We’re not quite sure how the divide between north and south Williamsburg is news. When we started this site, the Bedford avenue stop was called “The Northside.” (See the image from our premiere Geocities issue above.)
In fact, our friends at the L Magazine, even have a annual festival called The Northside Festival. The only thing that has changed about the “Mason-Dixon line” divide of Williamsburg, is the extent of the gentrification, which is slightly greater on the north side. Oh well, its been a few months since the Times published an irrelevant article on Williamsburg, so it was overdue:
Grand Street is more than just the dividing line between streets that are numbered north and those numbered south. The border has become Williamsburg’s equivalent of the Mason-Dixon line, cleaving the neighborhood into two: a sleek, moneyed “North Williamsburg” and a gritty, hyper-authentic “South Williamsburg.”
In case you need a translation, “gritty” apparently means “has Latino population:”
To the denizens of South Williamsburg, the north is now a glitzy playground of glassy condos for banker types, chain stores and hordes of tourists from Berlin; Tokyo; Paramus, N.J.; and, worst of all, Manhattan. They’ve turned the area, especially around the Wythe Hotel, into Brooklyn’s answer to the meatpacking district.
The South, they argue, has maintained its bohemian D.I.Y. roots, with its indie boutiques, bearded mixologists, artists’ lofts and working-class families: in sum, the “real” Williamsburg….
But residents of the north are not above stereotyping, either. To them, the south can feel, well, a little too real: a backwater of vinyl siding, dusty bodegas, Gen-Y drifters and unrenovated dumps unfit for civilized company. As they see it, their corner of Williamsburg has matured into a desirable address, one with ample green space and light, see-and-be-seen-in restaurants and amenities rivaling tonier ZIP codes…
The south side still feels like the Williamsburg That Time Forgot, the gritty, multiethnic neighborhood that was doing just fine before the hordes of style-conscious Manhattanites invaded. The streets are relatively bustle-free, and many of the three-story brick walk-ups are filled with families who have called the south side home for generations.
Oh, and don’t be fooled by the artisinal olive oil store, the south side is scary!
“I feel almost a sense of relief when I cross over Grand Street,” said Chris Kiely, a talent manager who lives on South First Street. “The south side is like New York in the ’80s,” he added approvingly, “the fire hydrants open, kids playing in the streets.”
Next up, maybe they’ll do a story on the squalor found inside the Southside’s Gretsch building.