Micropolis: What Neighborhoods New Yorkers Avoid

As indicated in the MTA’s report on subway ridership released this week, the fastest growing stretches of subway are along the L and J lines.

It’s likely the influx of new residents in Williamsburg and Bushwick, Brooklyn, had something to do with the trend.

But if Billyberg and “East Williamsburg” are the areas New Yorkers are clamoring to get to, what are the neighborhoods they try to avoid? WNYC posed that question to some folks on the street.


Micropolis is WNYC’s ongoing series on street life and other corners of the city.

Michael Bauman

Avoids: Soho

"Soho is the place for me that is really out of control. As I said, my parents still live there. And I get there a lot, and it's very strange to walk around with my elderly parents and be looked upon as if I'm an alien in my own neighborhood. And the irony there is that most of those people live in Bushwick or East New York or Greenpoint or something in a railroad apartment with four roommates, but they're here for the dream. And part of the dream is controlling that velvet rope outside the trendy club in Soho."

( WNYC/Arun Venugopal )

Murray Weinstock

Avoids: Around the World Trade Center, his old neighborhood

"It's different for me down here now. I don't feel like I belong in this neighborhood. It's gotten much more gentrified around here. I'm used to saying hello to people, with the dog. Short legs, we move very slow. The new breed of people that are down here don't really say hello. They look at you like 'What do you want?'"

( WNYC/Arun Venugopal )

Nathaniel Smith

Avoids: Chelsea, the Upper East 60s, 70s, 80s

"In this lifetime, I don't think I will [be] accepted by people with money. Some parts of Chelsea, some parts of 60s, 70s and maybe the 80s of Manhattan. Certain parts where they call the upper class people, you're not welcome. Now, the Lower East Side, they got yippies down here that make that kind of money, but they don't discriminate... they welcome everybody. They accept you for who you are on the Lower East Side. If the yippies see you getting beaten up, they'll run to you or try to help you out, the yippies. If they see the police harassing you, they'll speak up more against that. Uptown, they don't do that -- I know for a fact."

( WNYC/Arun Venugopal )

Kim Beeman

Avoids: Staten Island

"You don't ever hear about the excellent restaurants in Staten Island. I'm sure there are some, but it's not really on my radar. And as someone who lives in Jackson Heights, that's something I care about a lot. I believe I've been to Staten Island twice, and I've lived in the city for nine years, so I guess that says something."

Dominique Godfroy

Avoids: Parts of Midtown

"By Port Authority [or] 34th street, it's an environment where a lot of actions [are] going on. Street actions, lots of street smart people there, I would say. In that area, it's kind of weird, not my kind of crowd."

Accra Shepp

Avoids: Times Square

"When I was growing up, the neighborhood that I least liked was Little Italy. As a young black child, I just didn't feel welcome there. Of course, now it's entirely different."

Rich Furlong

Avoids: Bad biking stretches in Queens

"Roosevelt Avenue, it's a third world street, as far as surface conditions are [concerned]. Actually, I've seen better streets in rural Nicaragua than we have here in Jackson Heights."