Park Slope: Notes on a Middle-Class “Utopia”

Park Slope: Notes on a Middle-Class “Utopia”

A familiar story, playing itself out in city after city: skyrocketing housing costs send upscale urban dwellers looking for new areas to “pioneer” (some would say invade) and to reshape to their taste. In Manhattan, it has transformed areas once filled with machine shops and printing plants into the luxury lofts and art spaces of Soho, Noho, and TriBeCa. And across the East River, similar changes march through Boerum Hill, Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill, and particularly Park Slope—the “brownstone” neighborhoods ringing downtown Brooklyn.

Stroll through Park Slope on a warm Saturday night, past young middle-class crowds patronizing a cornucopia of chic new restaurants offering the latest in trendy cuisine: sushi, Tex-Mex, “continental,” five types of Chinese, Thai, and various gourmet take-out shops. A lone shoemaker hangs on, but for a dime store or bodega where you can still get an ice cream sandwich for under a dollar, you have to literally go down the Slope, an avenue or two away. Interspersed among the restaurants are numerous real estate offices and nearly as many “new wave” florists (there’s almost a florist a block in the heart of the Slope’s Seventh Avenue). New craft shops display expensive, elegant objets. Completing the ambience are those emblems of yuppiedom, Benetton’ s , a nearly-completed D’Agostino’s , and a recently arrived “closet designer.” (Those from Wall Street who specialize in restructuring corporations can now hire someone to restructure their closets, though some spouses have been known to view this as a

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Lima