The last affordable neighborhoods in Manhattan: ‘The air is fresher up here’ | The Guardian

Long an ignored section of New York City by outsiders, the two neighborhoods that make up northern Manhattan are attracting attention – not all of it welcome

BY Rose Hackman

(Photo: Devon Knight | The Guardian)

Washington Heights (Photo: Devon Knight | The Guardian)

Johnathan “Audubon” Perez, winds his way through the streets of upper Manhattan. He crosses fresh fruit vendors and men pushing carts selling fried pork. Street intersections reveal children playing in the water of opened fire hydrants, and older generations gathering around improvised domino tables. Bachata is blasting out of one window high up on one block, and from the portable speakers of a stoop on another.

These are the scenes of summer in Washington Heights. The neighborhood is baking from the heat, but it is alive.

Long a vastly ignored section of the city by outsiders, the Heights and Inwood – the two neighborhoods that take up the entire northern section of Manhattan from 155th street to 220th street – have suddenly attracted wide excitement and attention. Why? Real estate firms and media outlets have named them the last affordable neighborhoods on the island both for renting and buying. The median rental price in July in Washington Heights was $2,200, well below the $3,508 average for the rest of the island, according to real estate group Citi Habitats. According to real estate broker Cole Thompson, one-bedroom apartments in the area are available for $300,000, considerably less than the median $815,000 price of a one-bedroom across Manhattan as a whole.

Christopher Jackson, a Broadway musical actor, moved to Washington Heights last month. “I was looking to move uptown because I wanted space and I wanted it cheap,” Jackson said. He loves the neighborhood and has already enjoyed the nightlife and restaurants. “The air is fresher up here.”

For now, very few of his longstanding New York friends live this far north. They sometimes make fun of him for his choice in neighborhood. “They say, oh I will come and see you, but I will have to find my passport. But those friends are living in tuna cans, in sardine cans,” he says, referring to how much smaller their New York dwellings are.

But bargains for outsiders aside, for many whose families settled in the two neighborhoods decades ago, the added attention to their homes is creating a great sense of insecurity.

Read more: The last affordable neighborhoods in Manhattan: ‘The air is fresher up here’ 

Related:

‘It’s always been there for us’: a love letter to New York’s fire hydrants | The Guardian

Inwood Is Actually Two Neighborhoods Divided by Race, Class and Broadway | DNAinfo

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