Segments in this Video

Changing Neighborhoods (03:00)


Residents discuss how West Chelsea has changed in recent years. A private school that costs $40,000 dollars per year is located across the street from the Elliott projects. There is a widening economic disparity between newer and long term inhabitants.

Wide Economic Disparity (03:55)

Rosa lives in the Elliott projects with her "not perfect" family, but they love each other. Her family could not afford for her to attend the private school across the street— "Avenues-The World School" opened in 2012. Upper middle class students discuss being on the bottom end of the economic spectrum at school.

Real Estate Prices Skyrocketing (02:26)

At Candida Montero's home, seven people live in a two bedroom apartment. Ricardo Scofidio describes how the High Line has transformed West Chelsea.

"Avenues" Educational Mission (02:56)

Claudia Saez-Fromm and her husband walk their daughter to school every day. Classes are bilingual in either Chinese or Spanish from preschool to the fourth grade. Chris Whittle wants to prepare children for globalization— students learn by the Harkness Method.

Crime and Poverty (03:05)

Elliott-Chelsea residents wonder how the school can be international and cost so much money. Over 4,500 people live in Elliott House, the average family of four's income is approximately $21,000, and the unemployment rate is 50%.

Gentrification (03:21)

Students discuss the widening economic disparity in the neighborhood and worry they are perceived differently. Saez-Fromm shows another "Avenues" mother the neighborhood and potential apartments. Joe Restuccia describes how West Chelsea is trying to change its image.

Changing Neighborhoods (02:43)

Jeffrey Gural discusses the role real estate plays in gentrification. Originally, West Chelsea was an industrial neighborhood with some tenements for the working class. The "Avenues" building was once a turkey slaughterhouse.

Rosa Knew Dontae (02:06)

Rosa understands she lives in a poor neighborhood. Danny, Rosa's brother, describes why he became a Republican to his friends. His goal is to become a millionaire by the time he is 27.

Pressure from Parents (02:19)

"Avenues" students share their career aspirations. Dan wants to become a doctor, but worries he will not make enough money. Both of Edgar's parents play music professionally and he dreams of attending Harvard University.

Family Struggles (03:19)

If Rosa cannot become a professional singer, she hopes to teach geology at Columbia University. Ken Jockers explains the goals of the Hudson Guild Community Center. Montero worries her husband will be deported.

Visitors to the High Line (04:48)

Five million people a year visit the High Line. Joshua David shares the history of the elevated railroad tracks and how he and Robert Hammond created "Friends of the High Line." Since 2013, almost 40% of high-end residences in Chelsea have been sold to foreign or anonymous buyers.

Rosa Hates Money (03:31)

Rosa's mother pawned her jewelry to pay rent. Whittle describes how he tries to instill in his students gratitude for their wealth. "Avenues" students discuss being financially well off.

Family Losses (03:02)

Fernando Barbecho was fired from a job he held because of getting an order incorrect. Juwan's baby brother and mother passed away, but he is still pursuing his career. Isabella's mother died from breast cancer.

Academic Pressure (02:04)

Students struggle with trying to be the "greatest of the great." Luc worries that he is perceived as an elitist.

Affordable and Luxury Apartments (03:12)

If developers rent 20% of their apartments below market rate, they receive a tax credit— tenants are chosen by lottery. The "poor door" is a separate entrance in a housing development for those living in the affordable housing apartments. Scofido was told his low income housing project was too "good."

Hudson Guild Theater (02:20)

Joel rehearses for a performance of "Romeo and Juliet." Hyisheem finds the resources at Hudson Guild Community Center invaluable. Newmark Grubb Knight Frank sponsors the "I Have a Dream" project at the community center.

Scary to Take a Chance (02:00)

Noah Klarish does not want to separate his children from the neighborhood, but instead embraces all aspects of it. Saez-Fromm shows an "Avenues" parent a $10.35 million townhouse across the street from Elliott-Chelsea.

Arrangement With Community Board (04:46)

Residents of Elliott-Chelsea were told there would be scholarships available, but none of the children have gone to the school. Of the 1200+ students at "Avenues," 45 receive a full scholarship and 107 others are awarded partial grants. Juwan and Yasemin meet and discuss prejudices and economic disparity.

Staying Rich or Staying Poor (03:16)

Nicholas feels guilty for attending "Avenues." Elliott-Chelsea residents worry they will lose their apartments to gentrification— Manhattan has lost 40% of its low income housing within the past decade. West Chelsea rental rates rose ten times faster than the rest of Manhattan.

Kicking out Tenants (02:17)

Yasmin Rodriguez discusses the impact of gentrification on West Chelsea. Andrew Rai, a social activist, worries about the future of Manhattan. Rodriguez' daughter wants to buy the apartment for her mother.

"Avenues" Student Commits Suicide (02:51)

Students react to Luc Hawkin's death. Obama announces immigration reform that will allow Barbecho to become a legal citizen. His family celebrates.

"115 Steps" (03:39)

Yasemin created a blog about "Avenues" school and Chelsea-Elliott residents. She interviews and photographs the communities, attempting to reconcile the socio-economic divide. Danny and Juwan visit the school.

Neighborhood Children Tour "Avenues" (04:52)

Miguel Acevedo wants to ensure low income students have the opportunity to attend the school. The High Line is completed in 2014. Rosa and Juan celebrate.

Credits and Updates (01:26)

See what has happened in the lives of documentary subjects since filming ended. "Avenues" accepted its first student from public housing for the 2015-2016 school year. Whittle resigned as head of the school.

Credits: Class Divide (01:21)

Credits: Class Divide

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Acclaimed filmmaker Marc Levin explores the effects of hyper-gentrification and rising economic disparity in the NYC neighborhood of West Chelsea. On one side of the intersection of 10th Ave. and 26th St. sits Avenues: The World School, an elite, state-of-the art private school (pre-K through 12th grade) with a $40,000 plus per year price tag. On the other side sits the Elliott-Chelsea public-housing projects, home to thousands of underemployed and underserved residents living mostly below the poverty line. Through the stories of young people from both sides of the street, we learn what it is like to live here, in the shadow of The High Line, a celebrated elevated park that has spawned skyrocketing property values that are among the highest in the city. As we see, the juxtaposition of “haves and have-nots” in West Chelsea underscores a growing problem in many urban meccas around the country, as low-income residents are feeling the pressure of new money and luxury living that may eventually force them to move out of the very neighborhoods where they were born and raised.

Length: 76 minutes

Item#: BVL122764

Copyright date: ©2016

Closed Captioned

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