Tribeca and Bushwick : An Ethnographic Comparison of Two NYC Neighborhoods

Essay, journal, travel, Uncategorized, Writing Samples

While visiting New York City for the Winter Jazz Festival I was able to get to know two very distinct neighborhoods. Tribeca, located in Lower Manhattan and Bushwick in the Brooklyn borough.  Tribeca is where my hotel was located and most of my entertainment was planned during this trip. A desirable location with celebrity residents and rent averaging about $6,000 a month for a two bedroom apartment.  I am comparing this high end, commercially developed neighborhood with rapidly the gentrifying Bushwick, Brooklyn – an area we visited four different times during this trip. 

IMG_4450

Tribeca stands for “Triangle below Canal Street”, coined by city planners in the 1960’s. We chose to stay in this neighborhood because of the proximity to the night clubs where our entertainment was scheduled.  Architecture included gorgeous historic stone buildings and warehouses developed into luxury condos, commercial office spaces, upscale retail and restaurants. 

The 2010 United States census recorded that 66% of Tribeca’s residents are white.  Bordering China Town it has a 22% Asian population.  This Asian population is still visible in the neighborhood with some remaining independent restaurants and family owned store fronts. A major McDonalds location sign is partially written with Chinese Characters (hanzi).  One of the most expensive neighborhoods to live in, apartments are priced at an average of 4 million dollars on the low end and up to 22 million dollars. The Tribeca population is considered high income, most earning over $100,000 per year. 

Bushwick comes from the dutch word Boswijck meaning ‘neighborhood in the woods’.  Affordable rents has attracted persons with creative professions as well as food service industry workers and low income families.  Apartment rent averages about $2,000, condos can sell for $600,000 and up (Zillow).  Although this area is often described as becoming ‘white washed’ and  ‘gentrifying’-  it still has about a 70% hispanic population.  Once a predominantly Puerto Rican neighborhood, there is now a Mexican, El Salvadorian and Dominican presence.  Walking around this neighborhood you still see Hispanic Grocers, Bodegas and dueling Mexican Food trucks next to the natural wine bars and small batch coffee roasters.  One of the most noticeable physical features of Bushwick are the large murals and street art. Organized and celebrated by the community, the murals are updated regularly.  Tourist visit Bushwick often to be photographed in front of this public art. 

I let my friends know in advance that I was preparing a short paper about NYC neighborhoods. Without having to ask, they flooded me with information about Bushwick during one of our walks.  Dominique is a professional Tailor, through an agent she is contracted to work with designers during events such as NY Fashion week and with major celebrities for things like award season and magazine commissions.  She introduced me to two other creative freelancers who were unaware of my school project.  Sarah, a professional backdrop artist, who lives in Tribeca but works in Bushwick and Helen, a fashion stylist who lives in Bushwick and works all over NYC.

In casual conversation I was able to learn about their politics and socio economic status. While driving past a beautiful hispanic child on the street, Sarah volunteered information about cultural makeup of Bushwick. Helen in her early thirties had just returned from a trip to NZ and invited us to see her apartment and shared about what it was like to live and work in Brooklyn.  People are excited to talk about where they live.  In this instance, everyone I spoke to had genuine love for their communities and planned on staying put.  Without using interview style or discussion prompts I was able to uncover much of the information needed for this paper. 

The high rents in Tribeca make it nearly impossible for many to work and live in the same neighborhood.  Especially persons working office and service related jobs.  Often unrelated adults share homes to help with the cost of housing but most commute from other areas of NYC.  Tribeca has priced out the average person but still provides employment to many.  Bushwick is affordable and attracts both the average and the affluent but raising rents are pushing out lower income, long time residents.  Getting to see physical home and work spaces in relation to the areas rent average was interesting.  Sarah, a Tribeca residents, art studio was more than three times the size of Helen’s Bushwick apartment.  Famously, NYC has always been known for small apartments and intimate restaurants.  Upscale Tribeca restaurants were noticeably larger then some of the trendy Bushwick eateries that we visited.  Visually, Tribeca with its historic and modern architecture is sterile compared to the colorful spray painted buildings of Bushwick.  

A 2009 study found that 75% of Bushwick children were born into poverty, while Tribeca is home to some of the most affluent families in the country.  There is an undeniable class difference between the residents of the two neighborhoods.  It is easy to conclude that New York City is one of the most diverse and one of the most expensive places in the United States to live.  Comparing the two neighborhoods I am convinced that Bushwick’s changing demographics has put the original immigrant community at risk, Tribeca will likely remain the same.

