How one block tells the story of Brooklyn's mind-boggling transformation

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If you had to pick one neighborhood to represent Brooklyn's staggering change over the past decade, you'd do well to opt for Bedford-Stuyvesant, with its spike in home prices as speculators searching for the next Park Slope were drawn in by peaceful, tree-lined streets and a preponderance of brownstones. But what about zooming in even closer, to the changes in just one block?

That's the idea behind New York Magazine's massive "One Block" feature, which takes a deep dive into the history—and current state of—one Bed-Stuy block, Macdonough Street between Patchen and Malcolm X. The feature includes interviews with residents who were born on the block and have lived there ever since, as well as relative newcomers to the neighborhood and even a few old timers who remember its previous incarnation as a primarily Irish and German enclave. One startling stat? While the average price of a house on the street was $17,700 back in the 1970s,  the most recent sale was for $1.56 million. So yeah, a few things have changed.

"I first visited the block on a Sunday," resident Brooke Vermillion (pictured left) tells the magazine. "There were all these nice old ladies dressed up going to church. It was peaceful and quiet, just like a small town. [...] I was like, 'Oh, this is New York. This is what I was looking for.' I almost burst into tears I was so happy."

On the flip side, long-term residents voice concerns about sky-high tax bills that accompany the neighborhood's newly-inflated home prices, and more than one mentions a spate of African American owners selling their property and moving to areas where the money goes way further than in NYC.

"Now this block’s very different," says James "Brother" Spears, who's lived on Macdonough his entire life. "Everybody stays to themselves. Before, we had more unity. It was more everybody communicating with one another, helping each other out. It’s not like that no more." Spears's tenant also mentions more harassment of black residents by the police since the neighborhood has started gentrifying.

Some of what you'll find is heartening—and some, hugely depressing—but if you want a clearer picture of 2015 Brooklyn than a Jimmy Kimmel parody or widely-reviled web series, click through to New York Magazine to play around with the full feature. 

Images courtesy of New York Magazine


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