I’ve often wondered if part of the reason places like Park Slope and other brownstone neighborhoods were overrun with gentrification was, in fact, the upwardly mobile upper middle class subconsciously fulfilling their childhood dreams of being on Sesame Street.

Suddenly, all these slightly older, financially stable career people found themselves in New York and ready to have children. People that, for the most part grew up in other states, more than likely in the suburbs, watching Sesame Street, had suddenly found themselves in a uniquely wonderful position. They could actually, literally afford to find their way to their own little Sesame Street.

For two generations, the fictional block of brownstones inhabited by curious children, friendly adults and some odd-looking Muppets has helped shape childhood education by offering exercises, games and life lessons all wrapped up in a television-friendly format. It’s a model that’s proved durable and influential, says Syracuse University pop culture professor Robert Thompson.

TV Guide’s Michael Davis has a new book Street Gang: The Complete History of Sesame Street.

“The idea they came up with was kind of radical: If you can sell kids sugared cereal and toys using Madison Avenue techniques, why couldn’t you use the same techniques for teaching counting, the alphabet and basic social skills? And it works,” (says Syracuse University pop culture professor Robert Thompson.)

“I met a lot of people who I worked with in New York or got to know in New York — transplants — who said to me, ‘When I first arrived here in New York, I had this strange desire to find Sesame Street,’ ” Davis said.

Maybe it worked so well that even 20 years later, certain yuppies were subconsciously climbing their way to the top all so they could finally move back to a place that held so many fond memories. Sesame Street.

Posted by James Poling

A socialist, tinkerer, thinker, question asker and all around curiosity seeker. If you'd like to reach me you can use the contact link above or email me at jamespoling [at] gmail [dot] com.

2 Comments

  1. […] Speaking of Sesame Street, is it responsible for the gentrification of Brooklyn? […]

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  2. […] [SS5] Speaking of Sesame Street, is it responsible for the gentrification of Brooklyn? […]

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