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Past Civil Unrest Sets the Table for Today's Gentrification

The story is similar in Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Miami, Cincinnati, and Boston: scenes of widespread destruction—the fires, looting, and property damage of civil unrest—sow the seeds for redevelopment and gentrification.
July 15, 2020, 12pm PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Cincinnati, Ohio
Over-the-Rhine in Cincinnati, scene of civil unrest in 2001 after police shot and killed 19-year-old Timothy Thomas.

Emily Badger and Quoctrung Bui report on a story familiar in cities around the United States, where "high-end development rises directly on top of Black neighborhoods that suffered the greatest damage during civil unrest decades ago."

"The sheer scale of harm to Black neighborhoods — from the conditions that led to unrest, from the buildings that burned then, from the years of neglect that followed — made it easier, when the time finally came years later, for developers and new businesses and residents to amass wealth," explain Badger and Bui.

"Many of these neighborhoods had bargain real estate, but also grand old housing stock, close to downtown, close to transit, with built-in commercial corridors. They also had vacant land and city-owned lots that could be assembled into larger developments."

The article drills down into geographic and historical specifics for examples from a number of U.S. cities, acknowledging that not all neighborhoods that have faced destruction and disinvestment meet the same fate, but for those that do, the history of violence is directly connected to the realities of contemporary gentrification. 

Back in June 2016, Colin Woodard provided in-depth analysis of the example from Cincinnati cited by Badger and Bui—the neighborhood of Over-the-Rhine, scene of civil unrest in 2001 that is now one of the Midwest's most prominent examples of "urban revitalization."

Full Story:
Published on Friday, July 10, 2020 in The New York Times
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