Neighborhood Blogs – What Happened to Manhattan?

The New York Times’ City section this weekend featured a cover story on what they termed neighborhood blogs (“You Talkin’ to Me?”). But, as Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York points out today: “The Times takes a look at neighborhood blogs–but I don’t see any Manhattan blogs named. Is that because Manhattan no longer has neighborhoods, but rather shopping centers and party areas?

Manhattan’s neighborhoods are increasingly so gentrified and so homogenized that it’s possible that people don’t identify themselves as part of the neighborhood in the same way people do in the outer boroughs, or else the lines are so blurred between nabes, that it’s hard to tell where one ends and the next begins. Otherwise, I believe we’d see a Chelsea blog, a West Village blog, an Upper West Side blog, etc. (In fact, that would have been an interesting story.)

(There is an East Village blog and that might be one of the few neighborhoods that defies this rule, hanging on by a thread to its character and uniqueness and letting a few wayward souls hang around. Harlem has a blog but also is a neighborhood fighting against being subsumed into the gentrification tsunami. And, of course, if I’m wrong about this lack of Manhattan “neighborhood blogs,” do let me know!)

Otherwise, it seems the Manhattan blogs, like mine, are devoted to specific places and issues — Chelsea Hotel, Stuyvesant Town, Vanishing New York, etc. — that have some challenge going on around them.

In Brooklyn, almost every neighborhood from Park Slope to Gerritsen Beach to Kensington to to Bed-Stuy has a blog! There is much to write about! I believe that gentrification destroys a certain collective creative spirit and that Brooklyn – made up of many people who left or had to leave Manhattan, people who’ve seen first hand what gentrification does and therefore have the will to fight to preserve – to meet that challenge, needs to work to retain the vibrancy that it, in particular, has.

Perhaps Manhattan fell first and so people who lived there weren’t able to catch it in time … perhaps Manhattan was considered so desirable that Wall Street and corporate America and the Bloombergs and Trumps of the world got a stronghold on it with their money and their “power.” Not to say that the outer boroughs aren’t challenged in Mayor Bloomberg’s New York but they have a bit more of a chance.

One day Manhattan will come back (let’s hope before it’s all demolished and replaced with shiny glass buildings and comprised entirely of NYU and Columbia University). Perhaps it’ll be long after Mayor Bloomberg is out of office (’09 preferably) but it’ll happen.

Photo: Annie Mole / London Underground Tube Diary

The article above is from British Metro.

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13 Comments

  1. Thanks for the linkage. You make many excellent points, particularly about the collective blogging spirit found in Brooklyn. My site started as a way to chronicle the possible end of days at Sophie’s bar on E. Fifth Street in December 2007….and later evolved to cover more of the neighborhood (and other randomy things around the city…) Before I started, though, I took a look around the blogosphere and was surprised to find that they’re weren’t many sites specifically focused on the numerous changes occurring in the East Village. Maybe they are all living in Brooklyn now…

  2. tacony palmyra

     /  January 13, 2009

    Eh. There aren’t many blogs for Bronx neighborhoods.

    I think the ‘hood blog phenomenon is most prevelent for neighborhoods that are in the process of being gentrified (as much of Brooklyn is), not ones that are pre- (most of the Bronx) or post- (most of Manhattan) gentrification.

    Incidentally, I live in Harlem and can’t afford to live in most of these frou frou Brooklyn ‘hoods with blogs like Park Slope. The idea that most of these people buying brownstones in Brooklyn “can’t afford” to live in Manhattan is ridiculous. The majority of New York City are renters. We live in small apartments with roommates and most of us can’t afford to buy property anywhere. So I don’t have a whole lot of sympathy for these folks (including the UWS people moving to Harlem for “more space” and “character” — you’re pricing us out too).

  3. Actually not sure why they didn’t feature any Manhattan blogs. In Harlem there are about 5 -10 active and inactive blogs. When I started my blog back in ’06 there wasn’t anything else. Many have fallen by the wayside…either life has gotten in the way or they have moved away because they couldn’t wait out the change.

    In any event, we are here but we just don’t get any recognition or respect for some reason. We just keep doing what we do regardless.

    http://www.uptownflavor.com

  4. In your own neighborhood, don’t forget Flaming Pablum and Greenwich Village Daily Photo. Downtown Manhattan has a whole host of blogs that went unnamed. In addition to Jeremiah’s VNY and EV Grieve, the East side has Bowery Boogie, East Village Idiot, East Village Podcasts, writermama, Save the Lower East Side, Neither More Nor Less, etc. — as well as activist blogs like the one designed to prevent the bone-headed redesign of Chatham Square. I think each of these should count as a “neighborhood” blog. They have a clear sense of place attached — and often, like this blog, something to protect or protest.

