“Gentrification” Might Not Be Such a Bad Word

698px-Minneapolis_Warehouse_DistrictTo many people, the word “gentrification” is a dirty (offensive; vulgar) word. Gentrification refers to a change in an urban (city) area with new businesses moving in and housing prices going up, creating a more wealthy (rich) community than was there before. The reason the term “gentrification” is generally considered a negative one is that conventional wisdom (what most people believe) is that this change in a neighborhood pushes out (causes someone to have no choice but to move away) old residents (people who live there) and businesses, changing the character (the things that make something unique or special) of the community.

But is that really true? Several recent studies, including one conducted at Columbia University about the famous New York neighborhood Harlem, which is currently undergoing (experiencing) gentrification, gives us a different perspective (point of view). (To hear more about Harlem’s gentrification, listen to English Cafe 411.)

At least in terms of people being displaced (caused to move), these studies found that people who were there before a neighborhood’s change didn’t leave, and in many cases, stayed longer than those in neighborhoods that didn’t undergo gentrification. This may be because the community becomes more attractive and those already there do what they can to stay. There are often more parks, better schools, and safer streets, so those who are able choose to remain in the neighborhood. New housing and space for businesses are created by converting (changing for a new use) old industrial (used for manufacturing, such as factories) buildings into livable (able to be lived in) and workable (able to be worked in) spaces, augmenting (increasing) the amount of space available in the community.

It’s certainly true that some rents (how much people pay to live in a home or operate a business out of a property) go up, and both businesses and people can be displaced. But the idea that this happens on a grand scale (in large numbers) doesn’t seem to be supported by these recent studies.

Are there any areas in the cities you’re familiar with that have undergone gentrification? What has been the reaction of the old residents? In your opinion, has gentrification changed the character of those areas?

– Lucy

Photo Credit: Minneapolis Warehouse District from Wikipedia

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11 Responses to “Gentrification” Might Not Be Such a Bad Word

  1. Dan says:

    Hello everyone.

    Thank you Lucy, I had never heard this term before. This is new stuff for me.

    Out of curiosity, I checked the description of this word at the urbandictionary and if you do not mind, I will copy here the text:

    “When “urban renewal” of lower class neighborhoods with condos attracts yuppie tenants, driving up rents and driving out long time, lower income residents. It often begins with influxes of local artists looking for a cheap place to live, giving the neighborhood a bohemian flair. This hip reputation attracts yuppies who want to live in such an atmosphere, driving out the lower income artists and lower income residents, often ethnic/racial minorities, changing the social character of the neighborhood.

    It also involves the “yuppification” of local businesses; shops catering to yuppie tastes like sushi restaurants, Starbucks, etc… come to replace local businesses displaced by higher rents.

    The term was coined by sociologist Ruth Glass.”

    This one is the most voted by the readers, and there are others more funny.

    Living in a really small town, I have never seen/experienced gentrification.


  2. emiliano says:

    Like in every old big city Madrid has undergone gentrification but here it has to the bad, very bad indeed, as the peculiar air it was Madrid
    with its own music, traditions, customs and so forth have nearly disappeared for ever and it is very bad for people who was born in the
    city, like Cuca or me, that like the old traditions of this city.

    Madrid has its own music, customs, garments, food, history, theatre plays, dance and all these kind of living was located in some parts of
    the city than now has gone with the people who were living there.
    Zarzuela, Chotis, Chulapas, Chulapos, Toros, Verbenas, Majos, Majas, Mantones, Viseras, Bombines, Botines, Pañoletas, Vestidos de Puntillas,
    Cocido, Callos, Botijos, Sangrias, etc. etc. have disappeared in forty years or less what is really very bad.
    The old streets and traditional little houses and restaurants have left with the people who were born in the city letting space to other dress
    or little things cheaper stores that import several things from Asia or another sites of the world but even the people who are living now
    these sectors of Madrid have nothing to do with the scene of the old city.
    These persons were born first in Asia, Africa, America or another countries of the world and they know nothing about the old traditions of
    the city. Nothing about Chotis, Zarzuela, Cocido Madrileño or Toros, so yes, world is changing some time not for my own pleasure as being
    born in my loving Madrid that has nothing to do with the city it was fifty or a hundred years ago.
    Sorry but I don´t like the new sites that could undergone gentrification in not the nice way you said my dear Lucy.

