In Black on the Block, Mary Pattillo—a Newsweek Woman of the 21st Century—uses the historic rise, alarming fall, and equally dramatic renewal of Chicago’s North Kenwood–Oakland neighborhood to explore the politics of race and class in contemporary urban America.
There was a time when North Kenwood–Oakland was plagued by gangs, drugs, violence, and the font of poverty from which they sprang. But in the late 1980s, activists rose up to tackle the social problems that had plagued the area for decades. Black on the Block tells the remarkable story of how these residents laid the groundwork for a revitalized and self-consciously black neighborhood that continues to flourish today. But theirs is not a tale of easy consensus and political unity, and here Pattillo teases out the divergent class interests that have come to define black communities like North Kenwood–Oakland. She explores the often heated battles between haves and have-nots, home owners and apartment dwellers, and newcomers and old-timers as they clash over the social implications of gentrification. Along the way, Pattillo highlights the conflicted but crucial role that middle-class blacks play in transforming such districts as they negotiate between established centers of white economic and political power and the needs of their less fortunate black neighbors.
“A century from now, when today's sociologists and journalists are dust and their books are too, those who want to understand what the hell happened to Chicago will be finding the answer in this one.”—ChicagoReader
“To see how diversity creates strange and sometimes awkward bedfellows . . . turn to Mary Pattillo's Black on the Block.”—BostonGlobe
The editors and contributors to this volume are not willing to accept what is known as uneven development, where some cities win and some lose. They look at two practical consequences of urban growth: the change in residence patterns as neighborhoods gentrify, and the change in employment patterns, as factory workers lose jobs and white-collar workers gain jobs. The editors' goal is to highlight the alternatives to uneven development and to the growth ideology. They outline and advocate specific policies, including affordable housing, changes in taxation, and direct community participation in planning and zoning decisions.
Challenging Uneven Development begins with a rousing discussion of the pervasiveness of the community redevelopment ideology. The growth machine defines the language of the debate. The next group of chapters examine residence patterns--how communities have organized to fight gentrification, why residential integration is essential for good planning as well as morality, and what strategies can be used to achieve racial diversity. Another chapter emphasizes the role of lenders in regulating the flow of credit within communities. Disinvestment by credit providers causes decline, and opens the way for gentrification, which displaces local residents. The impact of taxes in stimulating the growth machine is also explained.
Later chapters move beyond gentrification issues to examine other problems of economic restructuring. They look at how blacks, Latinos, and women have been affected by the growth of service sector jobs. The final chapter serves as a strategic guide to those who wish to establish a progressive agenda for community-based economic development. The authors call for social change, not unimaginative reform.
The contributors to this volume are leaders or researchers from community organizations, civic groups, government agencies, and universities. In addition to the editors, they are Mel King, Teresa Cordova, Daniel Lauber, Jena Pogge, David Flax-Hatch, Arthur Lyons, Wendy Wintermute, Charles Hicklin, Jeffrey D. Reckinger, David Mosena, Charlotte Chun, Raymndo Flores, Luther Snow, Deborah Bennett, John Betancur, and Patricia Wright. They have presented "state-of-the-art" progressive policy solutions for urban problems.
As an undergraduate at Brown University, Tyler Denmead founded New Urban Arts, a nationally recognized arts and humanities program primarily for young people of color in Providence, Rhode Island. Along with its positive impact, New Urban Arts, under his leadership, became entangled in Providence's urban renewal efforts that harmed the very youth it served. As in many deindustrialized cities, Providence's leaders viewed arts, culture, and creativity as a means to drive property development and attract young, educated, and affluent white people, such as Denmead, to economically and culturally kick-start the city. In The Creative Underclass, Denmead critically examines how New Urban Arts and similar organizations can become enmeshed in circumstances where young people, including himself, become visible once the city can leverage their creativity to benefit economic revitalization and gentrification. He points to the creative cultural practices that young people of color from low-income communities use to resist their subjectification as members of an underclass, which, along with redistributive economic policies, can be deployed as an effective means with which to both oppose gentrification and better serve the youth who have become emblematic of urban creativity.
