Gentrification and urban gentrification refer to the changes that result when wealthier people ("gentry") acquire or rent property in low income and working class communities. Urban gentrification is associated with movement. Consequent to gentrification, the average income increases and average family size decreases in the community. It is commonly believed that this results in the poorer native residents of the neighborhood, being unable to pay increased rents, house prices, and property taxes, being displaced. Often old industrial buildings are converted to residences and shops. In addition, new businesses, catering to a more affluent base of consumers, move in, further increasing the appeal to more affluent migrants and decreasing the accessibility to the poor.
Urban gentrification occasionally changes the culturally heterogeneous character of a community or neighborhood to a more economically homogeneous community that some describe as having a suburban character. This process is sometimes made feasible by government-sponsored private real estate investment repairing the local infrastructure, via deferred taxes, mortgages for poor and for first-time house buyers, and financial incentives for the owners of decayed rental housing. Once in place, these economic development actions tend to reduce local property crime, increase property values and prices, and increase tax revenues.
Political action, to either promote or oppose the gentrification, is often the community's response against unintended economic eviction caused by rising rents that make continued residence in their dwellings unfeasible. The rise in property values causes property taxes based on property values to increase; resident owners unable to pay the taxes are forced to sell their dwellings and move to a cheaper community.
- 1 Origin and etymology
- 2 Causes
- 3 Gentrifier types
- 4 Control
- 5 Promotion
- 6 Examples
- 7 See also
- 8 Notes
- 9 References
- 10 External links
Origin and etymology
Gentrification has happened since ancient times; in Britain large villas were replacing small shops by the third century. The word gentrification is of much later origin. It derives from gentry, which is derived from the Old French word genterise denoting "of gentle birth" (14th c.) and "people of gentle birth" (16th c.); which in England (Landed gentry) denoted the social class, consisting of "gentlemen". An early reference to the word "gentrification" can be found in "Memoirs and Proceedings of the Manchester Literary & Philosophical Society", written in 1888. In 1964 the British sociologist Ruth Glass coined the term "gentrification" to denote the influx of middle-class people to cities and neighborhoods, displacing the lower-class worker residents; the example was London, and its working-class districts such as Islington:
One by one, many of the working class neighborhoods of London have been invaded by the middle-classes — upper and lower. Shabby, modest mews and cottages — two rooms up and two down — have been taken over, when their leases have expired, and have become elegant, expensive residences ... Once this process of 'gentrification' starts in a district it goes on rapidly, until all or most of the original working-class occupiers are displaced and the whole social character of the district is changed.
In the US, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report Health Effects of Gentrification defines the real estate concept of gentrification as "the transformation of neighborhoods from low value to high value. This change has the potential to cause displacement of long-time residents and businesses ... when long-time or original neighborhood residents move from a gentrified area because of higher rents, mortgages, and property taxes. Gentrification is a housing, economic, and health issue that affects a community's history and culture and reduces social capital. It often shifts a neighborhood's characteristics, e.g., racial-ethnic composition and household income, by adding new stores and resources in previously run-down neighborhoods."
In the Brookings Institution report Dealing with Neighborhood Change: A Primer on Gentrification and Policy Choices (2001), Maureen Kennedy and Paul Leonard say that "the term 'gentrification' is both imprecise and quite politically charged", suggesting its redefinition as "the process by which higher income households displace lower income residents of a neighborhood, changing the essential character and flavor of that neighborhood", so distinguishing it from the different socio-economic process of "neighborhood (or urban) revitalization", although the terms are sometimes used interchangeably.
There are several approaches that attempt to explain the roots and the reasons behind the spread of gentrification. Bruce London and J. John Palen (1984) compiled a list of five explanations: (1) demographic-ecological, (2) sociocultural, (3) political-economical, (4) community networks, and (5) social movements.
The first theory, demographic-ecological, attempts to explain gentrification through the analysis of demographics: population, social organization, environment, and technology. This theory frequently refers to the growing number of people between the ages of 25 and 35 in the 1970s, or the baby boom generation. Because the number of people that sought housing increased, the demand for housing increased also. The supply could not keep up with the demand; therefore cities were "recycled" to meet such demands (London and Palen, 1984). The baby boomers in pursuit of housing were very different, demographically, from their house-hunting predecessors. They got married older, had fewer children, and the children they did have were born later. Women, both single and married, were entering the labor force at higher rates which led to an increase of dual wage-earner households. These households were typically composed of young, more affluent couples without children. Because these couples were child-free and were not concerned with the conditions of schools and playgrounds, they elected to live in the inner-city in close proximity to their jobs. These more affluent people usually had white-collar, not blue-collar jobs. Since these white-collar workers wanted to live closer to work, a neighborhood with more white-collar jobs was more likely to be invaded; the relationship between administrative activity and invasion was positively correlated (London and Palen, 1984).
