Future of Downtown Brooklyn

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Kelly Anderson, filmmaker and director of “My Brooklyn”, and producer Allison Lirish Dean, discuss their film about gentrification in downtown Brooklyn.

→ Event: "My Brooklyn" will be screening at reRun Theater in DUMBO from Jan. 4-10. Purchase tickets here.


Kelly Anderson and Allison Lirish Dean

Comments [50]

davidd from sunset park

The area is just changing back to what it was originally. Whats the big deal?
This was a top flight neighborhood with huge department stores and many theaters before the decline of the 50's 60's. The original displacement was from rich to poor now its going from poor to rich.
Why don't these film makers tell the whole story?

May. 18 2013 02:23 PM
YM from brooklyn

(last comment) It's true that New York has always changed but it has always been PEOPLE changing it.
In the 21st century corporations, which are now people in the USA, will decide for poor people how, what, were they will live. We are all "poor" vs the multi-billion corporations.

This is about people vs a machine - a corporation slouching towards Bethlehem to be born.
We should all care about the Disnification of Times Sqr. and Fulton Mall and anywhere corporation are looking out for themselves/shareholders.

Don't blame "white people" or any people blame the corporation "people."
We are living in the age of the machine.

Jan. 03 2013 10:20 PM
YM from Brooklyn

Redefine gentrification!
It means corporate development.
It has nothing to do with the gentry, unless you happen to believe that corporations are people.

Jan. 03 2013 10:11 PM
Sam from Brooklyn

Lastly, its more than a little disturbing that only one or two commenters so far seemed to be particularly concerned about the larger issue of our current Mayor’s grand vision for our city and the ways he, the NYC Economic Development Corporation, City Planning and a few well-positioned local landlords effectively branded the area as culturally worthless in its current incarnation, even as they touted its economic prowess. In light of this and the 100s of millions of tax dollars flowing into downtown redevelopment projects, hipster hunting seems like a poor use of any of our time.

Jan. 03 2013 06:20 PM
Sam from Brooklyn

Regarding comments about where the movie is being screened—let’s remember the Fulton Mall area used to be home to wonderful movie theaters that are no more, one of which used to be where the City Point development now sits. There is a whole history of white flight and racist urban renewal downtown contributing to this, which is highlighted in the film. If you want to go see a movie anywhere near downtown now you are going to go to Brooklyn Heights, Dumbo/Vinegar Hill, Cobble Hill. Snarky accusations of ironic misplaced hipster guilt are no stand-in for an actual analysis. The problem with so-called "hipsters" is that they are expected to know better, but refuse to take a political position. That's not what's going on here.

Jan. 03 2013 06:15 PM
Sam from Brooklyn

For the folks who are leaving comments characterizing this project as white guilt-absolving Blacksploitation:

You should know, this film grew out of a seven-year collaboration with Families United for Racial and Economic Equality (FUREE), a woman of color-led organization in Downtown Brooklyn organizing for equitable development. FUREE members identified the need to make a short educational film,Some Place Like Home (, about why the destructive changes they saw happening in their community were occurring and give voice to residents and business owners that weren’t blindly in love with the status quo but wanted a legitimately inclusionary planning process that respected their multi-generational investment in the neighborhood. This collaboration is a solid example of relatively privileged individuals working respectfully with a community, aligned by shared values, despite having different experiences. My Brooklyn, places neighborhood change in a longer historical context and seeks to start a conversation across communities about the values that guide development.

Jan. 03 2013 06:10 PM
sheldon from Brooklyn

Roy - I never meant that as a critique of you, but as to support your valid points.

Jan. 03 2013 12:30 PM
Roy from Queens, NY

"This myth that blacks don't look forward to shopping at an H&M, Gap, or Armani Exchange, is ridiculous."

I never posted that. It's just that it's an economic issue, like you said.

Jan. 03 2013 12:13 PM

PS: just to clarify:

"Hipsters" while working hard to pose "ironic" do not have the capital or initiative to gentrify or even make films - it's against the fundamental hipster/slacker esthetic.

