When I went to Detroit recently, I heard people hopefully compare the city to Brooklyn circa 10 years ago. The idea is that Brooklyn then was a blank canvas, and since it has now grown cluttered, young creative people needed somewhere new and cheap to move.

Having actually lived in Brooklyn since 1981, when I was born, I started reflecting on how my home borough — which for most of my life was a looked-down-upon outer borough, while Manhattan was the center of the universe — had bizarrely come to be used as a generic shorthand for “cool, vibrant place where young professionals move.” Beyond simply being an inaccurate portrayal of most of Brooklyn today, this formulation also ignores how the changes in Brooklyn haven’t actually benefited most of the people who lived there beforehand.

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So why is Brooklyn something that other cities aspire to? They’re right to hope that young people will clamor to move to their town — but rather than replicating Brooklyn’s experience, they should avoid the mistakes we’ve made, and try to prevent housing prices from skyrocketing.

I wrote a piece laying all this out, and it caught the attention of Tony Dokoupil of MSNBC. Watch our conversation on Greenhouse.

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