Bushwick and East Williamsburg tour
Stunning street art, Williamsburg spillover, food/drink influx, real estate gold rush, and a complicated history characterize Bushwick and East Williamsburg.
The borderland of East Williamsburg and Bushwick has generated huge buzz for its influx of artists and hipsters moving east along the L train from Williamsburg, and galleries, bars, restaurants, and building conversions have proliferated.
Since 2012, the outdoor gallery known as the Bushwick Collective has transformed a dowdy industrial zone into a internationally-known street art haven. (We will see a good amount of street art. But if you want a tour focused on street art, please choose one of them!)
But these neighborhoods have a deeper, more complicated, and more fraught history (which is why a street art celebration has faced protests).
We'll see signs of Bushwick's brewing history, fueled by a German population, in mansions and closed breweries. We'll see a few signs of the neighborhood's Italian heritage, and more that reflect the Latino (Puerto Rican, Dominican, Mexican, Ecuadorian) presence that later transformed Bushwick.
While we won't see 1970s decline (including a massive blackout, looting, and arson), we will see the response: the public investment in housing and other structures spurred by neighborhood activism and local political leadership. We'll see a park named for a brave crusader against drug dealing.
And we'll see the new investment, both recent and in-process, that has both drawn media attention as well as local resistance to gentrification. It's at the heart of some recent debates, such as in the series from WNYC/The Nation called "There Goes the Neighborhood."
Note: we could easily extend a Williamsburg tour to visit East Williamsburg and Bushwick, focusing on the street art and (on weekends) some galleries. But we also can spend a full tour looking more broadly at these changing and charged neighborhoods.
Distance from Midtown Manhattan: 30-35 minutes by subway
Basic tour length: 2.5 hours (see fees) or do add on with Williamsburg
Starting place: Near L train; note that, on weekends, the L train is very infrequent
Ending place: Near J train, L train
Highlights: Street art, galleries, gentrification
Before/after tour: Many food options, including Roberta's
Potential tour extensions with me: Williamsburg, Greenpoint