Thursday, August 20, 2009

I've Got a Crush on Ian Volner

Our summertime laziness in keeping up with our Google alerts almost caused me to miss an excellent article by The Faster Times' Ian Volner regarding the Bronx Museum of the Arts' recent competition to 'redesign' the Grand Concourse.

You may be wondering, "Who is Ian Volner?" I don't really know, but I think I may love him. In a mere three paragraphs of succinct writing, Mr. Volner manages to sum up what my husband and I say to each other every time we hear someone trashing the Bronx based solely on their outdated perceptions of our beloved borough (we're looking at you, Curbed commenters). Here are the pieces of Mr. Volner's article that caused me to swoon:

One note: If you follow the above link to the announcement, you’ll be carried to Curbed’s post on the subject. You might be better served going to The Architect’s Newspaper. The Curbed commentariat is famously nasty, but this time they’ve outdone themselves for ignorance and shortsightedness. Of course there’s crime and decay in the Bronx. But according to the New York Police Department’s CrimeStat site, the crime rate in the combined districts of the Grand Concourse has declined at an average rate of approximately 9% over the last year alone–to say nothing of the 12% decline from two years ago, or the 33% reduction since 2001. This rate of decline is almost identical to that experienced in what we might call the present Brooklyn “pale of settlement”–all those rapidly gentrifying quarters stretching from the eastern perimeter of Prospect Park, all the way north via Crown Heights into Bushwick, that are currently the preferred redoubt of the post-collegiate crowd (to be followed by the real estate developers who love them).

Not only that, but the actual volume of violent crime in the western Bronx is comparable in every way to that of central Brooklyn: There have been seven murders and 21 reported rapes this year in Bushwick north of Broadway–six murders and 18 rapes around the Concourse south of 174th St. Looking north towards Fordham Road, 123 burglaries have occurred in the Bronx; in Crown Heights and the adjoining areas to the west, 128. These figures are all the more impressive in view of the fact that the Grand Concourse has a higher population density, being comprised almost exculsively of five- and six-storey apartment buildings, whereas the housing stock in central Brooklyn is predominately three- and four-storey brownstones. As a function of population, crime rates in some areas along the Grand Concourse are lower than they are in many more expensive portions of Brooklyn.

And if that isn’t enough to get you up to take the walk, consider the transit possibilities: from Union Square, it’s a scant twenty-five minutes to 167th St. by the number 4 express train. From Columbus Circle, you can get to East Tremont Ave. in twenty on the D. You can be there and back in a twinkling. [The Faster Times]

Amen, Ian! BD readers should click here to check out the article in full... It's well worth the read.


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