Philly is the New Brooklyn — Brooklynian

Philly is the New Brooklyn

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  • First page of the article:

    By JESSICA PRESSLER
    Published: August 14, 2005

    PHILADELPHIA

    WEARING a Paul Green School of Rock T-shirt, his bangs plastered to his forehead in the summer heat, Laris Kreslins pulled in front of a handsome brownstone on Rittenhouse Square, the priciest neighborhood in the city, and hopped out of his car.
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    Ryan Donnell for The New York Times

    Transplants: Back row, from left: Matthew Izzo, Michael Anderer, Mark Ax, Rob Eich, Daniel Matz, Anna Neighbor, Kendra Gaeta and Laris Kreslins. Front row: Toko Yasuda, John Schmersal, Laura Watt, Clark Thompson, Gus Thompson and Lydia Thompson. These former New Yorkers were at the Rag Flats home of Ms. Watt and Mr. Thompson.

    "We're going to show you what a real Philly apartment looks like," he said, unlocking the door to reveal a spacious one-bedroom flat sparsely decorated with CD's and copies of music magazines. "As you can see, it has hardwood floors, lots of light and very high ceilings," he said. Then Mr. Kreslins paused and delivered what he knew would be the kicker: "Rent is $800 a month. Heat and electricity included."

    Mr. Kreslins isn't selling real estate. He's selling Philadelphia. The publisher of Arthur, a free arts and culture magazine, Mr. Kreslins, 30, lived in a tiny apartment in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, before leaving New York two years ago and ending up in Philadelphia, where he and his girlfriend, Kendra Gaeta, 30, another Brooklynite, bought a four-bedroom house close to the Philadelphia Museum of Art in March and promptly started a Web site, movetophilly.com.

    The site, designed to lure 20- and 30-something singles and couples to the city, features a sultry caricature of Patti LaBelle, a longtime resident, who entreats visitors to e-mail for the kind of tour Mr. Kreslins was recently holding, taking visitors to a thrift store, a Polish butcher and his friend Brendan's apartment.

    Philadelphians occasionally refer to their city - somewhat deprecatingly - as the "sixth borough" of New York, and with almost 8,000 commuters making the 75-minute train ride between the cities each weekday, the label seems not far off the mark. But Mr. Kreslins and Ms. Gaeta are a new breed of Philadelphia-bound commuters, those who come from New York by train or the popular Chinatown bus for a weekend and then come back, with a U-Haul, to stay.

    They are the first wave of what could be called Philadelphia's Brooklynization.

    Hard numbers assessing exactly how many new residents are from New York are not available, but real estate brokers are noting an influx of prospective buyers and renters from the city; club owners and restaurant employees have spotted newcomers, on both sides of the bar; and "everyone knows someone who's moved here from New York," said Paul Levy, the executive director of the Center City District, a business improvement group, and himself a former Brooklyn resident.

    Attracted by a thriving arts and music scene here and a cost of living that is 37 percent lower than New York's, according to city figures, a significant number of youngish artists, musicians, restaurateurs and designers are leaving New York City and heading down the turnpike for the same reasons they once moved to Brooklyn from Manhattan.

    "We got priced out of Manhattan, and we moved to Brooklyn," said John Schmersal, 32, of the three-member band Enon; two of them migrated here in January. "Then we got priced out of Brooklyn. Now we're in Philadelphia."

    On a recent Friday night Mr. Schmersal and his girlfriend, Toko Yasuda, were huddled at the bar at the Khyber, a smoky rock institution in the nightclub-heavy Old City neighborhood, a Colonial area of narrow streets bordering the Delaware River east of City Hall, to see Love as Laughter, a New York City band. "We like going to shows here," Mr. Schmersal said. "In New York there are so many people, it's impossible to even get in to see hot bands."

    Much less be in a band. "For years I was willing to sacrifice quality of life for artistic fulfillment - you know, you find a circle of artists and you scrape by," said Anna Neighbor, a 27-year-old bass player and Williamsburg exile, between sips of Yuengling lager at a bar in the Northern Liberties neighborhood, an artists' enclave north of City Hall. In January Ms. Neighbor and her husband, Daniel Matz, and Jason McNeely, all members of the indie rock band Windsor for the Derby, decided to leave Brooklyn.

    Ms. Neighbor and Mr. Matz discovered Fishtown, a gentrifying blue-collar neighborhood adjacent to Northern Liberties, where, in the last five years, youthful faces with bed head have made their way among the traditionally Irish Catholic residents. They found a three-bedroom row house for $170,000.

    "New York is mythologically all about vibrancy and creativity, but it's hard to work a 40-hour week and come home and be Jackson Pollock," said Mr. Matz, 32, a guitarist. He said that by living in Philadelphia he could support himself teaching public school and devote the rest of his time to his band.
  • Please. Philly is OK, but it's no Brooklyn.
  • "New York is mythologically all about vibrancy and creativity, but it's hard to work a 40-hour week and come home and be Jackson Pollock"
    Isn't that the truth?! (But insert some other creative instead of Pollack) And I wished I only worked 40 hours a week!

    Anyways, Philly is NOT the new Brooklyn. They have their own thing. Washington DC (the actual city beyond Capitol Hill) on the other hand...
  • Ha, I quoted the same line to my husband. So true, it's sad.

