While out and about in my neighborhood prospecting, I had an interesting conversation with a local neighbor, who has lived in Bushwick for over 40 years and seen innumerable changes to the neighborhood in that time period. Our discussion revolved around the historical evolution of the neighborhood before, during and after the 1977 black out, drug wars, riots and eventual burn out of Bushwick. Also, the gentleman theorized that the powers that be forecasted and initiated the decline and eventual uprise of the area.
I was admitting how many people display disfavor towards people in my line of work, especially in these areas which have seen rapid gentrification and displacement of many of the neighborhood’s long time residents. He mentioned how after the blackout and rioting and general destruction of the neighborhood, you couldn’t get loans to buy in the neighborhood. Landlords set fire to their buildings and those surrounding, as a consequence of their proximity, in order to claim insurance at a time when you couldn’t give away your property in Bushwick. There were, however, those with inside information that the area would be given a revival. Some of the lucky residents were told not to sell despite the harsh conditions, and that one day their property would be worth a fortune. Blockbusting and illegal relocation techniques were used to drive out many of Bushwick’s residents to Long Island and sold the ‘American Dream’.
This conversation definitely provided a different perspective to the gentrification issue of Bushwick, and it was most intriguing to hear how certain events can have such pre-calculated and lasting effects on an area. For those of us who are newer to the neighborhood, it certainly provides insight into integrating into our neighborhood and breaking down the segregations which exist within.