The Gentrification of Harlem

From Home Depot to high-rise office buildings, Harlem's upward trend is producing "root shock," causing some residents to believe it is only a matter of time before they are displaced.

1 minute read

June 16, 2008, 8:00 AM PDT

By Mike Lydon


It isn't news that just two or three years ago, Harlem had a paucity of bank branches, grocery stores and other basic amenities- or that now that more affluent people have started to move there, upscale shops and restaurants have followed.

But change can have surprising results. While welcoming safer, cleaner streets, longtime residents have found themselves juggling conflicting emotions. And those who enjoyed a measure of stability in the old Harlem now long for the past - not necessarily because it was better but because it was what they knew.

'The majority of the stores, the 99-cent stores, they're gone,' said Gwen Walker, 55, a longtime resident of the General Grant Houses in West Harlem, giving one view. 'The Laundromat on the corner is gone. The bodegas are gone. There's large delis now. What had been two for $1 is now one for $3. My neighbor is a beer drinker, and he drinks inexpensive beer, Old English or Colt 45 or Coors - you can't even buy that in the stores. The stores have imported beers from Germany. The foods being sold - feta cheese instead of sharp Cheddar cheese. That's a whole other world.'"

Friday, June 13, 2008 in The New York Times

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