    Washington DC is not the next Brooklyn either, though. Most young people there are in politics...it's a different vibe entirely. (My best friend lives there and hates that aspect. When she first saw my Crown Heights apartment, which is very old, colorful, and kitschy, she was like "You would never see an apartment like this in DC.")
  • Everyone in DC isn't in politics. I was there studying politics and law, but I met plenty of people where their only connection to the gov't structure is seeing the Capitol top. And I'd even disagree about the architecture too! DC isn't as outwardly "flashy" as some parts of NYC, but where the real people live (compared to the government related transient types) definitely has an outer borough vibe.
    bluedove wrote: Washington DC is not the next Brooklyn either, though. Most young people there are in politics...it's a different vibe entirely. (My best friend lives there and hates that aspect. When she first saw my Crown Heights apartment, which is very old, colorful, and kitschy, she was like "You would never see an apartment like this in DC.")
  • Well, maybe she's just running in the wrong circles. Most of my DC knowledge is purely secondhand.
  • Well, here's one place where Philly has one-upped Brooklyn. They've had a "First Friday" in the Old City section since, hmm, according to this, 1991.

    The Experience
    Want proof of Philadelphia’s happening art scene? Come down to Old City on First Fridays. On the first Friday evening of every month, the streets fill with art-lovers of all kinds who wander among the neighborhood’s 40-plus galleries, most of them open from 5 till 9 p.m. A casual atmosphere encourages art-watching, people-watching, eating at Old City’s many restaurants, and just plain mingling. There’s diversity both in the crowd and among the galleries, adding flavor to the experience. Most galleries can be found between Front and Third, and Market and Vine Streets.

    History
    Begun by a group of galleries in 1991 as a collaborative open-house evening, First Fridays grew quickly into one of Philly’s most vital, signature cultural events. Old City’s historic commercial buildings have fostered a SoHo-like cultural ambience, with the densest network of galleries in the city. Some of the arts organizations you can visit on First Fridays include The Clay Studio, The Temple Gallery, the cooperative galleries Nexus, Highwire, Muse, and Third Street Gallery, and collaborative Space 1026.

    -----

    Flash forward ... Brooklyn Museum, First Saturdays
  • Okay, they have a First Thursday in Greenville, SC too, but no one will mistake them for being ahead of the curve. They do things like that everywhere. :roll:
  • I stand corrected ... :oops:

    I like Philadelphia a lot (in fact, if I had to move from Brooklyn, I'd probably move there), so I was trying to be a "booster" ...

    :)
  • FLUTE wrote: I stand corrected ... :oops:

    I like Philadelphia a lot (in fact, if I had to move from Brooklyn, I'd probably move there), so I was trying to be a "booster" ...

    :)
    Me too. That article horrified me because I don't want Brooklynites moving down there and driving up property values. I have a reason, damn it! Both sides of my whole family lives down there!

    My mother consoled me by pointing out that my friends and I are always making fun of the Styles section for trying to make a trend out of something that happened to three of the reporter's friends. Just because the Styles section says it's happening, doesn't mean it is.
  • EmilyM wrote: That article horrified me because I don't want Brooklynites moving down there and driving up property values. I have a reason, damn it! Both sides of my whole family lives down there!
    I wouldn't worry about any stampede from Brooklyn to Philly.
  • Yeah.
    I moved TO Brooklyn from Philly (with a quick stop in Queens). Its a great little city, but New York it ain't.

    Except it does have cheesesteaks.
  • this article pisses me off. a few friends and i have been thinking about a move to philly in the near future. i love brooklyn, but in the long run, i don't want to go broke trying to stay here. i agree it is hard to concentrate on artwork when you are working at LEAST 40 hours a week... i say at least because i've done more than that.. and it just leaves you way too exhausted to want to trek out to a studio or darkroom (in my case) or if you work at home, do anything but go right to your bed.

    philly has its pluses, affordable to rent or buy in an area with things to do/coffee shops/resteraunts. even though im used to being in an area with absolutley nothing like that to do, it might be nice to be able to walk outside and get a coffee. but not at a starbucks.

    if you are into nightlife,etc nyc beats philly. i'm more of a homebody.

    philly's been doing first fridays for as long as i can remember.

    philly's crime rate is higher than nyc, but it has about 2 million people where nyc has about 8.5 so...

    i've heard people compare philly to nyc of the 80's... also i have heard people say it has a lot of potential but isn't there yet. but i have a feeling people who say that want it to turn into another manhattan-esque disneyland. it won't ever be new york. its philly. its diffrent, and people who love it there like it that way.

    i get nervous about really ever making the move, i do love brooklyn and new york. but chances are i won't ever be making six figures, and i don't want to throw away my money on rent forever.
  • To maintain the same purchasing power, a salary of $ 30,000 in New York (Manhattan) NY needs to be $16,828.92 in Philadelphia PA

    In going from New York (Manhattan) NY to Philadelphia PA

    Grocery items are 10.994% lower

    Housing is 67.966% lower

    Utilities are 13.609% lower

    Transportation is 7.956% lower

    Health care is 26.105% lower

    Misc goods/services are 16.199% lower
  • Hey Oiseau, what site did you get that from?
  • The housing statistic is only partially true. The Philly neighborhoods that most New Yorkers are going to seek out are at best 20% cheaper. Of course, there are a lot of possibly-gentrifying areas where it's about 90% cheaper. In summary, I'm just spouting off and I don't know what I'm talking about. Bye.
  • We were down there last weekend and hanging out with some friends who looked at that article with deep skepticism. Yes, housing is cheaper. But there is overall LESS of the kind of housing that Brooklyn-fleeing yuppies want, so the prices of that kind of housing gets driven up. It's sort of like how Brooklyn Heights is in Brooklyn...but isn't cheap.
  • Philly is awesome
    I love going down there and I do all the time

    $17 one way and it only takes less than three hours, door to door,
    from my place to wherever I am going

    I can see why there is talk about it being the Sixth Borough
    Good place to be
  • bluedove wrote: Hey Oiseau, what site did you get that from?
    http://cgi.money.cnn.com/tools/costofliving/costofliving.html
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