Search Results for: gentrification

Gentrification’s Empty Victory

Longreads Pick

Since the turn of the century, local artists have wanted to revive a once-thriving arts center in an abandoned schoolhouse in the East Village. A developer who purchased the building at an auction in 1998 wants to turn it into a dormitory for college students. An influential historic society has lobbied the city to landmark the building to limit the developer’s options. Even the Latin Kings once attended a Community Board meeting to try to stop its sale in the first place (the “board sided with the gang members, but the city was unmoved”). P.S. 64 has been languishing in this legal purgatory now for two full decades. Is its shell doomed to remain vacant forever, or will someone in a position of power finally make a decision to determine its fate?

Published: Jun 1, 2018
Length: 11 minutes (2,887 words)

Evictionland: More and More Americans Experience Eviction, and Gentrification is Partly to Blame

Longreads Pick

In this essay supported by the Economic Hardship Reporting Project, Joseph Williams investigates the increasingly deft mechanisms at work evicting lower-income apartment dwellers in rapidly gentrifying cities, while chronicling his own descent from white collar Politico reporter living in a luxury apartment, to jobless, homeless man.

Source: Curbed
Published: Jan 24, 2018
Length: 13 minutes (3,272 words)

Can Detroit’s Legendary Techno Scene Survive Gentrification?

Stacey Pullen performs at the 2016 Movement Electronic Music Festival in Downtown Detroit's Hart Plaza. (Tanya Moutzalias/The Ann Arbor News via AP)

Techno emerged in Detroit’s minority and queer communities as the city descended into decay in the late 1980s. A couple of decades later, after having reshaped electronic music and club culture around the world, the scene is alive — but changing. At Roads and Kingdoms, Akhil Kalepu writes a history of techno that goes all the way back to Motown. But he devotes special attention to a contemporary tension between the genre’s diverse, underground origins and an increasingly white, affluent scene in Detroit and beyond.

In Detroit, much of the electronic music world rejoiced when techno veteran Dimitri Hegemann of Berlin’s famed Tresor nightclub announced plans to open a branch in Packard Automotive Plant, a former DIY venue for the local rave scene. For many locals, though, it was yet another example of a white European taking something made by their predominantly black city: the gentrification of a genre seeping back into physical space.

Despite its genuine Detroit roots, Movement [Electronic Music Festival], too, has had its part to play in the gentrification of electronic music and, by extension, Detroit. The inaugural festival, held in 2000, was the brainchild of Carl Craig — a second-generation techno star in his own right — and Carol Marvin of the event production team Pop Culture Media. They saw Hart Plaza, dead in the center of Detroit’s beleaguered downtown, as the perfect place to host a techno festival, even if most of the city’s residents were unfamiliar with the scene.

Since those first years, Movement has gone from a free event to a paid one, passing through the hands of several directors along the way. Despite changes in leadership, Movement still plays an important role in the narrative of Detroit Rising, which is also the story of Detroit Gentrifying. Hart Plaza itself is now the centerpiece of one of Detroit’s many “revitalized” neighborhoods. As in similar urban zones across the U.S., rising rents have driven out a predominantly middle-class economy, replacing local businesses with high-end establishments and luxury apartments—the early stages of the trend that turned former underground capitals like New York, London, and Tokyo into velvet-rope and bottle-service cities. Growing electronic music scenes in Asia, Africa, and South America show promise, though most investment in those regions goes to venues that cater to the developing world’s growing elite.

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In South Korea, Gentrification Goes Global

Mural in Seoul by mmmmngai via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

I get wrapped up in issues about gentrification in my hometown of Seattle. When I do look up to see how the story plays out elsewhere, it’s often in nearby San Francisco or Oakland or Portland. I look there for what we can learn and what we have to lose.

My own narrow focus is why I was surprised to read about the gentrification of Mullae, an industrial-artistic district in Seoul, South Korea, where “the neighborhood’s unique features were destroyed through over-commercialization.” It’s a familiar story, as artists to join with residents to keep neighborhoods like Mullae — or Boyle Heights in Los Angeles or New York’s Chinatown — authentic and alive.

The situation in Mullae now calls for artists and factory owners to unite in resistance to speculative capitalism. Otherwise the neighborhood will follow the model of Daehangno, Bukchon, Seochon, Garosu-gil, and Jogno in becoming a generic shopping district. Landlords in those areas earned fortunes by raising rents until the neighborhood’s unique features were destroyed through over-commercialization. What followed was not prosperity but hollowness. Young people stopped visiting areas that were no longer seen as “authentic,” and as retail dropped off, building owners chose to leave spaces vacant rather than lower rents. We see a hint of this now in Mullae, as several spaces on Dorim-ro have sat empty for the past few months, despite strong interest. The sole hostel, Urban Art Guest House, is on the last year of its contract, and proprietor Lee Seung-hyuck is not sure whether he will stay, as the building owner intends to triple the rent.