The second theory proposed by London and Palen is based on a sociocultural explanation of gentrification. This theory argues that values, sentiments, attitudes, ideas, beliefs, and choices should be used to explain and predict human behavior, not demographics, or "structural units of analysis" (i.e., characteristics of populations) (London and Palen, 1984). This analysis focuses on the changing attitudes, lifestyles, and values of the middle- and upper-middle-class of the 1970s. They were becoming more pro-urban than before, opting not to live in rural or even suburban areas anymore. These new pro-urban values were becoming more salient, and more and more people began moving into the cities. London and Palen refer to the first people to invade the cities as "urban pioneers." These urban pioneers demonstrated that the inner-city was an "appropriate" and "viable" place to live, resulting in what is called "inner city chic" (London and Palen, 1984). The opposing side of this argument is that dominant, or recurring, American values determine where people decide to live, not the changing values previously cited. This means that people choose to live in a gentrified area to restore it, not to alter it, because restoration is a "new way to realize old values" (London and Palen, 1984).
The third theoretical explanation of gentrification is political-economic and is divided into two approaches: traditional and Marxist. The traditional approach argues that economic and political factors have led to the invasion of the inner-city, hence the name political-economic. The changing political and legal climate of the 1950s and 60s (new civil rights legislation, antidiscrimination laws in housing and employment, and desegregation) had an "unanticipated" role in the gentrification of neighborhoods. A decrease in prejudice led to more blacks moving to the suburbs and whites no longer rejected the idea of moving to the city. The decreasing availability of suburban land and inflation in suburban housing costs also inspired the invasion of the cities. The Marxist approach denies the notion that the political and economic influences on gentrification are invisible, but are intentional. This theory claims that "powerful interest groups follow a policy of neglect of the inner city until such time as they become aware that policy changes could yield tremendous profits" (London and Palen, 1984). Once the inner city becomes a source of revenue, the powerless residents are displaced with little or no regard from the powerful.
The community-network approach is the fourth proposed by London and Palen. This views the community as an "interactive social group." Two perspectives are noted: community lost and community saved. The community lost perspective argues that the role of the neighborhood is becoming more limited due to technological advances in transportation and communication. This means that the small-scale, local community is being replaced with more large-scale, political and social organizations (Greer, 1962). The opposing side, the community saved side, argues that community activity increases when neighborhoods are gentrified because these neighborhoods are being revitalized.
The fifth and final approach is social movements. This theoretical approach is focused on the analysis of ideologically based movements, usually in terms of leader-follower relationships. Those who support gentrification are encouraged by leaders (successful urban pioneers, political-economic elites, land developers, lending institutions, and even the Federal government in some instances) to revive the inner-city. Those who are in opposition are the people who currently reside in the deteriorated areas. They develop countermovements in order to gain the power necessary to defend themselves against the movements of the elite. These countermovements can be unsuccessful, though. The people who support reviving neighborhoods are also members, and their voices are the ones that the gentrifiers tend to hear (London and Palen, 1984).
Two discrete, sociologic theories explain and justify gentrification as an economic process (production-side theory) and as a social process (consumption-side theory) that occurs when the suburban gentry tire of the automobile-dependent urban sprawl style of life; thus, professionals, empty nest aged parents, and recent university graduates perceive the attractiveness of the city center — earlier abandoned during white flight — especially if the poor community possesses a transport hub and its architecture sustains the pedestrian traffic that allows the proper human relations impeded by (sub)urban sprawl.
The production-side theory of urban gentrification derives from the work of Professor Neil Smith, explaining gentrification as an economic process consequent to the fluctuating relationships among capital investments and the production of urban space. Low rents in the city's periphery, during the two decades after the Second World War (1939–1945), provoked continuous diversions of city housing capital for the development of suburbs and rural areas. That spending of city money on suburbs then devalued inner-city capital property, provoked the economic abandonment of the city in favor of peripheral rural property, consequently, the low price of inner-city land, relative to the high price of rural land. From this derives the Rent-gap Theory describing the disparity between "the actual capitalized ground rent (land price) of a plot of land given its present use, and the potential ground rent that might be gleaned under a 'higher and better' use".
