On a totally different note, if you have a copy of either InDesign or Microsoft Publisher that you'd be willing to share, hit me up, will ya? Microsoft Word has made my life a living hell, and I'd really like to try to get the thesis laid out on a proper desktop publishing program. Can anyone help a brother out?
Ok, back to the show.
CrimeNew York City’s public housing has been as much of a success as any public housing development in the country, according to Bloom. By standards such as rent collection, occupancy rates, income diversity and building maintenance, he notes that the authority has always enjoyed a solid national reputation.
That said, both the Gowanus Houses and Wyckoff Gardens have, if not a major crime problem, a definite public relations problem. To some extent, the projects’ troubles mirrored those around the country such as the Pruitt–Igoe in Saint Louis and Chicago's Henry Horner Homes, as they were completed at a time of great upheaval in New York City. To wit:
The long running borough newspaper, the Brooklyn Eagle, closed in 1955, the beloved Brooklyn Dodgers decamped for Los Angeles in 1957, and the immigrants’ grandchildren were steadily heading out to suburbs to raise their families. When the Brooklyn Navy Yard, which had done the nation proud, producing record number of warships and material during the World War II years, in 1966, an era ended in Brooklyn.
|Spike Lee arrives at the 45th anniversary ceremony for the |
Gowanus Houses on June 25, 1994
Photo courtesy of NYCHA
At the same time, Spike Lee had chosen the Gowanus Houses as the site of his film Clockers, which the Internet Movie Database sums up as: “Young drug pushers in the projects of Brooklyn live hard dangerous lives, trapped between their drug bosses and the detectives out to stop them.”
Even before that, shocking, seemingly random crimes were being documented in the vicinity, such as when Teresa Roger, 17, a “brown-haired Syrian” was found dead on the roof of 198 Bond Street, one of the six story buildings in the Gowanus Houses. (From “Strangled Girl is Identified; Slain for $4.” The New York Times, October 22, 1971)
In a depressing twist of fate, Ronald Herron, the 12-year old friend of Nicholas Heyward Jr. who was playing cops-and-robbers with him when Heyward Jr. was killed in 1994, was arrested on charges of running a crack and heroin ring out of the Gowanus Houses in 2010.
A quick search through news clips reveals a tawdry past at the Wyckoff Gardens as well. The Daily News reported the in March 1974 the addition of two more patrolmen there, raising the number there to 12. There have been deaths reportedly linked to the drug trade there, such as a 17-year-old killed in 2006.
There have been confrontations that escalated to the point where lethal force was used. And there have been reports of prostitution, particularly near the southern end of the development, where the industrial streets of Gowanus are noticeably quieter at night than neighboring Boerum Hill. On Thursday, August 21, 2008, a confluence of several awful things came together, when 38-year old prostitute Elizabeth Acevedo was found murdered in the hallway of one of the three towers.
Relation to Community
When Helen Buckler first embarked on her campaign to rename the neighborhood, she was quoted as saying she was excited to find out that the reason her building was so cheap was because it was a “mixed neighborhood,” at the time 40 percent black, 30 percent Puerto Rican and 30 percent Italians, Polish, Lithuanians and Irish. As she noted: “Of course, there are noisy people in the block and people who get drunk, Miss Buckler conceded. But don’t we have that almost everywhere in New York?” (From -->"Rescue Operation On ‘Boerum Hill,” New York World Telegram, March 26, 1964)
Then there was Diane Foster, a Brooklyn Heights interior decorator and antique storeowner, who wrote the following in a March 1967 letter “Protecting the Perimeter,” to the Brooklyn Heights Press.
What I’m trying to do, is get some of our young people, who cannot afford the high prices of Heights homes, but who want city town homes, to get up enough “guts” to move into these beautiful townhouses, because that is what they once were, and will be again, and push out all the undesirables. It can be done, and more importantly, it can be done much easier, and much cheaper, than people think.
In The Invention of Brownstone Brooklyn, Suleiman Osman notes that the leaders of the then nascent Boerum Hill Association were “horrified” by comments such as these, but it’s worth noting that when one visits the associations’ website today, it still draws both the Wyckoff Gardens and the Gowanus Houses right out of the neighborhood. One could argue that the later extends into Gowanus and is named for it, therefore it should be associated elsewhere, but 2/3rds of the Wyckoff Gardens falls within the neighborhoods’ borders. There is still ambiguity about where the residents stand within the larger neighborhood.
|Screenshot taken from the Boerum Hill Association website April 16, 2013|
Next: Signs of Hope, and the Conclusion.