Following Fido: Considering Other Measures of Gentrification

The most effective measure of gentrification will not be a magic bullet, but rather a constellation of variables aimed at addressing its processual and multi-dimensional character.

March 17, 2016, 11:00 AM PDT

By stephenmichael15

Bearded, plaid-draped hipsters slink into newly established artisanal coffee roasters, pop-up art galleries, and barbershop-bars in a neighborhood once dotted with vacant storefronts. To the casual observer, this overwrought caricature smacks of gentrification. But, gentrification is a bit like obscenity: blatantly obvious once observed, far more difficult to systematically define and measure.

The definition of gentrification—like any good concept in sociology—remains contested. To varying extents, many definitions suggest that gentrification is a process whereby an influx of new residents, accompanied by the service providers they attract and demand, replace and displace longstanding residents, businesses, and social institutions. The result of this process is the changing demographic profile of neighborhood residents along dimensions of wealth, race, and educational status, increasing property values (with corresponding increases in rents), and changes to the neighborhood business environment. Defined thusly, gentrification appears to be a complex process that requires not only a consideration of the shifting demographic profile within a neighborhood but also changes in local economic and built environments.

Thursday, March 17, 2016 in Thriving Cities Blog


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People gather on a street with no cars during the L.E.A.F. Festival of Flowers in the Meatpacking District of New York City.

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110 Freeway

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Flooding at the Whitehall Street station, New York

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Close-up of car tailpipe emitting smoke

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Assistant or Associate Professor of Urban Design

Harvard University Graduate School of Design

Professor of Urban Planning

Harvard University Graduate School of Design

Professor of Urban Design and/or Urban Planning

Harvard University Graduate School of Design

New Cityscape Explores Methods of Measuring Blight

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

2022 National Cohousing Conference

Cohousing Association of the US

New Updates on PD&R Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Hand Drawing Master Plans

This course aims to provide an introduction into Urban Design Sketching focused on how to hand draw master plans using a mix of colored markers.