“The Death of Park Slope”

“One way to tell the story of a great American city is to track the deaths and lives of its many neighborhoods. Dutch traders once sold cedar on Cedar Street, back when downtown was midtown. CBGB gives rise, inexorably, to DBGB. Just as a red giant becomes a white dwarf, an edgy block must lose its edge. ‘It’s ironic, but everything I like about the neighborhood will probably disappear,’ an investment banker named Richard Conway told New York magazine. “And unfortunately, the reason is that people like me are moving into it.” It was 1985, and Conway was talking about the Upper West Side; but he could have been talking about the West Village in 1959, or Park Slope in 2011.”

“’I don’t like to use the word “gentrification,”’ Matt Roff, a co-owner of Southpaw, told me on Saturday night. We were in the hallway near the club’s entrance, where we could talk without shouting. ‘I prefer—I don’t want to say “progress,” either. I see it more as the nature of the beast. This is just how it goes.’ Southpaw, Park Slope’s biggest and grittiest music venue, will close at the end of the month. It will be replaced by the eighth franchise of the New York Kids Club, a ‘children’s enrichment center’ that offers cooking and rock-climbing classes for toddlers.

“While the real Jay-Z was presumably at home in Scarsdale with his infant daughter, the recorded Jay-Z was on Southpaw’s speakers, boasting about his art collection and pledging his undying devotion to Brooklyn. Inside, about eight hundred people shed winter coats, procured cheap cans of beer, and danced; hundreds more huddled against the cold outside, though bouncers had told them they had little hope of getting in. This was Southpaw’s signature event, The Rub, a hip-hop dance party that has taken place monthly since 2002. The party will move to The Bell House, a larger venue in Gowanus…”

Read the rest on The New Yorker Blog