When the MTA announced that the L train would be shutting down in the near future, it seemed that all of New York City was terrified. For those who live in Manhattan, the L served as the only way to get into the hip and happening Brooklyn. While it isn’t the only way to get into Brooklyn, its role in making Brooklyn what it is today is undeniable. During the turn of the millennium, the L train helped transform Williamsburg from an eyesore of urban decay into a hipster mecca. It’s no coincidence that Bushwick, the next neighborhood in Brooklyn to attract the hipsters, is also off the L. The L was what gave young Manhattanites a chance to explore another side of New York just a couple subway stops from Union Square. These same people were terrified of what damage this shutdown will do to their nightlife, but luckily they have a lot of time to brace themselves.
Earlier this week, a group of elected officials met with the MTA to discuss the various options for repairing the Canarsie tubes, which were seriously damaged by flood waters during Hurricane Sandy, that help the L travel between Manhattan and Brooklyn. So far, it looks like repairs on the tubes won’t start until two or three years from now, with work most likely not starting until 2018. The MTA is still weighing a number of options for the project, including closing just one of the tubes at a time, a project that would take three years, or only closing the tubes on nights and weekends, which will make it a five-year project. Yet if the Canarsie tubes were completely shut down, the process would be cut down to just eighteen months.
While Manhattan is dreading the “L-pocalypse”, imagining how inconvenient it will be to make it to their favorite Williamsburg brunch spot, without a doubt those people who live, work and spend most of their time in Brooklyn (particularly off the L line) will welcome the shutdown of the L train. Now, the only way for Manhattanites to make it to Bedford Avenue, the heart of Williamsburg, will be to take an out-of-the-way voyage that relies on the notoriously unreliable G train, or take the equally unreliable J/M/Z trains. Such inconveniences will help to hinder the gentrification that has already taken place in this neighborhood. Yet it will also mean that Manhattanites will look to other, more-easily-accessible Brooklyn neighborhoods, such as Park Slope or Crown Heights, dramatically expediting the process of gentrification there. Yet for those locals of Williamsburg, such a location will be beyond their concern.