Prospect Heights in Today’s Times

THE NEWSPAPER OF RECORD has become the newspaper of the obvious. Today’s “Living in…” column on my recently adopted Brooklyn neighborhood of Prospect Heights, in the Sunday New York Times Real Estate section, tells me nothing useful or surprising, and almost nothing I didn’t know (except about the public schools, whose performance is sadly more abysmal than I thought). One wonders if the Times’ hard news stories are equally self-evident to those in the know. One hopes not.

I’m glad to see in black and white that the long-opposed and now quickly rising basketball arena has not yet affected property values in the neighborhood, at least according to the brokers quoted. Overall, the article says, the “popularity and relative scarcity” of Prospect Heights’ brownstones “protected their values in the downturn.” They are “consistently in demand because there is a small supply.” Always glad to have my own biases confirmed. That’s kind of the whole point of this blog (see “10 Reasons Old Houses are a Good Investment…” in column at left).

There was one small surprise: to read that one-bedroom apartments in the neighborhood “command as much as $1,800.” I wish. I pay more than that for mine.

Only one lucky shop and two restaurants are mentioned of the dozens and dozens that line Vanderbilt and Washington Avenues, and the “history” of the neighborhood is confined to two sentences about the composer Aaron Copland at the end, as if they ran out of column inches — but there are no column inches in the digital world.

Perhaps I’m just feeling grumpy, though it’s a beautiful April morning and I’m about to head out for a walk in Prospect Park. Probably I feel a certain proprietary interest in the quality of Times reporting, since I used to write a lot for the Home and Styles sections. And — full disclosure — maybe I’m grouchy about this particular column because last year I sent a well-thought-out pitch for a “Living in… Springs” (Long Island, N.Y.) to the editor of the Real Estate section and never got so much as a “No, thanks.”

The author of the Prospect Heights article is a New York Times media reporter, and the column is always formulaic. But still. Come on, Times! Tell us something we don’t know.