Gentrification in the Eyes of a Jersey City Native
There is a lot of conversation surrounding gentrification of Jersey City. My friend and Jersey City native David Acosta nailed it in this great piece. David Acosta AKA Murdock is a Hip-Hop and Theatre Artist from Jersey City. He is currently promoting his first album #AAAH and producing events to showcase local talent.
On Jersey City/Gentrification/Friends moving here:
A couple of years ago, I began telling friends in college and people I'd meet about how great Jersey City is. "You've got to move here; It's an incredible city!" Now interestingly enough, more and more people are moving to the city that I've lived in since birth and it seems that they've taken my advice and word has spread. From articles in the NY Times to advertisements around NYC, it just made sense to move here, it's conveniently located, we're the most diverse city in the country, and it's affordable (well that seems to be changing).
Now it seems that every week somebody else I know is moving to Jersey City and it excites me to have more friends in the area. But there is an underlying part of me that is getting more and more worried. The city I know and love is changing at an alarming rate and is no longer the place I lived when I was a child. Gentrification and the restructuring of life in JC is very real and transforming this town every week, or so it seems. So I just want to take a moment and ask my friends who are new here, moving here, or thinking about moving here, to enjoy your new home but, please respect the culture of ours that has not been taken away yet.
Instead of going to all of the new Starbucks opening on every street corner, go to our local coffee shops. Don't limit yourself to just downtown and the waterfront, explore the wide variety of food, bars, and entertainment in every section of this giant city. Don't come in demanding for the city to change to fit your needs but, see the culture already exists in the place that you are moving to and find a way to make your lifestyle work with the city's.
In a time where the possibilities of moving to the once Hispanic dominated downtown is no longer a possibility because most JC natives can't even afford the "affordable housing" in the area, the biggest concern of mine is the loss of the diverse and beautiful culture that raised us and made us fall in love with our city. It would be wrong and selfish to not want new people to move into JC, but to be afraid of losing what we once had to the commercial, big business orientated, gentrified machine that is erecting luxury condos and skyscrapers along with outside overpriced businesses is a very real and scary concern.
So please, if you come to Jersey City, meet your locals, listen to local music and go to local shows, shop at local businesses, and drink at local bars. If you are a local, be a local. Don't "Make Jersey City Yours;" come to Jersey City and enjoy what we've got because I guarantee you that it's beautiful.
Pictures were provided by Grant Hardeway, a local Jersey City Photography who is a man on the street. "That is where the people are. It's a ballet, a stage, and an opera. I'm just an observer. I shoot street photography because it is it is a visual extension of jazz, allowing to improvise the collective that we call citizens, denizens, and/or pedestrians."