Up From Flames
Mapping Bushwick's Recovery from 1977-2007
by Adam J. Schwartz
Bushwick is one of Brooklyns oldest neighborhoods and one of its newest urban success stories.
In the 1970's, it also became a symbol of urban crisis in America.
"Until the Blackout, Bushwick was one of the least known neighborhoods in the city. By geography, it was almost separate, with its local economy based on local industry, in brewing or knitting. So between work and home, their existence stayed in the neighborhood."
Bushwick's struggles were not unique. Elsewhere in the city and across the country, urban areas experienced the difficult transformation from a predominantly industrial economy to a service economy. What sets Bushwick apart is the lasting impact that urban planning has left on the community.
Negatively, a policy of planned shrinkage allowed Bushwick to sink into ruin. Cutbacks in social services, including fire protection, made the neighborhood vulnerable to fire. The nation witnessed the desperation of this abandoned community through the rioting and looting that occurred during the 1977 New York City Blackout.
Positively, once the critical needs of Bushwick were recognized, the media put pressure on the city to take action. Bushwick could no longer be ignored. Under Mayor Koch, collaborative planning between city and local government created innovative long term solutions to Bushwicks housing crisis.
Todays Bushwick is the product of carefully considered public policy that laid the groundwork for growth and private investment. The current challenge for policy makers is to sustain affordable housing in todays heated real estate market.
Bushwick's history is still being shaped, by each person that is a part of it. You can be a part of it too. If you have a story make it history: please take some time out to tell it by clicking the "Tell Your Story" button below. We will post some of the stories on this page for others to share.
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