In the News: A Tribeca Mom Discusses Race

268 West••• People who live near the construction of 70 Vestry are annoyed by the pile-driving. —Downtown Express

••• Betsy Berne has a long essay on Medium about raising her daughter, who was adopted from Ethiopia, in Tribeca. To be honest, I only scanned it; one perk of not having kids is not having to read about parenting issues. Also, I found this paragraph offensive. (Related: a series from 2005 along the same lines.)

Tribeca has become one of the wealthiest whitest neighborhoods in New York City. Talk about privilege; Tribeca residents reek of White Power! Not all of them: there are the dwindling group of neighborhood relics who have lived here for twenty, thirty years—artists, writers or other social misfits—most of whom are hanging on to obscenely cheap rental tenement lofts by the skin of their teeth or hiding out in rustic bargain-basement lofts they bought in the 70s or 80s (if they haven’t had to sell them to be able to afford the exorbitant cost of living here in never-never land). If I could afford to move, I would, but, as it happens, I too am one of the social misfits camped out for thirty-some years in one of the aforementioned cheap rental tenement lofts.

••• Follow along on Justin Cohen Anderson’s quest for a one-bedroom rental in FiDi. —New York Times

••• “A cook was hit in the head with a knife sharpener before being slashed with a knife during a heated kitchen argument at 225 Bistro.” —DNAinfo

••• “Conrad Stojak has a different canvas than other artists: old parking meters” And he’s working at 4 World Trade Center. “Larry Silverstein, the developer of the new World Trade Center complex, has invited artists to use vacant space at the site in exchange for some type of art donation.” —Downtown Express



  1. Awwww poor baby Betsy! Life really sucks when you’re living in a cheap loft rental. Relics? We’re not “relics” – try just people who have lived here for decades, that’s all. We’re still alive, working, living, contributing, like I guess you are, so spare us your ageist condescension especially when you could be considered a “relic” yourself.

    What makes her annoying is she sounds like a market rate loft renter/seller sneering at people who don’t pay market rent with her “obscenely cheap tenement lofts” remark like it’s a bad thing/crime to live in one and have that rent when it’s not, and yet she has the same rent herself. Cheap rent actually allows you to build savings for the future, emergencies, calamities, and retirement as well as have more money to play with which means more money to spend on local/area businesses. Also she comes off like she’s above everyone else.

    Don’t let the door hit your ass on the way out (if you decide to move) and I could care less if your kid is adopted and/or Ethopian.

    People Power!

  2. It’s a shame, Erik, that you only skimmed and then only highlighted a small rant (out of a much larger examination about race and identity) about real estate in Betsy’s post because, as L showed, a lot of good points that could have led to a meaningful discussion about race and the changing face of tribeca has already devolved.

    • I read enough to know that I was going to disagree with much more than that paragraph.

      • Brookti is one of the few black children growing up in tribeca. Betsy raises a lot of good points. I’m a little dissapointed that you disagree with seemingly so much. FTR, I know them both.

    • Hey Jammy Sod, I merely responded to what Betsy wrote, and what she wrote was racist drivel. She called white people who live in TriBeCa white supremacists with her “White Power” nonsense. I neither have to read the rest of the article nor think Erik cherrypicked or looked for something to get her on, she summed up what she’s about in what he merely posted. I’m guessing what he posted was what grabbed him the most and good job by you, Erik. He captured what your friend is: a reverse racist who paints all white people with one brush.

      It’s your friend Betsy who devolved discussion calling people racists. I’m white, I don’t believe in White Power, ok? Or did you not see what I wrote at the end of my reply? Yep.

  3. The pile driving is another reason in favor of landmarking. Those pile drivers produce vibrations in excess of special limits that control in landmark districts.

  4. Any chance Brookti could be adopted by someone else less needy and more balanced?

  5. Erin you were right not to read the entire tirade. That’s 20 minutes I’m never going to get back.

  6. Sorry. Erik. Spellchecker corrected.

  7. I clicked on the 2005 article link for the Betsy Berne story and the first thing I noticed was that the address was WHITE street, Tribeca.

    Coincidence? I think not….

    Just kidding. Anyway, everyone lighten up. The whole white power thing was clearly a tongue in cheek comment and nothing to be offended at. She wasn’t saying every white person in tribeca is a white supremecist.

    • Agreed – this neighborhood is distressingly white and wealthy and maybe, if we can’t change it, we can at least keep our sense of humor about it, huh? I went to Harvard and went through the whole “I went to school in Boston” thing and now I hesitate to say I live in TriBeCa sometimes – easier to say “downtown” or “near City Hall” because the very name “TriBeCa” draws eye rolls.

      • Distressingly white? Racist.

