Saturday, October 1, 2011

On Facebook, Neighborhoods as They Once Were

While we are talking about people from Brooklyn it almost certainly sounds a lot like the reminiscing we may often see at the FB group Children of Chatham. A news paper story could be written about this group and all the mentions the "Children of Chatham" have about their childhood:
WHEN she and her husband moved out in 1980, Kathy LaPolla DeStefano was not at all happy with Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

“The neighborhood was starting to go down the toilet, honestly,” Ms. DeStefano, 56, an elementary school teacher, said over the telephone from her home in Coconut Creek, Fla. “There was a lot of drugs and crime. It was an unsafe place to raise a family.”

But lately she can hardly stop reminiscing about the Williamsburg of her youth, back when Pete’s Candy Store and Union Pool, now barrooms, were selling candy and pool supplies. The reason? She discovered a Facebook page, created expressly for Williamsburg natives, called “The Neighborhood: Who Says You Can’t Go Home?”

“I’ll be up commenting on people’s posts until 3 in the morning,” Ms. DeStefano said. “I’m like, ‘Kathy, you have to stop this!’ ”

New York City neighborhoods have always been in nonstop flux, but many are now being frozen in time on Facebook, where current and former residents have banded together to post photographs, documents and other memorabilia of their neighborhoods as they used to be. These virtual sections of the city have drawn thousands of contributors, particularly in parts of Brooklyn like Williamsburg, Greenpoint, Flatbush and Carroll Gardens, where zoning laws, gentrification and shifting demographics have rapidly transformed the streets.

Facebook, of course, is already famous for bringing together former classmates and friends. These pages, however, are being used not only to share memories, but also to vent about change. “The point about the old New York City neighborhoods is that they provided real social cohesion,” said Mitchell Moss, a professor of urban policy and planning at New York University. “People shared responsibilities for watching each others’ children, or for keeping an eye on the property. And though new trends in urbanism try to recapture those old communal feelings, you can never recreate what emerged organically.”
Unlike an earlier post I did that illustrated a neighborhood that was bulldozed in favor of urban renewal, this article illustrated a neighborhood that has changed. Perhaps Chatham hasn't changed as much as Flatbush, Brooklyn but it has changed.

Are any of you involved with any online groups dedicated to the neighborhood of your youth?

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