Gentrification is a process of changing the character of a neighborhood through the influx of more affluent residents and businesses.[1] This is a common and controversial topic in politics and in urban planning. Gentrification often increases the economic value of a neighborhood, but the resulting demographic change is frequently a cause of controversy.

Gentrification often shifts a neighborhood's racial/ethnic composition and average household income by developing new, more expensive housing, businesses and improved resources.[2] The gentrification process is typically the result of increasing attraction to an area by people with higher incomes spilling over from neighboring cities, towns, or neighborhoods. Further steps are increased investments in a community and the related infrastructure by real estate development businesses, local government, or community activists and resulting economic development, increased attraction of business, and lower crime rates. In addition to these potential benefits, gentrification can lead to population migration and displacement. However, some view the fear of displacement, which is dominating the debate about gentrification, as hindering discussion about genuine progressive approaches to distribute the benefits of urban redevelopment strategies.[3]

Origin and etymology

The term gentrification has come to refer to a multi-faceted phenomenon that can be defined in different ways. Gentrification is "a complex process involving physical improvement of the housing stock, housing tenure change from renting to owning, price rises and the displacement or replacement of the working-class population by the new middle class."[4]

Historians say that gentrification took place in ancient Rome and in Roman Britain, where large villas were replacing small shops by the 3rd century, AD.[5] The word gentrification derives from gentry—which comes from the Old French word genterise, "of gentle birth" (14th century) and "people of gentle birth" (16th century). In England, Landed gentry denoted the social class, consisting of gentlemen.[6] British sociologist Ruth Glass was first to use "gentrification" in its current sense. She used it in 1964 to describe the influx of middle-class people displacing lower-class worker residents in urban neighborhoods; her example was London, and its working-class districts such as Islington:[7]

One by one, many of the working class neighbourhoods of London have been invaded by the middle-classes—upper and lower. Shabby, modest mews and cottages—two rooms up and two down—have been taken over, when their leases have expired, and have become elegant, expensive residences ... Once this process of 'gentrification' starts in a district it goes on rapidly, until all or most of the original working-class occupiers are displaced and the whole social character of the district is changed.

In the US, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report Health Effects of Gentrification defines the real estate concept of gentrification as "the transformation of neighborhoods from low value to high value. This change has the potential to cause displacement of long-time residents and businesses ... when long-time or original neighborhood residents move from a gentrified area because of higher rents, mortgages, and property taxes. Gentrification is a housing, economic, and health issue that affects a community's history and culture and reduces social capital. It often shifts a neighborhood's characteristics, e.g., racial-ethnic composition and household income, by adding new stores and resources in previously run-down neighborhoods."[2]

Scholars and pundits have applied a variety of definitions to gentrification since 1964, some oriented around gentrifiers, others oriented around the displaced, and some a combination of both. The first category include the Hackworth (2002) definition "the production of space for progressively more affluent users". The second category include Kasman's definition "the reduction of residential and retail space affordable to low-income residents".[8] The final category includes Rose, who describes gentrification as a process "in which members of the 'new middle class' move into and physically and culturally reshape working-class inner city neighbourhoods".[9]

Kennedy & Leonard (2001) say in their Brookings Institution report that "the term 'gentrification' is both imprecise and quite politically charged", suggesting its redefinition as "the process by which higher income households displace lower income residents of a neighborhood, changing the essential character and flavour of that neighborhood", so distinguishing it from the different socio-economic process of "neighborhood (or urban) revitalization", although the terms are sometimes used interchangeably.

German geographers have a more distanced view on gentrification. Actual gentrification is seen as a mere symbolic issue happening in a low number of places and blocks, the symbolic value and visibility in public discourse being higher than actual migration trends. Gerhard Hard, for instance, assumes that urban flight is still more important than inner-city gentrification.[10] Volkskunde scholar Barbara Lang introduced the term 'symbolic gentrification' with regard to the Mythos Kreuzberg in Berlin.[11] Lang assumes that complaints about gentrification often come from those who have been responsible for the process in their youth. When former students and bohemians start raising families and earning money in better-paid jobs, they become the yuppies they claim to dislike.[11] Berlin in particular is a showcase of intense debates about symbols of gentrification, while the actual processes are much slower than in other cities.[12] The city's Prenzlauer Berg district is, however, a poster child of the capital's gentrification, as this area in particular has experienced a rapid transformation over the last two decades. This leads to mixed feelings amidst the local population.[13] The neologism Bionade-Biedermeier was coined about Prenzlauer Berg. It describes the post-gentrifed milieu of the former quartier of the alternative scene, where alleged leftist alternative accessoires went into the mainstream.[14] The 2013 Schwabenhass controversy in Berlin, which placed blame for gentrification in Prenzlauer Berg on well-to-do Swabians from southwest Germany, saw the widespread use of inter-German ethnic slurs which would have been deemed unacceptable if used against foreigners.[15]

American economists describe gentrification as a natural cycle: the well-to-do prefer to live in the newest housing stock. Each decade of a city's growth, a new ring of housing is built. When the housing at the center has reached the end of its useful life and becomes cheap, the well-to-do gentrify the neighborhood. The push outward from the city center continues as the housing in each ring reaches the end of its economic life.[16] They observe that gentrification has three interpretations: (a) "great, the value of my house is going up, (b) coffee is more expensive, now that we have a Starbucks, and (c) my neighbors and I can no longer afford to live here (community displacement)".[17]


London and Palen

There are several approaches that attempt to explain the roots and the reasons behind the spread of gentrification. Palen & London (1984) compiled a list of five explanations:

  1. demographic-ecological,
  2. sociocultural,
  3. political-economical,
  4. community networks, and
  5. social movements.


The first theory, demographic-ecological, attempts to explain gentrification through the analysis of demographics: population, social organization, environment, and technology. This theory frequently refers to the growing number of people between the ages of 25 and 35 in the 1970s, or the baby boomer generation. Because the number of people that sought housing increased, the demand for housing increased also. The supply could not keep up with the demand; therefore cities were "recycled" to meet such demands. The baby boomers in pursuit of housing were very different, demographically, from their house-hunting predecessors. They married at an older age and had fewer children. Their children were born later. Women, both single and married, were entering the labor force at higher rates which led to an increase of dual wage-earner households. These households were typically composed of young, more affluent couples without children. Because these couples were child-free and were not concerned with the conditions of schools and playgrounds, they elected to live in the inner city in close proximity to their jobs. These more affluent people usually had white-collar, not blue-collar jobs. Since these white-collar workers wanted to live closer to work, a neighborhood with more white-collar jobs was more likely to be invaded; the relationship between administrative activity and invasion was positively correlated.[18]


The second theory proposed by London and Palen is based on a sociocultural explanation of gentrification. This theory argues that values, sentiments, attitudes, ideas, beliefs, and choices should be used to explain and predict human behavior, not demographics, or "structural units of analysis" (i.e., characteristics of populations). This analysis focuses on the changing attitudes, lifestyles, and values of the middle- and upper-middle-class of the 1970s. They were becoming more pro-urban than before, opting not to live in rural or even suburban areas anymore. These new pro-urban values were becoming more salient, and more and more people began moving into the cities. London and Palen refer to the first people to invade the cities as "urban pioneers". These urban pioneers demonstrated that the inner-city was an "appropriate" and "viable" place to live, resulting in what is called "inner city chic". The opposing side of this argument is that dominant, or recurring, American values determine where people decide to live, not the changing values previously cited. This means that people choose to live in a gentrified area to restore it, not to alter it, because restoration is a "new way to realize old values".[18]


The third theoretical explanation of gentrification is political-economic and is divided into two approaches: traditional and Marxist. The traditional approach argues that economic and political factors have led to the invasion of the inner-city, hence the name political-economic. The changing political and legal climate of the 1950s and 1960s (new civil rights legislation, anti-discrimination laws in housing and employment, and desegregation) had an "unanticipated" role in the gentrification of neighborhoods. A societal decrease in acceptance of prejudice led to more blacks moving to the suburbs and whites no longer rejected the idea of moving to the city. The decreasing availability of suburban land and inflation in suburban housing costs also inspired the invasion of the cities. The Marxist approach denies the notion that the political and economic influences on gentrification are invisible, but are intentional. This theory claims that "powerful interest groups follow a policy of neglect of the inner city until such time as they become aware that policy changes could yield tremendous profits".[18] Once the inner city becomes a source of revenue, the powerless residents are displaced with little or no regard from the powerful.

Community networks

The community-network approach is the fourth proposed by London and Palen. This views the community as an "interactive social group". Two perspectives are noted: community lost and community saved. The community lost perspective argues that the role of the neighborhood is becoming more limited due to technological advances in transportation and communication. This means that the small-scale, local community is being replaced with more large-scale, political and social organizations.[19] The opposing side, the community saved side, argues that community activity increases when neighborhoods are gentrified because these neighborhoods are being revitalized.

