Bushwick Ave. – Eric Heo

For my Neighborhood assignment, I decided to take photos of the neighborhood around my old high school. My high school, The Brooklyn Latin School, was originally located on Bushwick Avenue in East Williamsburg before it relocated to a new building closer to Bushwick. Through my photos, I will show how the neighborhood around my high school changed after it moved away. I interviewed several people who were impacted by the relocation of my high school: a school crossing guard, a worker at the bodega across the street, and a local resident.

I’d like to say that my high school building stood as a dividing point between a side filled with housing projects and a side where the neighborhood was beginning to become gentrified. The relocation of my high school had an effect on both sides of the neighborhood, as kids who were a part of each side moved away, with the school. On the side where the housing projects lay, kids were involved with gang-related activity such as drug transactions and robberies. However, on the side where the neighborhood was becoming gentrified, kids were doing normal everyday things like playing basketball and getting slices of pizza after school.

The first person that I interviewed was Diana Lazerni, an old crossing guard at my high school. According to her, once my high school had moved away, an all girl’s school moved in and filled the building. “Sure, Brooklyn Latin was a great school and filled with bright kids, but when the all girls’ school replaced your high school, everything seemed to calm down a bit. There aren’t as many rowdy teenagers getting into trouble, and most of the students leave right after school ends. There isn’t much of a school spirit in the building anymore.” When I went back to take these photos, I too realized that everything seemed more calm and that there were no more mobs of teenagers roaming through the streets, lingering around after school.

The next person that I interviewed was Carlos Jimenez, a cook who handled the grill at the local bodega across from my school. Carlos Jimenez has been working at the bodega ever since my school was first built, 2006. First, I asked Carlos how the relocation of my school affected their business. “Well, with the school now being filled with only girls, I don’t get too many orders at the grill anymore since they’re all trying to take care of their figure, nam’sayin. Some of them will take the usual bacon, egg, and cheese, but most of the few that do come in, just buy like a water bottle and leave.” Then I asked him how my school moving away had impacted the neighborhood. “Yeah, well now that you goons are out of here, we can finally have some peace and quiet. No more busy mornings where I’m busting my ass trying to get out 20 sandwiches in 5 minutes. But I do miss those days. It’s sort of boring around here now that you kids are away.”

The final person that I interviewed was Eugene Lombardi, a local resident. Eugene moved in to the neighborhood in 2012, a year before my high school had moved away. The very first year that he moved in, he was still adjusting to everything and thought that it was sort of a nuisance because he would be living in a neighborhood filled with loud, reckless teenagers. But having moved in to the side that was becoming gentrified, Eugene did not encounter much of the ‘loud and reckless teenagers’; instead, he mostly met students who were just passing by to get to the subway station or getting food after school. So like I asked the others how the neighborhood had changed, I asked Eugene the same question. To this he simply replied, “I haven’t really noticed much of a change, except that there aren’t many teenagers hanging around after 3pm anymore.

By returning back to where I went to high school and interviewing the people around there, I realized that the neighborhood was pretty much the same, except for the fact that my high school was no longer there. The relocation of my high school did not really affect the neighborhood as a whole, just what some people reminisced. The same stores remained after the past 3 years, some of the residents still lived there, and even the graffitis that were there when I went to school remained on the walls throughout the neighborhood. The school building even continues to remain as a dividing point between the side filled with project buildings and the side being gentrified.