Part of what I love about writing frequently is continually evolving my thoughts on previous subjects. A few months ago, I wrote about gentrification. These past few weeks I moved to Williamsburg, Brooklyn, the current poster boy for gentrification in New York. Here are a few updated thoughts on the subject:
- In my original blog post, I wrote that gentrification is not inherently bad. In retrospect, that’s an ignorant statement to make especially since I’m the gentrifier. I’m not the one experiencing the negative effects of it.
- In short, here’s the gentrification timeline:
- Undesirable areas are populated with the city’s working class and marginalized people. They bring their own businesses, energy, and character to the neighbourhood.
- Attracted by cheap rents, artists begin to move in and transform the area through businesses of their own, murals, installations, fashion, etc. The neighbourhood is becoming “hip”.
- Young, upwardly mobile, professionals in high-paying industries like finance and tech are attracted to the area. They have high incomes and can pay premiums for their apartments. Rents increase. As rents increase, the original residents and the artists are priced out. The original businesses are replaced by chains and multinational corporations. The area begins to lose the character that made it attractive to begin with.
- Back when I lived in San Francisco, if I was asked about my job with someone not in the tech industry such as a barber, gym trainer, or tour guide, I’d almost shamefully tell them I work in tech. I felt like it was a subtle way of saying, “Yeah I’m the reason you’re getting priced out.”
- Gentrification negatively affects the city’s most vulnerable population. As they get pushed out, they get uprooted and lose the communities they spent generations building. They also have to commute farther and farther to get to work.
- Demographics begin to shift. Many that get priced out are minority groups such as African Americans or Latin Americans. The gentrifiers usually from upper class, predominately white groups. The diversity within a neighbourhood decreases.