Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Then and Now: Second Avenue at 96th Street, NYC

96th Street and Second Avenue, Manhattan

East 96th Street and Second Avenue, NYC, ransommusings.filminspector.com
Second Avenue at 96th Street, New York, in 1985.
One of the biggest changes in New York City over the past few decades has been the changing character of certain neighborhoods. The area of Manhattan known as Yorkville, with its southern boundary at East 79th Street and its northern at East 96th Street, is a good example of a neighborhood that has seen a lot of development during that time. The above photograph from 1985 was a bit difficult to place at first because the area has changed so much, but I finally pinpointed the location. So, here we will do a comparison of East 96th Street at Second Avenue from 1985 to 2018.

East 96th Street and Second Avenue, NYC, ransommusings.filminspector.com
Google Street View of East 96th Street and Second Avenue, NYC.
We are looking at the northwest corner of Second Avenue at 96th Street. The building shown technically is in East Harlem since it is on the north side of 96th Street. That may mean a great deal to real estate agents, but living right on the fringe of another neighborhood, with views of that area, really makes it a fine distinction to make. It looks like they had to remove part of the cornice due to the construction of a new building on the corner directly against it. With the addition of the new buildings on either side, the lone building that still stands on the block no longer looks as forlorn. It also is fair to say that the area looks a lot cleaner and ship-shape now, less grungy and more orderly. That is what gentrification will do for you.

East 99th Street and Third Avenue, NYC, ransommusings.filminspector.com
Third Avenue at 99th Street, NYC (Google Street View).
The white building at the right of the photo is 1790 Third Avenue, on the western side of the block between 99th and 100th Streets. If you look closely in the more recent photo of the site, you can just see it peeking out between two of the buildings. The white building on Third Avenue still looks just the same as it did in the 1980s, as does much of the surrounding area. That just shows you how important a few blocks can mean in Manhattan, given the massive changes just south of there.

East 96th Street and Second Avenue, NYC, ransommusings.filminspector.com
Looking south toward the same location at the corner of 96th Street and Second Avenue, NYC (Google Street View).
Overall, most people would probably say that the changes in the intervening three decades are for the better. There are now trees, the rundown buildings have been revitalized, and there are popular businesses such as McDonald's where previously there was nothing but dirt and concrete. However, all gentrification comes at a cost, and there undoubtedly are people who used to live in the area who were forced out by rising rents and the march of progress. That's how a big city evolves, and now lots of affluent workers have revolutionized a previously decaying area.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this entry in my "the more things change, the more they stay the same" series. Please visit some of my other pages where I examine the evolution of cities over time.

2019

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