One person's development is another person's destruction.
I took this photo of the skyline at Pier 84 in Hell's Kitchen in September 2018. I sat on it. Because I'm highly conflicted, even angry, about it. The image has earmarks of pics folk like to consume on social media: a golden hour shot of a glinty, pretty, and majestic New York City. A postcard city. But that is not the city I see, live in, or interact with.
What I see when I look at my image is disparity. I see displacement.
I see atrocious glass and steel buildings replacing affordable residential housing, small businesses, and warehouses that could be usefully re-purposed.
I see five cranes constructing those buildings not meant for me nor for the other long-term residents of Hell's Kitchen.
I see pieds-à-terre of foreign investors who purchase property but, by law, won't pay a dime of tax to the city. Even though they may also make a profit from renting said property through Airbnb.
I see the cost of rent and food escalating as a result.
I see empty storefronts because the rent is too high and/or the landlord is holding the space for more money. That landlord receives a tax break regardless.
I see homeless people sleeping in front of those empty storefronts that are "for rent."
You might see pretty in my intro pic. I see disparity. I see displacement.
I don't live in a postcard. I live in a world where choices affect actual human lives. And so I ask you to consider your choices. What will they be?
After 26 years serving Hell's Kitchen, on January 11, 2018 the Chong family closed the doors and shuttered the gate for the last time at Empire Tailors & Cleaners.
Gentrification does not take a break during the holiday season. It uses it to forward its work.
E. B. Gallardo