The rent gap is fundamental to explaining gentrification as an economic process. When the gap is sufficiently wide, real estate developers, landlords, and other people with vested interests in the development of land perceive the potential profit to be derived from re-investing in inner-city properties and redeveloping them for new tenants. Such redevelopment effectively closes the rent gap, leading to higher rents, mortgages, and lease rates affordable by the new tenants, but not by the original lower income tenants.
Furthermore, the de-industrialization of a city reduces the number of blue-collar jobs available to the urban working class — lost investment capital needed to physically maintain the houses and buildings of the city. De-industrialization is often integral to the growth of a divided white collar employment tertiary sector of industry, some of whom take the professional and management jobs that follow the spatial centralization of capital, i.e., corporations requiring that employees live near their workplace to reduce corporate decision-making time.
The consumption-side theory of urban gentrification posits that the "socio-cultural characteristics and motives" of the gentrifiers are most important to understanding the gentrification of the post-industrial city — characterised by an "employment profile focused on advanced services ... [a] profile that is materialized in a downtown skyline of office towers, arts and leisure sites, and political institutions. Its middle-class ambiance may be reflected in a distinctive politics, charged with a responsible social ethos ... the demand for more amenities, for greater beauty and a better quality of life in the arrangement of our cities".
As such, David Ley posits a rehabilitated post-industrial city influenced by a "new middle class" containing a cultural sub-class denominated as a creative class of artists, teachers, and cultural administrators. They are the first-stage gentrifiers economically preparing the inner city for gentrification — by introducing to the city the rich bourgeois politics characterised by diminished public funding for housing affordable to middle- and low-income residents, draconian residency laws against the homeless and the poor displaced when "artists move into otherwise undesirable buildings, [and] usually make significant improvements to their spaces, and their surrounding areas. Everyone benefits from these tenuous and uneasy ... arrangements. Then, landlords becoming aware that they are sitting on gold mines, rush to cash in".
To wit, sociologist Sharon Zukin reports the economic realities of the "artist loft" real estate business in Manhattan, when the owners of the building where she resided converted it to a "co-op" administration in 1979, and she "bade good-bye to the manufacturers, an artist, and several residents who could not afford the market prices at which our lofts were sold". In the event, rich lawyers and accountants, retail business people and investment bankers replaced the suburban "starving artist" bohemian "first-stage gentrifiers" who initiated the gentrification of Hell's Kitchen, in mid-town New York City, Harlem, Washington Heights, Astoria, and areas of West/Northwest Brooklyn.
Professor Smith and Marxist sociologists explain gentrification as a structural economic process; Ley explains gentrification as a natural outgrowth of increased professional employment in the central business district (CBD), and the creative sub-class's predilection for city living. "Liberal Ideology and the Post-Industrial City" (1980) describes and deconstructs the TEAM committee's effort to rendering Vancouver, BC, Canada, a "livable city". The investigators Rose, Beauregard, Mullins, Moore et al., who base themselves upon Ley's ideas, posit that "gentrifiers and their social and cultural characteristics [are] of crucial importance for an understanding of gentrification" — theoretical work Chris Hamnett criticized as insufficiently comprehensive, for not incorporating the "supply of dwellings and the role of developers [and] speculators in the process".
Gentrification is integral to the new economy of centralized, high-level services work — the "new urban economic core of banking and service activities that come to replace the older, typically manufacturing-oriented, core" that displaces middle-class retail businesses so they might be "replaced by upmarket boutiques and restaurants catering to new high-income urban élites". In the context of globalization, the city's importance is determined by its ability to function as a discrete socio-economic entity, given the lesser import of national borders, resulting in de-industrialized global cities and economic restructuring.
To wit, the American urban theorist John Friedman's seven-part theory posits a bifurcated service industry in world cities, composed of "a high percentage of professionals specialized in control functions and ... a vast army of low-skilled workers engaged in ... personal services ... [that] cater to the privileged classes, for those whose sake the world city primarily exists". The final three hypotheses detail (i) the increased immigration of low-skill labourers needed to support the privileged classes, (ii) the class and caste conflict consequent to the city's inability to support the poor people who are the service class, and (iii) the world city as a function of social class struggle — matters expanded by Saskia Sassen et al. The world city's inherent socio-economic inequality illustrates the causes of gentrification, reported in "Where Did They Go? The Decline of Middle-Income Neighborhoods in Metropolitan America" (2006) demonstrating geographical segregation by income in US cities, wherein middle-income (middle class) neighborhoods decline, while poor neighborhoods and rich neighborhoods remain stable.