"Yuppies", on the other hand, do have the cash and ambition to pursue these "transformative" pursuits.

The two are not synonymous. The "hipster" moves in to bask in the cheap rent and the "yuppie" moves in to develop/profit. Both exploitative but, subtlety different. Equally odious.

Where the hipster turns up, the yuppie is soon to follow.

Jan. 03 2013 12:09 PM
Jiwon Choi from Brooklyn, NY

As a longtime member of a community garden in downtown Bklyn that now has the Barclay's arena across the street from it, gentrification takes on a new meaning. We are not opposed to progress, but the definition of progress has been co-opted by developers and city/state politicians to mean big name stores, tall luxury condos and a neighborhood that longtime residents can no longer afford to live in.

The garden along with the community struggled for over eight years to be heard on how an arena might impact a neighborhood that was not blighted (contrary to Borough President's Markowitz quip during an interview) nor seeking an arena on its doorstep. We asked for transparency on how the "deal" was going down, as only one developer was being considered for the project with the exclusion of others, only to be pushed to the sidelines where we watched bulldozers come into town.

Real progress would be a process of development where all parties are included, not just three men in a room who get to decide what goes up in our landscape.

Jan. 03 2013 11:53 AM
antonio from bayside

I'd say the year started nicely in regards to the stock market! There was a rally yesterday!

Jan. 03 2013 11:51 AM

Haha - Newark looks like the Fulton Mall? Dude - anyplace with a a majority of black people would look like the Fulton Mall to you. So, STFU racist.

Jan. 03 2013 11:48 AM

...this is as insufferable as Tarantino exploiting slavery to "express" his quirky film esthetic.

"Whitespoitation" of racial issues to further film careers is kinda nauseating.

Jan. 03 2013 11:47 AM
fuva from harlemworld

William from Manhattan, nah. You're missing the point.
It's not about "preserving sociological specimens", but about instituting solutions that right the ongoing wrongs of past sociopathic sociology.

Jan. 03 2013 11:45 AM

If you are upset with gentrification in the Brooklyn, take a stand and move to Newark. Despite Bookers best efforts, most of Newark still looks exactly like the old Fulton Street Mall.

Jan. 03 2013 11:39 AM

Gentrification eliminates entrenched poverty and crime? Yeah right - if eliminating simply means moving it to another (probably less "convenient") neighborhood or town. But whateva - trying to get through to hipsters and hipster worshippers is a waste of time, which is why I don't bother with them. PS - hipsters, don't come whining when one of your soon-to-be displaced-in-the-name-of-progress neighborhood residents punches you out of your skinny/emaciated jeans.

Jan. 03 2013 11:39 AM
John from Upper West Side

The West Side community shares Brooklyn's pain. The Bloomberg administration has always put business first. When tourist helicopters blanketed upper west side skies complaints were met by the Office of Economic Development for Aviation which ignored complaints because it brings money to the City. When they switched the heliport to lower Manhattan, organized Brooklynites were ready for the fight. It is no accident that the Mayor used the LA office space example. The Mayor's Office for Film often caters to the industry at the expense of the neighborhoods. When is someone going to figure that the great strengths of NYC is the people who live, study, create, raise families, worship and contribute to the day to day life. That is why people want to move or visit here. Otherwise the can remain where they are - in their "big box store" communities.

Jan. 03 2013 11:36 AM

One the one hand, as someone born in Brooklyn who then lived in Park Slope for some years in the late 90s and early 2000s, I am cynical (see Sheldon's comment) when I hear folks rhapsodizing about what's left -- in terms of people or places -- of gentrifying or gentrified areas that I consider to have long been washed away.

On the other hand, I am inspired by their positive attitudes and activist spirits. If New York City and Brooklyn could ever come back, which never crossed my mind, it will be because of folks like this! They see the familiar facades of old buildings and imagine them with souls again. Bravo and thank you.

