Fulton Street Mall
The Fulton Street Mall is a half-mile shopping district just west of Flatbush Avenue in Downtown Brooklyn. In the mid 20th century, the street was a thriving home to large department stores as well as smaller shops. When enclosed suburban malls became fashionable in the 1970s, area merchants pursuaded the city to revitalize the strip by widening the sidewalks and limiting traffic to buses. While such efforts were unsuccessful in most of the rest of the country, the Fulton Mall remained relatively prosperous.
In spite of skyrocketing rents and gentrification choking the area on all sides, when I first visited in the Fall of 2007, the area remained dominated by small, independently owned stores that offered good deals to a primarily working-class (read black and Latino) clientele. Ironically, the stores' persistence was bolstered by their ability to handle astronomical rents that larger chain stores (with their extensive space requirements and corporate overhead) were unwilling to pay.
However, the rich developers had been salivating over the area for years and couldn't stand the sight (or site) of poor folks living in peace. So these photos are probably documentation of a era that is soon to pass into another character-free conglomeration of overpriced chain stores, siphoning area cash into large holding companies. (NY Times)
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