Gentrification can’t stop, won’t stop. Artist and programmer Justin Blinder grabbed cached images from Google Street View featuring construction sites in Brooklyn and Manhattan over the past four years, then joined before-and-after pics together in a pretty eye-opening series he calls Vacated.
He sourced the sites with a little help from the NYC Department of Planning’s PLUTO dataset, which allowed him to search by intersection — apparently major crossroads are more likely to have been recorded multiple times by the roving, camera-equipped vans.
While he created an interactive map of all new developments (it is super dense with pin-drops), it’s Blinder’s GIFs that really show how dramatic the shift has been. With Blinder’s treatment, structures seem to appear from literally nothing — it’s empty lot to new highrise in a second — and it’s jarring to see the skyline shift so quickly.
But without context, these differences, however stark, offer little by way of background of what came before; for Blinder, this is part of the point.
Taken together, they represent a “physical façade of gentrification,” he writes on his site. “One that immediately prompts questions by virtue of its incompleteness: ‘Vacated by whom? Why? How long had they been there? And who’s replacing them?'”
Facades is part of Envision New York 2017, a web-based project by non-profit More Art with the goal of engaging the community and getting folks actively involved. It’s easy for locals to look around their neighbourhood and get all kinds of nostalgic about what’s gone, but awareness about the issues that may shape the future will — ideally — help them have an impact on what’s next. [Justin Blinder]