Jan. 03 2013 11:36 AM
The Truth from Becky

Sheesh, guess you firls should have talked with some "real" Brooklynites before you did your little feel good movie...smdh...see comments below..L

Jan. 03 2013 11:33 AM

Rich white guilt "doc"??

This stuff is exhausting.


Jan. 03 2013 11:32 AM
Biff from Greenwich Village

New York wasn't always an enclave of wealthy people. The movement to push it in that direction basically squeezes the true lifeblood from this city. The beauty and character of New York is its broad diversity of people, not avarice. This once vibrant town is being transformed into a vast, gentrified Beverly Hills, without the good weather.

Jan. 03 2013 11:32 AM
sheldon from Brooklyn

Becky - bed stuy does NOT have that type of shopping, outside of fulton and Nostrand, and could use some of those stores that will be priced out of fulton mall.

I would admit - that woman that suppossedly lives in Brooklyn Heights amy as well be living on Mars - she was awfully out of touch, living in BK for decades and just "heard" that bed stuy is "up and coming"?

Jan. 03 2013 11:31 AM
William from Manhattan

It is fine to want a better planned city, but let's not wax nostalgic about the past. Does anyone really think the "old neighborhoods" in Brooklyn, which were some of the most dangerous in the world, deserved to be preserved as sociology specimens, or as a living re-enactments like Colonial Williamsburg? Most people who grew up in Red Hook before the Second World War or in parts of Bedford Stuyvesant in the 70s got out as fast as they could. I see nothing wrong with gentrification if it helps eliminate entrenched poverty and crime.

Jan. 03 2013 11:28 AM
Sarah from Brooklyn

Recommend art project on this topic:

Anyplace, Brooklyn, by Samara Smith.

It's a walking tour you can download and then take around downtown BK and it deals with the displacement of local residents and businesses for Metro Tech, the effects on public space of the private Metro Tech 'park' and the loss of historic buildings that were part of the underground railroad.

Jan. 03 2013 11:28 AM
John from NYC

This issue is playing out on a smaller scale on Staten Island with this "Wheel Project" and Hotel/ Shopping Mall" for tourists on the Statem Island Ferry. This is defined as Economic Development by the NYC Economic Development agency and the Mayor. There has been no regard by the Mayor for the long term planning of this area as a main transit hub and past studies for the North Shore Rail line.

Jan. 03 2013 11:28 AM
Leah from Brooklyn

It's just really uncomfortable and sort of icky for two white filmmakers to use the voices of people of color to legitimize their vision of what constitutes authenticity.

Jan. 03 2013 11:28 AM

I have been to two screenings of this movie, and I feel it successfully delivers most of the information. My background is in architecture, I'm very interested in urbanism and planning. It was shocking to me to see the role that government played in controlling the outcome of this neighborhood/area, and I think it's important for people to be aware that this situation is present all over the city.
My confusion each time I've seen this movie is to what extent you think the process of gentrification is a natural process in the city, and to what extent its corrupt government control. Fulton Mall is geographically significant: immediately adjacent to middle/upper middle class brownstone neighborhoods and strongly linked to Manhattan by public transit and proximity. It seems obvious that this is a desirable location for many reasons, and as a result a location that will be gentrified and invested in by developers. People with money have power, and whether right or wrong they're going to use their money to get what they want.
I guess for me it feels like the gentrification process is the natural ebb and flow of city life, and while its definitely unfair for those that are displaced, its basic supply and demand.

Jan. 03 2013 11:28 AM
The Truth from Becky

***Fulton Street

Jan. 03 2013 11:27 AM
Lamar from Harlem

Her concern about the community mix of blacks and whites has always be a problem because integration is still alive. Blacks are as much estranged from whites as the new whites that move in. I live and was born and raised in Harlem. The new whites that move in do not associate with blacks. They live in Harlem but there is no mixing. Scenes of whites and black together in eateries et al does not meant intermixing. There are whites that move in with black friends before they have moved to Harlem. Brooklyn is no different witn intermixing and great misunderstanding and great mistrust. As more things change, more things stay the same.

