BY Christina López

How has Uptown (Washington Heights/Inwood) changed in the past 10 years? Who is moving in and who is moving out? Is it getting richer or poorer? Is it getting younger or older? Are people happier or unhappier? These are all questions Brian Lehrer attempted to answer recently on his 93.9 FM radio show series titled “Your Anecdotal Census: A People’s History of the NYC Area 2000-2010.” The borough of Manhattan was the main focus of the show but Uptown was definitely a part of the discussion.

For some callers from the Washington Heights area, their neighborhoods have definitely changed—one side is very chic, affluent and buildings are being remodeled to accommodate the newcomer’s taste, while the other side remains very poor. Today, living in Washington Heights has become more difficult for some and finding a job that pays a livable wage makes being able to afford high increases in rent unbearable. Although many Dominicans are being pushed out to places like Allentown, the Bronx, and even back to the Dominican Republic, there has been an increase in the number of Dominicans living Uptown, most are second-generation Dominicans who grew up in the area and are able to afford to move back.

Overall, Washington Heights remains a microcosm of Dominicanness. It is still where the best hair salons in the city exist, the best-tasting Dominican food can be found, and Dominican pride remains vibrantly alive. There are still concerns over gentrification— for some residents ever since the Starbucks on 168th opened, things have never been the same. So, how do we protect our people who moved in a generation ago? Dr. Ramona Hernandez, professor of sociology and director of the Dominican Studies Institute at City College argued that we must use the census to prioritize policies. We need better-paying jobs for our people and more investment in our public institutions of higher education. Thus, it seems that it is in the hands of the second-generation–those who were born and raised Uptown, those who love Uptown because it is the only place where our heart skips a beat to the rhythms of Hip-Hop, Bachata, and Merengue, and those who refuse to be pushed out because companies want to “develop” and profit from our neighborhoods—to defend Uptown.

Check out the Brian Lehrer Show:

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  • HeightsNativeALLMYLIFE
    May 19, 2010 at 4:46 pm

    My family has lived in the heights since they moved to this country 4 generations ago. Back then the heights was all Irish people or greeks or orthodox jews. This website is all Dominican centric and blah blah blah…well orthodox jews still live in the heights and i still see mad OG irish people uptown and in Inwood particularly. Yall are the new comers to these people so yall need to STOP CRYING and stop acting like this is YOUR neighborhood. Before Dominicans moved to the heights Cubans and Puertoricans were moving in…then Dominicans came…there are new Russian immigrants too…who knowns who is gonna be living up here in the future WHO CARES. I think its sad that gentrifiers are pushing lower income people / native uptown people out of the hood..rents go up shit changes. I had to move further up the 1 line cus rent is too high. Booo hooo hooo cry some more babies. The Heights is not synonymous with “Dominicanness” (not a real word by the way) the heights has always been a haven for new immigrant groups trying to make it in this country. I have love for all my latin people all my Irish people (im both) and all hard working people in new york. Yall need to get over your own racial pride and see that the world is bigger than you. If your all about Dominicans go back to DR..I’m sick of seeing yall people rocking Boston Redsox hats in my city too…move to boston then