In November of 1998, the NY Times delved into the up and coming Williamsburg art scene, in a way that's currently happening with the Bushwick/Ridgewood art scene. You can read the entire spread (their weekend arts & leisure cover story) right here. Some highlights:
- The author starts the piece out with: "The struggling gallery scene in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn is either reaching critical mass or is about to contract a serious case of nostalgia for 'the good old days.'"
- The neighborhood's artistic heart is described as being between the Williamsburg Bridge and McCarren Park, near the East River.
- In regards to a turning tide in real estate in the neighborhood: "The chief harbingers of the next hot neighborhood have often been artists, propelled by a need for cheap studio space and aided by an appreciation of the architectural potential of neglected buildings. Crime is down, and so are the number of vacant apartments and lofts... so real estate prices and rents are up. One artist pointed to a brick garage and said, with some astonishment, that it had just been sold for $1 million."
Of course, by this point the neighborhood was not really a secret, and it was long past the days that Officer Frank Serpico was shot on Driggs Avenue—in fact, there were plenty of press clippings from the late '80s and early '90s touting the art scene.
For more Williamsburg nostalgia: A look inside The Ship's Mast bar, which closed in 1993; RIP Kokie's; 14 photos of Williamsburg from 1905 to 1954; and 28 more old photos that were recently released by the Municipal Archives.