As of 2011[update], gentrification in Canada has proceeded quickly in older and denser cities such as Toronto, Montreal, and especially Vancouver, but has barely begun in places such as Calgary, Edmonton, or Winnipeg, where suburban expansion is still the primary type of growth. In Canada, gentrifiers from the suburbs are more likely to be from long-established families rather than new immigrants; however, since Canada did not experience nearly the same degree of "white flight" as in the U.S. during the 1960s and 70s, the term "gentrification" in Canada is not synonymous with white people moving into the neighbourhoods of people of colour, as it (nearly) is the United States. In fact in Toronto and Vancouver recent Asian immigrants are also major purchasers of downtown housing, leading to a major housing price spike in those cities in 2011.
In U.S. cities, the gentrifiers often resemble the populace who earlier abandoned the city in the phenomenon of white flight. From this perspective gentrification is merely the sociological reverse of white flight. The consumption-side theory of gentrification requires the existence of a service sector economic class of university-educated adults (aged 25–45) with disposable income who wish to live near their jobs in the city. This economic class arose when most Western economies transitioned from manufacturing to post-industrial service economies.
Gentrification-increased property values are a positive economic development for cities when tax revenues increase consequent to increased property values, however existing residents experience the change as increased property taxes. The increased taxes force many original property owners to either pay and stay (via higher rents for their tenants) or to sell and leave the gentrifying community. In gentrifying communities without strong rent-control laws poor residents are informally evicted when they cannot afford the increased rents. As a result, such economically limited people usually oppose gentrification.
In Finland, the phenomenon, called syrjäytyneiden akanvirta in Finnish, meaning "migration of the disadvantaged" (literally "eddy of the disadvantaged"), has begun at wider range in the beginning of 2000s, when living costs in larger cities have grown. The welfare support isn't large enough to live in bigger cities when housing costs rise because housing situation is hard in the cities. Marginalized people have also many problems in living, so there is a constant fear of eviction from municipality-owned public housing. People who are poor and suffer from many problems of controlling their lives, move out to private-owned housing very far away, where living is cheap. There are a number of businessmen who buy old school buildings and renovate them to housing: the businessmen then offer these apartments as "a place of last resort" for "difficult" cases that municipalities are reluctant to take into public housing apartments. Even the most marginalized people are welcomed to this kind of housing. Municipalities that have acknowledged the migration include Ilomantsi, Luhanka, Puolanka, and Rääkkylä.
The suburban middle-class typically do not initiate gentrification of city neighborhoods; the process typically begins via "first-stage gentrifiers", economically and socially marginal "trend setters". Sociologically, these people are young and have low incomes while possessing the cultural capital (education and a job), characteristic of the suburban bourgeois. They often reside in communal (room-mate) households, and are more tolerant of the perceived evils of the city — crime, poor schools, insufficient public services, and few shops.
The gentrification of a city community proceeds when the number of trend-setters multiplies to the degree that business re-investment reappears in the form of the social amenities the bourgeoisie values — bars, restaurants, and commercial art galleries. The renewed business attracts other people of like socio-economic outlook, and investment capital follows, thus increasing local property values. Once the pioneer business entrepreneurs have taken the financial risk out of the gentrified city community the way is opened for more risk-averse investors and residents to enter the "new" city neighborhood. Upon full gentrification, the "first-stage gentrifiers" are often (informally) economically evicted via higher rents, mortgages and property taxes.
Urban gentrification does not always require the intermediate steps outlined. Central planning combined with investment can facilitate a more direct transition from under-development to gentrification as in the London Docklands, and other CBD-adjacent urban renewal projects. The comprehensive redevelopment of the South Loop in Chicago, Illinois in the US provides a pertinent example: government and large private developers invested in poor communities with capital sufficient to forgo the intermediate stages of gentrification, successfully stabilising a large area so that the middle class desired to live there.