 

48 Hours in Reykjavik

journal, Photo Journal, travel

A 48 hour itinerary that includes museums, craft beer, fine dining and Icelandic street food.

Flying direct from PDX on IcelandAir   we enjoyed a quick visit to Reykjavik before heading to Netherlands for my birthday. With only 48 hours to explore we decided to stay in the city both days and purchased flybus tickets at the airport.  The buses run regularly and we were dropped off at the main bus station located walking distance to downtown.

Hotels amenities are nice but airbnbs are no fuss, inexpensive and enhance any travel experience. We landed SUPER early in the morning and couldn’t access the apartment until much, much later – so we stored our luggage at the bus station and went straight to the visitor center.

IMG_9569

The visitor center opens at 8AM and is located in the City Hall.  We purchased the 48 hour ‘City Card’ which had tremendous value to us since our itinerary was mostly museums and in town attractions.  With this card you get access to all of the museums, main attractions, Reykjavík’s thermal pools, hot pots and saunas.  Public transportation is included along with other savings and offers.

DAY ONE

1. Breakfast at Bergsson Mathús

IMG_9575

Danish Breakfast at Bergsson Mathús

Walking into this warm and cheery cafe after such a long travel day was like hitting the jackpot.  They deeply care about the ingredients that they use and are vegan/vegetarian friendly. PLUS, freshly baked  bread!!! The menu changes daily + I read on their website that they offer 2 for 1 items between 4-7 to cut back on food waste.  LOVE!   The restaurant was packed with locals and other tourists but we were able to find space after only a few minutes. Counter service was friendly and efficient.  I didn’t want the caffeine jolt of coffee so I ordered black tea and the simple Danish Breakfast spread.

2. Viking Settlement –

IMG_9585

The Settlement Exhibition

Built around the actual remains of a Viking longhouse, our first stop following breakfast was the fascinating, Settlement Exhibition Reykjavík 871±2.  This site examines the the earliest evidence of human settlement in the city and discusses the Viking Age History of Iceland.  It’s only about a 30+ minute time commitment and has interactive technology around the perimeter of the room.  There is a very cool collection of artifacts from other excavation sites around the city centre.  The exhibition gives a clear picture of the people and their way of life at this time. There was even a small viking play area with dress up equipment for smaller children.

IMG_9634

Oldest Street in Reykjavik.

In early September the weather was cold and rainy. I wasn’t prepared for the chilly day and had to wear BOTH a jean jacket and rain coat for warmth, my shoes were soaked by the time we made it to the airbnb.  Lucky for us, many of the museums/attractions are only a short walking distances from each other.

3. AÐALSTRÆTI 10

Around the corner from the Viking museum is Aðalstræti 10  , this museum only recently became open to the public. Built in 1762, this is the oldest and one of the city’s most important houses. Antiques and artifacts are stored in glass cases that line the wall of the first floor.  Upstairs a photo exhibit of early Reykjavik settlers.

Aðalstræti-10-Fógetinn.jpg

This year (2018), Iceland celebrated 100 years as a free and sovereign state.

 

4. REYKJAVIK ART MUSEUM –

Our third and final museum for day 1, all of which we used the ‘City Card’ for entry.  A few different exhibits, Icelandic themes.  Impressive modern collection of art with a cafe and a very cool museum gift shop.  We spent most of our afternoon here.

IMG_9611.jpeg
IMG_9630

check out my soaking wet sneakers.

5. Session Craft Bar

Did you know that Iceland was beer-free until 1989?! Also, this country has the highest alcohol taxes in Europe.  We discovered Session Craft Bar while walking down the main street.  The selection was impressive and the prices were reasonable.  We were the only customers and the barman was super friendly and willing to answer all of our questions about Reykjavik  – he even taught me about nose tobacco and their government spirits (I tried both).  I had a Sour Beer flight from local brewers RVK.  James tried a few of the other drafts on tap.

6. Dill

IMG_9665

We were lucky enough to secure reservations at Dill, a New Nordic restaurant in downtown Reykjavik. The very first restaurant in Iceland to be awarded a Michelin Star, if you can get a reservation –  it really is a must!  Delicious + Unique methods for preparing native Icelandic fare and gorgeous plating. I recommend the wine pairings, they are perfectly selected to highlight the best part of each dish. A meal runs about 13.900kr per person for this 7 courses pre fixe (extra for wine).  After an entire day walking in the rain it was nice to spoil ourselves with such a beautiful meal.