Modern Rome is a city rife with contradictions. Once the seat of ancient glory, it is now often the object of national contempt. It plays a significant part on the world stage, but the concerns of its residents are often deeply parochial. And while they live in the seat of a world religion, Romans can be vehemently anticlerical. These tensions between the past and the present, the global and the local, make Rome fertile ground to study urban social life, the construction of the past, the role of religion in daily life, and how a capital city relates to the rest of the nation.
Michael Herzfeld focuses on Rome’s historic Monti district and the wrenching dislocation caused by rapid economical, political, and social change. Evicted from Eternity tells the story of the gentrification of Monti—once the architecturally stunning home of a community of artisans and shopkeepers now displaced by an invasion of rapacious real estate speculators, corrupt officials, dithering politicians, deceptive clerics, and shady thugs. As Herzfeld picks apart the messy story of Monti’s transformation, he ranges widely over many aspects of life there and in the rest of the city, richly depicting the uniquely local landscape of globalization in Rome.
Gentrification Down the Shore
Molly Vollman Makris Rutgers University Press, 2021 Library of Congress HT177.A76M35 2020 | Dewey Decimal 307.760974946
Gentrification in cities in the United States is a hot topic, but this book contributes something new to the ongoing discussion by offering a rich case study of seasonal gentrification and its effects on long time residents. Asbury Park, New Jersey, an iconic beachfront city, was a dynamic resort community in the late 19th and early 20th century. As the century wore on Asbury Park became an illustration of some of the macro social and economic structural changes occurring in cities across the United States with its own beachfront twist. Yet in 2019 Asbury Park’s narrative has shifted again—named among the coolest small towns in America the city has multimillion-dollar beachfront condos attracting the attention of Hollywood stars and national media attention as a travel destination. Summer days in Asbury once again
mean tourists strolling the boardwalk and dining by the Atlantic Ocean. But just across the railroad tracks from the seasonal crowds, many of Asbury’s long-time residents live below poverty and struggle for their share of this prosperity throughout all four seasons of the year.
Molly Vollman Makris and Mary Gatta engage in a rich ethnographic investigation of Asbury Park to better understand the connection between jobs and seasonal gentrification and the experiences of long time residents in this beach-community city. They demonstrate how the racial inequality in the founding of Asbury Park is reverberating a century later. This book tells an important and nuanced tale of gentrification using an intersectional lens to examine the history of race relations, the too often overlooked history of the post-industrial city, the role of the LGBTQ population, barriers to employment and access to amenities, and the role of developers as the city rapidly changes. Makris and Gatta draw on in-depth interviews, focus groups, ethnographic observation as well as data analysis to tell the reader a story of life on the West Side of Asbury Park as the East Side prospers and to point to a potential path forward.
American cities entered a new phase when, beginning in the 1950s, artists and developers looked upon a decaying industrial zone in Lower Manhattan and saw, not blight, but opportunity: cheap rents, lax regulation, and wide open spaces. Thus, SoHo was born. From 1960 to 1980, residents transformed the industrial neighborhood into an artist district, creating the conditions under which it evolved into an upper-income, gentrified area. Introducing the idea—still potent in city planning today—that art could be harnessed to drive municipal prosperity, SoHo was the forerunner of gentrified districts in cities nationwide, spawning the notion of the creative class.
In The Lofts of SoHo, Aaron Shkuda studies the transition of the district from industrial space to artists’ enclave to affluent residential area, focusing on the legacy of urban renewal in and around SoHo and the growth of artist-led redevelopment. Shkuda explores conflicts between residents and property owners and analyzes the city’s embrace of the once-illegal loft conversion as an urban development strategy. As Shkuda explains, artists eventually lost control of SoHo’s development, but over several decades they nonetheless forced scholars, policymakers, and the general public to take them seriously as critical actors in the twentieth-century American city.
The origins of gentrification date back to World War I—only it was sometimes known as “remodeling” then. Dennis Gale’s insightful book, TheMisunderstood History of Gentrification, provides a recontextualization of American gentrification, planning, and policymaking. He argues that gentrification must be understood as an urban phenomenon with historical roots in the very early twentieth century.
Gale uses solid empirical evidence to trace the embryonic revitalization of Georgetown, Greenwich Village, Beacon Hill, and elsewhere back to 1915. He shows how reinvestment and restoration reversed urban decline and revitalized neighborhoods. The Misunderstood History of Gentrification also explains how federal policies such as the Urban Redevelopment Program (later named Urban Renewal), which first emerged in 1949, razed urban slums and created an “urban crisis” that persisted in the 1960s and ‘70s. This situation soon prompted city gentrifiers and historic preservationists to reuse and rehabilitate existing structures.