Impact on artist colonies
In the course of gentrification, an artist colony in the city is transformed from a poor to a rich neighborhood when artists and sub-culture aficionados (e.g., hipsters, hippies, et al.) live in poor neighborhoods of devalued real estate, because of the low rents, central locale in the city proper, and "gritty" cultural "sense of authenticity", of being true to life. As the bohemian character of the community grows, it appeals "not only to committed participants, but also to sporadic consumers" who eventually economically push out the earlier arrival sub-culture aficionados. Hence gentrification's economic eviction of hippies from the Greenwich Village, Manhattan, New York City, in the 1960s:
By the early 1960s, the Beats' enclave of Greenwich Village had been ... commercialized by middle-class onlookers ... Between 1964 and 1968, dozens of specialty shops that catered to the hippies had opened along St. Mark's Place ... In addition to students and hippies, the neighborhood's countercultural atmosphere attracted copywriters, editorial workers, fashion designers, and commercial artists ... Although the youthful movement criticized middle-class values and lifestyles, its members, nonetheless, were of largely middle-class origin living in one of the poorest working-class districts in the city.
Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Manhattan lofts in SoHo were converted en masse into housing for artists and hippies, and then their sub-culture followers. As the price of living — and consequent social status — in those neighborhoods rose, the artists moved to Park Slope, Brooklyn, Hoboken, New Jersey and Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Current areas of gentrification run the BMT Canarsie Line (L train) and IND Crosstown Line (G train) of the New York City Subway system. Adjacent hipster enclaves include neighboring Bushwick, Bedford Stuyvesant and Flatbush although these neighborhoods are also seeing higher rents. Similar gentrification occurred throughout the 1990s and 2000s in the East Village and the Lower East Side of New York City, economically pushing out theatres and performance-art spaces such as Collective:Unconscious, Surf Reality, House of Candles, Piano's (Theater), and The Present Company.
Gay and lesbian people
Manuel Castells's seminal work about gay men as "gentrifiers" in San Francisco, California, shows that "many gays were single men, did not have to raise a family, were young, and connected to a relatively prosperous service economy" is a pattern replicated in other North American cities. An illustration of this sociologic phenomenon is the film Quinceañera (2006), directed by Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland, containing a thematic sub-plot about the gentrification of the protagonists' inner-city neighborhood, Echo Park in Los Angeles, CA.
The documentary Flag Wars (2003), directed by Linda Goode Bryant, shows the social, class, and gender tensions in the Old Towne East neighborhood in Columbus, Ohio, between an urban African-American community and the mostly white gays and lesbians moving in to the neighborhood, whom the original residents accused of gentrification and racism. In turn, the new residents accused the community of homophobia.
In 2006, in Washington, D.C., a religious congregation in the black Shaw neighborhood opposed the granting of a liquor license to a gay bar that was to open across the street from the church. The bar was successfully opened and has since been replaced by another gay bar at the same location.
Gay people are not always the gentrifiers: real estate valuation trends can push out poor gay people, as in the Polk District in San Francisco: radical gay activists saw the value of a poor neighborhood as refuge for the economically and socially marginal.
To counter the gentrification of their mixed-populace communities, residents formally organized themselves to develop the necessary socio-political strategies required to retain local affordable housing; many such organizations arose in the 1960s, and used the pragmatic tactics advocated by Saul Alinsky (1909–1972). In the late 1960s, the Young Lords Chicago street gang — who were politically active in the then-Puerto Rican neighborhood of Lincoln Park — practiced the direct-action techniques of sit-in protests and occupying vacant community lands. In Miami, Florida, the Liberty City community organization "Take Back the Land" seized empty lands and built the Umoja Village shantytown for the community's homeless people in October 2006. Like-wise, other communities established community development corporations that include the residents in actively developing their neighborhoods.
Direct action and sabotage
When wealthy people move into low-income working class neighborhoods, the resulting class conflict sometimes involves vandalism and arson targeting the property of the gentrifiers. During the dot-com boom of the late 1990s, the gentrification of San Francisco's predominantly working class Mission District led some long-term neighborhood residents to create what they called the "Mission Yuppie Eradication Project." This group allegedly destroyed property and called for property destruction as part of a strategy to oppose gentrification. Their activities drew hostile responses from the San Francisco Police Department, real estate interests, and "work-within-the-system" housing activists.
Meibion Glyndŵr (Welsh: Sons of Glyndŵr) was a Welsh nationalist movement violently opposed to the loss of Welsh culture and language. They were formed in response to the housing crisis precipitated by large numbers of second homes being bought by the English which had pushed up house prices beyond the means of many locals. They were responsible for setting fire to English-owned holiday homes in Wales from 1979 to the mid 1990s. In the first wave of attacks, eight English-owned holiday homes were destroyed within the space of a month. In 1980 Welsh Police carried out a series of raids in Operation Tân. Within the next ten years around 220 properties were damaged by the campaign. Since the mid-1990s the group has been inactive and Welsh nationalist violence has ceased.
