SOUTH WILLIAMSBURG — Think you know how gentrification took place in Williamsburg and Bushwick?
It might be more complex than you think, said Rebecca Amato, a professor at NYU Gallatin School of Individualized Study and the head of a new exhibit looking at development in the two neighborhoods.
Amato's students spent the semester researching how South Williamsburg and Bushwick have changed.
Their work has culminated in an exhibit, "(Dis)placed Histories of South Williamsburg and Bushwick," which opens Friday and will be on display at El Museo de Los Sures, at 120 South First St.
"Rather than coming up with 'artists arrived and everything changed,' this is a much more complicated story," Amato said.
The exhibit, co-sponsored by the Urban Democracy Lab and NYU Gallatin, focuses on the neighborhoods' histories and features a timeline where people can add their own stories.
Sections of the project focus on the history of the neighborhood between the 1850s and 1950s, industry and the Domino Sugar Factory, housing, community resilience, artists and demographics.
One student looked at a building at 109 South Sixth St., which went from being a theater to a warehouse space to luxury housing and a fitness club.
The changes in the building were not just the result of one thing — the rise of industry, government rezoning for the Williamsburg Bridge and the popularity of Williamsburg were all contributing factors, the exhibit shows.
Amato said the building exemplified how different decisions can impact a neighborhood.
And while the typical narrative says artists gentrify a neighborhood, one project that looked at artists moving into the area found that many of them were already living here, Amato said.
"Many of the artists are indigenous groups to these neighborhoods," she said. "They were not arrivals, they were there to begin with."
The interactive exhibit aims to show people that these neighborhoods are "vibrant and important" and that longtime residents deserve to stay, Amato said.
"Hopefully it will represent the diversity of these neighborhoods," she said, "and document the resilience of people who have lived here for a very long time and want to remain."
"Displaced Histories of South Williamsburg and Bushwick" opens May 15 at 7 p.m. It will be available for viewing until June 20 on Saturdays and Sundays between 12 p.m. and 4 p.m.