Social movements

The fifth and final approach is social movements. This theoretical approach is focused on the analysis of ideologically based movements, usually in terms of leader-follower relationships. Those who support gentrification are encouraged by leaders (successful urban pioneers, political-economic elites, land developers, lending institutions, and even the Federal government in some instances) to revive the inner-city. Those who are in opposition are the people who currently reside in the deteriorated areas. They develop countermovements in order to gain the power necessary to defend themselves against the movements of the elite. An excellent example was the turned around gang in Chicago who fought for years against the Richard J. Daley machine: the Young Lords led by Jose Cha Cha Jimenez. They occupied neighborhood institutions and led massive demonstration to make people aware. These countermovements can be unsuccessful, though. The people who support reviving neighborhoods are also members, and their voices are the ones that the gentrifiers tend to hear.[18]

As an economic process

Two discrete sociological theories explain and justify gentrification: one as an economic process (production-side theory); the other and as a social process (consumption-side theory). Both occur when the suburban gentry tire of the automobile-dependent urban sprawl style of life. These professionals, empty nest aged parents, and recent university graduates perceive attractiveness in the city center earlier abandoned during white flight—especially if the poor community possesses a transport hub and its architecture sustains the pedestrian traffic that allows the proper human relations impeded by (sub)urban sprawl.[20]

Furthermore, proximity to urban amenities such as transit stops has been shown to drive up home prices over time. A survey of Northwest Chicago conducted between 1975 and 1991 showed that homes located directly in the vicinity Red Line and Brown Line stops of the "L" rail transit system saw a huge price jump during these years, compared to only modest increases for area outside the zone. Between 1985 and 1991 in particular, homes near transit stops nearly doubled in value.[21]

Professor Smith and Marxist sociologists explain gentrification as a structural economic process; Humanistic Geographer, David Ley explains gentrification as a natural outgrowth of increased professional employment in the central business district (CBD), and the creative sub-class's predilection for city living. Ley (1980) describes and deconstructs the TEAM committee's effort to rendering Vancouver, BC, Canada, a "livable city". The investigators Rose, Beauregard, Mullins, Moore et al., who base themselves upon Ley's ideas, posit that "gentrifiers and their social and cultural characteristics [are] of crucial importance for an understanding of gentrification"—theoretical work Chris Hamnett criticized as insufficiently comprehensive, for not incorporating the "supply of dwellings and the role of developers [and] speculators in the process".[22]

Production-side theory

The theory of urban gentrification derives from the work of human geographer Neil Smith, explaining gentrification as an economic process consequent to the fluctuating relationships among capital investments and the production of urban space. He asserts that restructuring of urban space is the visual component of a larger social, economic, and spatial restructuring of the contemporary capitalist economy.[23] Smith summarizes the causes of gentrification into five main processes: suburbanization and the emergence of rent gap, deindustrialization, spatial centralization and decentralization of capital, falling profit and cyclical movement of capital, and changes in demographics and consumption patterns.[23]

Suburbanization and rent gap

Suburban development derives from outward expansion of cities, often driven by sought profit and the availability of cheap land. This change in consumption causes a fall in inner city land prices, often resulting in poor upkeep and a neglect of repair for these properties by owners and landlords. The depressed land is then devalued, causing rent to be significantly cheaper than the potential rent that could be derived from the "best use" of the land while taking advantage of its central location.[23] From this derives the Rent-gap Theory describing the disparity between "the actual capitalized ground rent (land price) of a plot of land given its present use, and the potential ground rent that might be gleaned under a 'higher and better' use."[24]

The rent gap is fundamental to explaining gentrification as an economic process. When the gap is sufficiently wide, real estate developers, landlords, and other people with vested interests in the development of land perceive the potential profit to be derived from re-investing in inner-city properties and redeveloping them for new tenants. Thus, the development of a rent gap creates the opportunity for urban restructuring and gentrification.[23]


The de-industrialization of cities in developed nations reduces the number of blue-collar jobs available to the urban working class as well as middle-wage jobs with the opportunity for advancement, creating lost investment capital needed to physically maintain the houses and buildings of the city. Abandoned industrial areas create availability for land for the rent gap process.

Although gentrification may be known as “process of renovating deteriorated urban neighborhoods”, many will say that this process actually demolishes historical aspects of neighborhoods, raises residential prices too high for current residents to continue living there, and even negatively impacts the food industry by transforming the local eateries into cafes or a restaurants chain. This impact on the food industry, specifically in Oakland, California, is being twisted from natural farm grown food into more industrialized sourced products based on consumer preferences.[25] As neighborhoods become gentrified, the consumer need changes; therefore, creating more expensive and modern housing and markets which then run the locals out of town and can be a threat to small businesses because of the raise in renting a store space in a more modern area. As this threatens the small businesses, it becomes harder for most to stay open, although increasing the value of goods which the stores are selling can ensure so that the shops could still be able to survive.[26] This is why organizations such as Planting Justice and Mandela Marketplace strive to resist the acts of gentrification and to form business plans that will work to create living-wage jobs for everyone so that no one must be displaced when such “renovation” takes place.[25]

Gentrification and deindustrialization may also help clean up neighborhoods such as those on the waterfront in Gowanus, New York; however, this clean up tends to draw the attention to commercialized developments which then build and essentially take of the nature of the waterfront.[27] This urbanization creates a tourist attraction and raises value of living in the area to the point where locals have no choice but to move elsewhere. Even though such cleaning of the waterfront would greatly benefit the local community, this would also invite building of an industrialized environment which will ultimately ruin any and all historical value that the neighborhood currently possesses.[27]

Spatial centralization and decentralization of capital

De-industrialization is often integral to the growth of a divided white collar employment, providing professional and management jobs that follow the spatial decentralization of the expanding world economy. However, somewhat counter-intuitively, globalization also is accompanied by spatial centralization of urban centers, mainly from the growth of the inner city as a base for headquarter and executive decision-making centers. This concentration can be attributed to the need for rapid decisions and information flow, which makes it favorable to have executive centers in close proximity to each other. Thus, the expanding effect of suburbanization as well as agglomeration to city centers can coexist. These simultaneous processes can translate to gentrification activities when professionals have a high demand to live near their executive workplaces in order to reduce decision-making time.[23]

Falling profit and the cyclical movement of capital

This section of Smith's theory attempts to describe the timing of the process of gentrification. At the end of a period of expansion for the economy, such as a boom in postwar suburbs, accumulation of capital leads to a falling rate of profit. It is then favorable to seek investment outside the industrial sphere to hold off onset of an economic crisis. By this time, the period of expansion has inevitably led to the creation of rent gap, providing opportunity for capital reinvestment in this surrounding environment.[23]

Changes in demographic and consumption patterns

Smith emphasizes that demographic and life-style changes are more of an exhibition of the form of gentrification, rather than real factors behind gentrification. The aging baby-boomer population, greater participation of women in the workforce, and the changes in marriage and childrearing norms explain the appearance that gentrification takes, or as Smith says, "why we have proliferating quiche bars rather than Howard Johnson's".[23]

Consumption-side theory

In contrast to the production-side argument, the consumption-side theory of urban gentrification posits that the "socio-cultural characteristics and motives" of the gentrifiers are most important to understanding the gentrification of the post-industrial city.[29] The changes in the structure of advanced capitalist cities with the shift from industrial to service-based economy were coupled with the expanding of a new middle class—one with a larger purchasing power than ever before.[30] As such, human geographer David Ley posits a rehabilitated post-industrial city influenced by this "new middle class".[31] The consumption theory contends that it is the demographics and consumption patterns of this "new middle class" that is responsible for gentrification.

The economic and cultural changes of the world in the 1960s have been attributed to these consumption changes. The antiauthoritarian protest movements of the young in the U.S., especially on college campuses, brought a new disdain for the "standardization of look-alike suburbs,"[32] as well as fueled a movement toward empowering freedom and establishing authenticity. In the postindustrial economy, the expansion of middle class jobs in inner cities came at the same time as many of the ideals of this movement. The process of gentrification stemmed as the new middle class, often with politically progressive ideals, was employed in the city and recognized not only the convenient commute of a city residence, but also the appeal towards the urban lifestyle as a means of opposing the "deception of the suburbanite".[32]

This new middle class was characterized by professionals with life pursuits expanded from traditional economistic focus. Gentrification provided a means for the 'stylization of life' and an expression of realized profit and social rank. Similarly, Michael Jager contended that the consumption pattern of the new middle class explains gentrification because of the new appeal of embracing the historical past as well as urban lifestyle and culture.[30] The need of the middle class to express individualism from both the upper and lower classes was expressed through consumption, and specifically through the consumption of a house as an aesthetic object. Consumers' desire for "local" products and services has been used to explain the effects of businesses such as craft breweries on neighborhood gentrification.[33] A study in Portland confirm the views that the opening of craft breweries is associated to early gentrification and may reinforce the trend.[34]

These effects are becoming more widespread due to governments changing zoning and liquor laws in industrial areas to allow buildings to be used for artist studios and tasting rooms. Tourists and consumption-oriented members of the new middle class realize value in such an area that was previously avoided as a disamenity because of the externalities of industrial processes. Industrial integration occurs when an industrial area is reinvented as an asset prized for its artists and/or craft beer, integrated into the wider community, with buildings accessible to the general public, and making the neighbourhood more attractive to gentrifiers.[8] Areas that have undergone industrial integration include the Distillery District in Toronto and the Yeast Van area of east Vancouver, Canada.

"This permanent tension on two fronts is evident in the architecture of gentrification: in the external restorations of the Victoriana, the middle classes express their candidature for the dominant classes; in its internal renovation work this class signifies its distance from the lower orders." [35]

Gentrification, according to consumption theory, fulfills the desire for a space with social meaning for the middle class as well as the belief that it can only be found in older places because of a dissatisfaction with contemporary urbanism.[30]

Economic globalization

Gentrification is integral to the new economy of centralized, high-level services work—the "new urban economic core of banking and service activities that come to replace the older, typically manufacturing-oriented, core"[36] that displaces middle-class retail businesses so they might be "replaced by upmarket boutiques and restaurants catering to new high-income urban élites".[37] In the context of globalization, the city's importance is determined by its ability to function as a discrete socio-economic entity, given the lesser import of national borders, resulting in de-industrialized global cities and economic restructuring.

To wit, the American urban theorist John Friedman's seven-part theory posits a bifurcated service industry in world cities, composed of "a high percentage of professionals specialized in control functions and ... a vast army of low-skilled workers engaged in ... personal services ... [that] cater to the privileged classes, for whose sake the world city primarily exists".[38] The final three hypotheses detail (i) the increased immigration of low-skill laborers needed to support the privileged classes, (ii) the class and caste conflict consequent to the city's inability to support the poor people who are the service class,[39] and (iii) the world city as a function of social class struggle—matters expanded by Saskia Sassen et al. The world city's inherent socio-economic inequality illustrates the causes of gentrification, reported in Booza, Cutsinger & Galster (2006) demonstrating geographical segregation by income in US cities, wherein middle-income (middle class) neighborhoods decline, while poor neighborhoods and rich neighborhoods remain stable.


As rent-gap theory would predict, one of the most visible changes the gentrification process brings is to the infrastructure of a neighborhood. Typically, areas to be gentrified are deteriorated and old, though structurally sound, and often have some obscure amenity such as a historical significance that attracts the potential gentrifiers.[23] Gentry purchase and restore these houses, mostly for single-family homes. Another phenomenon is "loft conversion," which rehabilitates mixed-use areas, often abandoned industrial buildings or run-down apartment buildings to housing for the incoming gentrifiers.[23] Such stabilization of neighbourhoods in decline and the corresponding improvement to the image of such a neighbourhood is one of the arguments used in support of gentrification.[40] While this upgrade of housing value is the superficial keynote to the gentrification process, there is a greater number of less-visible shifts the gentry bring with them into their new neighborhoods in the community.

