There was a time when one felt closer to Warsaw than Woodside when walking through Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Not only were the shops almost exclusively Polish, the people one passed on the sidewalk were overwhelmingly of Polish extraction. That’s changed. While many Polish bakeries, delis and restaurants remain, there are chain stores and Thai eateries in the mix, and the population appear to be more ethnically and economically diverse.
At the same time that Greenpoint has grown less Polish, the neighborhood of Ridgewood in Queens has become a new “Little Poland.” In the video below, Judy Le and Malgorzata Wojtunik report that the area is attracting newer Polish migrants.
Other research suggests that Poles who were displaced from Greenpoint by rising rents triggered by the city’s controversial 2005 rezoning of the area have relocated to Ridgewood.
More will be understood about changes like this as numbers from the 2010 Census and related American Community Survey come out. To date, much of the Census coverage in New York has focused on whether the feds undercounted the city, especially neighborhoods like Astoria where reports of population decreases clashed with local observations. But as important as that argument is, just as fascinating will be the stories the numbers eventually tell about how the city’s character and culture are changing.
At the site ChangingNYC, CUNY journalism students explore this evolution in several neighborhoods. Go there to see more reports like this one: