What It’s Like to Live in Segregated New York | NY Times

The New York Times asked residents in community districts that were highly divided along racial and ethnic lines to describe what they liked and didn’t like about their neighborhoods.

(Photo: Credit Hiroko Masuike | NY Times)

(Photo: Credit Hiroko Masuike | NY Times)

Washington Heights, Manhattan
Community District 12; 70 percent Latino


Brian Harkin | NY Times

Jennifer Celadilla, 27
A middle school teacher

“In the ’80s and ’90s it was really dangerous to live here. Shootouts were a normal thing. I remember my mom used to tell me, ‘Don’t stand in front of windows’ after a certain time.”

“Now it’s fine for the most part. There is high poverty. It’s very common to have two or three families inside one apartment.”

“If you go on 181st, you notice there’s a lot of bigger businesses coming in. We started first getting the Starbucks. It’s a good thing and a bad thing. It brings jobs into the community. At the same time, we do feel the effects of gentrification. Rising prices, rent. We have people who had to move out from here. It’s not so much segregation that I’m worried about. It’s really the livability of the area. Can I stay here?”



Brian Harkin for The New York Times

Brian Harkin | NY Times

Juan Olivares, 65
A native of the Dominican Republic who works as a vendor

“What predominates here is Dominicans. Mexicans are also immigrating. They come looking for the same thing – betterment and the famous dream.”

“I like the barrio. You feel like you’re in your country, practically: the same customs, the same food, the way people talk, the vocabulary people use, the way people dress. The women are always fashionable. Latin men buy the most expensive tennis shoes. They like to stand out. A North American doesn’t mind wearing the same clothes for a week.”

“I wouldn’t want to move. I already know people here. It would be like starting over again. I don’t see any disadvantages to living here.”

— Mireya Navarro

Read more: What It’s Like to Live in Segregated New York

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