Within a more expansive historical framework, Gale offers a fresh perspective on and debunks misperceptions about gentrification in America.
Newcomers to older neighborhoods are usually perceived as destructive, tearing down everything that made the place special and attractive. But as A Neighborhood That Never Changes demonstrates, many gentrifiers seek to preserve the authentic local flavor of their new homes, rather than ruthlessly remake them. Drawing on ethnographic research in four distinct communities—the Chicago neighborhoods of Andersonville and Argyle and the New England towns of Provincetown and Dresden—Japonica Brown-Saracino paints a colorful portrait of how residents new and old, from wealthy gay homeowners to Portuguese fishermen, think about gentrification.
The new breed of gentrifiers, Brown-Saracino finds, exhibits an acute self-consciousness about their role in the process and works to minimize gentrification’s risks for certain longtime residents. In an era of rapid change, they cherish the unique and fragile, whether a dilapidated house, a two-hundred-year-old landscape, or the presence of people deeply rooted in the place they live. Contesting many long-standing assumptions about gentrification, Brown-Saracino’s absorbing study reveals the unexpected ways beliefs about authenticity, place, and change play out in the social, political, and economic lives of very different neighborhoods.
Gentrification is transforming cities, small and large, across the country. Though it’s easy to bemoan the diminished social diversity and transformation of commercial strips that often signify a gentrifying neighborhood, determining who actually benefits and who suffers from this nebulous process can be much harder. The full story of gentrification is rooted in large-scale social and economic forces as well as in extremely local specifics—in short, it’s far more complicated than both its supporters and detractors allow.
In Newcomers, journalist Matthew L. Schuerman explains how a phenomenon that began with good intentions has turned into one of the most vexing social problems of our time. He builds a national story using focused histories of northwest Brooklyn, San Francisco’s Mission District, and the onetime site of Chicago’s Cabrini-Green housing project, revealing both the commonalities among all three and the place-specific drivers of change. Schuerman argues that gentrification has become a too-easy flashpoint for all kinds of quasi-populist rage and pro-growth boosterism. In Newcomers, he doesn’t condemn gentrifiers as a whole, but rather articulates what it is they actually do, showing not only how community development can turn foul, but also instances when a “better” neighborhood truly results from changes that are good. Schuerman draws no easy conclusions, using his keen reportorial eye to create sharp, but fair, portraits of the people caught up in gentrification, the people who cause it, and its effects on the lives of everyone who calls a city home.
When cities gentrify, it can be hard for working-class and low-income residents to stay put. Rising rents and property taxes make buildings unaffordable, or landlords may sell buildings to investors interested in redeveloping them into luxury condos.
In her engaging study The Politics of Staying Put, Carolyn Gallaher focuses on a formal, city-sponsored initiative—The Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA)—that helps people keep their homes. This law, unique to the District of Columbia, allows tenants in apartment buildings contracted for sale the right to refuse the sale and purchase the building instead. In the hands of tenants, a process that would usually hurt them—conversion to a condominium or cooperative—can instead help them.
Taking a broad, city-wide assessment of TOPA, Gallaher follows seven buildings through the program’s process. She measures the law’s level of success and its constraints. Her findingshave relevance for debates in urban affairs about condo conversion, urban local autonomy, and displacement.
For long-time residents of Washington, DC’s Shaw/U Street, the neighborhood has become almost unrecognizable in recent years. Where the city’s most infamous open-air drug market once stood, a farmers’ market now sells grass-fed beef and homemade duck egg ravioli. On the corner where AM.PM carryout used to dish out soul food, a new establishment markets its $28 foie gras burger. Shaw is experiencing a dramatic transformation, from “ghetto” to “gilded ghetto,” where white newcomers are rehabbing homes, developing dog parks, and paving the way for a third wave coffee shop on nearly every block.
