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Jacquelyn Nicoletti Gotham: NY Experience COR 390 02 Professor M. Cullinan Professor M.

Russo Fall 2013


Gentrification What is Gentrification? Gentrification is a word that is used as a noun to refer to a process by which people take up residence in traditionally working class areas. It can also be used to refer to the upgrading of old urban property by middle class people resulting in the displacement of people with lower incomes. Houses in poorer neighborhoods are bought cheaply and remodeled and over time the community becomes less affordable to live in (What Does Gentrification Mean?). Having recently completed an interactive NYC class, I saw evidence of gentrification in all five boroughs of NYC. Prior to this class, I had no knowledge of the term gentrification. Ruth Glass, a German born British sociologist created the term in 1964. Ms. Glass was born Ruth Adele Lazarus, 1912-1990. She was married to Henry William Durant, the Statistician and pioneer in the field of public opinion polling. Later, in 1942, she married David Victor Glass, a sociologist and demographer. Ms. Glass created the term gentrification to describe the process by which the poor were squeezed out of parts of London as the upper class ghettos were created. Local governments, community activists and or business groups invest in a community to spur economic development, which attracts businesses, and crime usually is lowered. Often though, either unintentionally or intentionally, those who were wealthier displaced poor residents. Typically the average family unit size decreases as the incomes rise. As those original owners or renters can no longer afford the higher costs of real estate and real estate taxes they move on to affordable living this is known to be economic eviction (What Does Gentrification Mean?).

Theories of the Roots and Spread of Gentrification By Bruce London and J. John Palen (1984) Five explanations: 1. Demographic-ecological explain gentrification through demographics 2. Sociocultural values, attitudes, ideas, beliefs etc. are used to explain, not demographics 3. Political-economical Traditional economic and political factors. Marxist gentrifications is intentional and not due to economics or political factors. 4. Community networks London and Palen view the community as an interactive social group; community lost and community saved. 5. Social movements Leader and follower relationships (Ehrenhalt, 2012) As the rent gap would predict, usually neighborhoods undergoing gentrification are those that are poor and run down and often have historical significance.

Positive and Negative Impacts of Gentrification Positive Higher incentive for property owners to increase/improve housing Reduction in crime Secondary psychological costs of displacement Stabilization of declining areas Increased property values Increased consumer purchasing power at local businesses Reduced vacancy rates Increased local fiscal revenues Community resentment and conflict Loss of affordable housing Unsustainable speculative property price increases Homelessness Greater take of local spending through lobbying/articulacy Encouragement and increased variability of further development Reduction of suburban sprawl Increased costs and changes to local services Increased social mix Displacement and housing demand pressures on surrounding poor areas Rehabilitation of property both with and without state sponsorship (What Does Gentrification Mean?) Loss of social diversity (from socially disparate to rich ghettos) Commercial/industrial displacement Negative Displacement through rent/price increases

In the past three decades New York City has been reclaiming it oldest neighborhoods. From the first invention of new communities where none stood to the first conversions of factories into loft apartments in SoHo, in lower Manhattan, in the 1970s; through the discovery of Tribeca, just to the south, in the 1980s; on through the revitalization and soaring condo prices on the Lower East Side and in Chelsea in the 1990s; and the transformation of Brooklyns Williamsburg, in the first decade of the new century, New York has seen a relentless colonization of middle and upper class residents of neighborhoods once thought to have no residential future at all (Ehrenhalt, 2012). I will give a few examples of gentrification I saw in some of the areas we went to. Long Island City has not always been the center of gentrification. It has long been an industrial community with the holding grounds for the Long Island Rail Road and other train lines. With gentrification it has become a battleground for residents vs. the idling noise of trains (Roos). Once a largely industrial neighborhood, Long Island City has become a center for contemporary art (Wright, 2008). Long Island City is undergoing hyper-intense gentrification, evidenced by high cost sky rise residences and many coffee/lounge shops with Internet access. Coney Island has not been gentrified yet, but it is on the horizon. Gentrification will soon start here because waterfront real estate is in such high demand and bringing in tons of money. Astoria, Queens is becoming a diverse community occupied by Cypriots, Brazilians, Mexicans, Columbians, Bangladeshis, Egyptians, Bosnians, and Japanese; although the most recent is the migration of young professionals across the East River. With its close proximity to Manhattan, hipsters and yuppies have discovered Astoria,

which has contributed to rising rental and housing prices. Gentrification is well under way in Queens (Reeder). In the last ten years the Lower East Side has changed dramatically. 75 Essex Street, home to Eisner Brothers, a cluttered sports apparel superstore is up for sale for $18 million. Undoubtedly, destined to become condos, a hotel, or perhaps an office building (Wyly, 2005). The East Village, previously the Lower East Side, has been transformed from a dangerous place filled with burned out buildings and squatters, to a very safe place with many yuppies living there. East Harlem, also known as Spanish Harlem, and El Barrio (the neighborhood), is the eastern section of Harlem. As soon as we got off the subway, I could see signs of gentrification, a health spa and new luxury condominiums being built. There is a lot of pressure to develop this area because of its proximity to Central Park and the northward spread of gentrification in Manhattan (Wright, 2008). In the Meat Packing District, remnants of the meat industry existed for decades. The Meatpacking District used to be warehouses and slaughterhouses only, home to druggies and prostitutes in the 70's. Now the area is gentrified with many restaurants, clubs and beer gardens. Chelsea now offers numerous upscale shops, art galleries, high priced lofts and apartments, restaurants and lounges. The Chelsea Market is housed in the former Nabisco factory. Gentrification has touched all five boroughs of NYC and has also had an impact nationwide in other major cities. Depending on which side of the fence you live on, determines whether gentrification is a good thing or bad thing for you.

Ehrenhalt, A. (2012). The Great Inversion and the Future of the American City. New York, NY: Alfred A. Knopf. Hampson, R. (n.d.). Studies: Gentrification a Boost for Everyone. Retrieved from USA Today: Kotkin, J. (2012). The Hollow Boom of Brooklyn: Behind Veneer of Gentrification, Life Gets Worse For Many. Retrieved from Forbes: Reeder, S. (n.d.). Astoria. Retrieved from The Good News/Bad News Guide to New York: Roos, D. (n.d.). How Gentrification Works. Retrieved from howstuffworks: What Does Gentrification Mean? (n.d.). Retrieved from Ask: Wright, C. v. (2008). Blue Guide New York (Fourth ed.). Somerset, Britian: Somerset Books Company. Wyly, E. & Newman, K. (2005). Gentrification and Resistance in New York City. Retrieved from NHI Shelterforce Online:

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