Gentrification is linked to a shift in the role of the state from providing social welfare to providing business services and amenities.[41] Gentrification has been substantially advocated by local governments, often in the form of 'urban restructuring' policies. Goals of these policies include dispersing low-income residents out of the inner city and into the suburbs as well as redeveloping the city to foster mobility between both the central city and suburbia as residential options.[30] The strain on public resources that often accompanies concentrated poverty is relaxed by the gentrification process, a benefit of changed social makeup that is favorable for the local state.

Rehabilitation movements have been largely successful at restoring the plentiful supply of old and deteriorated housing that is readily available in inner cities. This rehabilitation can be seen as a superior alternative to expansion, for the location of the central city offers an intact infrastructure that should be taken advantage of: streets, public transportation, and other urban facilities.[30] Furthermore, the changed perception of the central city that is encouraged by gentrification can be healthy for resource-deprived communities who have previously been largely ignored.[30] Gentrifiers provide the political effectiveness needed to draw more government funding towards physical and social area improvements,[40] while improving the overall quality of life by providing a larger tax base.[41]

A change of residence that is forced upon people who lack resources to cope has social costs.[30] Measures protecting these marginal groups from gentrification may reduce those.

Urban spaces previously deemed "dangerous" and "unlivable" by high-income people have suddenly become desirable through urbanization, movement within and between cities, and the continuation of settler enclosure. As a result, these spaces are undergoing cataclysmic changes. Waves of gentrification are displacing low-income people from these spaces and into more affordable areas.[42]

There is also the argument that gentrification reduces the social capital of the area it affects. Communities have strong ties to the history and culture of their neighborhood, and causing its dispersal can have detrimental costs.[2] The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has a webpage discussing adverse effects gentrification has on health, and provides a list of policies that would inhibit gentrification in order to prevent these impacts.[2]

  • Higher incentive for property owners to increase/improve housing
  • Reduction in crime
  • Stabilization of declining areas
  • Increased property values
  • Increased consumer purchasing power at local businesses
  • Reduced vacancy rates
  • Increased local fiscal revenues
  • Encouragement and increased viability of further development
  • Reduced strain on local infrastructure and services
  • Increased social mix
  • Rehabilitation of property both with and without state sponsorship
  • Displacement through rent/price increases
  • Decrease in political participation
  • Loss of affordable housing
  • Commercial/industrial displacement
  • Unsustainable property prices
  • Displacement and housing demand pressures on surrounding poor areas
  • Community resentment and conflict
  • Homelessness
  • Secondary psychological costs of displacement
  • Increased cost and charges to local services
  • Loss of social diversity (from socially disparate to rich ghettos)
  • Under occupancy and population loss to gentrified area
Source: Lees, Slater & Wyly (2010) ; Atkinson & Bridge (2005, p. 5)


The displacement of low-income residents is commonly referenced as a negative aspect of gentrification by its opponents.[43] Residents of a gentrifying community may fear displacement by evictions or the increased costs of area real estate .[44] This displacement can threaten to change an inner city working-class area into a “bourgeois playground”.[45]

Displacement of lower-income families as a result of gentrification has been a major issue for decades. However, research has shown that oftentimes the opposite is true. Low-income families in gentrifying neighborhoods are less likely to be displaced than in non-gentrifying neighborhoods. A common theory has been that as affluent people move into a poorer neighborhood, housing prices increase as a result, causing poorer people to move out of the neighborhood. Although there is evidence showing gentrification may modestly raise real estate prices, numerous studies show that in many circumstances, other benefits from gentrification such as lower crime and an improved local economy outweigh the increased housing costs—displacement tends to decrease in gentrifying areas such as these as a result.[46]

Amongst the various issues concerning displacement and gentrification, the disregard for homeless individuals is highly apparent. The homeless community in low-income areas are often pushed out in the face of incoming gentrifiers. Old inner-city neighborhoods that are deemed dangerous are the prime targets for gentrification and there is ongoing renovation and redevelopment of them. The homeless are thus removed for the sake of profit.[47] Moreover, because of the rise in price of homes in gentrified areas that were once impoverished, a spike in foreclosures became prevalent resulting in increased poverty. It is no accident that these areas are heavily populated with minorities who are most affected by the crisis. At the national scale, over half the foreclosures were experienced by African Americans and Latinos, a rate two to three times higher than for whites. It also created a spike in homelessness.[48]

City officials identified lack of affordable housing as the lead cause of homelessness.[49] Gentrification as a whole is forcing the underprivileged to fight for limited housing thus continuing the cycle of homelessness.

A study from 2016 found that nearly 10,000 Hispanic families have had to move out of Pilsen in Chicago, Illinois, originally an Eastern European neighborhood which had become predominantly Mexican by the 1970s. This has come as a result of more wealthier people moving into the area. Chicago itself has been going through a process of gentrification and displacement quite rapidly in the past decade. When young, often wealthier, white people move into areas historically of color, it can cause the ethnic groups common to the area to leave because of rent hikes.[50]

Social changes

Many of the social effects of gentrification have been based on extensive theories about how socioeconomic status of an individual's neighborhood will shape one's behavior and future. These studies have prompted "social mix policies" to be widely adopted by governments to promote the process and its positive effects, such as lessening the strain on public resources that are associated with de-concentrating poverty. However, more specific research has shown that gentrification does not necessarily correlate with "social mixing," and that the effects of the new composition of a gentrified neighborhood can both weaken as well as strengthen community cohesion.[51] As a former employee of St. Mark's Bookshop, the closing of which is a symbol of New York's going under the process, Margarita Salina wrote "Post-gentrification is what happens when even the gentrifiers can't afford to live in the neighborhood they've gentrified."[52]

Housing confers social status, and the changing norms that accompany gentrification translate to a changing social hierarchy.[23] The process of gentrification mixes people of different socioeconomic strata, thereby congregating a variety of expectations and social norms. The change gentrification brings in class distinction also has been shown to contribute to residential polarization by income, education, household composition, and race.[23] It conveys a social rise that brings new standards in consumption, particularly in the form of excess and superfluity, to the area that were not held by the pre-existing residents.[23] These differing norms can lead to conflict, which potentially serves to divide changing communities.[51] Often this comes at a larger social cost to the original residents of the gentrified area whose displacement is met with little concern from the gentry or the government. Clashes that result in increased police surveillance, for example, would more adversely affect young minorities who are also more likely to be the original residents of the area.[51]

There is also evidence to support that gentrification can strengthen and stabilize when there is a consensus about a community's objectives. Gentrifiers with an organized presence in deteriorated neighborhoods can demand and receive better resources.[51] A characteristic example is a combined community effort to win historic district designation for the neighborhood, a phenomenon that is often linked to gentrification activity.[30] Gentry can exert a peer influence on neighbors to take action against crime, which can lead to even more price increases in changing neighborhoods when crime rates drop and optimism for the area's future climbs.[30]

Economic shifts

The economic changes that occur as a community goes through gentrification are often favorable for local governments. Affluent gentrifiers expand the local tax base as well as support local shops and businesses, a large part of why the process is frequently alluded to in urban policies. The decrease in vacancy rates and increase in property value that accompany the process can work to stabilize a previously struggling community, restoring interest in inner-city life as a residential option alongside the suburbs.[30] These changes can create positive feedback as well, encouraging other forms of development of the area that promote general economic growth.

Home ownership is a significant variable when it comes to economic impacts of gentrification. People who own their homes are much more able to gain financial benefits of gentrification than those who rent their houses and can be displaced without much compensation.[53]

Economic pressure and market price changes relate to the speed of gentrification. English-speaking countries have a higher number of property owners and a higher mobility. German speaking countries provide a higher share of rented property and have a much stronger role of municipalities, cooperatives, guilds and unions offering low-price-housing. The effect is a lower speed of gentrification and a broader social mix. Gerhard Hard sees gentrification as a typical 1970s term with more visibility in public discourse than actual migration.[10]

Voter turnout

Voting is an individual-level decision that needs to occur in order for newly elected officials to make changes to neighborhoods, especially ones undergoing gentrification. However, gentrified communities see significantly less voter turnout during election years when compared to neighborhoods that are not.[54] During its deep stages, as more wealthy people move into lower-middle-class neighborhoods, the ties to the "old neighborhood" are quickly severed. Areas that are not experiencing extreme forms of gentrification are able to maintain this concept of "old neighborhood" ties that represent the familiarity and culture within a community. New residents tend to be less sensitive to the negative effects of gentrification due to their unfamiliarity with the area and previous cultural traditions. As residents move in and push out former community members, these familial ties are lost, resulting in communities with little communication and sense of belonging. This drastic change in the neighborhoods connectivity not only affects new residents, but will surely affect long standing ones.

The social interaction within neighborhoods helps foster greater voter turnout overall. Those that interact within their community, usually from one neighbor to another, will begin to develop not only a better understanding of the neighborhood around them, but the changes that are necessary to benefit the majority in a neighborhood. This usually occurs when less educated neighbors, especially those in low-income areas, are able to interact with those who are more educated and benefit from sharing opinions. This communication results in a positive correlation with voting within the neighborhood.[55] A community will feel closer when they all vote for similar change, fortifying the idea of "people who talk together, vote together," allowing communal bonds to be strengthened.[56]

The increased rate of gentrification has a negative correlation to voter turnout during its mid to late stages because new residents sometimes refuse to interact with other neighbors, especially when friendships are already established within neighborhoods. These new residents will not vote simply because of their lack of understanding with the communities’ functionalities. They don't know current situations happening in or around their neighborhood, or who local politicians are, thus forth feeling too uninformed to make coherent political decisions regarding a ballot. This makes voting seem to be a less essential tool, which can be utilized in neighborhoods to create efficient and beneficial change, and more like an unimportant task that disregards its political importance.


