Native New Yorker and filmmaker Shelton Jackson “Spike” Lee knows Brooklyn like the back of his hand. Though born in Atlanta, Georgia, he and his family moved to Fort Greene when he was a small child, and have been there ever since. But over the years, Lee has noticed significant changes in his childhood hometown, and has noticed them all over the city of New York.
And he’s not the only one to take note.
Gentrification is one of the most popular topics in New York right now, and it affects every single borough of the city. Rents are increasing in price, apartment buildings are being torn down and built back up higher, and people are being forced to move.
Brooklyn, and Williamsburg in particular, had been amongst the hardest hit areas of the city. According to a 2015 report by the NYU Furman Center, white populations have increased across the board, while black populations have decreased. Lee’s area of Brooklyn in Fort Greene shows a significant gap in the number of white people living in the area, and the number of black people.
In addition, the increasing population of gentrifying areas is largely due to younger people, with 60nearly 70% of those moving to gentrifying areas being between the ages of 20 and 24.
But it isn’t just families that are feeling the effects. Local businesses are also hurting, and many small practices have been forced to close up shop because they can no longer afford to pay their rent. On notable example includes a recording studio in SoHo, where David Bowie recorded some of his last music. “The Magic Shop” was forced to shut down after the rent price sky rocketed.
As for Lee, it’s upsetting for him to see his little hometown turn into a rapidly changing location. Watch the clip below for some of what Lee had to say.
*Disclaimer: Curse words are used within the audio.*