Has the neighborhood stopped being cool or have I just gotten older?







In the New York Times last month, author Ada Calhoun wrote a great piece about how we feel about our neighborhoods as they change:

I think there’s more to these “the city is dead now” complaints than money. People have pronounced St. Marks Place dead many times over the past centuries — when it became poor, and then again when it became rich, and then again when it returned to being poor, and so on. My theory is that the neighborhood hasn’t stopped being cool because it’s too expensive now; it stops being cool for each generation the second we stop feeling cool there. Any claim to objectivity is clouded by one’s former glory.

I know this well. As a teenage girl in the 1990s East Village, every door was open to me and my friends. There was no party we could not crash, no person we could not make out with and no intoxicant we would not be offered. The city was ours. In the pre-Giuliani era, a fellow East Village woman reminds me, “You could still piss on the street.”

And check out this line:

I remember what it felt like getting ready to make something exciting happen, to feel a sense of the city and time radiating out in all directions, like the spokes of a wheel, with me and that night at the center.

I remember when the Mission felt like that. (Hence those photos up top from back before decent phone cameras.) (I’m turning 35 in a couple months, maybe somebody younger should take over this blog?) (Anybody know anybody good?)

Seriously, read the whole thing for a lot of great points that might change your mind or make you feel better, including a great note about Keith Haring.

[via kottke.org]

14 Responses to “Has the neighborhood stopped being cool or have I just gotten older?”

  1. Sam says:

    The area has gotten less hip, that’s undeniable.

    • Sam says:

      That said, the Mission in the early to mid 2000s which I experienced was seemingly less hip than it was in the early to mid 90s. So yea, I dig the article

  2. Vinnie says:

    Thanks for enlightening. I feel the same.

    Cool people and cool things will make all areas eventually less cool, because the uncool – the uncool people, the uncool stores, the uncool scene – wants so desperately to be near the cool, it will creep in, and suddenly you’re a resident alien. The uncool has more money, and money can push into anything.

  3. tk says:

    Both. It is undeniable that you get less “hip,” whatever that means, as you get older. I’m even older than you so I’m probably even less hip. I have to Urban Dictionary stuff all the time just to know what people are talking about. So yeah, part of it is just aging out of hip. Young people have to do their own thing, and it wouldn’t be their own thing if you were hip to it.

    There’s also no denying the neighborhood has changed, fairly dramatically, in the past 10 years – forgot the past 20 years, since I started hanging out in the Mission. I know this is a familiar and boring trope, but it really is true that back then you could live in the Mission and have a part time job and do something cool on the side and be fine. People doing something cool on the side are part of what makes a neighborhood interesting and cool, at least in my opinion. You can’t do that anymore. You can’t rent a 3-bedroom in the Mission for $1500 and split it with 3 friends anymore. So voila, now only people who make a lot of money can be new renters, and people who used to be able to live there live in Oakland or Chicago or Brooklyn now.

    So, both.

    • Maple says:

      No they don’t live in Brooklyn anymore, even Bushwick now is basically Valencia street with a bit of grunge left in very certain areas. What you’re describing has now moved to Baltimore, Portland (for now but rapidly becoming less so), Detroit and so on. Personally I’m buying a house in Detroit fairly soon

      • jared says:

        you guys should come buy buildings with us in downtown Stockton (like Detroit, but smaller, safer, warmer… but with plenty of cool old historic spaces.) The mortgage on the 5000sf warehouse we just bought in Stockton (6 blocks from the waterfront) is under $1k/mo.

      • tk says:

        I stand corrected.

    • Missionish says:


  4. ct says:

    These pics made me smile.

  5. emilie says:

    Destroy Everything and it will be OK again.