The gentrification of a mixed-income community raises housing affordability to the fore of the community's politics. Cities, municipalities, and counties have countered gentrification with inclusionary zoning (inclusionary housing) ordinances requiring the apportionment of some new housing for the community's original low- and moderate-income residents. Because inclusionary zoning is a new social concept, there are few reports qualifying its effective or ineffective limitation of gentrification. In Los Angeles, California, inclusionary zoning apparently accelerated gentrification, as older, unprofitable buildings were razed and replaced with mostly high-rent housing, and a small percentage of affordable housing; the net result was less affordable housing.
Besides the informal, economic eviction of the community's poorer residents, another detrimental aspect of gentrification is its negative economic impact upon the community's commerce. Often, a neighborhood in mid-gentrification has marketable artist colony cachet that renders it popular, because of its nightlife, light industry, and arts-and-crafts businesses. In the event, the (ex-suburban) new-resident gentry complain to local government about the artist-colony "noise", pressuring the authorities to impose financially onerous noise-limitation requirements that eventually (and informally) evict said urban pioneer businesses. In New Zealand, this practice is called reverse sensitivity, a novel approach whereby the local gentry use land-use zones to identify feasible "reverse sensitivity" matters, i.e., "noisy neighbors" who then must meet zoning requirements mitigating their noise, or leave.
Zoning ordinances and other urban planning tools can also be used to recognize and support local business and industries. This can include requiring developers to continue with a current commercial tenant or offering development incentives for keeping existing businesses, as well as creating and maintaining industrial zones. Designing zoning to allow new housing near to a commercial corridor but not on top of it increases foot traffic to local businesses without redeveloping them. Businesses can become more stable by securing long-term commercial leases.
Community land trusts
Because land speculation tends to raise property values, removing real estate (houses, buildings, land) from the open market stabilises property values, and thereby prevents the economic eviction of the community's poorer residents. The most common, formal legal mechanism for such stability is the community land trust; moreover, many inclusionary zoning ordinances formally place the "inclusionary" housing units in a land trust.
In jurisdictions where local or national government has these powers, there may be rent control regulations. Rent control restricts the rent that can be charged, so that incumbent tenants are not forced out by rising rents. If applicable to private landlords, it is a disincentive to speculating with property values, reduces the incidence of dwellings left empty, and limits availability of housing for new residents. If the law does not restrict the rent charged for dwellings that come onto the rental market (formerly owner-occupied or new build), rents in an area can still increase. The cities of southwestern Santa Monica and eastern West Hollywood in California, United States gentrified despite — or perhaps, because of — rent control.
Occasionally, a housing black market develops, wherein landlords withdraw houses and apartments from the market, making them available only upon payment of additional key money, fees, or bribes — thus undermining the rent control law. Many such laws allow "vacancy decontrol", releasing a dwelling from rent control upon the tenant's leaving — resulting in steady losses of rent-controlled housing, ultimately rendering rent control laws ineffective in communities with a high rate of resident turnover. In other cases social housing owned by local authorities may be sold to tenants and then sold on. Vacancy decontrol encourages landlords to find ways of shortening their residents' tenure, most aggressively through landlord harassment. To strengthen the rent control laws of New York City, New York, housing advocates active in rent control in New York are attempting to repeal the vacancy decontrol clauses of rent control laws. The state of Massachusetts abolished rent control in 1994; afterwards, rents rose, accelerating the pace of Boston's gentrification; however, the laws protected few apartments, and confounding factors, such as a strong economy, had already been raising housing and rental prices.
In Loft Living (1989), sociologist Sharon Zukin reports an apparently contradictory "Artistic Mode of Production", wherein patrician capitalists seek to increase the property values (i.e., gentrify) city communities by economically recruiting and retaining artists to reside in, and commercially occupy, the industrial buildings (usually) converted into an "artist's loft complex". First renting to urban pioneer "poor artists" develops the marketable artist colony cachet that appeals to suburban gentry seeking to buy a city dwelling; the gentrification imparts a commercially "hip" ambience to the surrounding community; in the event, property values rise.