Jan. 03 2013 11:27 AM
Charles from Brooklyn

The Pitkin Ave shopping strip in East New York is thriving. The old Loew's Pitkin theater is now a charter school and is beautiful. Many of the shops that were on Fulton St have migrated to Pitkin (there is common ownership among the Shepardic Jewish Community of property and/or stores).

Jan. 03 2013 11:27 AM
Tammi from Bed Stuy, Brooklyn

All black people do not shop at the Fulton Mall. To the woman who said move it to Bed Stuy, we don't want it.

Jan. 03 2013 11:26 AM
Nick from UWS

Gentrification by know-nothing infants addled with a sense of entitlement is repulsive know matter how much you discuss it.

Jan. 03 2013 11:26 AM
The Truth from Becky

Uhmm Bed Stuy does not have shopping? Do you know where Fulton Ave is?? OMGoodness, please just stop....ridic

Jan. 03 2013 11:26 AM
fuva from harlemworld

Besides irony, the other personality tick afflicting hipsters is a kind of empty earnestness -- perhaps well-intentioned, but empty because it's unaware of its complicity in the thing it purports to be concerned about.

These "pioneering" hipsters are exploiting low property values, etc., born of socioeconomic exclusion and terror, that still gives them unfair socioeconomic advantage. At the very least, they must look this squarely in the face.

Any "guilt", Sheldon, is just as empty and un-self-aware. And if you are critical of the Fulton Street status quo, you should be advocating for remedies that right the historical wrongs...(But if you really think that any kind of economics is somehow separate from race, then maybe this is not possible...)

Jan. 03 2013 11:25 AM
joseph scavone from new york

I moved to Park Slope in '98 after I graduated from college, one of the reasons I didn't want to live in manhattan is because it has the feel of a huge outdoor mall and it would be a shame if brooklyn went the same route. I wonder how much of the re-zoning of downtown brooklyn was part of the changes that came with the baclay's center?

Jan. 03 2013 11:25 AM
David from NYC

Rudy wanted to arrest everyone
Bloomberg...wants to just out price everyone (that means you)
from this city.
And Quinn will be no better

Jan. 03 2013 11:24 AM
eugenieb from Manhattan

I shopped on the mall in the 1950's when it was a successful, middle to upscale shopping district anchored by Abraham and Strauss Department store.

So it's changed it's character more than one

Jan. 03 2013 11:24 AM
Rachel from Crown Heights, Brooklyn

I am white and grew up near Fulton Mall, and coming back after spending years away at school and in other cities I was saddened to see it gone. Growing up in this multicultural, vibrant city made me the tolerant and fascinated person I am today. White people who dismiss other white people for hipsterism or cultural appropriation when we try to talk about race are seriously exacerbating the problem of race silence in our society.

Jan. 03 2013 11:24 AM
Nick from UWS

What did I think, hearing that Bloomberg clip? I thought, how loathsome he is. Turning Brooklyn into Los Angeles? Loathsome. Puke inducing. Can't WAIT for Bloomberg to disappear forever.

Jan. 03 2013 11:23 AM
Freddy from Bushwick

I've lived in the same converted loft building for the past 10 years in Bushwick...or shall I say, "East Williamsburg". When I arrived, it was full of artists types, and we had a great sense of community in my building as well as with the locals who have been here for decades before we arrived. We knew the owners of the corner bodega, the local diner,etc, and sadly over the past 6 years I've seen an explosion in my neighborhood of badly designed condos, over priced bars and restaurants, and skinny-jean wearing, skateboard riding 20-somethings with the ugliest sense of entitlement one could imagine. Now, weekends are filled with tourists who have "braved" the subway to come to Roberta's Pizza to see "the real Bushwick"...

