Kinda funny: This map proves we still don’t know wtf East Williamsburg is

East Williamsburg

I work in admin at a design studio, and from time to time people will share interesting interactives on Slack. Today, someone shared this map that shows neighborhood borders in NYC based on where readers think they are.

Of course, my first idea was to check out the mythical “East Williamsburg.” Just as I thought, the guesses span from my current neighborhood (Greenpoint) all the way to Evergreen Freakin’ Cemetery (so totally not Kansas anymore). The general consensus seems to be that East Williamsburg is somewhere around the Grand L stop, which I would tend to agree with, but for a long time I was very confused.

Those of us who live or have ever considering living off the L train have probably experienced being misled by the overuse of the term “East Williamsburg” to describe a broad range of locations in North Brooklyn, with a clear intent to raise the property value in the eyes of the buyer. Sometimes the apartments were reasonably close to Actual Williamsburg, the veritable real estate Mecca of NY (for now). Other times, they were located in less trendy (read: less gentrified) areas more than a stone’s throw away — God forbid, somewhere only accessible by the JMZ!

My experience with this tactic took place mostly in 2012, my first year in New York and still a somewhat early stage in Bushwick’s now fully developed trendiness. Just a few years ago, Bushwick was considered the lower-rent alternative to the first few stops on the L, and though I was naive, that appeared to be true at the time. You could get a room on the Jefferson stop for around $700 a month and have a reasonable commute to the city, but it was clear there were fewer “hipster” amenities and upscale establishments than its counterpart further west, and certainly many more locals remained.

Depending on who you ask, by 2012 the glory days of Bushwick as an artist community were already over. However, it wasn’t quite considered “coveted” real estate. Which, I assume, is how the term “East Williamsburg” began to magically encompass those less attractive areas and fill real estate broker’s pockets everywhere. That is, unless the buyers decided to look at a map.
Now, of course, you can actually see tourist groups (with a guide and everything!) wandering up and down Wyckoff Ave, and the Jefferson stop is one of the highest in demand of the whole L train. People are happy to tell the truth about where Bushwick ends and begins, because living there is now a point of pride, and thereby a whole lot more sellable. I haven’t lived there in almost 2 years — hopefully the rat population has improved since then.
But no matter how much things have changed, it seems like us North Brooklyners have been so thoroughly duped that we may never know what East Williamsburg actually is. To be honest, as long as I can afford it and it’s not an hour away from work, I don’t really care what my neighborhood is called. Any way you slice it – Greenpoint, Williamsburg, East Williamsburg, Bushwick – we’re lucky if we fit on the train in the morning.
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