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Kids and Class Collide in NYC's Gentrifying Chelsea

An HBO documentary follows the parallel lives of children in a fast-changing Manhattan neighborhood.
In the HBO documentary "Class Divide," kids growing up in public housing in Chelsea deal with the neighborhood's rising affluence.
In the HBO documentary "Class Divide," kids growing up in public housing in Chelsea deal with the neighborhood's rising affluence.HBO Films

Ten-year-old Rosa lives on the intersection of West 26th Street and 10th Avenue in New York City. When she looks out of her window of her family’s small apartment in the Elliot-Chelsea public housing projects, she can see the Statue of Liberty in the distance. But nearby are the “rich buildings, where other people live,” she says. “My family is poor because we live in the projects,” she adds. “I don’t have what I want, necessarily, but I do have, like, people that I love.”

Class Divide, a new HBO documentary directed by Marc Levin, follows two groups of young people from the so-called opposite sides of the tracks in the hypergentrifying Chelsea neighborhood. On one hand are kids like Rosa, who live in public housing. On the other hand are the young students at Avenues, an elite private school across the street, with swanky gyms, state-of-the-art technology, and Mandarin Chinese classes. The Avenues students inhabit the same physical space as Rosa and her classmates, but they live in a parallel universe. “The gap is just becoming larger between the two [sides of the street],” Luke, a student at the school, points out in the film. “Even though you may see just an avenue between each block, it’s actually much larger than that.” Here’s a teaser: