The Nightmare of Brooklyn Real Estate: a reality check from 1905

As many events in my life are, this post was sparked by a discussion on Gawker (lately, it’s the rare one which doesn’t center around how awful Kinja is becoming, and god knows, it started out badly).

Yuppies have apparently Burst Williamsburg’s Borders, Spilling Out in All Directions.

I imagine that looked something like this.

…and was welcomed by the locals in much the same spirit.

Now, I’m going to make a radical proposal. There will be mucho blowback on this controversial statement; of that I am well aware. My lawyers are standing by, along with a team of trained PR ninjas, to ensure we all come out of the ensuing melee with our orthodontistry intact.

I’m going to say that the gentrification of Brooklyn has been going on for more than a century. It’s true! There never was a time when it was “the undiscovered country!” And there never really was a time when anyone was happy to move out of Manhattan and across a bridge, unless they were getting out of the MCC.

Here’s your proof. Memory is a wonderful thing, my friends, for lo, it has enabled me to read a Gawker post about sprawling colonialism in Brooklyn and tie it to this comic, from Dreams of the Rarebit Fiend, a marvelous collection of turn of the last century but one comics, all based on nightmares from having had too much Welsh Rarebit. I must test this theory out on the ol’ drinkscoaster blog someday, and snarf a whole Welsh Rarebit just before bed, preferably with the kind of beer that just gets gassier the farther along the gastrointestinal tract it gets.

From the brilliantly twisted mind of Winsor McCay, and from the readers who sent in their dreams for illustrations (or the stories he made up when nobody was forthcoming; was this the first Overheard In model in history?), not to mention the good people at the Comic Strip Library,  comes this panel. True then as now, down to the olde timey get-ups and the novelty smoking equipment.

Brooklyn Real Estate Dreams of the Rarebit Fiend

Brooklyn Real Estate Dreams of the Rarebit Fiend

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5 thoughts on “The Nightmare of Brooklyn Real Estate: a reality check from 1905

  1. Hee hee, postcode snobbery. It’s pretty bad here in Melbourne where house prices are astronomical. Nobody will pay a premium for a house in an unpopular suburb so they rename a small area and suddenly everyone wants to live there!

    A quick look for an example showed me the lovely sounding Botanic Ridge…. Bounded on three sides by Cranbourne. Bleh, Affectionately known by its residents as Crimebourne. Maybe Brooklyn just needs a bit of renaming around the edges to appease the pretentious. :D

  2. We have a similar nomenclature system in Vancouver. There’s a lovely old neighborhood with a weirdly-angled intersection that used to be called Dysfunction Junction. Developers moved in, built condos, and renamed it Soma, for “South Main.”

    Guess they never read Brave New World.

  3. The problem is that the lastest wave (tsunami)of gentrification is hyperaccelerated and has had a lot of help from two decades of Giuliani-Bloomberg giving developers a free hand in doing whateverthefuck they want.

  4. But ’twas ever thus. There are small towns up the Hudson right now decrying an influx of novelty facial hair wearers in suspenders and Terry Richardson.

  5. Actually there is some sense to the idea that leaving Manhattan for Brooklyn might be a bad idea. And it is one that is echoed in Vancouver. To get to Brooklyn you have to cross a bridge (or later a tunnel). I now live in Vancouver due in part to my partner’s refusal to live in Richmond – which meant she would have to face the traffic across a bridge when she commuted to work.

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