For my stroll through New York I decided to spend an hour on the border between two areas that are distinctly separated financially, Jamaica and Jamaica Estates. The heart of the division between the two districts is at Hillside Avenue, right off the Q17 or F train route.The name Hillside is very appropriate as a relatively steep hill running up along Homelawn Street separates the noisy intersections and the quiet serenity of the suburbs. Hillside Avenue is an area that admittedly see’s a lot of foot traffic so it is to be expected to see the type of urban decay that comes from use. Across the street large advertisements for cheap auto repair and refund tax assistance spoke volumes of the target economic demographic of the area. The scene just three blocks up the aforementioned hill however was totally different. It wasn’t until today did I notice how quickly this metamorphosis of scenery occurred.
It also wasn’t until today that I thought about how reflective the division of Jamaica and Jamaica Estates was to much of New York. Unlike the last few decades when gated communities in suburbs outside of cities clearly separated the affluent from the more common we see a much more fluid transition now that is more stark due to the lack of distance. For instance, from Hillside avenue you can see large clusters of apartment complexes squeezed together to maximize the liveable space. By contrast just up the hill you find large homes meant for one family to live in with single floors larger than entire apartment rooms. These two neighboring districts also differ in racial demographic. I can only speak now for what I saw but it was mostly African American or Latin American residents exiting the buses and trains and walking towards the apartments. On top of the hill closer to 5pm I observed more Caucasians who drove into their driveways before briskly running inside to escape the cold. I don’t think it is a coincidence in this case why the more affluent live, literally, at the top of a hill where the air is fresher and the streets silent while those who have less means sit cramped near a busy stretch of road.The property values assigned to these regions are purposefully designed to what people want and what kinds of people can afford such things.
What’s more this kind of disparity is not unique to Hillside. Flushing is similar with a stark difference between the apartment complex’s on Ash Avenue and the suburban homes beside the Botanical Garden. I would know from my own experience from living in both these two areas. The resource management for both are also drastically different. For instance, owning a car in the suburbs is easy as you have your own driveway and if not there is often plenty of room to park. In Flushing however trying to find regular parking is nearly impossible leaving the only option for reliable parking as paid garage use for tenants. As we discussed in class the difference between owning a car and needing to take public transportation can be massive when assessing the physical strain excessive commuting can have on people. Downtown flushing also has a minor homeless problem. The most likely cause being the sheer amount of foot traffic moving through the area may increase the odds for charity. This draw further quantifies the difference between a secluded residence and one close to the heart of movement.