Barneys to Brooklyn: The End Is Near!

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You would think the economic slowdown would have meant Brooklyn would stop turning into, well, Manhattan. But with Barneys looking to stake a claim in Cobble Hill and your parents making inroads into Williamsburg, it looks like the borough's hipster cred is in serious jeopardy.

I'm a 212 guy. But many of my best pals are on the other side of that physical and psychological divide. They love Brooklyn so much that they hate leaving it to go to work in Manhattan (although I have heard that actual jobs exist within Brooklyn). I can respect their quirky passion and sometimes even understand it, like last summer when I had that yummy iced latte from Baked on Van Brunt Street. There's a nice funky vibe on that side of the Brooklyn Bridge.
But the recent Crain's New York Business report of Barneys possibly adding an outpost in Brooklyn is a sure sign that even a recession cannot stop this insidious Manhattan-ization. And the really shocking thing is that Barneys is evidently looking at Cobble Hill, an authentic and warm and wonderful 'hood. So we are not talking about another Manhattan-like maneuver on Montague Street in Brooklyn Heights, which already seems completely Upper West Side-y. (Hey, that's a compliment from me, but it would not be coming from the outer borough's in-crowd.)

The Brooklyn allure is certainly not lost on the older set either. Last week, New York magazine reported that a new influx of baby boomers searching for the fountain of youth were setting up house in the once-edgy Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn. One could almost hear the collective groan of indie-rock enthusiasts and newly minted MFA's upon learning that their new neighbors could very well turn out to be their parents' friends -- if not their own parents.

This is where the geography of gentrification gets interesting. If Barneys is eyeing Cobble Hill and boomers are moving into Wililamsburg, then where is the line between the Upper West Side-y Brooklyn and the more authentic-seeming borough that Pete Hamill immortalized? And does that line keep shifting as the Manhattan vibe creeps deeper into the borough?

This week, in a decidedly more serious bit of news, we heard that Brooklyn will likely follow Manhattan in another trend: hosting terrorists. A few of the bad guys from Guantanamo are apparently likely to be tried in a Brooklyn federal courthouse. Will there be the same hue and cry that came when we learned about Manhattan being a trial location? Only time--and people from Brooklyn--will tell.
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