    Manhattan has a lot more blogs, too, though they often take in the whole idea of NYC (conflating Manhattan with NYC, probably), or they narrow their focus to something like architecture or motherhood. But the Brooklyn blogs people cite aren’t always limited to one neighborhood either. A lot of them take in the whole idea of Brooklyn.

    Sorry no links — no time! You can find links to a lot of these, ironically, at the Times’s City Room blog. Their reporter should have known better, but probably lives in Park Slope and so assumes it’s the center of the universe. I’m glad you posted this, though: that article rubbed me the wrong way!

  5. cat

     /  January 14, 2009

    hi EV Grieve, I really enjoy your blog! Thanks for stopping by. I thought there was a Sophie’s Bar connection (thanks for clarifying). Interesting isn’t it how Manhattan neighborhoods – as opposed to issues, which I see as a distinction – are covered (or not covered) via blogs?

    Tacony Palmyra – yeah, you’re right about people buying in Brooklyn brownstone neighborhoods which are now just as expensive as Manhattan! (Or UWS to Harlem…) I think it’s interesting what compels people to start a blog, or a neighborhood blog. It can really become the place to turn to to find out information about changes or new things coming (I know I’ve turned to neighborhood blogs to find this info out). Which is why the lack of real Manhattan neighborhood blogs is interesting to me.

    And now D. Bell just alerted me to another Harlem blog – Uptown Flavor – which I will add to the “Life in New York City Blog” list. Nice blog. Thanks for letting me know. Well done !

    BW – That article could have been so much more, right? It’s like ten steps behind the times. (no pun intended!) I know about some of the blogs you mentioned but not all. I’ll check ’em out. The Brooklyn blogs like Gowanus Lounge and Brownstoner cover more than one neighborhood but they still are very Brooklyn specific. I still think – even with the blogs you mentioned – that Manhattan is not being covered quite the same as Brooklyn and perhaps Queens. Maybe because rents in the Manhattan neighborhoods I mentioned are so high people are working three jobs and have no time to blog!! 🙂 (I was also surprised the Times’ article only linked to SOME of the blogs online … That was strange.)

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

    Cathryn
    WSP Blog.

  6. great post. i agree with you. with gentrification comes the sense of transient living. many people just see their apartment as a short term fix for something, and therefore have no connection with the neighborhood. only where the good watering holes are. i’m glad that blogs like yours (and all mentioned above and in the comments) are keeping the hope alive.

  7. Cat — Even though those megablogs are Brooklyn-specific, a lot of them don’t give you a sense of neighborhood, even ones with a neighborhoody title, like Gowanus. (I love that blog, don’t get me wrong: it’s just not a “neighborhood” blog in the way Jeremiah’s VNY is, even though he covers things all over the 5 boroughs.) I think the LES/EV has the strongest set of *truly* neighborhood blogs out there, thanks to Jeremiah, EV, BB, etc.

  8. cat

     /  January 15, 2009

    Hi Bowery Boogie, I was not familiar with your blog. It’s great! I will add it, and all the others that have posted, to the “Life in New York City” Blog List. Good points you make about the transient living that comes with gentrification. Also in the East and West Village, as a commenter here pointed out awhile ago, you have NYU taking over a huge amount of formerly inhabited apartments … so talk about transient! It’s like a ripple effect. I don’t believe what’s happening in our city would be happening without Mayor Bloomberg but there’s definitely a climate that was primed for his arrival and we’re seeing the repercussions of that. Hopefully that’ll change – and soon. I appreciate all the blogs too. I think it makes a difference.

    Thanks Uptown Flavor for the Idealist link!

    And BW — you’re right about the “megablogs” — Great word! — and the way they cover things in Brooklyn. (I rarely read Brownstoner and you’re right about Gowanus Lounge… despite its name.) But the neighborhoods in Brooklyn (Ditmas Park, Park Slope, Kensington, Flatbush, Bed-Stuy, Carroll Gardens), they are pretty well covered with blogs devoted to their neighborhoods. But as far as one neighborhood with a strong set of blogs, you’re right about LES/EV. I suppose my distinction was covering *a* neighborhood vs. an issue or challenge that a neighborhood has. But I’m glad to know about all the LES/EV blogs that I was missing! (I haven’t checked out your site yet, but I will.)

    Thanks much!

    Cathryn
    WSP Blog.

  9. Thank you for mentioning us!

  10. Certainly! Thanks for stopping by.

    Cathryn.

  1. *Everyday Chatter - Projectbackslash

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