In Praise of GentrificationThe rest in the comments...
Why our traditional assumptions about economic development are all wrong.
Posted November 21, 2005
A shopping mall opens in a former girdle factory on Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, long since colonized by artists and retroactively claimed as their birthright. A cry goes up all over town--the neighborhood is being taken over by corporations! As it turns out, the owners are Hasidic Jews who have been in the neighborhood for generations, and the stores that open in the "mall" are all small businesses--a bookstore, a caf�, a novelty shop, and a clothing boutique.
No matter: there are other things to whine about. A 20-story hotel is going up on Rivington Street, on Manhattan's Lower East Side, in the last decade transformed from a heroin alley--where shootings were common and cab drivers refused to drop off passengers--to a neighborhood teeming with nightlife and overwhelmed on weekends by the "bridge-and-tunnel" crowd: suburbanites coming to the city to unload their cash. Gentrification! But the owner--if anyone bothered to find out--is a longtime resident who invested his own money in daring architecture to create a new local icon.
It's a never-ending refrain in New York City--a beggar can hardly get a new pair of shoes without a murmur about gentrification. The word was only a rumor to me before I moved to New York from southeast Michigan in 1995, but I was conditioned to hate the phenomenon before I had ever heard the word. As a middle-class lefty with novelistic aspirations surrounded by others of the same mind, it would have required a herculean questioning of assumed values to have thought otherwise.
density&diversity: Metropolis Article
My favorite design mag, Metropolis, has a take article on gentrification in NY. As it's behind a suscriber wall, I've posted it in its entireity.