The Borscht Belt

New York has always been known as a melting pot, but sometimes it feels more like a clash of cultures: China takes over Italy (only two real streets of Little Italy remain), Korea sits on the west side of town while India holds it’s own on a few blocks of the east side. And the hipsters have turned most of Greenpoint, Brooklyn into their own personal campus, leaving the Polish to venture farther down the line to parts that have yet to be gentrified and hipsterized. Think this doesn’t exist? Well, let me introduce you to Poland via the G train (Nassau Street stop, to Norman Avenue). This interesting stretch of neighborhood has become my daytime (and sometimes nighttime) home away from home due to my new office location. Coming up out of the subway you’d swear you’re in Eastern Europe. The sights, the smells, the signs. EVERYTHING is written in Polish first, English second. The letter “Y” replaces “I” in most of the words, take for instance the “SYrena Bakery.” And, the name for Laundromat? Well, I’ll just let some of my photos do the talking.

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It’s interesting to work in the middle of a cultural enclave that is still so untouched, but I know it won’t be for long. Each week it seems one more 20-something in skinny jeans, wearing American Apparel tee shirts and a pair of converse are added into the mix. But, by far the most ironic thing about life in “Little Polska” happened when I called to complain about my vegetarian borscht simply being beet juice with the meat physically removed from the soup, the man answering the phone said in a thick Polish accent with a biting tone, ” we’re not promising you ‘designer’ borscht, it tastes like it tastes. What do you think this is, the Upper West Side?”

Btw, gotta love a neighborhood whose restaurants list sauerkraut under vegetables on their menu.

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