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Blogger Behind 'I Love Franklin Avenue' Hangs Up His Hat

By Sonja Sharp | November 19, 2013 8:57am
 After five years as the unofficial chronicler of Crown Heights gentrification, historian Nick Juravich, pictured with participants at the annual Franklin Avenue Kids Day, is retiring from blogging. 
After five years as the unofficial chronicler of Crown Heights gentrification, historian Nick Juravich, pictured with participants at the annual Franklin Avenue Kids Day, is retiring from blogging. 
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Nick Juravich

CROWN HEIGHTS — It's hard to say goodbye to Franklin Avenue.

Crown Heights chronicler Nick Juravich has spent more than a month trying to tear himself away from the popular I Love Franklin Avenue blog he started five years ago — and now he's confirmed that he will permanently shut down the site by the end of the year, so he can focus on his doctoral studies at Columbia University.

Juravich, 29, said the decision wasn't easy, because when it comes to fast-changing Franklin Avenue, there's always more to say.

“At first, I’d just walk around and have a long talk with someone," Juravich told DNAinfo New York recently. “It took on this Crown Heights-focused character, in part because that’s what people wanted to talk about.”

When Juravich and his then-girlfriend moved to Crown Heights in the fall of 2008, few people outside Central Brooklyn were talking about Franklin Avenue. But now, the neighborhood and its denizens regularly get ink in the city's major publications, alongside buzz magnets like Bushwick and Astoria.

The blogger, too, has changed. Now married and close to completing his doctorate in history — the blog's impending shutdown was prompted in part by a desire to buckle down on his dissertation — Juravich’s posts have shifted over the years from observational to introspective, as he examines the reasons behind the neighborhood's growth.

"There’s this way of saying, ‘change is constant,' but if you want to talk about it, you have to say what’s causing it," Juravich said, listing issues including high commercial turnover and residential displacement. "It’s a way not to feel that you’re powerless in the face of an ambiguous wave of change."

That thoughtful view — along with roundups of links, events and new businesses in Crown Heights — has earned Juravich fans among longtime residents and newcomers alike.

"[I Love Franklin Avenue] came into the neighborhood and became a place for the neighborhood to get together," said Atim Oton, who owns Calabar Imports on Franklin Avenue and chairs Community Board 8's Economic Development Committee. "I think that it's a community service."

Penina Roth, whose Franklin Park Reading Series has become one of the most neighborhood's biggest draws, described Juravich one of the most influential voices on the block.

"As a keenly observant and intellectually curious newcomer, Juravich explored all facets of Crown Heights, including its history, infrastructure, culture, politics and diverse population, and, through his thoughtful, objective blog posts, brought a much-needed, fresh perspective to news coverage of the area," Roth said in an email.

"By promoting and covering our events, he helped us develop on the grassroots level.... I'll deeply miss his insightful blogging."

Despite its popularity, Juravich said he always saw his blog as a way of exploring the neighborhood and satisfying his curiosity — not as a way to make money.

“I never had any ads or revenue on it, by design,” Juravich said. “There are plenty of longtime residents of Crown Heights who spend lots of time on the blog, but I always felt at best it was a starting point [for community dialogue]."

Juravich hopes that conversation continues, even as I Love Franklin Avenue fades into the Internet ether by the end of the year.

"One of the things I wanted to do by designating October the last month was force myself to re-engage," Juravich said of his initial end-of-October deadline for shutting down the blog, which he later extended. "I wanted to do something like, here’s what this was, here’s the experience of this...and that’s all for now."