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Gentrification Delmi Velasquez Molloy College


Abstract Many cities have been in the process of gentrification. People have reacted to the changes in cities differently. Some areas of New York City have signs of gentrification and seem to be a trend today.

GENTRIFICATION Gentrification The city of New York is an innovative area with history, culture and a diverse environment. Throughout the years, there have been a few changes that have affected communities within the cities. A change that cannot be missed is the increase of gentrification across the city. People of New York have different views about the idea of gentrifying the city. Gentrification started in capitalist nations in the 1950s and 1960s, and some examples that showed it was being carried out were urban renewal, slum clearance and post-war reconstruction programs (Shaffer & Smith, 1986, 347). These were signs that cities were being gentrified, and it was being noticed. Ruth Glass created the term in the following statement:

One by one, many of the working-class quarters 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. Larger Victorian houses, downgraded in an earlier or recent period- which were used as lodging houses or were other wise in multiple occupation- have been upgraded once againOnce 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 (Shaffer & Smith, 1986, 348). Glass explained step by step how a city could be changed. It seemed to be a reconstruction of buildings, but it pushes low-income inhabitants out the city. Then the 1980 Oxford American Dictionary defined the term as a movement of middle class families into urban areas causing property values to increase and having [the] secondary effect of driving out poorer families(Shaffer & Smith, 1986, 347). Basically, it is a change that occurs in cities and it causes poor families to leave their homes due to rent increases. There is another type of gentrification, which is when artists move into cities (Patch, 169), and changes

GENTRIFICATION occur because of the new inhabitants. For example, in East Harlem new artists moved in and many art works were put to display. There are mini parks with artwork incorporated to the creation of the garden, and Manny Vega is an artist who has made murals on buildings walls. Another example is the Museum Mile Street where many museums have located themselves to show artwork and inspire others to head in the same path. During my experience in New York City, I have noticed signs of gentrification in Long Island City, and Harlem. For example, Long Island City used to be a very industrial

area, but now luxury housing is being built along the East River, which is slowly taking over the industrial land and converting it to new housing in which the rents would be high. In Harlem, different cultures came and left such as Dutch, Jews, Germany, Italian and African American were the ones who stayed according to a tour speaker Jim. Housing building are being build on Harlem where the whites are moving in. Harlem id being gentrified and it is noticed because police respond to crime more quickly now that whites people are living in Harlem than when there were no whites. This is exactly what is happening in New York City, and people are reacting to it. Some promote the idea of gentrification. It suppose to fix old buildings and create new businesses, and gentrifiers create new neighborhood that leads to new innovations (Patch, 2004, 170). Some examples that are new innovations are museums, universities, advertising, music, design and fashion and these are the things that bring other people to move into New York (Patch, 2004, 170). The gentrification is suppose to bring business to the city and make the city grow and people that want business do not mind making changes to old areas in a city. Another reason people do not mind this process is that they want the bad neighborhoods to change and to become better areas. For example, Williamsburg in


Brooklyn was a crime-ridden area, filled with drugs, prostitution and gang activity (Patch, 2004, 173) and such as these types of places it is good to gentrify to make it better for the community. A person who wants gentrification believes it makes the community better in business and to be a safer zone. A perfect example where there were a lot of riots, drugs, prostitutions and homeless was in the East Village. The city wanted to take back buildings abandoned by the owners that were used to all these negative activities. Gentrification occurred in this area and took out all the bad things but some people fought for buildings and few areas to remain the same. Some inhabitants believed to be a good idea but others did not. There were cases where people who are against gentrification came together to fight it. For example, the Displacement-Free Zone Campaign was formed to help evicted tenants from losing their homes and to stop gentrification (Dulchin, 2003, 29). People work hard to keep a community together and outsiders come to build housing with high rent and old housing around these new building increased rent due to the new housing market. In the neighborhood of Lower Park Slope located near Brooklyn, people were being evicted due to the increase of rent. The Fifth Avenue Committee, which later on became Displacement-Free Zone Campaign, took the case of Felisa and Carmen Soto, who were being evicted from two different apartments. The FAC went to the landlords home instead of court and camped outside his/her land. The landlord did not want the media so he revoked the eviction and a compromise was made between the Sotos and landlord. The campaign used strategy outside of court to prevent evictions of people who lived in neighborhood such as letters to landlords, negotiations, and boycotts (Dulchin, 2003, 30). People fought for their communities as the people from East Village when the city were

GENTRIFICATION reclaiming abandon building. Communities know what is best for them and they will fight to protect what they have built. Gentrifications have been occurring in cities for years. These changes are either good or bad depending on the perspective of people. New York city is in the process of gentrification and it can be a great and horrible idea. Only time would tell the effects of gentrification in New York.

GENTRIFICATION References Dulchin, B. (2003). Organizing against Gentrification, Fighting the Free Market: The Displacement-Free Zone Campaign. Community Organizing, 34(2), 29-34. Schaffer, R. & Smith, N. (1986). The Gentrification of Harlem? Annals of Association of American Geographers, 76(3), 347-365. Patch, J. (2004). The embedded landscape of gentrification. Visual Studies, 19(2), 169-186.

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