    My best to you always. emiliano

  3. emiliano says:

    I don´t really know if all these changes could be for the good in several years ahead, may be who knows, but evidently this old city of Madrid
    never will be the city it was for hundred and hundred of years.
    Its own idiosyncrasy is going off in a few period of time and people like me or the old who were born in this peculiar different city are rally
    sad with the pass of time and changes of inhabitants, customs and rules. Everything inside the centre of the city is without any personality
    and it could be the same every big city you could go in the wide world, so yes, I don´t like the changes.
    Of course the new persons that inhabit the old sites of the city have not any fault, they know nothing about old traditions and they carry their
    own traditions, music, food and so forth. Some time for the good of course, it gives life to the streets too, but it is different, in fact they are
    new odd traditions to the old people who still remains and do not understand this kind of change and they look forward going out from these
    sites of the City.
    Now this part of the old Madrid have going to low prices and the quality of life here it is not really good. Lot of public women going up and
    down the streets, drugs, fights among bands, weapons, shoots, and so forth.
    No, it not have been a good change despite money could be more and business are going up inside the warehouses and new factories with
    poor illegal chinese, moroccans or africans people who live crammed into small flats.
    All this it is not really a nice undergone gentrification by all means.
    Everything increase their prices but life for people who are living now in these sites it is worst than it was before. This could be the ugly face
    of the new Madrid city.

    Sorry, but this is my own point of view that it has not to be the truth.
    Thank you Lucy, it is an interesting subject to talk about so go ahead blogers, say us something about you own cities or villages.
    Lately it seems the blog is dead, only five or six persons write on it now.
    May be only one? THANK YOU DAN, you are the faithfull one in the ESL BLOG.



  4. Tania says:

    Hi! Dear Emiliano, you have forgotten me.
    I love our blog and all our blog friends.

  5. emiliano says:

    He Dan, you and me, me and you, it could be a song lyric.

    Gatufo is every moment better and very jealous, the poor cat can´t be
    without emiliaano.
    He goes every site, every place emiliano goes, and if he start to talk
    with Isabel or Cuca, if he cares Cuca, the poor cat is jealous, very jealous
    and start to say……..miauuuu, miaaauu…..verya loud, nearly crying.
    He has taken my will and I can´t move. Every morning I play with him
    twice or three time and the cat get crazy with the playing.
    He wants to play every moment, every moment if it is possible.

    Regards and my best for you and you cat family. emiliano

  6. Dan says:

    Hi there Emiliano.

    I kind of understand your feelings on that, but we have to accept these changes.

    I guess that, with globalization, we’ll see as with every other change, the ups and downs of it.

    Have you noticed as we kind of reject changes, both personal and social,political,economical and so forth?

    I have noticed that on myself, that we fear changes and we do not even know why!

    Sorry, I am not an expert on that, and I do not whant to make a fool out of myself.

    Anyways, Emiliano I will tell you a secret. When I am feeling down I watch a bunch of Science videos on You Tube and that pumps me up!

    A good injection of optimism coming from the world of science.

    Have you seen how many Planets are they discovering? that is awesome!

    Thank you and have a nice weekend you all guys

  7. Dan says:

    I only read the article now, and there is this word just in the title I did not know it is “Boon”

    “Gentrification May Actually Be Boon To Longtime Residents”

    Interesting article. I like it, when the man sitting outside says “It’s always good when the sun shines.” isn’t that true?

    Nobody wants to see poor people around. Maybe that is a fear of becoming one of them.
    Look at the poor people they are moving these days in Brazil for the world cup.
    Just like sweeping the dirt under the carpet.

    By the way, as like the Winter Olympics, I am not watching a single second of the world cup.


  8. emiliano says:

    NO DEAR TANIA, I can´t forget you ever as you are the clean spirit of the site, but it is sad not
    seeing another souls here like Betty or Myo ko ko or even Parviz that lately are missed.

    As you said I love the blog and ALL the blog´s friends that´s the reason I would like to see them
    more frequently. ALL OF THEM WITHOUT EXCEPTIONS.

    My best, as always, DEAR TANIA.


  9. Dan says:

    Have you guys heard Jeff singing Fever? English Cafè 439

    Congrats to Jeff! that was a good one. That was close to Elvis’.

    LOL I picture Jeff preparing the song in the bathroom for the podcast.


  10. Betty says:

    Hi Dear Emiliano, Tania, Dan, and everyone!

    I am still here. Sorry I have been very lazy writing these few days. It is too cold here and I have so much to sort out.

    I just want to say that I have been reading your post and every single post.

    I am sure that a lot of our friends are reading here. It is just quieter than usual.

    But, hey, don’t be dispirited. A lot of our friends are like the spring flower bulbs hidden underneath the soil. They will appear when they are ready. And you will love to see them when they appear because they are so beautiful.

    I must go now because I have to see what to do about the leaking hot water tank in the airing cupboard.

    I am quite worried but I believe it will be sorted out.

    Look forward to reading more from everyone!
    Best Regards
    Betty 🙂

  11. Ben says:

    To be honest,it is hard to say gentrification play a positive or a negative role for me in my hometown.
    As many individuals know,China is undergoing a rapid development in the world.And of course this kind of thing has happened
    in my hometown as well.So I would say gentrification is the norm for us.And for the old residents,it tend to be good for them because
    they finally could move out of the old neighborhood and live in a better life,which means that they might get better parks or their children
    receive betten education.And of course they would lose something like their neighbor,who might already be their old friends.But we all know
    that first you should give up something,then you will get something.
    Anyway,the old residents may be in a bad mood for a while.But finally when they get used to new neighborhood,they will find it would be more

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