Whether gentrification has occurred in a census tract in an urban area in the United States during a particular 10-year period between censuses can be determined by a method used in a study by Governing:[57] If the census tract in a central city had 500 or more residents and at the time of the baseline census had median household income and median home value in the bottom 40th percentile and at the time of the next 10-year census the tract's educational attainment (percentage of residents over age 25 with a bachelor's degree) was in the top 33rd percentile; the median home value, adjusted for inflation, had increased; and the percentage of increase in home values in the tract was in the top 33rd percentile when compared to the increase in other census tracts in the urban area then it was considered to have been gentrified. The method measures the rate of gentrification, not the degree of gentrification; thus, San Francisco, which has a history of gentrification dating to the 1970s, show a decreasing rate between 1990 and 2010.[58]

Scholars have also identified census indicators that can be used to reveal that gentrification is taking place in a given area, including a drop in the number of children per household, increased education among residents, the number of non-traditional types of households, and a general upwards shift in income.[59]

Gentrifier types

Just as critical to the gentrification process as creating a favorable environment is the availability of the 'gentry,' or those who will be first-stage gentrifiers. The typical gentrifiers are affluent and have professional-level, service industry jobs, many of which involve self-employment.[60] Therefore, they are willing and able to take the investment risk in the housing market. Often they are single people or young couples without children who lack demand for good schools.[23] Gentrifiers are likely searching for inexpensive housing close to the workplace and often already reside in the inner city, sometimes for educational reasons, and do not want to make the move to suburbia. For this demographic, gentrification is not so much the result of a return to the inner city but is more of a positive action to remain there.[60]

The stereotypical gentrifiers also have shared consumer preferences and favor a largely consumerist culture. This fuels the rapid expansion of trendy restaurant, shopping, and entertainment spheres that often accompany the gentrification process.[23] Holcomb and Beauregard described these groups as those who are "attracted by low prices and toleration of an unconventional lifestyle".[61]

An interesting find from research on those who participate and initiate the gentrification process, the "marginal gentrifiers" as referred to by Tim Butler, is that they become marginalized by the expansion of the process.[60] Research has also shown subgroups of gentrifiers that fall outside of these stereotypes. Two important ones are white women, typically single mothers, as well as white gay people who are typically men.

The upper-class

Research shows how one reason wealthy, upper-class individuals and families hold some responsibility in the causation of gentrification due to their social mobility.[62] Wealthier families were more likely to have more financial freedom to move into urban areas, oftentimes choosing to do so for their work. At the same time, in these urban areas the lower-income population is decreasing due to an increase in the elderly population as well as demographic change.[62]

Jackelyn Hwang and Jeffrey Lin have supported in their research that another reason for the influx of upper-class individuals to urban areas is due to the "increase in demand for college-educated workers".[63] It is because of this demand that wealthier individuals with college degrees needed to move into urban cities for work, increasing prices in housing as the demand has grown. Additionally, Darren P. Smith finds through his research that college-educated workers moving into the urban areas causes them to settle there and raise children, which eventually contributes to the cost of education in regards to the migration between urban and suburban places.[64]


Women increasingly obtaining higher education as well as higher paying jobs has increased their participation in the labor force, translating to an expansion of women who have greater opportunities to invest. Smith suggests this group "represents a reservoir of potential gentrifiers."[60] The increasing number of highly educated women play into this theory, given that residence in the inner city can give women access to the well-paying jobs and networking, something that is becoming increasingly common[30]

There are also theories that suggest the inner-city lifestyle is important for women with children where the father does not care equally for the child, because of the proximity to professional childcare.[60] This attracts single parents, specifically single mothers, to the inner-city as opposed to suburban areas where resources are more geographically spread out. This is often deemed as "marginal gentrification," for the city can offer an easier solution to combining paid and unpaid labor. Inner city concentration increases the efficiency of commodities parents need by minimizing time constraints among multiple jobs, childcare, and markets.[30]


Phillip Clay's two-stage model of gentrification places artists as prototypical stage one or "marginal" gentrifiers. The National Endowment for the Arts did a study that linked the proportion of employed artists to the rate of inner city gentrification across a number of U.S. cities.[32] Artists will typically accept the risks of rehabilitating deteriorated property, as well as have the time, skill, and ability to carry out these extensive renovations.[30] David Ley states that the artist's critique of everyday life and search for meaning and renewal are what make them early recruits for gentrification.

The identity that residence in the inner city provides is important for the gentrifier, and this is particularly so in the artists' case. Their cultural emancipation from the bourgeois makes the central city an appealing alternative that distances them from the conformity and mundaneness attributed to suburban life. They are quintessential city people, and the city is often a functional choice as well, for city life has advantages that include connections to customers and a closer proximity to a downtown art scene, all of which are more likely to be limited in a suburban setting. Ley's research cites a quote from a Vancouver printmaker talking about the importance of inner city life to an artist, that it has, "energy, intensity, hard to specify but hard to do without".[32]

Ironically, these attributes that make artists characteristic marginal gentrifiers form the same foundations for their isolation as the gentrification process matures. The later stages of the process generate an influx of more affluent, "yuppie" residents. As the bohemian character of the community grows, it appeals "not only to committed participants, but also to sporadic consumers,"[65] and the rising property values that accompany this migration often lead to the eventual pushing out of the artists that began the movement in the first place.[30] Sharon Zukin's study of SoHo in Manhattan, NYC was one of the most famous cases of this phenomenon. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Manhattan lofts in SoHo were converted en masse into housing for artists and hippies, and then their sub-culture's followers.[66]

Stages of Gentrification
Early StageTransitional StageLate Stage

Artists, writers, musicians, affluent college students, homosexuals, hipsters and political activists move in to a neighborhood for its affordability and tolerance.

Upper-middle-class professionals, often politically liberal-progressive (e.g. teachers, journalists, librarians), are attracted by the vibrancy created by the first arrivals.

Wealthier people (e.g. private sector managers) move in and real estate prices increase significantly. By this stage, high prices have excluded traditional residents and most of the types of people who arrived in stage 1 & 2.

Retail gentrification: Throughout the process, local businesses change to serve the higher incomes and different tastes of the gentrifying population.
Source: Caulfield (1996); Ley as cited in Boyd (2008); Rose (1996); and Lees, Slater & Wyly (2010) as cited in Kasman (2015).

LGBT community

Manuel Castells has researched the role of gay communities, especially in San Francisco, as early gentrifiers.[67] The film Quinceañera depicts a similar situation in Los Angeles. Flag Wars (Linda Goode Bryant)[68] shows tensions as of 2003 between bourgeois (affluent) White LGBT-newcomers and a Black middle-class neighborhood in Columbus, Ohio.[69] In Washington, D.C. Black and other ethnic minority mixed-income community residents accused both the affluent majority-White LGBTQ+ community and the closely linked Hipster subculture of Cultural Displacement (or destruction of cultural heritage) under the guise of progressive inclusion and tolerance.[70]

While much of this information may be true, the LGBTQ+ community felt the need to create their own communities in racial minority dominated areas because of the oppression they faced in heterosexual dominated areas.[71] In Chicago—with neighborhoods like Boystown, a now predominantly wealthy, LGBTQ+ area—these places only came to be because of the isolation of the gay community. As pushback against a city that did not want them there in the first place, the LGBTQ+ community created enclaves.[72] Another example, Buenos Aires, shows that predominantly LGBTQ+ areas were only able to exist when the government allowed that area to be gentrified.[73]

Gentrification of the internet

Gentrification can also be recognized within non-physical realms, for example on the internet. This is a topic that is just beginning to be brought to the public’s attention and has been written about by assistant professor at the Annenberg School for Communication Jessa Lingel. In Lingel’s 2019 piece, “The Gentrification of the Internet” published on the blog, Culture Digitally, she bases her argument on the claim that gentrification of the internet is not just the “tech industry’s role in reshaping neighborhoods that host their company headquarters” but instead involves isolation, increasing costs and uneven commercialization.[74] She uses examples of the Big Five technology companies such as Facebook and Amazon to highlight the sovereignty large corporations have within the web. When explaining how the gentrification of the internet leads to isolation, Lingel states that, “Overtime, it’s become the norm to push content based on likes and personal affinity, resulting in what Eli Pariser has called filter bubbles. Rather than being exposed to diverse people and content, people are increasingly segregated.”[75] Lingel additionally gives the increase of costs partial credit in the gentrification of the internet. She claims that, “Online, gentrification happens as older platforms struggle to compete with the resources and values of newer platforms.”[76] Lastly, she also attributes uneven commercialization with the gentrification of the internet. She uses the example of Craigslist to shed light on the issue of new websites that contain “more features and a newer aesthetic” making older websites like Craigslist seem “shabbier and shadier, and even as it continued to provide the same services.”[77]


To counter the gentrification of their mixed-populace communities, there are cases where residents formally organized themselves to develop the necessary socio-political strategies required to retain local affordable housing. The gentrification of a mixed-income community raises housing affordability to the fore of the community's politics.[78] There are cities, municipalities, and counties which have countered gentrification with inclusionary zoning (inclusionary housing) ordinances requiring the apportionment of some new housing for the community's original low- and moderate-income residents. Inclusionary zoning is a new social concept in English speaking countries; there are few reports qualifying its effective or ineffective limitation of gentrification in the English literature. The basis of inclusionary zoning is partial replacement as opposed to displacement of the embedded communities.[79]

In Los Angeles, California, inclusionary zoning apparently accelerated gentrification, as older, unprofitable buildings were razed and replaced with mostly high-rent housing, and a small percentage of affordable housing; the net result was less affordable housing.[80] German (speaking) municipalities have a strong legal role in zoning and on the real estate market in general and a long tradition of integrating social aspects in planning schemes and building regulations. The German approach uses en (milieu conservation municipal law), e.g. in Munichs Lehel district in use since the 1960s. The concepts of socially aware renovation and zoning of Bologna's old city in 1974 was used as role model in the Charta of Bologna, and recognized by the Council of Europe.[81]

Most economists don't think government anti gentrification measures make cities better off.[82]

Other methods

Direct action and sabotage

When wealthy people move into low-income working-class neighborhoods, the resulting class conflict sometimes involves vandalism and arson targeting the property of the gentrifiers. During the dot-com boom of the late 1990s, the gentrification of San Francisco's predominantly working class Mission District led some long-term neighborhood residents to create what they called the "Mission Yuppie Eradication Project".[83] This group allegedly destroyed property and called for property destruction as part of a strategy to oppose gentrification. Their activities drew hostile responses from the San Francisco Police Department, real estate interests, and "work-within-the-system" housing activists.[84]

Meibion Glyndŵr (Welsh: Sons of Glyndŵr), also known as the Valley Commandos, was a Welsh nationalist movement violently opposed to the loss of Welsh culture and language. They were formed in response to the housing crisis precipitated by large numbers of second homes being bought by the English which had increased house prices beyond the means of many locals. The group were responsible for setting fire to English-owned holiday homes in Wales from 1979 to the mid-1990s. In the first wave of attacks, eight holiday homes were destroyed in a month, and in 1980, Welsh Police carried out a series of raids in Operation Tân. Within the next ten years, some 220 properties were damaged by the campaign.[85] Since the mid-1990s the group has been inactive and Welsh nationalist violence has ceased. In 1989 there was a movement that protested an influx of Swabians to Berlin who were deemed as gentrification drivers. Berlin saw the Schwabenhass and 2013 Spätzlerstreit controversies,[86] which identified gentrification with newcomers from the German south.

