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2014 tweet and poster from FireWorks, Bay Area. See citation in References


Gentrification is the movement of relatively more affluent or advantaged residents into an area, perceived as altering the area's character and typically associated with a rise in property rents and prices.

British sociologist Ruth Glass coined the term 'gentrification' in 1964 to describe the influx of middle-class people displacing lower-class worker residents in urban neighborhoods; her example was London, and its working-class districts such as Islington.

In the US, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report "Health Effects of Gentrification" defines 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."

'Gentrification' is a contested, often ambiguously and variously used or understood term, and is most commonly used to imply or emphasize negative effects. However, the circumstances it describes are typically complex mixtures of dynamics and effects, which may be positive or negative from the standpoint of different parties involved. Therefore, in studying phenomena of this type it may be advantageous to break it down into specific dynamics and effects: for example, displacement, decreased affordability, demographic change, or loss of social capital. 

from UC Berkeley's Urban Displacement Project

from Causa Justa :: Just Cause

The 2014 report "Development without Displacement: Resisting Gentrification in the Bay Area." by Causa Justa::Just Cause states: 

"We define gentrification as a profit-driven racial and class reconfiguration of urban, working-class and communities of color that have suffered from a history of disinvestment and abandonment. The process is characterized by declines in the number of low-income, people of color in neighborhoods that begin to cater to higher-income workers willing to pay higher rents. Gentrification is driven by private developers, landlords, businesses, and corporations, and supported by the government through policies that facilitate the process of displacement, often in the form of public subsidies. Gentrification happens in areas where commercial and residential land is cheap, relative to other areas in the city and region, and where the potential to turn a profit either through repurposing existing structures or building new ones is great."


UK journalist Alex Proud coined the term Shoreditchification in 2014 to describe gentrification-like transformation of an urban area such as happened in preceding years in the Shoreditch area of London. 

East Shoreditch, and adjoining Bethnal Green areas, in late 19th C. London contained some of the country's most notorious slum areas, particularly the section known as Old Nichols. Bestselling novel A Child of the Jago" by Arthur Morrison helped establish Old Nichols (also known as "the jago") as an icon of urban squalor: 

the world’s first large-scale housing project was also built in London, to replace one of the capital’s most notorious slums – the Old Nichol. Nearly 6,000 individuals were crammed into the packed streets, where one child in four died before his or her first birthday. Arthur Morrison wrote the influential A Child of the Jago, an account of the life of a child in the slum, which sparked a public outcry. Construction of the Boundary Estate was begun in 1890 by the Metropolitan Board of Works and completed by the recently formed London County Council in 1900. The success of this project spurred many local councils to embark on similar construction schemes in the early 20th century. 
-- Wikipedia. "Public housing."



"The City Part of Town" 

South Park,

The process of gentrification was satirically examined in animated TV show South Park, Season 19 Episode 3, "The City Part of Town."  Episode summary from Wikipedia: 

Following Mr. Garrison's anti-immigration campaigning in the previous episode, South Park is ridiculed by Jimmy Fallon on TV. To counter the bad publicity, the town decides to convince Whole Foods Market to build a store there. This requires passing a thorough inspection with a representative of the firm, so Mayor McDaniels, with the help of Randy Marsh, decides to build a fancy and modern gentrified district, SodoSopa ("South of Downtown South Park"). The new district is intentionally built around Kenny[McCormick]'s dilapidated home to appeal to young hipsters who enjoy the "rustic charm" of the scenery. SodoSopa runs several commercials (filmed in live action) advertising that all of the new restaurants and shops are "supporting" the original poor residents — when in fact no one in Kenny's family actually works at any of them. Soon the new district starts building middle-class apartment units for customers and employees to live in — all while claiming that this is revitalizing the poor residents that it was simply built around. 


cover story in Oakland Magazine, May 2017

See also