NYC: A view from the basement (Metro NY)

Sure, Brooklyn has become fashionable on Mayor Bloomberg’s watch, but can he make it livable?

A few years back, when the New York real estate market still looked within reach of, say, itinerant op-ed writers, I got to spend some quality time touring houses in a then-unfashionable part of Brooklyn.

My most vivid memory is of the basements. One had a warren of cubicles surrounding a filthy hot plate; in another, the landlord proudly showed off the tiny rooms he’d built (“That’s craftsmanship! This rent roll is a gold mine!”) in a windowless sub-basement 20 feet underground. It was a rare glimpse into the other New York, the one where its 1.5-million-and-growing poor live… [read more]