lowereastside.jpgThe New York Times has an interesting story today on Sion Misrahi and the Lower East Side he helped transform. If you've walked down Rivington St. a few times, you've probably noticed the Misrahi Realty storefront business. Its owner is Sion Misrahi, who sold pants for his father in the neighborhood when he was fourteen. When it began to gentrify, he worked to classify the old bargain-shopping district as a landmark area. Then he decided to start marketing real estate in the neighborhood to nightlife businesses. The Times separates the changes into four parts: "shmattes to hipsters to bulldozers to tourists."

People should cut this article out of the paper today and save it, because it's pretty much a textbook example of how New York neighborhoods have evolved over the last 20 years, and will likely continue to change. The details and complaints of neighbors about nightlife, rising rents, and rising skylines are echoed all across New York City. Instead of the instantly mandated sweeping change of a Robert Moses, there is a creeping mandated change of a desire for cool and the inevitability of wealth. Misrahi differentiates residents as creators and nitpickers––those who work to change their neighborhood, and those who sit back and criticize.

When we walk down Rivington St. and wonder how a $400-a-night hotel managed to be erected across the street from Economy Candy, we feel nostalgic for the dingier, more exotic Lower East Side, the one that is no longer affordable to most New Yorkers, including myself. And then we remember we are heading towards a favored bar or a show at Piano's and realize that if it's anyone's fault this happened, it's ours.

(Lower East Side, by Betty Blade at flickr)