New York City is a fickle beast — one day you’re living in your cheap apartment in a residential, under-the-radar neighborhood and the next, you’re surrounded by high rises and luxury boutiques. Such is bitter pill of New York real estate, that the tide of gentrification moves farther and farther out until Far Rockaway looks like the Williamsburg waterfront (sorry, Mac). And while we should all participate in the betterment of our respective neighborhoods on a community level, what can you individually do to keep those developers, international speculators and ex-patriate Manhattanites at bay?
Well, you can start by listening to the new WNYC podcast about how gentrification operates. But you can also take our advice*. We’ve got seven foolproof ways to send those luxury tycoons and yuppie country mice running from your neighborhoods and preserve its as-yet ungentrified beauty. From subway shutdown rumors to HBO invasions to just telling people outright lies, these tactics will definitely keep the Martin Shkrelis of the world away from your washer-dryer.
1. Start subway rumors
Remember last month, when the Williamsburg and Bushwick real estate communities lost their minds over the coming L-pocalypse? Yeah. So all you have to do is spread a rumor about an imminent, massive subway shutdown that would effectively cut off your neighborhood from civilization (read: Manhattan)! Tell everyone that your train line will be down for the next 2 to 10 years and if anyone questions it, blame Hurricane Sandy. That shit is still happening.
Feel free to print out some of these handy “planned service changes” signs we’ve drafted and place them around your local subway station. They’re definitely illegal so if anybody asks you got them from BKMag.
2. Fill your neighborhood with empty strollers
There’s a reason you don’t live in Park Slope and it rhymes with “rabies” and it’s not your scabies-ridden ex who lived on Seventh Ave, but gross. No. The greatest fear of any fledgling professional clinging to his or her youth is babies. Nothing kills a good time faster than screaming children, so why not make people think your neighborhood is lousy with them?
Just buy a whole bunch of strollers (they start around $20 on Amazon, just search “strollers, price: low to high”) and park them conspicuously in front of every apartment on your block and inside your favorite bars and restaurants. It’s not a total waste of money: you can even start carrying all your own stuff in a stroller, set your ringtone to the sound of a baby crying and leave it in there when you dip into the grocery store.
3. Leak some kind of horrifying map
Every few months somebody puts together a nightmarish new map compiling violent crimes, cockroach problems, bedbug infestations, sex offenders and subway issues that plague New York, plus all those half-serious “judgmental maps.” These maps are wont to make us feel both endangered as a species and superior to our crosstown friends. But they also scare yuppies away. And as it turns out, with a basic handle on Photoshop and a loose moral code, you can just make your own map and wield it against anyone who considers moving nearby!
Simply take a map of the borough, label it something like the “Brooklyn Bedbug map” and let terror reign as you dot your neighborhood with the worst of the problem. What’s this? The cockroaches of NYC have diaspora’ed and now your neighborhood is essentially Vincent D’Onofrio in Men in Black? Or maybe there’s a new map that traces all the Chipotle E. Coli back to a few bodegas, all conveniently located within a mile of your house. Or maybe new research finds that yours is the only part of the borough that The Sartorialist NEVER visits. Who knows! But a little drop-shadow goes a long way. With any luck, your map will go viral within days and suddenly your landlord will be paying you to stay.
4. Fake a Girls film shoot
Lena Dunham’s portrait of Brooklyn life (for white people) hasn’t so much benefited Greenpoint as it has spawned bus tours, turning Café Grumpy into a tourist attraction and crowding Norman Avenue with craft service tables. All you have to do to induce similar chaos is convince people that HBO’s Girls is shooting in your neighborhood.
Not a real location scout? No problem! Place these custom “No Parking: Film Shoot” posters we’ve drafted up and down your street and watch that high-rise clear out faster than Girls viewers during the fourth season. If that doesn’t work, try hosting your own Girls neighborhood walking tour. All you have to do is claim that your local coffee shops, bodegas and park were backdrops to Shosh and Ray’s most notable scenes. For extra mileage, advertise your tours almost exclusively to French tourists looking for a glimpse of the “real Brooklyn.”
5. Open a Connecticut Muffin
Sure, people want safety and cleanliness, but they also moved to Brooklyn in the first place because somebody told them it was authentic and edgy. You know what’s never authentic or edgy? Connecticut Muffin. It’s statistically proven (according to a map we made) that nothing cool or edgy happens within a quarter mile of any Connecticut Muffin location.
That’s where you come in: open a Connecticut Muffin franchise and watch the trust fund babies Uber for the hills. Yes, this one will take a little more time, money and commitment to exemplary customer service, but trust us: it’ll pay off in dividends. Plus, all the muffins you can eat!
6. Rebrand your neighborhood
It’s disappointing, but it’s fact: many people only live somewhere for the street cred of saying they live there. Nip that possibility in the bud real quick by changing the name of your neighborhood to some awful hybrid of nearby ‘hoods. Crown Heights? You mean Park Slope East. Sunset Park? No, this is Staten View. What smell? This is Slopwanus, a family neighborhood. Ditmas Park? Oh, you must be talking about Runpro (the rhombus under Prospect Park).
The possibilities are endless. Just come up with an incriminating new name, bring it up every chance you get and make a bunch of new Facebook and Instagram location IDs. Nobody will dare set foot in the mutant neighborhood that once was, and pretty soon we’ll all forget that Coneyda (Coney Island’s neighbor to the north) was ever even called “Flatbush.”
7. Get with the Times
If all of the above fails, we’ve got one last ace up our sleeve: write a trend piece for the New York Times about your neighborhood. Like your dad asking if you’ve heard of Kanye, the Times calling something cool is a surefire way of knowing that it’s past its prime. Remember last month when they cautiously proclaimed Canada “…hip?” and were promptly trolled by, well, everyone? Just write 1500 words about how your part of town is the “Next Big Thing” (bonus points for making comparisons to 1970s Manhattan), fake your journalism credentials on LinkedIn, send it over to the Times, sit back and wait for folks to lose interest. You’re welcome, Sunset Park.
There you have it: seven ways to make your neighborhood look like an inaccessible, gaudy, infest and muffin-ridden hellhole in the name of savings. Now enjoy your barbecue, ample parking and that bodega with the incredible hot pastrami sandwich. You earned it, champ.
(* Disclaimer: “Advice” is for entertainment purposes only and in no way has been vetted by a lawyer.)
Follow Sam into his nice neighborhood which would definitely not make a great place for your new condo development: @SamHWeiss.
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