Worldwide, cities with blighted communities effected public policy using this economic development model in poor neighborhoods; in the UK, the governments of Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Liverpool, via their regional development agencies, and in partnerships with private real estate speculators, attempted to artificially stimulate gentrification as urban renewal. In the US, the Jackson City, Michigan, city council re-developed a closed nineteenth-century state prison building-complex with affordable housing in the jail-house proper, and artist-loft spaces in the other buildings of the complex.
Economically, US municipal governments use tax increment financing (TIF) to rehabilitate decayed city communities with real estate development partnerships, between the municipal governments and public-private partnerships and non-profit organizations, and so offer subsidized, discounted-interest-rate mortgages to artists who buy property and reside in neighborhoods being gentrified, e.g., the Paducah Artist Relocation Program of Paducah, Kentucky. Per the TIF economic development model, the infrastructure improvements, public subsidies to private business, and consequent high property values, should encourage additional private real estate investment to the once-blighted urban community. The government re-activates the economy of the poor community with a TIF program that rehabilitates the infrastructure of the neighborhoods being gentrified; resultantly, property values and property tax revenues would rise. Moreover, for a fixed number of years, all of the TIF program-generated increased tax-revenues are paid to the TIF program-administration agency; to be spent only for improving the gentrified TIF district, and usually paid to the private real estate developer (a TIF program partner) responsible for improvements.
Inner London, England, United Kingdom
Gentrification is not a new phenomenon in Britain; in ancient Rome the shop-free forum was developed during the Roman Republican period, and in second- and third-century cities in Roman Britain there is evidence of small shops being replaced by large villas.
King's College London academic Loretta Lees reported that much of inner-city London was undergoing "super-gentrification", where "a new group of super-wealthy professionals, working in the City of London, is slowly imposing its mark on this Inner London housing market, in a way that differentiates it, and them, from traditional gentrifiers, and from the traditional urban upper classes ... Super-gentrification is quite different from the classical version of gentrification. It's of a higher economic order; you need a much higher salary and bonuses to live in Barnsbury" (some two miles north of central London).
Barnsbury was built around 1820, as a middle-class suburb, but after the Second World War (1939–1945), people moved to the suburbs. The upper and middle classes were fleeing from the working class residents of London; the modern railroad allowed it. At war's end, the great housing demand rendered Barnsbury the place of cheap housing, where most people shared accommodation. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, people moving into the area had to finance house renovations with their money, because banks rarely financed loans for Barnsbury. Moreover, the rehabilitating spark was The 1959 Housing Purchase and Housing Act, investing £100 million to rehabilitating old properties and infrastructure. Resultantly, the principal population influx occurred between 1961 and 1975; the UK Census reports that "between the years of 1961 and 1981, owner-occupation increased from 7 to 19 per cent, furnished rentals declined from 14 to 7 per cent, and unfurnished rentals declined from 61 to 6 per cent"; another example of urban gentrification is the super-gentrification, in the 1990s, of the neighbouring working-class London Borough of Islington, where Prime minister Tony Blair moved upon his election in 1997.
Darien Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Gentrification Amid Urban Decline: Strategies for America's Older Cities, by Michael Lang, reports the process and impact (social, economic, cultural) of gentrification upon the "Darien Street" community of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, an alley in the populous Bella Vista neighborhood. Darien Street was a "back street", because it did not (and does not) connect to any of the city's main arteries, and it was unpaved for most of its existence.
In its early days, Darien Street housed only Italian families, however, after the Second World War (1939–1945), when the municipal government spoke of building a cross-town highway, the families moved out. In Darien Street, most of the houses date from 1885 (built for the artisans and craftsmen who worked and lived in the area), but, when the Italian Americans moved out, the community's low-rent houses went to poor Black American families. Moreover, by the early 1970s, blighted Darien Street was at its lowest point as a community, because the houses held little property value, many were abandoned, having broken heaters and collapsed roofs, et cetera. Furthermore, the houses were very small — approximately 15 feet (4.6 m) wide and 15 feet (4.6 m) deep, each had three one-room stories (locally known, and still currently advertised as a "Trinity" style house,) and the largest yard was 8 feet (2.4 m) deep. Despite the decay, Darien Street remained charmed with European echoes, each house was architecturally different, contributing to the street's community character; children were safe, there was no car traffic. The closeness of the houses generated a closely knit community located just to the south of Center City, an inexpensive residential neighborhood a short distance from the city-life amenities of Philadelphia; the city government did not hesitate to rehabilitate it.
