One day sitting in a coffee shop my attention was caught by a pile of flyers at the end of the bar. One of them was advertising a Walking Workshop around Williamsburg. It seemed like it would be a great way to learn more about the neighborhood I’ve have enjoyed living in for the past year.
As it turned out the Walking Workshops were a limited time series, organized by Julia Borowicz and Larissa Begault as part of their graduate thesis. The duo are students at the Parsons Urban Practice Graduate Program and have partnered up to work together.
Starting at the Williamsburg waterfront the 2 hour tour had 10 stops on the way, including Bushwick Inlet, Entertainment District, McCarren Park, Domino Site and Grand Street Ferry Park. At each site Julia and Larissa talked about the past and present uses of the space, and future plans, outlining how the changes due to re-zoning and re-development had impacted the social and economic dynamic of the neighbourhood.
It was interesting to learn that the transformation of the public space would result in a negative impact on the existing population, where the resulting increase in land prices would displace the local residents that can no longer afford it. It was also interesting that those who have contributed to the authenticity of the space making it appealing and popular, such as artists who first moved to Williamsburg, were the first ones to be displaced.