The Death of A Community

Imagine waking up to the news that your business, which you have built and nurtured over the last decade, will going to have to shut down. Imagine being forced out of your own home and relocated to a foreign place, away from the friendly faces you have come to cherish. This is the impending fate of the Jerome Avenue local community. A frightening reality that is starting to take shape as the rezoning plan moves forward. The aim of the rezoning plan to provide more affordable housing to the local community comes at a great cost and great uncertainty. Jerome Avenues’ community has the greatest share of extremely low-income residents, and therefore may still be unable to afford the new housing rent. Upon further research, it comes to my attention that the rezoning plan will also be affecting the school seat deficit situation on Jerome Avenue. The plan will be covering two school districts, including many schools that are already overcrowded which will further displace a lot of families. Locals on Jerome Avenue are beginning to face some of the challenges that this plan is unfolding on them, many have begun to move out of the area and as a result the affect of Jerome Avenue is also beginning to change.

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It was 5:00PM when I stepped onto 165th street and Jerome Avenue. There was almost no sound in the area, apart from the overbearing noise of the subway running on the tracks above. In walking further up along Jerome Avenue, I started to notice the change that has taken place since my last visit to the area. Many of the auto repair shops and restaurants that I had seen, in this area, were now closed with huge signs of “Stores for Rent” plastered onto the gates. It felt like a ghost town. In The Posthuman Glossary: Affective Turn, Heather Houser questions the existence of affect without humans. She identifies the “material world that is never merely an external place but always the very substance of ourselves and others” (16). In much the same way, the auto shops on Jerome Avenue, in particular, were an integral part of this community. The usual sounds of machine whirring and music playing combined with the chatter, were essentially extensions of the local community. The merging of bodies and sounds, contributed towards building the affect of Jerome Avenue. As many of the auto shops begin to shut down, these distinctive sounds are lost creating a “‘less powerful’ and ‘ugly’ affects such as anxiety” (15). The vibrancy of the neighborhood is beginning to dissipate and with it the experience that one has with the place.

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The changes caused by the rezoning plan was primarily concentrated around 165th to 170th street. As I continued to walk further along the avenue, I could sense the transition in the energy. On 173rd street, it appears that the rezoning plan hasn’t quite hit full on yet. There were people on the streets, the mechanic sounds of the auto shops filled the air and I could definitely hear music playing from some of the local restaurants and stores. It was then that I noticed the transition in motion and noise, between the sections of Jerome Avenue. Whilst one, was a lot more dead the other was bustling with life all on one stretch of this avenue.  This reminds me of Andrej Radmans; Posthuman Glossary: Ecologies of Architecture, in which he identifies “the design of the built environment has no other purpose but to transform us”. My change in experience between the two sections emerged from the difference in my interaction with the physical environment and the structural differences that lay in it. Radman reveals the thinking that “difference breaks with the differentiation of an undifferentiated world in favor of the homogenization of a milieu”(118). The countless rezoning plans that are taking place in New York under the deBlasio administration are all contributing towards removing the different affects’ of each neighborhood and creating a homogenized city of identical apartment complex with no culture or atmosphere.

Nikita Dane

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~ by nikitadane98 on October 14, 2018.

One Response to “The Death of A Community”

  1. Uninformed. Great! It would help if you were a little more specific when talking about displaced communities in terms of school districts. What are the specific districts being affected, which high schools are already over crowded and what is their history to explain why(brief?)

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