Jan. 03 2013 11:23 AM
Lindsay from New York, NY

Spewing cliches. Nothing wrong with taking a position, but is she really the best person to be speaking on this?

Jan. 03 2013 11:20 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

Roy, Fulton Mall never had the cultural impact on black America, 125th street in Harlem had.

This myth that blacks don't look forward to shopping at an H&M, Gap, or Armani Exchange, is ridiculous.

I miss buying vinyl records in Times Square, I miss buying blank cassette tapes on the old 14th street, I will NOT miss the footlockers on Fulton Mall.

This is about economics not race.

Jan. 03 2013 11:20 AM
Troy Johnson

Yet another example of the "Mallification" America. People will not be satisfied until Brooklyn is indistinguishable from suburban New Jersey, Or any city USA. Harlem's 125th street is on the same path.

Sure chain stores are nice and no one wants run down tores, but it is possible to have high quality stores that reflect the character and diverse of Ne York City.

Jan. 03 2013 11:18 AM
john from office

Sounds like a white woman, wanting the Fulton mall to stay "authentic".

Old Brooklyn was full of Crime!!

Jan. 03 2013 11:17 AM
The Truth from Becky

"My Brooklyn" is looking more and more NOT like "My Brooklyn"...the Brooklyn I grew up in....uhmm before 1988 lady.

The situation is that the newcomers want it to look more like what they are accustomed too and they want you to accept it without fuss and thus....the smoke screen.

Jan. 03 2013 11:16 AM
Tom from UWS

I haven't been to the Fulton Mall, but this story has happened or is happening all over. Broadway, Amsterdam and Columbus, Chelsea, Harlem ... everywhere the boutique has given way to the national or international chains.

Jan. 03 2013 11:14 AM
MARIE from brooklyn

Funny how newcomers feel like they have the true insight as to how true Brooklynites feel about being invaded. Showing people of color in your documentary doesn't justify things.

Here's just an example that most hipster probably will find trivial (which is part of the problem):

I've needed Soy milk since the early 90's. Asked all grocers/bodegas to order it since then, always told no. City folks or mid-westerners—AKA Hipsters, come here, pay a higher rent, disregard their neighbors and their QUIET and POLITE quality of life, walk into that same bodega, ask for Soy and the grocer tells them he'll have it for them next week. Why was my request ignored? I HAD AND HAVE THE MONEY FOR SOY, TOO! That's one of many problems with gentrification.

I find the need for making this doc, a need to cover their guilt of taking over and being insensitive about it.

Jan. 03 2013 11:08 AM
rose from brooklyn, of course

New York City always changes, true. However, change in the boroughs has always been extremely slow and respectful-economically, architecturally and how people relate to their neighbors especially. Thank God for landmark laws! And saying we should be all thankful because there are now more jobs at the BARCLAY CENTER and TARGET, where all is needed is a G.E.D., is beyond insulting! How many people of color and/or of lower income own those businesses in "Dumbo"?!


Emotionally, the change has been abrupt and at times rude—a hurtful pill to swallow for those who've been here for generations and have been excluded from the conversation, pushed out and/or pushed aside in the name of "progress".

Hipsters will never get it.

Jan. 03 2013 11:00 AM
Roy from Queens, New York

Sheldon, Fulton Street Mall always had those types of stores before the Hipster Renaissance because the customers are Black & Latino. However, some of those stores are slowly dying, due to high rents, making it lucrative for high-end retail stores.

The customers are in trouble too. Where are they going to find affordable goods while trying to pay the rent?

Jan. 03 2013 10:41 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

The irony that a movie on Brooklyn gentrification - being screened at a theater in DUMBO is not lost on me.

Downtown Brooklyn is severely under-developed with regards to decent retailing and the marginally better jobs that come with it.

Fulton Mall is a joke, consisting of too many sneaker stores, pawn shops, and gray market electronic shops - most NOT owned or operated by Blacks or Latinos anyway. This movie reeks of misplaced hipster guilt.

Jan. 03 2013 10:24 AM

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