Gentrification stems from the term “gentry,” which is French for “people of gentle birth.” It was introduced in the 19th century to describe the movement of middle-class families into working-class neighborhoods across Europe, particularly in Rome, London, and Paris. Historically, abandoned industrial neighborhoods displayed the evidence of gentrification, where leftover architecture formed the basis for… Read more »
Gentrification stems from the term “gentry,” which is French for “people of gentle birth.” It was introduced in the 19th century to describe the movement of middle-class families into working-class neighborhoods across Europe, particularly in Rome, London, and Paris. Historically, abandoned industrial neighborhoods displayed the evidence of gentrification, where leftover architecture formed the basis for new residential neighborhoods. But more and more we see the direct displacement of lives for business establishments that desire to be considered trendy and hip.
By now the gentrifying process is considered a natural consequence of urban development. In fact it is a classification of structural changes in the economy that serves to widen the gap between those with wealth and poverty. A marker of inequality that is visible in the built and political landscapes it separates, gentrification is a process that relishes poor parts of a city attracted by big investors and neighborhood “flipping.” It displaces carefully developed, complex social networks, interesting and authentic urban neighborhoods, and tangible culture and history within society.
Realistically speaking, gentrification will continue to occur for years to come. As a process of change, gentrification is supported by U.S. census bureau statistics that show reductions in crime rates, increased property and land values, and more—all happening within various urban environments the world over. With these numbers revealing success rates in terms of property and real estate values, gentrification is viewed as a positive community change. At the end of the day, it is a major financial asset for up-and-coming community and urban developers; after all, who is not looking for the next best property value to pursue? Sadly, the targeted neighborhoods, those rich in history and culture, social diversity, and values of human society that make life meaningful, tend to suffer following gentrification.
The issue of gentrification affects the world on multiple scales—from day-to-day quality of life to progressive strategies for urban planning and development to a world population issue that must be addressed sooner rather than later. I am hopeful that the need for equality in the housing market will ideally be justified, and adjusted to provide for an ever-growing world population; and that “filtering”’ will lower the risk of household displacement. Filtering calls for the construction of extra building units to allow for fluctuations in the economy, the idea being that affordability of a given city block unit can adapt over time. I am also hopeful that the next generation’s leaders will continue to create social relevance in our society. Culture should never be left behind in growing cities and communities. Let’s aspire to improve the urban environment with a different lens for measuring success—one that assesses the vitality of the people occupying a place rather than the money to be made there.
Image courtesy of Kyle Pearce: http://tinyurl.com/lergtoj