The gentrification began in 1977, the first house rehabilitated was a corner property that a school teacher re-modeled and occupied. The next years featured (mostly) white middle-class men moving into the abandoned houses; the first displacement of original Darien Street residents occurred in 1979. Two years later, five of seven families had been economically evicted with inflated housing prices; the two remaining families were renters, expecting eventual displacement. In five years, from 1977 to 1982, the gentrification of Darien Street reduced the original population from seven Black American households and one white household, to two Black households and eleven white households. The average rent increased 488 per cent — from $85 to $500 a month; by 1981, a house bought for $5,000 sold for $35,000. Of the five Black households displaced, three found better houses within two blocks of their original residence, one family left Pennsylvania, and one family moved into a public housing apartment building five blocks from Darien Street. The benefits of the Darien Street gentrification included increased property tax revenues and better-quality housing. The principal detriment was residential displacement via higher priced housing.
The phenomenon called syrjäytyneiden akanvirta in Finnish, meaning "migration of the disadvantaged" (literally "eddy of the disadvantaged"), has begun at wider range in the beginning of 2000s, when living costs in larger growth center cities have grown. The social support is not large enough to live in bigger cities when housing costs rise because housing situation is hard in the cities. Marginalized people have also many problems in living, so there is a constant fear of eviction from municipality-owned public housing. People who are poor and suffer from many problems of controlling their lives, move out to cheap private-owned housing very far away, where living is cheap. There are a number of businessmen, who buy old school buildings and renovate them to housing. The businessmen then offer these apartments as "a place of last resort" for "difficult" cases, that municipalities are reluctant to take into public housing apartments. Even the most marginalized people are welcomed to this kind of housing.
The following municipalities have acknowledged the migration: Ilomantsi, Luhanka, Puolanka and Rääkkylä.
Cape Town, South Africa
The Bo-Kaap pocket of Cape Town nestles against the slopes of Signal Hill. It has traditionally been occupied by members of South Africa's minority, mainly Muslim, Cape Malay community. These descendants of slaves, artisans and indentured workers, brought to the Cape as early as the 18th century, were housed in small barrack-like abodes on what used to be the outskirts of town. As the city limits increased, property in the Bo-Kaap became very sought after, not only for its location but also for its picturesque cobble-streets and narrow avenues. Increasingly, this close-knit community is "facing a slow dissolution of its distinctive character as wealthy outsiders move into the suburb to snap up homes in the City Bowl at cut-rate prices". Inter-community conflict has also arisen as some residents object to the sale of buildings and the resultant eviction of long-term residents.
Cabanyal, Valencia, Spain
Since the end of the 19th century, Cabanyal–Canyamelar has been a district of Valencia, the neighborhood by the sea in Valencia City (Spain). It still retains a gridded urban system because of the "barracas", old typical buildings from Valencia.
Again we see the eternal confrontation: between heritage conservation and "speculative development" of a city. Since the last century, the people of Cabanyal have lived with the threat of the expansion of Blasco Ibáñez Avenue. With the construction of the railway station in Serrería Avenue, we felt that history of this avenue ended. It was the desired connection of Valencia with Sea Villages.
On July 24, 1998, in the congress of Valencia Council, the Popular Party, with its majority, approved the draft of extending Blasco Ibáñez Av. to the sea. The project involves the destruction of 1,651 homes and destruction of urban grid of Cabanyal–Canyamelar, a neighborhood declared Property with Cultural Interest. This project splits the former village into two halves completely isolated from each other.
The project of extending Blasco Ibáñez Avenue to the sea destroys a historic set of ancient buildings. Furthermore, the project also destroys a way of life, of social and human relationships, a culture of special character because of its relationship with the sea.
Since then the neighbors of Cabanyal–Canyamelar–Cap de França have not stopped fighting for their rights and homes, requesting a Plan of Conservation and Rehabilitation of the district without any response by the municipality of Valencia, which has not even agreed to meet the representatives from the neighborhood.
The citizen platform Salvem el Cabanyal tries to stop this gentrification process.
In Boston's North End, the destruction of the noisy Central Artery elevated highway attracted younger, more affluent new residents, in place of the traditional Italian immigrant culture.
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- Urban Geographer Tom Slater, PhD
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- "The New Harlem" by Rivka Gewirtz Little, Village Voice, September 18, 2002.
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- "Hipsters Defend Brooklyn" by Sarah Ferguson, Village Voice, April 3, 2005.
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- "Interview with Neil Smith about gentrification in Berlin and state revanchism in Germany" October 20, 2007[dead link]
- Urban geography
- Urban studies and planning terminology
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