IMG_9649

My outfit for our Dill reservation.

7. Mikkeller & Friends

IMG_9659.jpeg

Located in the same building as Dill, this is the perfect place for pre/post imbibing.  BIG fans of craft beer and everything Mikkeller,  we visited this location THREE times in the two days. The bartenders  I loved the circus theme and private room upstairs  (ask to take a look if it’s closed off the patrons).

“This four floor building was designed and built by a doctor called Guðmundur Hannesson in the summer of 1910. The house used to be his family’s residence but has also housed Reykjavík’s first X-Ray clinic and the Icelandic Women Shelter.”

DAY 2

Our apartment was directly in Reykjavik City Square – above a restaurant and across from a karaoke/sing along bar. One thing to remember is that Reykjavik stays up late on the weekends!  Singing bar patrons kept us awake singing outside of our window until FIVE AM!

There are lots of young people and tourist enjoying vacation.  Be sure and consider this before booking accommodation in tourist heavy areas.  We chose our location out of convenience and distance to the other in town attractions.

IMG_9615.jpeg

  1.  Museum of Photography

We started the day by visiting the  inside of the City Library downtown.  The exhibit was small and on the top floor of the building, there is some art displayed in the stair wells as well.

2. Souvenir Shopping

IMG_9763

I love visiting souvenir shops even though I rarely buy anything from them.  There are plenty of these downtown if you have time to shop for gifts.

3. The National Museum of Iceland

“The museum offers a variety of fascinating exhibitions and one permanent display illustrating lavishly the story of Iceland’s past, from the medieval days of Viking settlements to current contemporary culture. The main exhibition has over 2,000 artifacts discovered in various parts of the country.”

One of the larger museums we visited.  Beautiful viking and religious artifacts,  interactive displays.  Entrance Fee is included with the City Card, I’m so glad we made time for this one.

4. Icelandic Street Food

For lunch we wanted something casual and inexpensive. A family owned restaurant, Icelandic Street Food had such a welcoming atmosphere.  We began with the Fishermans favorite, a fish stew of Icelandic cod, potatos and onion in hollandaise sauce. Served like a dip/spread with Rye Bread.  We also shared a bread bowl with a traditional Icelandic lamb stew.  Free refills were available on both, they make sure no one leaves hungry.  Around the room were plates with complimentary cookies and pastries.  It was such a fun and delicious experience!

For dinner, Mexican food in Iceland!  Because of my heritage, there is nothing more comforting to me than food wrapped in a tortilla.  I knew it wasn’t going to be authentic so I went with an open mind.  Fun, cocktail bar atmosphere downstairs and more of a cozy southwestern vibe upstairs.  Small plates/tapas style dishes were colorful and delicious.

6. Micro Bar 

Cozy, basement atmosphere with an excellent selection of beers, including brews from house brewery, Gæðingur brugghús. This place was recommended by the bartenders at the other craft beer spots we visited and had good reviews on the internet.  Packed with tourists and locals, the counter service was friendly and the beer was cold.

7. Gaukurinn

We love seeing live music when we’re abroad, so we finished the night at a venue/bar in downtown Reykjavík. Iceland is increasingly becoming recognized for its vibrant and growing metal and hardcore scene. This night we enjoyed BLACK METAL being played to a medium sized crowd.  The tickets weren’t expensive and the g+t’s were strong. Non gendered bathrooms and the friendliest head bangers I’ve ever encountered. Concerts, drag shows, standup comedy + karaoke parties are booked here regularly.

 

 

 

 

 

Secret Chapel

Photo Journal, travel, Uncategorized

Earlier this year we went to Amsterdam for a few nights and stayed in a hidden chapel.  Built in 1751, this unique air bnb was converted from a secret church into a romantic hideaway. I hope you enjoy the photos.

IMG_2753

Tiny door between buildings takes you to a private alley.  I Love the way the old architecture sways,

IMG_2757

IMG_2762

The most beautiful ceiling I’ve slept under.

IMG_2783

Spooky illuminati eye on the room centerpiece.  I’ve never stayed in a more beautiful room.

IMG_2780

Centerpiece above the bed, photographs do not do this justice.

IMG_2778

IMG_2784 2IMG_2785 3