April 26, 2019

By Yates Wong

Neighborhoods are universal; it doesn’t matter who you are or where you came from, everybody grew up in some sort of neighborhood. Neighborhoods are also a product of the people in them. Ditmas is no exception, this Brooklyn community is diverse and offers many amenities that weren’t always there.

The cultural diversity of this neighborhood can be seen through its multitude of restaurants. The strip of Cortelyou Road and Coney Island Avenue alone features restaurants such as Purple Yam, Mimi’s Hummus, Cinco de Mayo and George’s, as well as a bar called Sycamore to name a few.

Purple Yam, a Filipino fusion restaurant is owned by Romy Dorotan. In an interview, with the Examiner, he revealed that, in the relatively short time he has been in the area, he has been impressed with the amount of diversity to go along with a growing sense of youthfulness. He commented, “It feels great to be accepted in a neighborhood like this where we are a restaurant with food people may not be as familiar with.” All in all, it is sufficient to say that in this point in time Ditmas Park is a thriving area that a person of any race or ethnicity that would be welcome in.

Ditmas Park has changed a lot since George’s diner opened on Coney Island Avenue in the middle of the 20th century. (Photo by Callie Lovekin)

Purple Yam’s tenure in Ditmas is dwarfed by that of George’s. George’s is a diner that has been around for over 60 years. In that time, the staff has seen not only the state of the neighborhood now but that of the neighborhood more than half a century ago. Staff member Mike Papas, said, “The neighborhood has gone from economically neglected to thriving.” He also mentioned on the number of robberies that used to take place in the area.

The vast contrast in the state of the neighborhood is night and day. The pros now, such as a drop in crime, don’t come without some cons. Housing prices have skyrocketed in recent years; as recently as 2008, Victorian houses where going for less than a million dollars. Now, it is estimated that the same houses could go for more than double that.

At face value, these changes to the neighborhood seem amazing but digging deeper there are some issues that are hard to overcome. All this begs the question: Is it worth it. Are all the amenities of a thriving neighborhood worth the rising prices?