        ‘Don’t want to say you live in TriBeCa? Fine, I will say I do, and it’s not a pride thing, it’s the neighborhood I live in.

        ‘Sad you care what other people think (most likely don’t think) about TriBeCa or Harvard or what (you think) the names mean to them. Grow a spine and say you went to Harvard and live in TriBeCa, !@#$ what people think.

  8. That’s right Will. I taught at Harvard where they now require students to write an essay on their own state of privilege. It is a simple acknowledgement that we do not live in a society free of classism or racism. We cannot make Tribeca not be a bubble, but we can at least admit that it is.

    • TriBeCa is not a bubble we were one of the neighborhoods directly physically affected by 9/11. We have Stuyvesant High School and Borough Of Manhattan Community College where people from all over the city attend school. We have Independence Plaza North where hundreds of non-rich people live. We have businesses where people from all over the city work and come to shop.

      • That is correct. I was here then. However, since 9/11 real estate speculation has radically altered the fabric of our nabe.

        • …and the neighborhood was radically alterted the neighborhood when the apartment building on Reade Street, the two apartment buildings on the east side of Greenwich Street from Reade to Warren Streets, and the colossal office building built right across from 80 No.Moore Street were built on empty lots and opened in the early ’90s. We could even say the buildup of Battery Park City radically altered the neighborhood in it’s own way. IPN was the first to radically alter it by being the first major apartment complex to be built here. Expensive real estate is just another alteration and you can’t possibly expect another IPN to be built here. Where if it could? No room.

          Rents and sale prices were high pre-9/11. Not as much as now or even as far back as 2005, but high nonetheless, and certainly higher than most Manhattan neighborhoods.

          What makes TriBeCa be in a “bubble”? That’s a pretty loaded word.

  9. Wow L you need to take a chill pill. Really aggressive and not necessary to get your point across. Yuck.

    • I don’t “need to take a chill pill”, your pal Betsy needs to take one with her White Power nonsense.

      I don’t like being called a white supremacist. I lalso don’t like a little snoot who sneers at people who live in inexpensive lofts by mentioning about how they live in inexpensive lofts like a fair market real estate developer who wants to convert to market rent 100%.
      She needs to be called out for generalizing people.

  10. If you read the post, the “White Power” reference was tongue and cheek. This mother is writing about her personal experience, so far be it from anyone not raising a child of a different race to pontificate about what she should and should not conclude. She admits to being traumatized by a black woman making comments about her daughter’s hair, so I’m not sure what the anger is about. Really, why so much anger and condescension?
    I think one would be pretty hard pressed to not concede that post 9/11 Tribeca is pretty white and insanely affluent. Community college kids and Stuy kids don’t alter this reality. They are not buying $500 bracelets or $8 organic milk or paying $20K for preschool.
    I was thankful to read something with an authentic voice and a perspective rarely seen otherwise.

  11. She wrote White Power to be tongue in cheek TO YOU. To me she was being racist. I can conclude anything I want, and what I concluded is she has a problem with white people. You have to have one when you conjure up images of white supremacists. You and she have no clue as to who actually lives here, how’s that? Individuals live here and everywhere and neither she nor you are gonna get away with generalizing or stereotyping a neighborhood I’ve lived in all my life without me calling out you two for it, got it?

    I am not angry, she is. I’m really just forcefully calling out her for her racism, stereotyping, and generalization which you are cool with which makes you all that, too. She has a right to stereotype white people who live in TriBeCa and liken them to white supremacists? Ok, I have a right to call her out for it, too bad if she and you don’t like it. Don’t read or respond to my posts or keep it coming cuz I’ll come right back at you. Btw I don’t have to raise a child of a different race to be able to comment on anything, ok? I don’t give a damn what race she or her kid is and the world would be better off if more people thought like me.

    Who cares if TriBeCa is pretty white and insanely affluent save people like you and Betsy who seem to have a problem with that? I’m white but I’m not affluent. Actually, Community college and Stuy High kids do alter this reality cuz they are in their own way part of TriBeCa and have been for many years, x amount of these kids live in TriBeCa. I don’t buy $500 bracelets or $8 organic milk, or spend 20K on preschool (no kids), but what if I or anyone else did? What business or concern is that of yours? Mind your business. Don’t like it? Don’t interact with those people. You think it’s a waste of money, well, it’s not your money it’s theirs, they earned it. Would I spend those amounts for those things? No. I have zero jewelry, drink Skim Plus, and again have no kids to send to even a public school LOL. So I’m not in the socioeconomic demographic you and Betsy revile (save for the white part.)

    An authentic voice? Try a voice who has a problem with white people thus is a racist and seems to be jealous of wealth.