By Gregory Lobo Jost
This time it’s not even a prediction, but a bold declaration that the south Bronx has been gentrified. Based almost entirely on anecdotal evidence, Joseph Berger of The New York Times Metro section has painted a picture of an area of the south Bronx on the Grand Concourse as a new middle class hub where white folks don’t just go for Yankee games.
While the amazing housing stock along the lower Grand Concourse — mostly built in the 1920s and 30s and chock full of art deco gems — is no secret, the area has been largely working class/working poor with a smattering of middle class black and Latino residents (think public sector workers) for the past few decades. (Tip: Read Constance Rosenblum’s Boulevard of Dreams if you are looking for a great book about the housing on the Concourse and its fascinating history. I appropriately read it while on jury duty on 161st Street a few years ago.) Berger simplifies the complicated reasons behind the decline of the area down to “white flight and urban disenchantment,” though to be fair that’s not the point of the article.
The point, rather, is that “more middle-class professionals, many of them white, are … buying co-ops with sunken living rooms and wraparound windows for under $300,000 in Art Deco buildings that straddle a boulevard designed to emulate the Champs-Élysées.” While this is likely true, the question is whether the numbers are significant enough to declare something so controversial as gentrification having already occurred.