How do the non-gentry feel about gentrification?
April 29, 2012 1:58 PM   Subscribe

Opinions on gentrification from a gentrified neighborhood's non-gentry residents?

I'm doing a research project on urban gentrified neighborhoods (specifically Logan Square in Chicago) in the US and wanted to get the opinions of the penultimate settlers of these neighborhoods. Since the area that I'm targeting was a predominantly Mexican neighborhood pre-gentrification, I would really like to hear the voices of Mexican and other Latino people who live in a gentrified neighborhood and also those who have been economically displaced from a neighborhood because of gentrification. Does anyone know of a good forum where I would be able to find Latinos who've lived in and or been displaced from these neighborhoods where I can post in English? Also, I would like to hear the thoughts of those who have decided to settle in a gentrified neighborhood and how they feel about displacement. Overall, though, any opinions and sources on opinons on gentrification from any ethnic or cultural group in any city is welcome. Thanks yall.

P.S. I've conducted a few in person interviews but I feel like people are more willing to be honest about sensitive topics on the internet.
posted by defmute to Society & Culture (15 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Also, since gentrification often happens in neighborhoods that had relatively high crime, how do the first wave of gentrifiers know that they will be safe there? Other than crime in particular, what gives gentrifiers the confidence that they will be accepted by the original inhabitants?
posted by defmute at 2:12 PM on April 29, 2012

Well.. I grew up in Manhattan's Lower East Side before it was cool. Some kids made a video about that place; there are probably many other youth-made videos and similar projects around the internets. This might help you find the honest opinions you seek.
posted by The Biggest Dreamer at 2:22 PM on April 29, 2012

Response by poster: Thank you very much, The Biggest Dreamer. This is exactly the kind of stuff I was looking for.
posted by defmute at 2:30 PM on April 29, 2012

Also, since gentrification often happens in neighborhoods that had relatively high crime, how do the first wave of gentrifiers know that they will be safe there?

What I've seen happen here in Austin is that it's not so much they know they'll be safe, it's that they're temporarily low-income but high-earning-potential types (immediate post-grad college kids, here) that have a high risk tolerance in general due to age/circumstances. That wave brings money (and "trendiness") to the area within a few years, rents rise, higher-end businesses move in, etc.

(Not a sociologist, but living in a post-gentrified (or late-stage gentrifying) neighborhood.)
posted by restless_nomad at 2:41 PM on April 29, 2012 [3 favorites]

Sociologist and ethnographer Japonica Brown-Saracino has written a book about this exact question, including two Chicago neighborhoods. The book includes a lot of interview data, although I realize you want to hear opinions specifically about Logan Square.
posted by cushie at 2:56 PM on April 29, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks restless_nomad and cushie. Cushie, thank you for telling me about that book. Though I am focusing on Logan Square, I am more concerned about gentrification as a whole. I guess the main specification that I am looking for is the Latino experience in these neighborhoods but otherwise, any help on getting firsthand accounts of displacement and gentrification will be very helpful.
posted by defmute at 3:08 PM on April 29, 2012

I just googled "North Lawndale gentrification" because I feel like I once heard a talk by someone from a NL nieghborhood organization that did a lot of work with trying to mitigate the effects of gentrification on current residents. I didn't find the organization, but I did find a bunch of youtube videos that might be helpful: looks like user "DDCOC" interviewed a bunch of North Lawndale-ers about gentrification and put the interviews on youtube. Here's one. Putting in "logan square gentrification" gets a few interesting videos too.

I don't know the current situation of gentrification in North Lawndale-- it was an issue when I was working there 5 years ago but might not be after the recession.

You also might try calling up churches, food banks and neighborhood associations that have been in Logan Square for a couple decades and see if anyone will give you an interview about the issues they've seen people facing.
posted by geegollygosh at 3:37 PM on April 29, 2012

I live in Logan Square. You may want to contact the Logan Square Neighborhood Association (LSNA). Thry have been around for a while and do outreach and work in both English and Spanish. They may be able to put you in touch with the kind of residents you are looking for. (I'm not active with LSNA, but I get their newsletter.)
posted by betty botter at 4:52 PM on April 29, 2012

Response by poster: Thank you geegollygosh and betty botter. Calling up churches and food banks are an awesome resource I didn't think about. I'll definitely be giving the LSNA a visit as well.
posted by defmute at 5:17 PM on April 29, 2012

Response by poster: Does anybody know of a good article or book or personal experience of what the areas where displaced people look like after displacement has occurred?
posted by defmute at 5:25 PM on April 29, 2012

Response by poster: That was confusing. I'm basically just trying to found out what life is like for the displaced in their new communities.
posted by defmute at 5:35 PM on April 29, 2012

For background info, you'll also want to look at Richard Lloyd's book on the gentrification of Wicker Park: Neo-Bohemia: Art and Commerce in the Postindustrial City.
posted by artemisia at 5:46 PM on April 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: word, thanks artemisia.
posted by defmute at 6:00 PM on April 29, 2012

Another good book on this (not Chicago-related) is The Urban Villagers (Boston, 1955), which discusses a neighborhood that was bulldozed for luxury towers, and includes research on what happened after the fairly tightly-knit ethnic community had scattered following the destruction of the neighborhood.
posted by zvs at 7:27 AM on April 30, 2012

A similar experience might be Pittsburghers displaced by the "revitalization" of certain neighborhoods, especially East Liberty. EL was in the middle part of the 20th century the center of black culture in the region, then was decimated by "urban renewal" efforts in the 60s and 70s that wiped out the commercial center. Several typical government housing project towers were put up, but in the last ten years they've been torn down for "mixed-income" housing (except for one, I believe the largest, which was replaced by a Target store). The Pittsburgh City Paper has done several stories about how not only have the replacement developments not included enough spaces for the former residents who were displaced, but they were forced out and made to wait several years before the replacement housing even was built and made available.

Another similar story concerns the Lower Hill neighborhood, another concentration of black culture in Pittsburgh, which was flattened to build the Civic Arena and a freeway in the 1960s. Now that the Arena has itself been demolished, discussions are ongoing on how to rebuild the area and 'reconnect' it to Downtown...
posted by FlyingMonkey at 5:33 PM on April 30, 2012

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