By Jason Sheftell Real Estate Correspondent for NYDailyNews.com
Teacher Devri Harewood – Lives and works here, and loves every second of it.
Warehouse spaces are still being converted into not-so-giant lofts. Artists and furniture makers are still finding space for $1,200 per month. Lounges, bars and nightlife have found good homes.
So have a new breed of New Yorkers. A strong industrial corridor turned artist haven, the neighborhood has incredible graffiti, affordable rents and an emerging cultural scene. Old faithfuls like Roberta’s offer organic pizza, culture, music and conversation in a garage space. The underground music scene is one of the best in the country, with apartment dwellers opening their homes for secret little shows.
On a warm day in October, we sent a photographer to grab a day in the life of this changing area. Armed with a camera and questions about real estate, here’s what we found when we asked about people’s craziest apartment story and why they love where they live.
Photographs and interviews by James Maher
Bought a house; used to live above chicken fights
Name: Danny Baptista
Occupation: Owns a barbershop
Lives: Border of Bushwick and Ridgewood (Halsey St. L stop.)
About: Baptista just bought a home with his wife and newborn son. The house is an 1855 Colonial with three bedrooms, two floors, a basement and backyard.
When I first moved to Bushwick, we lived in a garage. On the outside it was a garage, on the inside it was a bar. And they used to have, like, chicken fights. It was rented to me by someone who didn’t have the authority to rent it to me and about a week later I got a crazy knock on the door by the owner, who just wanted to know who the hell I was. We ended up working things out. It was kinda crazy.
Lives with her boyfriend, likes the light
Name: Rebecca Thom
Occupation: Education reform.
Lives: 9 White St. (for the last year and a half.)
About: Thom was heading home for a quick nap before heading back into the city. She lives in a large loft in an old garment factory with her boyfriend, and says that while she prefers different neighborhoods of the city for different things, she likes coming home to this neighborhood because it’s quiet, the light is nice. It feels like my neighborhood.
Juan Gonzales, left; Gregory Tucker and dogs, right.
Been here forever, not going anywhere
Name: Juan Gonzalez
Occupation: Retired. Worked for a senior and supportive housing organization.
Lives: Two-bedroom apartment in the
About: Gonzalez has lived in the area since he was 11. As one of the few lifetime residents who would agree to an interview, Juan was very friendly but short on words. I ran into him trying to open a fire hydrant to wash his car.
I don’t say that this is the greatest neighborhood, but I’m used to it. So to me, it’s all right. … I know most of the people around here. I’ve been here … a long, long time.
Everyone knows his dogs; looking to move
Name: Gregory Tucker
Occupation: Dog trainer. Works with Homeland Security K-9 unit.
Lives: 140 Moore St. (for nine years.) Grew up in Bedford- Stuyvesant before going into the Marines.
About: I ran into Tucker as he was walking his two K-9 dogs. I asked if I could pet them, but he told me that was probably a bad idea.
I pretty much stay to myself. Everybody that knows me knows that I just deal with the dogs. I really want to go back to Pennsylvania … anywhere where it’s quiet and I can have my dogs.
Moved from Park Slope; HAS a coffin in his apartment
Name: Charles Constantine
Occupation: Makes furniture; outdoor installations (seven years.)
Location: Lives at the corner of Grand and Humboldt Sts.
About: Constantine resides in a two-bedroom apartment with his girlfriend. I ran into him on the sidewalk outside his studio, photographing a small stool he had recently created.
Coolest object: I have a coffin in my apartment … [I use it as] a table.
I like where I’m living right now. I used to live in Park Slope, and I didn’t like that too much. … I’d put this up there with Fort Greene.
Moved to Manhattan, made a fast u-turn back
Name: Leticia Castillo
Occupation: Opening up a cafe (seen in doorway) at 108 Central Ave.
Lives: Grew up in the neighborhood, moved to Manhattan (Murray Hill), and is now moving back.
About: Castillo was running errands for her cafe, which she is opening with her best friend this month. Castillo moved into Manhattan when she was young, calling it every little girl’s dream, but says, You search the world and the richest was right in the backyard.
I didn’t think that opening your own business was gonna be such a blast. We’ve had a great time, and everybody has welcomed us.
In this neighborhood, everybody is amazing. … It’s full of artists. I’m also an actress, so this is great for me. It seems all the creative people came into this area.
Loves his neighborhood, and ascots
Name: Matt Burns
Occupation: Actor, co-founder of Brooklyn Salsa Co.
Lives: 9 White St. (for 18 months)
About: I came across Burns heading to the city for an audition. He lives with his girlfriend (Rebecca Thom, above) in a loft in an old garment factory with 15-foot ceilings, one grand open room with enough space for a living room, bedroom, office, kitchen, dining area and a movie-watching area. Burns says they moved to the neighborhood for the space and for the quiet.
Bushwick is definitely my favorite New York neighborhood. … I like how quiet it is. … It’s got an industrial feel that, you know, SoHo possesses in Manhattan.
Lives and works here, and loves every second of it
Name: Devri Harewood
Occupation: Teaches 11th grade at Williamsburg Charter H.S.
Lives: Ridgewood off the Halsey St. L stop.
About: Harewood lives in a two-bedroom, third-floor railroad apartment. She was full of enthusiasm for both her students and the neighborhood. It was clear that she loved living and working nearby.
I just moved from really hardcore Bushwick, and I guess I wasn’t moving out fast enough. The management told somebody who was interested in the apartment that he could come and look in my front window, because I lived on the first floor, so I freaked out and called the cops, because I thought that I had a stalker.
How to get there
Take the L train to the Morgan Ave. stop and you’re ready to explore.
RENT The neighborhood is full of loft conversions, railroad apartments and recently renovated and unrenovated apartments. Some listings showed two-bedrooms as low as $1,250. Large lofts can be had for $2,000.
EAT Roberta’s, 261 Moore St., (718) 471-1118. Robertaspizza.com
DRINK The Narrows, 1037 Flushing Ave., (281) 827-1800. Narrowsbar.com
PICK UP Showpaper, a local music ‘zine, has all the info on the underground music scene. To find your show online, go to toddpnyc.com. He founded Showpaper, and his site has all the information you’ll need.