Zoning ordinances

Zoning ordinances and other urban planning tools can be used to recognize and support local business and industries. This can include requiring developers to continue with a current commercial tenant or offering development incentives for keeping existing businesses, as well as creating and maintaining industrial zones. Designing zoning to allow new housing near to a commercial corridor but not on top of it increases foot traffic to local businesses without redeveloping them. Businesses can become more stable by securing long-term commercial leases.[87]

Although developers may recognize value in responding to living patterns, extensive zoning policies often prevent affordable homes from being constructed within urban development. Due to urban density restrictions, rezoning for residential development within urban living areas is difficult, which forces the builder and the market into urban sprawl and propagates the energy inefficiencies that come with distance from urban centers. In a recent example of restrictive urban zoning requirements, Arcadia Development Co. was prevented from rezoning a parcel for residential development in an urban setting within the city of Morgan Hill, California. With limitations established in the interest of public welfare, a density restriction was applied solely to Arcadia Development Co.'s parcel of development, excluding any planned residential expansion.[88]

Community land trusts

Because land speculation tends to cause volatility in property values, removing real estate (houses, buildings, land) from the open market freezes property values, and thereby prevents the economic eviction of the community's poorer residents. The most common, formal legal mechanism for such stability in English speaking countries is the community land trust; moreover, many inclusionary zoning ordinances formally place the "inclusionary" housing units in a land trust. German municipalities and other cooperative actors have and maintain strong roles on the real estate markets in their realm.

Rent control

In jurisdictions where local or national government has these powers, there may be rent control regulations. Rent control restricts the rent that can be charged, so that incumbent tenants are not forced out by rising rents. If applicable to private landlords, it is a disincentive to speculating with property values, reduces the incidence of dwellings left empty, and limits availability of housing for new residents. If the law does not restrict the rent charged for dwellings that come onto the rental market (formerly owner-occupied or new build), rents in an area can still increase. The cities of southwestern Santa Monica and eastern West Hollywood in California, United States gentrified despite—or perhaps, because of—rent control.[89]

Occasionally, a housing black market develops, wherein landlords withdraw houses and apartments from the market, making them available only upon payment of additional key money, fees, or bribes—thus undermining the rent control law. Many such laws allow "vacancy decontrol", releasing a dwelling from rent control upon the tenant's leaving—resulting in steady losses of rent-controlled housing, ultimately rendering rent control laws ineffective in communities with a high rate of resident turnover. In other cases social housing owned by local authorities may be sold to tenants and then sold on. Vacancy decontrol encourages landlords to find ways of shortening their residents' tenure, most aggressively through landlord harassment. To strengthen the rent control laws of New York City, housing advocates active in rent control in New York are attempting to repeal the vacancy decontrol clauses of rent control laws. The state of Massachusetts abolished rent control in 1994; afterwards, rents rose, accelerating the pace of Boston's gentrification; however, the laws protected few apartments, and confounding factors, such as a strong economy, had already been raising housing and rental prices.[90]


Inner London, England

Gentrification is not a new phenomenon in Britain; in ancient Rome the shop-free forum was developed during the Roman Republican period, and in 2nd- and 3rd-century cities in Roman Britain there is evidence of small shops being replaced by large villas.[5] "London is being 'made over' by an urban centred middle class. In the post war era, upwardly mobile social classes tended to leave the city. Now, led by a new middle class, they are reconstructing much of inner London as a place both in which to work and live” (Butler, 1999, p. 77). King's College London academic Loretta Lees reported that much of Inner London was undergoing "super-gentrification", where "a new group of super-wealthy professionals, working in the City of London [i.e. the financial industry], is slowly imposing its mark on this Inner London housing market, in a way that differentiates it, and them, from traditional gentrifiers, and from the traditional urban upper classes ... Super-gentrification is quite different from the classical version of gentrification. It's of a higher economic order; you need a much higher salary and bonuses to live in Barnsbury" (some two miles north of central London).[91]

Barnsbury was built around 1820, as a middle-class neighbourhood, but after the Second World War (1939–1945), many people moved to the suburbs. The upper and middle classes were fleeing from the working class residents of London; the modern railway allowed it. At the war's end, the great housing demand rendered Barnsbury a place of cheap housing, where most people shared accommodation. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, people moving into the area had to finance house renovations with their money, because banks rarely financed loans for Barnsbury. Moreover, the rehabilitating spark was The 1959 Housing Purchase and Housing Act, investing £100 million to rehabilitating old properties and infrastructure. As a result, the principal population influx occurred between 1961 and 1975; the UK Census reports that "between the years of 1961 and 1981, owner-occupation increased from 7 to 19 per cent, furnished rentals declined from 14 to 7 per cent, and unfurnished rentals declined from 61 to 6 per cent";[92] another example of urban gentrification is the super-gentrification, in the 1990s, of the neighboring working-class London Borough of Islington, where Prime Minister Tony Blair lived until his election in 1997.[91] The conversion of older houses into flats emerged in the 1980s as developers saw the profits to be made. By the end of the 1980s, conversions were the single largest source of new dwellings in London.[93]

Mexico City

Gentrification of Mexico City Mexico City has been an iconic example of an extensive metropolitan area since the 14th century when it became the largest city in the American continent. Its continuous population growth and concentration of economic and political power boomed in the 1930’s when the country’s involvement with global markets benefited the national financial industry. Currently the fifth largest city in the world, with a population of 21 million inhabitants (17.47% of national population) living in 16 districts and 59 municipalities, the urban area continues to expand receiving 1,100 new residents daily. The division of the city is derived from a strong socially and economically segregated population connected by its interdependence, that manifests into spatial arrangements where luxury areas coexist alongside slums. Its development around a core called “El Zocalo” derives from the historic, cultural and political relevance of a central plaza, as well as its contemporary concentration of economic power, currently housing 80% of all national firms. [94] [95] [96]

In recent years, a massive reconstruction and redesign of zones, motivated by both State and private investments, has created exciting areas of historic importance, entertainment opportunities and high quality residentials. [97] These urban developments have been catered to elite communities mainly because this group economically supports the country (38% of the total national income is produced by the top 10%) and because the government, predominantly lead by PRI (Partido Revolucionario Institucional), has maintained a profit-oriented policy perspective. Thus, these developments have not only led to an increase of population, traffic and pollution due to inefficient urban planning, but have also pushed great amounts of low-income families to the edges of the city and have challenged the safety of the 11.5 million people that economically depend on the underground sector.[98] This issue adds to the already critical condition of 40% of the population living in informal settlements, often without access to sewage network and clean water. The geology of the city, located in a mountain valley, further contributes to unhealthy living conditions, concentrating high levels of air pollution.[99]

The reality currently faced by the city is that of a historic rapid urban growth that has been unable to be adequately controlled and planned for, because of a corrupted and economically driven government, as well as a complex society that is strongly segregated. The negative effects of gentrification in Mexico City have been overlooked by the authorities, regarded as an inevitable process and argued to be in some cases nonexistent. [100] In recent years, however, an array of proposals have been developed as a way to continue the gentrification of the city in a way that integrates and respects the rights of all citizens.


By the 1970s, investors in Toronto started buying up city houses—turning them into temporary rooming houses to make rental income until the desired price in the housing market for selling off the properties was reached (so that the rooming houses could be replaced with high income-oriented new housing)—a gentrification process called "blockbusting."[101]

As of 2011, gentrification in Canada has proceeded quickly in older and denser cities such as Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa, Hamilton and Vancouver, but has barely begun in places such as Calgary, Edmonton, or Winnipeg, where suburban expansion is still the primary type of growth.

Canada's unique history and official multiculturalism policy has resulted in a different strain of gentrification than that of the United States. Some gentrification in Toronto has been sparked by the efforts of business improvement associations to market the ethnic communities in which they operate, such as in Corso Italia and Greektown.[102]

In Quebec City. The Saint Roch district in the city's lower town was previously predominantly working class and had gone through a period of decline. However, since the early to mid 2000s, the area has seen the derelict buildings turned into condos and the opening of bars, restaurants and cafes, attracting young professionals into the area, but kicking out the residents from many generations back. Several software developers and gaming companies, such as Ubisoft and Beenox have also opened offices there.


In Paris, most poor neighborhoods in the east have seen rising prices and the arrival of many wealthy residents. However, the process is mitigated by social housing and most cities tend to favor a "social mix"; that is, having both low and high-income residents in the same neighborhoods. But in practice, social housing does not cater to the poorest segment of the population; most residents of social dwellings are from the low-end of the middle class. As a result, a lot of poor people have been forced to go first to the close suburbs (1970 to 2000) and then more and more to remote "periurban areas" where public transport is almost nonexistent. The close suburbs (Saint-Ouen, Saint Denis, Aubervilliers, ...) are now in the early stages of gentrification although still poor. A lot of high-profile companies offering well-paid jobs have moved near Saint-Denis and new real-estate programs are underway to provide living areas close to the new jobs.

On the other side, the eviction of the poorest people to periurban areas since 2000 has been analyzed as the main cause for the rising political far-right national front. When the poor lived in the close suburbs, their problems were very visible to the wealthy population. But the periurban population and its problem is mainly "invisible" from recent presidential campaign promises. These people have labelled themselves "les invisibles". Many of them fled both rising costs in Paris and nearby suburbs with an insecure and ugly environment to live in small houses in the countryside but close to the city. But they did not factor in the huge financial and human cost of having up to four hours of transportation every day. Since then, a lot has been invested in the close suburbs (with new public transports set to open and urban renewal programs) they fled, but almost nobody cares of these "invisible" plots of land. Since the close suburbs are now mostly inhabited by immigrants, these people have a strong resentment against immigration: They feel everything is done for new immigrants but nothing for the native French population.