Race, Class, and Politics in the Cappuccino City is an in-depth ethnography of this gilded ghetto. Derek S. Hyra captures here a quickly gentrifying space in which long-time black residents are joined, and variously displaced, by an influx of young, white, relatively wealthy, and/or gay professionals who, in part as a result of global economic forces and the recent development of central business districts, have returned to the cities earlier generations fled decades ago. As a result, America is witnessing the emergence of what Hyra calls “cappuccino cities.” A cappuccino has essentially the same ingredients as a cup of coffee with milk, but is considered upscale, and is double the price. In Hyra’s cappuccino city, the black inner-city neighborhood undergoes enormous transformations and becomes racially “lighter” and more expensive by the year.
In charting the growth of gleaming shopping centers and refurbished brownstones in Harlem, Brian Goldstein shows that gentrification was not imposed on an unwitting community by opportunistic developers or outsiders. It grew from the neighborhood’s grassroots, producing a legacy that benefited some longtime residents and threatened others.
Winner, 2014 Lambda Literary Award in LGBT Studies
Since the 1970s, a key goal of lesbian and gay activists has been protection against street violence, especially in gay neighborhoods. During the same time, policymakers and private developers declared the containment of urban violence to be a top priority. In this important book, Christina B. Hanhardt examines how LGBT calls for "safe space" have been shaped by broader public safety initiatives that have sought solutions in policing and privatization and have had devastating effects along race and class lines.
Drawing on extensive archival and ethnographic research in New York City and San Francisco, Hanhardt traces the entwined histories of LGBT activism, urban development, and U.S. policy in relation to poverty and crime over the past fifty years. She highlights the formation of a mainstream LGBT movement, as well as the very different trajectories followed by radical LGBT and queer grassroots organizations. Placing LGBT activism in the context of shifting liberal and neoliberal policies, Safe Space is a groundbreaking exploration of the contradictory legacies of the LGBT struggle for safety in the city.
In a powerful, revealing portrait of city life, Anderson explores the dilemma of both blacks and whites, the underclass and the middle class, caught up in the new struggle not only for common ground—prime real estate in a racially changing neighborhood—but for shared moral community. Blacks and whites from a variety of backgrounds speak candidly about their lives, their differences, and their battle for viable communities.
"The sharpness of his observations and the simple clarity of his prose recommend his book far beyond an academic audience. Vivid, unflinching, finely observed, Streetwise is a powerful and intensely frightening picture of the inner city."—Tamar Jacoby, New York Times Book Review
"The book is without peer in the urban sociology literature. . . . A first-rate piece of social science, and a very good read."—Glenn C. Loury, Washington Times
In this revealing book, Lance Freeman sets out to answer a seemingly simple question: how does gentrification actually affect residents of neighborhoods in transition? To find out, Freeman does what no scholar before him has done. He interviews the indigenous residents of two predominantly black neighborhoods that are in the process of gentrification: Harlem and Clinton Hill, Brooklyn. By listening closely to what people tell him, he creates a more nuanced picture of the impacts of gentrification on the perceptions, attitudes and behaviors of the people who stay in their neighborhoods. Freeman describes the theoretical and planning/policy implications of his findings, both for New York City and for any gentrifying urban area. There Goes the 'Hood provides a more complete, and complicated, understanding of the gentrification process, highlighting the reactions of long-term residents. It suggests new ways of limiting gentrification's negative effects and of creating more positive experiences for newcomers and natives alike.
A unique more-than-capitalist take on urban dynamics
Vigilante action. Renegades. Human intrigue and the future at stake in New York City. In Urbanism without Guarantees, Christian M. Anderson offers a new perspective on urban dynamics and urban structural inequality based on an intimate ethnography of on-the-ground gentrification.
The book is centered on ethnographic work undertaken on a single street in Clinton/Hell’s Kitchen in New York City—once a site of disinvestment, but now rapidly gentrifying. Anderson examines the everyday strategies of residents to preserve the quality of life of their neighborhood and to define and maintain their values of urban living—from picking up litter and reporting minor concerns on the 311 hotline to hiring a private security firm to monitor the local public park. Anderson demonstrates how processes such as investment and gentrification are constructed out of the collective actions of ordinary people, and challenges prevalent understandings of how place-based civic actions connect with dominant forms of political economy and repressive governance in urban space.
Examining how residents are pulled into these systems of gentrification, Anderson proposes new ways to think and act critically and organize for transformation of a place—in actions that local residents can start to do wherever they are.