July 15, 2005

Irony Alive, Well On Upper West Side

The collapse left a storefront-size hole in the block, like the gap of a missing tooth. The scaffolding out front was bent and broken. A massive ventilation unit leaned uneasily atop the pile.

Neighbors kept saying how as many as 150 people gathered at the building on Wednesday night to protest plans for the construction of a 31-story apartment building on the site. Late yesterday, only a few pieces of the scaffolding still stood, one of them made of wood. On it, someone had spray-painted "Yuppie Condos" surrounded by a circle with a slash.

I know it's 100th St, but still. That is SO Upper West Side, to be able to pull off both $600 strollers for families of three AND "No Yuppie Condos" graffiti.

A Cry of 'My Baby! My Baby!' Then Hands Digging at Debris [nyt]


"The worker, Alfredo Ramos, 50, found her still in her Mountain Buggy Urban Double Stroller, an unusually large and expensive stroller that had collapsed but quite possibly shielded her from the debris."

Where else but the NYT would the stroller make and model be considered central to the story. I wonder if Mountain Buggy will use this story for marketing--"So Rugged, it Even Protects Babies From Falling Buildings!"

Well, that's the thing. North of 96th street (and the family lives on 89th, I read), you never used to see $600 anything. Which is how many of us liked it. I have been very depressed watching Bloomingdale and Morningside Heights get "hot" and full of wealthier types priced out of areas south of what my friends used to call "nosebleed territory" (and not too many years ago, either). The property values here have shot upwards to a degree that was enjoyable for about a minute if you owned, and then about a minute later was no longer because you realized that even if your own apartment appreciated, you were now stuck in it for life.

So, it's not irony. It's the tide of luxury creeping ever northward. I don't see it as "pulling off both $600 strollers for families of three [aren't there four, anyway - two kids and two parents?] AND 'No Yuppie Condos' graffiti"; I see it as the inevitable clash of the $600 stroller, and the yuppie condos that go along with it, with the working- and middle-class people who have lived between 96th and 116th for decades and are dismayedly watching their previously normal neighborhood go upscale.

We were eating breakfast at Metro Diner on 100 & Broadway, 3 doors down from the old Gristede's space, when it collapsed. Class conflicts aside, can I tell you that NYPD & NYFD were there and had the entire rescue operation under control in about 15 minutes. Really amazing and truly appreciated!

Tears came to my eyes reading the article this morning when I saw how many people had dropped what they were doing and rushed into the street to form a bucket brigade and clear debris off the victims. I thought, "Yeah, that's my neighborhood!"

A.J., how terrifying to see it happen. I heard some people thought it was a terrorist attack?

That's what I meant about 100th st, which didn't use to be "The UWS." When I moved to 87th right out of college, that was as far up as you'd go.

I'm sure irony isn't the right word, and I can appreciate the difference between 5-story tenements and old, middle-class co-ops and whatever Symphony Space-style tower is going up on the site, but still.

And they have three kids, five people. Which says to me, actually, they're people who've made a commitment to finding a way to stay in the city, which meant moving to a (once-)non-posh neighborhood.

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