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Gabba gabba, huh? Target seems to embrace gentrification chic with tone deaf NYC display

Gabba gabba, huh? Target seems to embrace gentrification chic with tone deaf NYC display
[Photo: Stig Nygaard/Wikimedia Commons]

When a CBGB-themed outpost popped up at Newark airport in late 2015, no shortage of grouchy ex-punk rockers condemned it as a stain on the legacy of New York City culture. What could possibly be a worse fate for the storied music venue than a sterile tourist pitstop catering to travelers in a dark corner of Terminal C?

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Well, if you were looking for an answer to that question, Target seems to have found one.

The retail chain opened a new Target location in Manhattan’s East Village over the weekend, and to commemorate the occasion, it erected what can only be described as a dubious ode to the once-gritty neighborhood. Along the lower facade of the luxury building it occupies, Target’s street display included various cute versions of things the neighborhood was known for before skyrocketing rents and gentrification gutted much of its character.

Among the artifacts Target chose to celebrate were East Village tenement buildings (many of which are either gone or in danger of demolition), a faux newspaper box resembling the kind once used by the Village Voice (which no longer publishes a print edition), and a recreation of CBGB (which was effectively priced out of the neighborhood in 2006).

Some residents, including the folks behind the local EV Grieve blog, were not amused.

The display also caught the attention of Jeremiah Moss, who famously chronicles the city’s ever-changing landscape on his Vanishing New York blog.

“Jane Jacobs is rolling in her grave today. The Target chain has opened a store on 14th Street and Avenue A, and for their grand celebration they have committed what might be the most deplorable commodification of local neighborhood culture I’ve ever witnessed.”

I reached out to Target for comment and will update if I hear back.

Big-box retailers have long faced resistance in their efforts to set up shop in New York. Walmart is still nowhere to be found, for instance, despite years of trying. Still, Target has had better luck than some, with locations in Tribeca, Herald Square, and Harlem, to name a few. You would think it could have found a more appropriate way to say hello to its new Downtown neighbors.

Is it too early to wanna be sedated?

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