Bedford-Stuyvesant, New York, New York

I Saw The Tour Bus Roll By

Akosua Albritton October 22, 2016

Bedford Stuyvesant has been my favorite Brooklyn neighborhood. It just "feels" good walking around it. Even when crack rampaged through it, I was proud of the Islamic community for taking a stand on Fulton Street. The men risked their lives to get these bold crack dealers off the street. 

I'd take walks or ride my bike around the area. I'd be pleased to see some house undergoing some fix up. It meant homeowners were maintaining their key investment. 

Then, when people couldn't take anymore Korean merchants abusing elders for so called stealing food, I watched with pride how my neighbors came out every day to shout down a produce stand for almost two years. I believe it was the December 12th Movement that led that mighty protest. The produce stand off the NW corner of Nostrand & Fulton closed for business.

Bed Stuy has its problems: public education that requires grave improvement, drug sales, etc but I was happy to say my landlady was an old time neighborhood member (Ms. Shearer RIP).

I moved from Jefferson off Franklin to Hancock off Lewis to find still a homey atmosphere. One neighbor took care of my car and his wife thanked me for trusting her husband to do the work. You see, he was an alcoholic. So I had to ring his bell before 7 am to get his mechanic's help, else he'd be "in his wattahs" as the Yardies. say.  His wife showed me a photo of him when he was a young man. He was a looker back then. 

One afternoon I saw a red tour bus pass through--maybe on Halsey. This was 1996 or 1997. When I saw the tour bus roll through, I knew my beautiful, homey neighborhood would change. The bus was full of tourists that cloudy day. I'm sure the guide was stating the wonders of Stuyvesant Heights Historic Landmark District. I knew the speculators would come in even more doggedly with $40,000 in a paper bag to tempt the elderly to move down south and the adult children who didn't see the value of family legacy. 

My landlord was abusing the first time home buyers program: he rented three floors to separate households. He didn't like me because I worked for a housing nonprofit although he worked at another one himself. He assumed I was organizing the other tenants. I wasn't one of his brothers in Christ was doing it. But I was a young woman who sometimes covered her head with an African print scarf.

One by one, households moved out. Actually, we had to because of the Certificate of Occupancy was being violated. I had three neighborhoods I was interested in: northern CrownHeights, Prospect Heights, or another section of Bedford Stuyvesant. I moved to Prospect Heights late 1997 and then that neighborhood experienced "socioeconomic changes."

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