The Lena Dunham Effect: Brooklyn Heights’ Resident Fosters Boom In Greenpoint

Lena Dunham—2012 BHB Top 10 honoree and creator, star, writer, et al, of HBO’s “Girls”—may lead a quiet existence at her Mansion House digs in Brooklyn Heights, but apparently she’s having such an impact on pop culture that a boom is taking place in once-sleepy Greenpoint, Brooklyn, the setting of the hipster series.

Stories have appeared in both The Real Deal and Crain’s New York Business over the past few weeks about the impact of Dunham’s hit show on the nabe. The former notes, “Exposure has boosted the neighborhood’s rental market,” quoting David Behin of brokerage MNS: “We get more and more calls there for rentals every day,” while the residential sales market is also seeing an uptick.

It doesn’t hurt that the area is seeing “a slew of new residential buildings, including two massive rental projects,” with plans for two more large rez developments in the works.

Crain’s, meanwhile, documents the Dunham effect via an increase in foot traffic, focused around coffee joint Café Grumpy—where Dunham’s character Hannah Horvath works: “The hit HBO show is boosting foot traffic on Manhattan and Nassau avenues and Franklin Street, Greenpoint’s main drags, and pumping cash into the local economy. (In addition) some longtime residents fear it is also drawing more people into the neighborhood and emboldening more landlords to boost rents.”

Crain’s continues, “Like it or not, what’s undeniable is that images of Greenpoint’s shops, restaurants, streets and people beamed into millions of homes around the globe are having an impact on the area that was once primarily known for its large Polish population.”

In Brooklyn Heights, meanwhile, our slew of celeb residents—including Paul Giamati, Björk, Nate Silver and various writers and artists—perhaps offers the opposite effect, providing a quiet refuge for name brands, where they can blend in with the overall fabric of the nabe. Doesn’t that make Heightsters the true hipsters, eh?

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  • petercow

    First rule about Brooklyn Heights: Don’t talk about the people that live in Brooklyn Heights.

  • ltap917

    Says who?

  • Jorale-man

    I like Chuck’s logic: The Heights is so far off the hipster radar that it’s actually cool as a result. I’ll buy it!

  • Heights Observer

    So sez us long-time residents. You don’t talk about your neighbor. To the people who have lived here for decades it sort of just comes naturally. We have always respected the privacy of the people who live here. Say no more. If you want something else, move to the Village.

  • Melissa

    Coincidentally I was at Peter Pan donuts and Pie Corps in Greenpoint this morning. Both places are outstanding.

  • ltap917

    Well, the reason I asked was that just as recently as last year people on this board were constantly talking about their “celebrity” neighbors. It bordered on an obsession. Personally, I could care less.

  • val

    BH hip! LOL. You slay me, Chuck!

  • Barbara

    Greenpoint saw a boom years before Dunham was on the scene. A very cool neighborhood.

  • petercow

    FWIW, the expression is “couldn’t care less”.

  • Joe A

    Both phrases are acceptable. This has long been debated but as the below article suggests:

    The Oxford English Dictionary describes “could care less” as a US colloquialism that means the same thing as “couldn’t care less” but omits the negative element.

    The linguist Steven Pinker points out in his book The Language Instinct that the melodies and stresses in “I couldn’t care less” and “I could care less” are very different.

    Pinker suggests that the positive version indicates youthful sarcasm:

    “By making an assertion that is manifestly false or accompanied by ostentatiously mannered intonation, one deliberately implies its opposite. A good paraphrase is, ‘Oh yeah, as if there was something in the world that I care less about.’ ”

    All things considered, we see nothing wrong with using “I could care less” as long as the user is aware that many sticklers still view it as an atrocity—or, as Pinker puts it, “an alleged atrocity.”

  • Arch Stanton

    I think the show “Girls” is remarkably mediocre with not much more substance than a soft porn flick. It is a sad commentary on our culture when this sort of moronic crap is given so much hype.

  • petercow

    Here’s the problem with “Could care less” – it makes no sense. It’s also clear to me, that its origin is people mis-hearing and then repeating the original; like people who mistake tact for tack, or say “vicious cycle”.

  • ltap917

    Are you so insecure that you had to point this out?

  • PierrepontSkin

    If this “rule” was true, this blog wouldn’t exist.

  • David on Middagh

    Joe A, I have “The Language Instinct”, I read it, I loved it, but Pinker could be wrong. I think the natural sarcastic version of “I couldn’t care less” is “I couldn’t care more.” Some people have likely been dropping the “n’t” for euphony, to avoid the consonant pileup “…ldn’t c…”. The “wrong” version is punchier, and with ‘care’ and ‘less’ still present, the meaning comes across.

    This YouTube guy thinks the “wrong” version is used because people are shoehorning a dainty stress pattern into a cursing template (be warned). Curses aren’t sarcastic—they are sincere!

  • Strunk

    Your analogy is a poor one, because although “vicious cycle” perhaps derived from mishearing “vicious circle,” in fact it makes perfect sense on its own, distinct from the original phrase.