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, given displacement of the majority Hispanic population. 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, Ridgewood
Why I like leading this tour: In various articles and social media, "Bushwick" gets a lot of attention, but those often refer to only a tiny slice. It's a huge neighborhood worth more thoughtful attention.