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When 'Gentrification is Good'

Looking a little closer at a city not called New York, San Francisco, or Boston, one writer argues that gentrification is often a good thing.
January 16, 2015, 10am PST | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Jeffrey Zeldman

Pete Saunders follows up a series produced in December by Chicago's public radio station WBEZ that documents gentrification in the city of Chicago. Although Saunders notes many useful qualities found in the series, he also writes, "that it failed to stray very far from the conventional gentrification narratives that, quite honestly, don't fit Chicago all that well." 

According to Saunders, "the problem is that the gentrification narrative was established in the cities that experienced the first wave of urban revitalization -- New York, San Francisco, Boston.  Too many people have adopted the emotions and mindsets that emerged as those cities went through their revitalization challenges, without considering how unique their own cities' conditions are."

After listing those typical narratives, Saunders goes on to argue, by paraphrasing Gordon Gekko: "gentrification, for lack of a better word, is good." To support that claim, Saunders cites distinctions, sometimes subtle, between immigrant and poor neighborhoods in Chicago, and also raises the question of why black neighborhoods are less likely to gentrify.

If you're looking for more of the recent discussion on the subject of gentrification, John Buntin wrote an article for Slate called "The Myth of Gentrification" that argues for the inadequacy of the term, even making a similar point as Saunders about black neighborhoods along the way.

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Published on Friday, January 9, 2015 in The Corner Side Yard
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