So what’s the difference between a hipster and a Hasidic Jewish mama? Quite a bit especially if we’re talking Williamsburg in Brooklyn, New York City in the vicinity of Bedford Avenue. The Yiddish mamas are smart cookies. They raise their kids well and put their money in cool investments, so they can retire and have enough left over for what they fancy, which is putting it mildly.
Compared to them, some hipsters are really not so smart. They spend all their spare cash on the latest phones, accessories and other gadgets that have no value a few years down the road, and they’ve no money left over for razorblades. So how come they are happily hanging out together on Bedford Avenue alongside a motley crew of writers, musicians and artists of whom more than a few are proud to be LGBT.
Fancy a little of this?
I have to be honest about this one. I flunked history lessons at school because I couldn’t see the point of digging up the past. Unfortunately in this case I’m going to have to make an exception because the editor insists (ugh I really hate this job!). In any case Williamsburg began as a veggie garden the settlers bought from local Amerindians in 1638. Things looked up after a surveyor pegged out plots and had the nerve to name the place for himself.
Fast forward two hundred years and Williamsburg is a bustling 19th century mini-city with a busy waterfront, serious industrial might and a population of immigrants and yuppies. After they built the bridge across the river it became the most densely populated neighborhood in the States. Development came to an abrupt halt at the end of World War II, when government orders began to decline. Bad news travels slow. Hasidic Jewish refugees from Europe and Hispanics from Puerto Rico continued to stream in, although there were fewer jobs for them.
Not so cool in the 80s though.
The mob arrived and settled down to making money from the poverty that followed by doing crime and mainline drugs. Those residents who were able to moved on elsewhere. The rest struggled on. Property values fell through the floor. New York City had a pile of poo on its hands. In 2005 the mayor made his move.
It’s hard to imagine what the place was like then when you walk along the waterfront, and admire the stern old factory buildings converted to apartments with nerdy lofts. In the streets below, edgy art galleries and a vibrant entertainment culture keep the culture creatively alive, especially around the Bedford Avenue subway station where hipsters fiddle endlessly with their pods.
These ones like long beards too.
The Latino jazz legend continues to flourish and there are so many different kinds of eateries I won’t even try to mention them. Back at base the Hasidic Jews continue to educate their children, feed them chicken soup and celebrate their bar mitzvahs as if nothing ever changes. Except for Williamsburg that did.