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The ‘Artwashing’ of America: The Battle for the Soul of Los Angeles Against Gentrification

Longreads Pick

Gentrification is a global socioeconomic problem. These are the people fighting it in Los Angeles’ Boyle Heights, where the overwhelming majority of residents are Latino renters living on the poverty line, and especially susceptible to being driven out.

Source: Newsweek
Published: May 21, 2017
Length: 18 minutes (4,563 words)

The Current Hot Chicken Craze Is Also about Race and Gentrification

Photo by Sean Russell (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Food trends always say something about the cultural moment in which they burst onto our collective consciousness, and Nashville’s beloved hot chicken is no exception. At The Ringer, Danny Chau recounts three days enjoying the addictive pain of cayenne-coated fried chicken, while also exploring a history of racial tension and the changing vibe of the neighborhoods that gave America its Bourdain-approved, spicy food of the moment.

Hot chicken has become one of the biggest national food trends of the last few years, but I didn’t come to Nashville to Columbus a dish that has existed for nearly a century. I did come to see, from the source, why America’s fascination with hot chicken is exploding at this particular moment. As recently as 10 years ago, hot chicken wasn’t a universally acknowledged dish, even in its birthplace. For the majority of its existence, it was largely contained within the predominantly black East Nashville neighborhoods that created it, kept out of view under the shroud of lawful segregation.

Prince’s old location was close to the Ryman Auditorium, where the Grand Ole Opry performed for more than three decades. Its late-night hours were perfect for performers, and early adopters like Country Music Hall of Famer George Morgan helped build a devout following. But in the segregation era, to get their fix, they had to walk through a side door. Prince’s was operated like a white establishment in reverse: blacks order in front, whites out back.

Even after desegregation, hot chicken remained hidden in plain sight for much of Nashville, due to what Purcell described as “comfort” on both sides of the racial divide.

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Artists and Their Muse: Gentrification

Longreads Pick

A round-up profile on artists in New York City who are negatively affected by gentrification, recognize their role in it, and make art about it.

Published: Dec 2, 2016
Length: 9 minutes (2,289 words)

‘We Are Building Our Way To Hell’: Tales Of Gentrification Around The World

Longreads Pick

Dispatches from Portland, Chicago, Paris, London, Montreal, Berlin, Lisbon and other cities around the world where rampant gentrification appears to be displacing whole communities and cultures and creating playgrounds for the rich.

Source: The Guardian
Published: Oct 5, 2016
Length: 12 minutes (3,025 words)

The Pleasures of Protest: Taking on Gentrification in Chinatown

Longreads Pick

Working as a tenant organizer in New York’s Chinatown opened Esther Wang’s eyes to the ugly—and complicated—realities of gentrification in New York City.

Source: Longreads
Published: Sep 6, 2016
Length: 16 minutes (4,223 words)

The Pleasures of Protest: Taking on Gentrification in Chinatown

Illustration by: Katie Kosma

Esther Wang | Longreads | August 2016 | 17 minutes (4,223 words)


On a cold night in the early winter months of 2007, I was with a group of tenants — all Latino and Chinese immigrant families — clustered together in front of their home, two buildings on Delancey Street that straddled the border between Chinatown and the Lower East Side. We were there, shivering in the cold, to protest their landlords.

Ever since they bought the two buildings in 2001, the owners of 55 Delancey and 61 Delancey Street — Nir Sela, Michael Daniel, and 55 Delancey Street Realty LLC — had been attempting to kick out the Chinese and Latino families who had lived there, but in recent months, the situation had come to a head. They had begun aggressively bringing tenants to housing court, often on trumped up charges (one lawsuit argued that, based on the number of shoes displayed inside the apartment, it was obvious that more than just one family lived there); offered several families significant buyouts to leave; and had refused to make basic repairs. For stretches at a time, and in the coldest days of winter, there had been no heat or hot water.

That evening, huddled in our winter coats and clutching hand-made signs, we waited for the arrival of one of the owners, who had agreed to meet with us and discuss our demands.

I had been volunteering with CAAAV, a tenant organizing group in Chinatown, and in the months prior, I had spent many of my nights going from apartment to apartment, often with Zhi Qin Zheng, a resident of the building as well as an organizer at CAAAV, helping to painstakingly document their living conditions and assisting residents in calling the city’s 311 hotline so that each housing code violation would be on record.

Their apartments were cramped, even rundown, but for these families, it was home, and they wanted to stay. Over the years, each building had become a small community, one where people felt comfortable leaving their doors open and asking each other to watch their children. “If we left, where would we go?” Sau Ying Kwok, a feisty grandmother with a nimbus of frizzy hair, wondered aloud. She had become one of the more vocal leaders in the building, along with the soft-spoken You Liu Lin, a man in his middle years with a penchant for Brylcreeming his hair as well as shoving bottles of water and perfect Fuji apples into my hands whenever I knocked on his door.

I often questioned why I was there on those trips. I had moved to the city three years prior from Texas, fresh out of college and possessing a vague notion that I would put my Asian American Studies degree to use and, in the words of 1960s radicals inspired by Mao Zedong, “serve the people.” Read more…