This has been first documented in the book Plaidoyer pour une gauche populaire by think-tank Terra-Nova which had a major influence on all contestants in the presidential election (and at least, Sarkozy, François Hollande, and Marine Le Pen). This electorate voted overwhelmingly in favor of Marine Le Pen and Sarkozy while the city centers and close suburbs voted overwhelmingly for François Hollande.

Most major metropolises in France follow the same pattern with a belt of periurban development about 30 to 80 kilometers of the center where a lot of poor people moved in and are now trapped by rising fuel costs. These communities have been disrupted by the arrival of new people and already suffered of high unemployment due to the dwindling numbers of industrial jobs.

In smaller cities, the suburbs are still the principal place where people live and the center is more and more akin to a commercial estate where a lot of commercial activities take place but where few people live.

South Africa

Gentrification in South Africa has been categorized into two waves for two different periods of time. Visser and Kotze find that the first wave occurred in the 1980s to the Post-Apartheid period, the second wave occurred during and after the 2000s.[103] Both of these trends of gentrification has been analyzed and reviewed by scholars in different lenses. One view which Atkinson uses is that gentrification is purely the reflection of middle-class values on to a working-class neighborhood.[104] The second view is the wider view is suggested by Visser and Kotze which views gentrification with inclusions of rural locations, infill housing, and luxury residency development.[103] While Kotze and Visser find that gentrification has been under a provocative lens by media all over the world, South Africa's gentrification process was harder to identify because of the need to differentiate between gentrification and the change of conditions from the Apartheid.[105]

Furthermore, the authors note that the pre-conditions for gentrification where events like Tertiary Decentralization (suburbanization of the service industry) and Capital Flight (disinvestment) were occurring, which caused scholars to ignore the subject of gentrification due to the normality of the process.[105] Additionally, Kotze and Visser found that as state-run programs and private redevelopment programs began to focus on the pursuit of "global competitiveness" and well-rounded prosperity, it hid the underlying foundations of gentrification under the guise of redevelopment.[106] As a result, the effect is similar to what Teppo and Millstein coins as the pursuit to moralize the narrative to legitimize the benefit to all people.[107] This concurrently created an effect where Visser and Kotze conclude that the perceived gentrification was only the fact that the target market was people commonly associated with gentrification.[108] As Visser and Kotze states, "It appears as if apartheid red-lining on racial grounds has been replaced by a financially exclusive property market that entrenches prosperity and privilege."[109]

Generally, Atkinson observes that when looking at scholarly discourse for the gentrification and rapid urbanization of South Africa, the main focus is not on the smaller towns of South Africa. This is a large issue because small towns are magnets for poorer people and repellants for skilled people.[110] In one study, Atkinson dives into research in a small town, Aberdeen in the East Cape. Also as previously mentioned, Atkinson finds that this area has shown signs of gentrification. This is due to redevelopment which indicates clearly the reflection of middle-class values.[104] In this urbanization of the area, Atkinson finds that there is clear dependence on state-programs which leads to further development and growth of the area, this multiplier of the economy would present a benefit of gentrification.[111] The author then attributes the positive growth with the benefits in gentrification by examining the increase in housing opportunities.[112]

Then, by surveying the recent newcomers to the area, Atkinson's research found that there is confidence for local economic growth which further indicated shifts to middle-class values, therefore, gentrification.[113] This research also demonstrated growth in "modernizers" which demonstrate the general belief of gentrification where there is value for architectural heritage as well as urban development.[114] Lastly, Atkinson's study found that the gentrification effects of growth can be accredited to the increase in unique or scarce skills to the municipality which revived interest in the growth of the local area. This gentrification of the area would then negative impact the poorer demographics where the increase in housing would displace and exclude them from receiving benefits. In conclusion, after studying the small town of Aberdeen, Atkinson finds that "Paradoxically, it is possible that gentrification could promote economic growth and employment while simultaneously increasing class inequality."[114]

Historically, Garside notes that due to the Apartheid, the inner cities of Cape Town was cleared of non-white communities. But because of the Group Areas Act, some certain locations were controlled for such communities. Specifically, Woodstock has been a racially mixed community with a compilation of British settlers, Afrikaners, Eastern European Jews, Portuguese immigrants from Angola and Mozambique, and the colored Capetonians. For generations, these groups lived in this area characterizing it be a working-class neighborhood.[115] But as the times changed and restrictions were relaxed, Teppo and Millstein observes that the community became more and more “gray” as in a combination between white and mixed communities.[116]

Then this progression continues to which Garside finds that an exaggeration as more middle-income groups moved into the area. This emigration resulted in a distinct split between Upper Woodstock and Lower Woodstock. Coupled with the emergence of a strong middle-class in South Africa, Woodstock became a destination for convenience and growth. While Upper Woodstock was a predominantly white area, Lower Woodstock then received the attention of the mixed middle-income community. This increase in demand for housing gave landlords incentives to raise prices to profit off of the growing wealth in the area. The 400-500% surge in the housing market for Woodstock thus displaced and excluded the working-class and retired who previously resided in the community.[117] Furthermore, Garside states that the progression of gentrification was accentuated by the fact that most of the previous residents would only be renting their living space.[118] Both Teppo and Millstein would find that this displacement of large swaths of communities would increase demand in other areas of Woodstock or inner city slums.[119]

The Bo-Kaap pocket of Cape Town nestles against the slopes of Signal Hill. It has traditionally been occupied by members of South Africa's minority, mainly Muslim, Cape Malay community. These descendants of artisans and political captives, brought to the Cape as early as the 18th century as slaves and indentured workers, were housed in small barrack-like abodes on what used to be the outskirts of town. As the city limits increased, property in the Bo-Kaap became very sought after, not only for its location but also for its picturesque cobble-streets and narrow avenues. Increasingly, this close-knit community is "facing a slow dissolution of its distinctive character as wealthy outsiders move into the suburb to snap up homes in the City Bowl at cut-rate prices".[120] Inter-community conflict has also arisen as some residents object to the sale of buildings and the resultant eviction of long-term residents.

In another specific case, Millstein and Teppo discovered that working-class residents would become embattled with their landlords. On Gympie Street, which has been labeled as the most dangerous street in Cape Town, it was home to many of the working-class. But as gentrification occurred, landlords brought along tactics to evict low-paying tenants through non-payment clauses. One landlord who bought a building cheaply from an auction, immediately raised the rental price which would then proceed to court for evictions. But, the tenants were able to group together to make a strong case to win. Regardless of the outcome, the landlord resorted to turning off both power and water in the building. The tenants then were exhausted out of motivation to fight. One tenant described it as similar to living in a shack which would be the future living space one displaced.[121] Closing, the Teppo and Millstein's research established that gentrification's progress for urban development would coincide with a large displacement of the poorer communities which also excluded them from any benefits to gentrification. To put it succinctly, the authors state, "The end results are the same in both cases: in the aftermath of the South African negotiated revolution, the elite colonize the urban areas from those who are less privileged, claiming the city for themselves."[122]


In Italy, similarly to other countries around the world, the phenomenon of gentrification is proceeding in the largest cities, such as Milan, Turin, Genoa and Rome.[123][124]

In Milan, gentrification is changing the look of some semi-central neighborhoods, just outside the inner ring road (called Cerchia dei Bastioni), particularly of former working class and industrial areas. One of the most well known cases is the neighborhood of Isola. Despite its position, this area has been for a long time considered as a suburb since it has been an isolated part of the city, due to the physical barriers such as the railways and the Naviglio Martesana. In the 1950s, a new business district was built not far from this area, but Isola remained a distant and low-class area. In the 2000s vigorous efforts to make Isola as a symbolic place of the Milan of the future were carried out and, with this aim, the Porta Garibaldi-Isola districts became attractors for stylists and artists.[124][125] Moreover, in the second half of the same decade, a massive urban rebranding project, known as Progetto Porta Nuova, started and the neighborhood of Isola, despite the compliances residents have had,[126] has been one of the regenerated areas, with the Bosco Verticale and the new Giardini di Porta Nuova.

Another semi-central district that has undergone this phenomenon in Milan is Zona Tortona. Former industrial area situated behind Porta Genova station, Zona Tortona is nowadays the mecca of Italian design and annually hosts some of the most important events of the Fuorisalone during which more than 150 expositors, such as Superstudio, take part.[127] In Zona Tortona, some of important landmarks, related to culture, design and arts, are located such as Fondazione Pomodoro, the Armani/Silos, Spazio A and MUDEC.

Going towards the outskirts of the city, other gentrified areas of Milan are Lambrate-Ventura (where others events of the Fuorisalone are hosted),[128] Bicocca and Bovisa (in which universities have contributed to the gentrification of the areas), Sesto San Giovanni, Via Sammartini, and the so-called NoLo district (which means Nord di Loreto).[129]


In Poland, gentrification is proceeding mostly in the big cities like Warsaw, Łódź, Cracow, Silesian Metropolis, Poznań, Wrocław. The reason of this is both de-industrialisation and poor condition of residential areas.

The biggest European ongoing gentrification process has been occurring in Łódź from the beginning of 2010s. Huge unemployment (24% in 1990s) caused by the downfall of the garment industry created both economic and social problems. Moreover, vast majority of industrial and housing facilities had been constructed in the late 19th century and the renovation was neglected after WWII. Łódź authorities rebuilt the industrial district into the New City Center. This included re-purposing buildings including the former electrical power and heating station into the Łódź Fabryczna railway station and the EC1 Science Museum.

There are other significant gentrifications in Poland, such as:

Nowadays the Polish government has started National Revitalization Plan[132] which ensures financial support to municipal gentrification programs.


