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Monday, September 10, 2012

Brooklyn Where You At? (On the map)

How does one man become the decider of local neighborhood boundaries?

I dunno, ask google, but Matthew Hylan seems to be that man according to an article in today's NY Times:

If you're like me (born in Crown Heights, until the mid 90's when the real estate push activated the time machine and altered my birthplace to be Prospect Heights) you'll want to check in with Mr Hylan and his google map assessments (above) to find out where you (and we) are now.

The Times attempts to paint Mr Hylan in favorable and impartial tones, describing him more of an "Umpire" than activist but umpires make decisions so I'm sticking with my labeling.

I checked out the google map maker site, which is the google map we've come to know overlaid with neighborhood shapes defining specific areas. These area definitions were submitted by users and approved/co-signed by Mr. Hylan.

I don't want to wax on too long so I'll sum my thoughts into a few sentences; when brooklyn was majority natives (persons living here for one generation or more) we didn't have all these baby-bite-sized names or needs. You lived on your street, in an area of Brooklyn. Your area was Flatbush, Greenpoint, Bay Ridge, Bedford-Stuyvesant and it could stretch for miles. Clearly that time is gone and people native and new with much reduced map reading skills and attention spans (based on the numerous people who ask me weekly for the name of the subway station they're in as they stand next to and under the subway station's sign) are benefitted by more delineation, but lets not over do the neighbor cinching and lets not erase or push boundaries to the exclusion of people and past.

Since the main instigator for all these new neighborhood delineations is division, attempts by real estate people and some home owners wanting to separate themselves form the less desirable elements of their own neighborhoods, my suggestion is this, lets go back to full on areas those of say 1970 South Brooklyn, Flatlands, Bushwich, (one) Williamsburg, Crown Heights etc and then modify those areas with their subsections.

For example:

Cobble Hill & Carroll Gardens in South Brooklyn.

Ditmas Park, Prospect Park South & Lefferts-Prospect Gardens in Flatbush.

Lets give this a shot, because despite what intrenched interests will tell you, we all, over the course of the last 400 years, made these names up from our desires anyway.

As the a quote from Barry F. Hersh, a professor at the Schack Institute of Real Estate at New York University in the Times article notes, "The telephone company once decided which neighborhood you were in".

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