ease of access it permits.  The resources needed to reside in the city are the basic essentials, housing, access to transportation, social services such as education and healthcare and safety. The people who directly influence the price of rent are those who determine the geographic allocation of resources. In neighborhoods where rents are higher it is quite common to see very well developed roads, strong schools and good hospitals. I think this is a quite unfair allocation as the amount of money someone is willing to pay for rent shouldn’t determine whether or not they have ease of access to something as simple as healthcare. However like most things are in New York City, the affluent decide where it is and who has easy access to it, the rest of us simply just have to comply and accept whatever morsel of resources we are ‘allowed to have’.


The Start

The ‘Simple’

The ‘pièce de résistance’

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