Look, I may have gentrified Greenpoint when I moved to Brooklyn, and I may have pushed some yuppies out.
These things happen. Perfectly good Brooklynites get the shaft, and they have to find a new place to make roost.
But Brooklyn, you’re going to make it. I know this, because I’ve seen the positive side of gentrification — the scorned Freddy’s bar, which reopened in Park Slope last week after torn down to make way for Atlantic Yards, proved that good can truly come of bad.
Yes, the Prohibition-era tavern has a new location, but still pays homage to everything that made it Freddy’s in the first place: the same dark wood bar, the same wacky video montages by co-owner Donald O’Finn, the same old barflies, the same feel of a great tavern.
As a tribute to its former location — soon to be courtside seats at the Barclays Center — O’Finn and the gang kept the so-called “chains of justice,” a symbol of the bar’s fight to stay at the corner of Dean Street and Sixth Avenue, a losing battle thanks to the state’s unquestioned eminent domain power. The chains are there, but now the only reason to chain oneself to them is to prevent the inevitable drunken fall from a stool.
Freddy’s opening night proved that the bar still has the same character. This time, though, there were a whole lot more people. Like, hundreds more.
Given all the familiar faces that night — resident country music legend Andy Friedman and anti-Atlantic Yards activist Steve de Seve, to name a few — I had to ask, will Slopers living near the new dive at Fifth Avenue and 17th Street pack out the bar once the hype wears down?
“It’s gonna blow up — I think it’ll be a destination location,” said O’Finn, who managed the old spot. “This area’s a whole lot like the old Park Slope. The people were pushed out to here, and they need this bar.”
It certainly felt like they needed the bar, considering the standing room-only facility that night and the live music blaring from a (heavily soundproofed) backroom.
The only real differences at this Freddy’s are the new location, the new sound system, the new owners and the memory of a Downtown favorite that was bought out by the man. The whiskey, the dim lights, and the cheers are all the same.
Everybody partied hard, with little mention of the Atlantic Yards behemoth that thought it had driven the former watering hole into the ground. It was almost like Freddy’s was, well, Freddy’s.
“It definitely has the essence of our old dive,” said Slope resident Lexie Pregosin, who said that the new spot is still her classic spot. “We’ll be coming here again.”
So Bruce Ratner’s Atlantic Yards rises where Freddy’s once stood. You could keep complaining, but I’ve chosen a different strategy — chugging whiskey at my new favorite South Slope bar.
Freddy’s Bar [627 Fifth Ave. between 17th and 18th streets in Park Slope, (718) 768-8131].
©2011 Community News Group
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