Central Moscow rapidly gentrified following the change from the Communist central-planning policies of the Soviet era to the market economy and pro-development policies of the post-Soviet Russian government.[133]

United States

From a market standpoint, there are two main requirements that are met by the U.S. cities that undergo substantial effects of gentrification. These are: an excess supply of deteriorated housing in central areas, as well as a considerable growth in the availability of professional jobs located in central business districts. These conditions have been met in the U.S. largely as a result of suburbanization and other postindustrial phenomena. There have been three chronological waves of gentrification in the U.S. starting from the 1960s.[41]

The first wave came in the 1960s and early 1970s, led by governments trying to reduce the disinvestment that was taking place in inner-city urban areas.[41] Additionally, starting in the 1960s and 1970s, U.S. industry has created a surplus of housing units as construction of new homes has far surpassed the rate of national household growth. However, the market forces that are dictated by an excess supply cannot fully explain the geographical specificity of gentrification in the U.S., for there are many large cities that meet this requirement and have not exhibited gentrification.

The missing link is another factor that can be explained by particular, necessary demand forces. In U.S. cities in the time period from 1970 to 1978, growth of the central business district at around 20% did not dictate conditions for gentrification, while growth at or above 33% yielded appreciably larger gentrification activity.[30] Succinctly, central business district growth will activate gentrification in the presence of a surplus in the inner city housing market. The 1970s brought the more "widespread" second wave of gentrification, and was sometimes linked to the development of artist communities like SoHo in New York City.[41]

In the U.S., the conditions for gentrification were generated by the economic transition from manufacturing to post-industrial service economies. The post-World War II economy experienced a service revolution, which created white-collar jobs and larger opportunities for women in the work force, as well as an expansion in the importance of centralized administrative and cooperate activities. This increased the demand for inner city residences, which were readily available cheaply after much of the movement towards central city abandonment of the 1950s. The coupling of these movements is what became the trigger for the expansive gentrification of U.S. cities, including Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Philadelphia, St. Louis, and Washington, D.C.[30]

The third wave of gentrification occurred in most major cities in the late 1990s and was driven by large-scale developments, public-private partnerships, and government policies.[134] Measurement of the rate of gentrification during the period from 1990 to 2010 in 50 U.S. cities showed an increase in the rate of gentrification from 9% in the decade of the 1990s to 20% in the decade from 2000 to 2010 with 8% of the urban neighborhoods in the 50 cities being affected.

Cities with a rate of gentrification of ≈40% or more in the decade from 2000 to 2010 included:[135]

Cities with a rate of less than 10% in the decade from 2000 to 2010 included:[135]


Gentrification in Atlanta has been taking place in its inner-city neighborhoods since the 1970s. Many of Atlanta's neighborhoods experienced the urban flight that affected other major American cities in the 20th century, causing the decline of once upper and upper-middle-class east side neighborhoods. In the 1970s, after neighborhood opposition blocked two freeways from being built through the east side, its neighborhoods such as Inman Park and Virginia-Highland became the starting point for the city's gentrification wave, first becoming affordable neighborhoods attracting young people, and by 2000 having become relatively affluent areas attracting people from across Metro Atlanta to their upscale shops and restaurants.[136]

In the 1990s and 2000s, gentrification expanded into other parts of Atlanta, spreading throughout the historic streetcar suburbs east of Downtown and Midtown, mostly areas that had long had black majorities such as the Old Fourth Ward, Kirkwood, Reynoldstown and Edgewood. On the western side of the city, once-industrial West Midtown became a vibrant neighborhood full of residential lofts and a nexus of the arts, restaurants, and home furnishings. Gentrification by young African Americans was also taking place in the 1990s in southwest Atlanta neighborhoods.[137] The BeltLine trail construction is expected to bring further gentrification in the neighborhoods alongside which it runs. Concerns about displacement of existing working-class black residents by increasing numbers of more affluent whites moving in are expressed by author Nathan McCall in his novel Them,[138] in The Atlanta Progressive News,[139] and in the documentary The Atlanta Way.


The city of Boston has seen several neighborhoods undergo significant periods of urban renewal, specifically during the 1960s to the 1980s. Called "turbo-gentrification" by sociologist Alan Wolfe, particular areas of study of the process have been done in South End, Bay Village, and West Cambridge. In Boston's North End, the removal of the noisy Central Artery elevated highway attracted younger, more affluent new residents, in place of the traditional Italian immigrant culture.[140]

South End

In the early 1960s, Boston's South End had a great many characteristics of a neighborhood that is prime for gentrification. The available housing was architecturally sound and unique row houses in a location with high accessibility to urban transport services, while surrounded by small squares and parks. A majority of the area had also been designated a National Historic District.

The South End became deteriorated by the 1960s. Many of the row houses had been converted to cheap apartments, and the neighborhood was plagued by dominant, visible poverty. The majority of the residents were working-class individuals and families with a significant need for public housing and other social services. The situation was recognized by local governments as unfavorable, and in 1960 became the target of an urban renewal effort of the city.

The construction of the Prudential Tower complex that was finished in 1964 along the northwest border of South End was a spark for this urban-renewal effort and the gentrification process for the area that surrounded it. The complex increased job availability in the area, and the cheap housing stock of South End began to attract a new wave of residents. The next 15 years saw an influx of predominantly affluent, young professionals who purchased and renovated houses in South End. Unfortunately, tension characterized the relationship between these new residents and the previous residents of the neighborhood. Clashes in the vision for the area's future was the main source of conflict. The previous, poorer residents, contended that "renewal" should focus on bettering the plight of South End's poor, while new, middle-class residents heavily favored private market investment opportunities and shunned efforts such as subsidized housing with the belief that they would flood the market and raise personal security concerns.[141]

Bay Village

The late 1940s was a transition for the area from primarily families with children as residents to a population dominated by both retired residents and transient renters. The 2–3 story brick row houses were largely converted to low-cost lodging houses, and the neighborhood came to be described as "blighted" and "down at heel". This deterioration was largely blamed on the transient population.

The year 1957 began the upgrading of what was to become Bay Village, and these changes were mainly attributed to new artists and gay men moving to the area. These "marginal" gentrifiers made significant efforts towards superficial beautification as well as rehabilitation of their new homes, setting the stage for realtors to promote the rising value of the area.

Of the homebuyers in Bay Village from 1957 to 1975, 92% had careers as white-collar professionals. 42% of these homebuyers were 25–34 years old. The majority of them were highly educated and moving from a previous residence in the city, suggesting ties to an urban-based educational institution. The reasons new homebuyers gave for their choice of residence in Bay Village was largely attributed to its proximity to downtown, as well as an appreciation for city life over that of suburbia (Pattison 1977).

West Cambridge

The development and gentrification of West Cambridge began in 1960 as the resident population began to shift away from the traditional majority of working class Irish immigrants. The period of 1960–1975 had large shifts in homebuyer demographics comparable to that experienced by Bay Village. Professional occupations were overrepresented in homebuyers during this 15-year period, as well as the age group of 25–34 years old. Residents reported a visible lack of social ties between new homebuyers and the original residents. However, displacement was not cited as a problem because the primary reason of housing sale remained the death of the sole-surviving member of the household or the death of a spouse.

Researcher Timothy Pattison divided the gentrification process of West Cambridge into two main stages. Stage one began with various architects and architectural students who were attracted to the affordability of the neighborhood. The renovations efforts these "marginal" gentrifiers undertook seemed to spark a new interest in the area, perhaps as word of the cheap land spread to the wider student community.

The Peabody Schools also served as an enticing factor for the new gentrifiers for both stages of new homebuyers. Stage two of the process brought more architects to the area as well as non-architect professionals, often employed at a university institution. The buyers in stage two cited Peabody schools and the socioeconomic mix of the neighborhood as primary reasons for their residential choice, as well as a desire to avoid job commutes and a disenchantment with the suburban life.[142]


Chicago's gentrification rate was reported to be 16.8% in 2015.[135] But researchers have claimed that it has had a significant on specific urban neighborhoods and led to destabilization of black and Latino communities and their shared cultural identity.[143]

Philadelphia: Darien Street

Gentrification Amid Urban Decline: Strategies for America's Older Cities, by Michael Lang, reports the process and impact (social, economic, cultural) of gentrification.[144] In particular, it focuses on the section of Darien Street (a north-south street running intermittently from South to North Philadelphia) which is essentially an alley in the populous Bella Vista neighborhood. That part of Darien Street was a "back street", because it does not connect to any of the city's main arteries and was unpaved for most of its existence.

In its early days, this area of Darien Street housed only Italian families; however, after the Second World War (1939–1945), when the municipal government spoke of building a cross-town highway, the families moved out. Most of the houses date from 1885 (built for the artisans and craftsmen who worked and lived in the area), but, when the Italian Americans moved out, the community's low-rent houses went to poor African American families. Moreover, by the early 1970s, blighted Darien Street was at its lowest point as a community, because the houses held little property value, many were abandoned, having broken heaters and collapsed roofs, et cetera.[145] Furthermore, the houses were very small — approximately 15 feet (4.6 m) wide and 15 feet (4.6 m) deep, each had three one-room stories (locally known, and still currently advertised as a "Trinity" style house) and the largest yard was 8 feet (2.4 m) deep. Despite the decay, Darien Street remained charmed with European echoes, each house was architecturally different, contributing to the street's community character; children were safe, there was no car traffic. The closeness of the houses generated a closely knit community located just to the south of Center City, an inexpensive residential neighborhood a short distance from the city-life amenities of Philadelphia; the city government did not hesitate to rehabilitate it.

The gentrification began in 1977; the first house rehabilitated was a corner property that a school teacher re-modeled and occupied. The next years featured (mostly) white middle-class men moving into the abandoned houses; the first displacement of original Darien Street residents occurred in 1979. Two years later, five of seven families had been economically evicted with inflated housing prices; the two remaining families were renters, expecting eventual displacement. In five years, from 1977 to 1982, the gentrification of Darien Street reduced the original population from seven black households and one white household, to two black households and eleven white households. The average rent increased 488 per cent — from $85 to $500 a month; by 1981, a house bought for $5,000 sold for $35,000. Of the five black households displaced, three found better houses within two blocks of their original residence, one family left Pennsylvania, and one family moved into a public housing apartment building five blocks from Darien Street.[146]The benefits of the Darien Street gentrification included increased property tax revenues and better-quality housing. The principal detriment was residential displacement via higher priced housing.[147]

Washington, D.C.

