Monday, July 23, 2007

Another gentrification story out of Harlem, New York...

From the New York Times...
Calvin Copeland was there when rioters burned and looted stores in 1964, when crack cocaine and AIDS tore families apart, when brownstones were for sale for $50,000 and few outsiders dared move in. He endured fire and financial ruin, yet each time he picked up the pieces and prospered, as bold and resilient as the neighborhood around him.

If he could be the master of his fate, he would live out his days in Harlem, Mr. Copeland, 82, said yesterday, serving soul food from the restaurant he has owned for almost five decades, Copeland’s, a relic of the past anchored in a place fast in transition.

Gentrification has pushed away many of the black families who used to patronize his business. “The white people who took their place don’t like or don’t care for the food I cook,” he said. “The transformation snuck up on me like a tornado.”

After falling behind on rent and bills a year ago, Mr. Copeland tried to hold on to his business, investing more than $250,000 of his savings, he said. Finally, in May, he acquiesced to defeat.

Copeland’s, at 547 West 145th Street, between Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue, where Harlem is known as Hamilton Heights, will hold its last gospel brunch at 1 p.m. on Sunday and then close its doors for good.

“I just can’t do it anymore,” Mr. Copeland said.
Some of my friends at Morehouse see the gentrification of Harlem as disrespectful. It's mainly because of Harlem's significance in black American culture and the perception is that many of the new residents are white. Harlem was the capital of it in the 1920s.

Harlem is going thru events that wasn't uncommon around the country. Cities started to suffer from the Depression onward then things turn around. Of course in this case it means the indigenous population of a neighborhood gets sqeezed out and here come the new crop of people.

Well I'm not on the ground in Harlem, but I just hear things. The fact is that I still don't really know the dynamics of the Harlem neighborhood.

This is a very good story though and it's worth reading so have a look.

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