In November 2007, the Blue Condominium , a 32-unit, 16 story luxury condominium tower was completed at 105 Norfolk Street just north of Delancey Street, the pixellated, faceted blue design of which starkly contrasts with the surrounding neighborhood. Following the construction of the Hotel on Rivington one block away, several luxury condominiums around Houston, and the New Museum on Bowery , this new wave of construction is another sign that the gentrification cycle is entering a high-luxury phase similar to in SoHo and Nolita in the previous decade.
A visit to the Tenement Museum is an incredible insight into vibrant, often squalid living conditions that characterized the old neighbourhood. Journalist and photographer Jacob Riis sought to highlight the appalling impoverished slums of the city. An immigrant himself, his 1889, “How The Other Half Lives”, spurred the way for the social reform which would clean up the tenements. “Out of the forty-eight boys”, he wrote, “twenty had never seen the Brooklyn Bridge that was scarcely five minute’s walk away, three only had been in Central Park, fifteen had known the joy of a ride in a horse-car. The street, with its ash-barrels and its dirts, the river that runs foul with mud, are their domain.”