Gentrification is a hipster’s largest irony. For a culture that values irony, an irony this big can only be seen as magical. The destruction of 5 pointz in order to build a condominium for those who want to live in the future Williamsburg is one of the saddest ironies to date. This is part of the grand finally that is the taking over of NYC by the people who used to only worship from afar. Now they are the cause of its destruction. Here lie our childhood memories while they go back to Chicago, Baltimore, Ohio or whatever they came from for the holidays. Old New Yorkers came from countries where most had no choice, but to leave. New York is the only home they know. Here lies the largest physical manifestation of gentrification. When a city built from art is destroyed by those who want to simply live around it there is no other way to describe it, but a as sad joke.
Born New Yorkers are just slaves. We have given our blood, sweat and tears to a place we had no choice but to call home only to see our “masters,” (those with money) reap the benefits that we have worked so hard for. Once we can no longer afford to live here, where will our next plantation be? Where else will we be able to go and help build up from the rubble so that once we have fixed it the rich can reclaim the land we have worked so hard on?
If anything the tearing down of free art and culture in order to build pricey condominiums is nothing short of slavery. The working class of New York City is given a plot of land. At first this land is forsaken by the mayors and police. This land is crime ridden and even frowned upon. The people there sustain it and endure it until it is “cool” enough for the city to take notice. It is as if every time true New Yorkers stand up there is a hammer waiting to strike us down. Lets not forget that the only reason the area is even habitable is due to the artist who have made it so. Isn’t this ironic?
Much like any other story of gentrification, what makes this different is that this story has a clear cut definition of value. There was no one who walked by 5 pointz and did not stare in awe. No one in their right mind could ever deny how beautiful 5 pointz was. In other instances of gentrification, the city tries to cover up our displacement by telling us that we are “better off.” By telling us that our schools will make our children smarter, our apartments will be properly attended to and our streets will have less crime. The city moves in when it is safe enough to do so and they push us true New Yorkers out. The art lost in 5 pointz means a lot more to me and many New Yorkers than just spray paint on walls. It signifies how little the city cares about its people and it reminds us of the bottom line.
Here lies the physical manifestation of gentrification. 5pointz , R.I.P
(All Photos taken by Ana J Urena in 5 Pointz before and after the artwork was covered )