Every summer there's another far-off locale in one of the boroughs—generally not Manhattan—being touted as the new something-or-other. The new Hamptons or the new anti-Hamptons or whatever the place is that this old rebranding-itself place (or its business district folks) want it to be.
Yet these rebrandings rarely take off and usually meet with criticism and annoyance, particularly from locals who never wanted the places to change in the first place or to be anything other than what they were. Remember when, last summer, The New York Times was all about the Rockaways as the hot new hipster beach hangout, full of "young, artsy types who make their home in Brooklyn and Lower Manhattan." Ben Detrick wrote in that article, "Arriving by single-gear bicycle, Zipcar and the occasional skateboard, they’ve turned the once- neglected beach community into an anti-Hamptons, where polo games and Champagne galas have been replaced by bungalow barbecues and piña coladas at old Irish pubs. 'The boardwalk is the new Bedford Avenue,' said Mr. Kaye, 34."
Gah. Of course, the Times had pushed the Rockaways as the hot-or-cool new beach spot as far back as in 2001; their continued investment in the cause is not surprising. Declaring some part of New York City the "new" it spot is as much a trend as going to the beach in the summer.
Now The New York Post is joining the fun, with a piece on how Bronx neighborhood City Island, population 4,300, is rebranding itself as the "Martha's Vineyard of the Bronx." This is per local business owners, not the locals themselves. Sara Pepitone writes:
"We’re looking for Manhattanites," says Chamber of Commerce vice president Paul Klein, owner of City Island’s Kaleidoscope Gallery. More specifically, the organization wants penthouse types, who might otherwise head to Martha’s Vineyard for the weekend, to put City Island on their list of urban escapes. "A lot of [tourists] who come to Manhattan are overwhelmed. We give them a chance to chill out."
This may be a bit of an uphill battle, however, given "empty storefronts and petty crime in recent years." As one resident told Pepitone, "On weekends you have an influx of people littering, drunk driving, underage drinking. In summer, we can’t have our windows open. It’s the Southampton of The Bronx for lowlifes." Charming, to be sure!
Counterintuitively, though, the fact that not many people know about the charms of City Island is actually one good reason to go, if not a reason to brand it as "Martha’s Vineyard with a Bronx Accent," or a "Nantucket fishing village in the city." Why not just call it City Island, and let the people willing to venture into the northernmost portions of the city enjoy it? It does look like a little breath of different-than-the-city air, if the photo above is any indication. So what if it doesn't have "wine bars and high-end tapas"? We have enough of that stuff in... Brooklyn. Quick, get there before the Martha's Vineyard types ruin it!
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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