Washington Heights — Summer in the heights it’s not just a season it’s an aesthetic, a lifestyle much more than lively it’s LIVE. For those unfortunate enough to have never experienced a truly uptown summer (no not Gossip Girl Uptown) I mean Uptown the colorful crown Jewel of Manhattan. The boundaries of the heights like any other neighborhood, is never limited purely within the grasps of street names and numbers but move with the people that create them so when I say The Heights geographically we could approximate from Dykeman, down to around 155th but we know it’s a little more flexible than that.
The rest of NYC, and by de facto the Nation is has begun to pick up on the talent troves, and undeniable energy that radiates from Uptown. Melding the homegrown entrepreneurship and the innovative problem solving creativity it breeds; many newly ‘discovered’ artists have been able to proudly call it home. Manhattan is the money maker, from Wall Street to The Height it’s an undeniable journey of a survival, and the hustle.
Looking more closely at Uptown Style and fashion it is impossible to peg it into one arena; on the same block you’ll see anything from worn out Rocawear, to patent leather Louboutins (a la, ‘La Marina’). One things is for sure, when you’re uptown there’s nothing bland or diluted about their style. Up here it’s not what you wear but how you wear it.
Sitting down with a resident born and raised in the heights we get a closer look at one of the many faces of uptown style: youthful, individual and-as always expressive. Talking to University Student Kevin Corona from 170th and Broadway; we explored uptown style, the breathing living organism which is New York City, and developing personal style.
Walking in holding a Starbucks iced coffee, and a smile it seemed natural that our conversation start with the patterns of change and adaptation that occurs in neighborhoods across the city. As he’s matured in the Heights, he’s seen the Heights seem to mature in aspects along with him. As the music and creative industry of New York is recognizing the talent that the heights have to offer we see a rise of trends inspired by hobbies, interests and expression, rather than the uber tough cash-heavy emphasis marketing or a mere matter of inexposure employed in the 90s.
So we can question, is this a shift is this a wave, is this a transformation? We agreed it was something like a beat and vibe, it’s the same location it’s the same basic vibration tuned to a different pitch; something that resonant with time and the developments that have evolved not just in Harlem but the greater world as well. The rise of the internet, and the availability and speed of information and means of creation has meant more ways to express to others, and impress others with who you are what you represent.
“It’s like DSLR Cameras are like the new gold chains; instead of MTV we have Tumblr.”
But at the same time Uptown has specifically been influenced by its own physical changes; from policy changes (whats up Gulliani & Bloomberg changes) and the expansion of Columbia University are just a few. Kevin explained the changes in demographic and its affect on exposure. Gentrification is more than a loaded word in any part of Harlem, but for those affected by Columbia University it is a shot gun; rents raise and so does animosity between new and old faces. “Before all we had to look up to, the one’s making money were coke dealers, and all of a sudden here are successful doctors.” Not that one is better, not that one is more moral—but the idea is exposure and inclusion rather than divisions.
Exploration is something that uptown residents are familiar with, for better or for worse. Kevin had his own experiences with it and its affected his style mentality. “Before it was Coogi and Jordans, but heading downtown and going to DR (Dominican Republic) really influenced what my style is now”
His style here is not reflective of most of his neighbors, but it is reflective of the idea of exploration, comfort, and self expression that radiates uptown. From the hum of the street horns, the syncopation of hundreds of accented voices and self-sure footsteps one thing is for sure the movement and beat of the uptown rhythm stops for no one, no camera, and no setbacks.
K. Corona wears: Boots from Timberland, Relwen Cargo Pants, Vintage Chambray Shirt and Vintage Suspenders, and a Levi’s Belt.
Photography by Cristel Tavarez
Posted by @MalayaVS