Gentrification in Washington, D.C. is one of the most studied examples of the process, as well as one of the most extreme. The process in the U Street Corridor and other downtown areas has recently become a major issue, and the resulting changes have led to African-Americans dropping from a majority to a minority of the population, as they move out and middle-class whites and Asians have moved in.[148]

Washington is one of the top three cities with the most pronounced capital flow into its "core" neighborhoods, a measurement that has been used to detect areas experiencing gentrification. Researcher Franklin James found that, of these core areas, Capitol Hill was significantly revitalized during the decade of 1960–1970, and by the end of the decade this revitalization had extended outward in a ring around this core area.[30] Gale (1987) studied these "Revitalization Areas," which include the Dupont Circle, Adams Morgan, and Capitol Hill neighborhoods, and as compared to the rest of the city found that these areas were experiencing a faster rate of depopulation in the 1970s than the surrounding areas. U.S. census data show that in the Revitalization Areas, the percentage of the population with four or more years of college education rose from 24% in 1970 to 47% in 1980, as opposed to an increase of 21% to 24% for the remaining areas of Washington. Additionally, Gale's data showed that in 1970, 73% of the residents living in the Revitalization Areas had been residents since 1965; however, in 1975, only 66% of the residents living there had been residents of the area in 1970 as well.[30]

The gentrification during this time period resulted in a significant problem of displacement for marginalized city residents in the 1970s.[30] A decrease in the stock of affordable housing for needy households as well as nonsubsidized housing for low-income workers has had a burdensome effect on individuals and families.[149]

As a result of gentrification, however, Washington's safety has improved drastically. In the early 1990s, the city had an average of 500 homicides a year; by 2012, the rate had dropped by more than 80% to about 100[150] before again seeing a 54% spike in 2015 over 2014.[151] Many of the city's poorer residents were pushed out to adjacent Prince George's County, Maryland and further south to Charles County, Maryland. Prince George's County saw a huge spark of violent crimes in 2008 and 2009, but the rate has decreased since then.

San Francisco

A major driver of gentrification in Bay Area cities such as San Francisco has been attributed with the Dot-Com Boom in the 1990s, creating a strong demand for skilled tech workers from local startups and nearby Silicon Valley businesses leading to rising standards of living.[152] Private shuttle buses operated by companies such as Google have driven up rents in areas near their stops, leading to some protests.[153] As a result, a large influx of new workers in the internet and technology sector began contributing to the gentrification of historically poor immigrant neighborhoods such as the Mission District.[154] During this time San Francisco began a transformation, eventually culminating in it becoming the most expensive city in which to live in the United States.[155]

From 1990 to 2010, 18,000 African Americans left San Francisco, while the White, Asian, and Hispanic populations saw growth in the city.[156] From 2010 to 2014, the number of households making $100,000 grew while households making less than $100,000 declined.[58] According to the American Community Survey, during this same period an average of 60,000 people both migrated to San Francisco and migrated out. The people who left the city were more likely to be nonwhite, have lower education levels, and have lower incomes than their counterparts who moved into the city. In addition, there was a net annual migration of 7,500 people age 35 or under, and net out migration of over 5,000 for people 36 or over.[58]

New York City

In one of the first instances of the term “gentrification” being applied to a U.S. city, a 1979 article states "A renaissance in New York City? The rich moving in and the poor moving out? ... Hard as it is to believe, however, New York and other cities in the American Northeast are beginning to enjoy a revival as they undergo a gradual process known by the curious name of 'gentrification' term coined by the displaced English poor and subsequently adopted by urban experts to describe the movements of social classes in and around London."[157]

In a 2017 review of the book Vanishing New York: How a Great City Lost Its Soul, a New York Times writer stated that “bemoaning the changes that have plagued New York in recent years — the proliferation of $20 million apartments, the banks now on every corner visualizing the centrality of money to the city’s consciousness, the substitution of culinary virtue for a broader civic morality — has been an avocation for many people living in and around Manhattan for well over a decade.”[158]

New York City is a common example of gentrification, especially when it comes to discussions about rising rents and low-income residents moving out. In 2004, Lance Freeman and Frank Braconi of Columbia University found that low-income residents are actually less likely to move out of a neighborhood that had the "typical hallmarks" of gentrification than one that did not.[159]

The onset of AIDS in the LGBTQ+ community was a determining factor in the rapid gentrification of many homes and communities in many different neighborhoods of Manhattan. Because of how widespread the disease was, many homes and apartments were left unoccupied after the tenants died, leaving room for gentrification to occur.[160]


Gentrification in Detroit differs from most cities in that relatively few residents have been physically displaced, as large amounts of vacant land and housing are available for development. For example, as of 2015, 23 percent of Detroit’s housing units were vacant,[161] and this figure does not include the copious amounts of vacant land in the city on which new housing units could be built. Such property is regularly (sometimes tens of thousands of properties in a single year) sold at auction for prices as low as $500 following foreclosure for tax delinquency, [162] and thus available for development in large amounts. Some scholars, such as john a. powell (spelled without capitals), even go so far as to claim that what is happening in Detroit is not gentrification, but rather “in-fill housing”. His reasoning points out that building new structures or revitalizing abandoned housing is not pushing out existing residents and is hence not “gentrification”.[163] However, others may argue that gentrification is not simply limited to physical displacement.

While physical displacement is minimal, the cultural displacement in Detroit is immense. This displacement falls largely upon the shoulders of the low-income African American community to shoulder. Residents who have lived in Detroit for decades have built a strong sense of community, belonging, and historical connection to the city.[164] Despite the corruption and injustice that forced many African Americans to live in some of the worst conditions within city[165], the black community was still able to build a rich community and strong sense of pride for living in Detroit. When individuals are displaced, they not only lose their home, but also their sense of belonging. Those that are left behind also experience drastic and harrowing changes to their neighborhood. 2013 interviews with Detroit residents revealed that many felt excluded from increasingly white and wealthy areas of the city.[166] For example, some black residents were prohibited from utilizing a community garden, owned by a white individual, in Midtown, a gentrifying area of the city.[167]

Like gentrification in many other American cities, gentrification in Detroit is racially correlated. As average wages in the Greater Downtown area grew from 2002 to 2011,[168] the percentage of the white population in that area increased, while the percentage of the black population fell.[169] This disparity is partly due to Detroit’s history of inequality. After World War II and its subsequent economic boom, economic inequality became commonplace. African Americans were often the ones to bear the brunt of this inequality.[170] Corrupt housing policies, such as restrictive covenants, were put into place by white powers and held in place by the white common people who were scared or disgusted by the thought of having a black neighbor. In effect, the black community, already limited by unjust economic policies, were forced to stay in impoverished and segregated neighborhoods. Continued segregation and limitations to economic change for the African American community meant that they remained at the mercy of the white powers, even to this day. When black individuals finally had the opportunity to expand their housing outside the inner city and into “white” neighborhoods in the late 1950s, many white families moved out. The majority black population that was left in Detroit were forced to live with the subsequent problems that followed mass decreases in the city’s population. [171]

Anti-gentrification protests

Movement for Justice in El Barrio

The Movement for Justice in El Barrio is an immigrant-led, organized group of tenants who resist against gentrification in East Harlem, New York. This movement has 954 members and 95 building communities.[172] On 8 April 2006, the MJB gathered people to protest in the New York City Hall against an investment bank in the United Kingdom that purchased 47 buildings and 1,137 homes in East Harlem. News of these protests reached England, Scotland, France and Spain. MJB made a call to action that everyone, internationally, should fight against gentrification. This movement gained international traction and also became known as the International Campaign Against Gentrification in El Barrio.[173]

Cereal Killer Cafe protest

On 26 September 2015, a cereal cafe in East London called Cereal Killer Cafe was attacked by a large group of anti-gentrification protestors. These protestors carried with them a pig's head and torches, stating that they were tired of unaffordable luxury flats going into their neighborhoods. These protestors were alleged to be primarily "middle-class academics," who were upset by the lack of community and culture that they once saw in East London.[174] People targeted Cereal Killer Cafe during their protest because of an alleged article in which one of the brothers with ownership of the cafe had said marking up prices was necessary as a business in the area. After the attack on the cafe, users on Twitter were upset that protestors had targeted a small business as the focus of their demonstration, as opposed to a larger one.[175]

San Francisco tech bus protests

The San Francisco tech bus protests occurred in late 2013 in the San Francisco Bay Area in the United States, protesting against tech shuttle buses that take employees to and from their homes in the Bay Area to workplaces in Silicon Valley. Protestors said the buses were symbolic of the gentrification occurring in the city, rising rent prices, and the displacement of small businesses. This protest gained global attention and also inspired anti-gentrification movements in East London.[176]

ink! Coffee Protest (Denver, Colorado)

On November 22, 2017, ink! Coffee, a small coffee shop, placed a manufactured metal Sandwich board sign on the sidewalk outside one of their Denver locations in the historic Five Points, Denver neighborhood. The sign said “Happily gentrifying the neighborhood since 2014” on one side and "Nothing says gentrification like being able to order a cortado” on the other side.[177]

Ink's ad ignited outrage and garnered national attention when a picture of the sign was shared on social media by a prominent Denver writer, Ru Johnson. The picture of the sign quickly went viral accumulating critical comments and negative reviews. Ink! responded to the social media outrage with a public apology followed by a lengthier apology from its founder, Keith Herbert. Ink's public apology deemed the sign a bad joke causing even more outrage on social media.[177] The ad design was created by a Five Points, Denver firm named Cultivator Advertising & Design. The advertising firm responded to the public's dismay by issuing an ill-received social media apology, "An Open Letter to Our Neighbors".[178]

The night following the debut of ink's controversial ad campaign their Five Points, Denver location was vandalized. A window was broken and the words "WHITE COFFEE" among others were spray-painted onto the front of the building. Protest organizers gathered at the coffee shop daily following the controversy. The coffee shop was closed for business the entire holiday weekend following the scandal.[178]

At least 200 people attended a protest and boycott event on November 25, 2017 outside of ink!'s Five Points location.[179] News of the controversy was covered by media outlets worldwide.[180]

Hamilton Locke Street Vandalism

On March 3, 2018, an anarchist group vandalized coffee shops, luxury automobiles, and restaurants on Locke Street in Hamilton, Ontario.[181] The attack was linked to an anarchist group in the city known as The Tower, that aimed to highlight issues of gentrification in Hamilton through vandalizing new businesses.[182] On March 7, The Tower's free community library was vandalized by what the group referred to as "far-right goons".[183] Investigation followed, with arrests related to the Locke Street vandalism being made by Hamilton police in April and June 2018.[184]

See also



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