Gentrification in Chicago
Replacement of “urban areas by middle- and high-income people” is known as Gentrification. It began in 1970s and still continues. It raised the value of property, but it also created a displacement problem among poor people. Following are the three main conditions of gentrification (Davidson 1) 1. Displacement of original residents, 2. Physical upgrading of the neighborhood 3. Change in neighborhood character Maureen Kennedy and Paul Leonard define gentrification as “The processes by which higher-income households displace lower-income residents of a neighborhood, changing the essential character and flavor of that neighborhood.
”(qtd. in Davidson 1) At present most debated subject of sociology is urban development. Contractors are contracting urban cities to catch the attention of “businesses, professional, and higher capital. ” Contractors generally displace the urban population and their business establishments. Dynamics of urban America is changing by this phenomenon. It is affecting “industry, individual residents, the makeup of the neighborhood, and the structural landscape of these areas.
” A lot of changes have been done in Chicago for the renewal purpose of the city. Because of these changes many residents have left the place. Cost of living is the main reason behind this. “Gentrification in Chicago is harmful or helpful to the current residents of the city? ” we will discuss this topic in this essay. We will see the impact of gentrification in Chicago on the residents. (Adams, Hatcher, and Walker) Gentrification is generally an urban development, which been studied since 1975 (Betancur 2002; Wolf 1975).
Gentrification is defined as “the process of renewal and rebuilding accompanying the influx of middle-class or affluent people into deteriorating areas that often displaces earlier usually poorer residents” (Merriam-Webster Online). Urban renewal or urban developments are considered as gentrification. Physical, social and cultural development of the rich class people is known as urban development. It increases the property of the rich people and dropping of poor people from the city also comes into urban development.
The early research on gentrification urban development focused on the rehabilitation of the inner city and, “studied empirical and anecdotal questions about who and how was gentrification” (Betancur 2002). Even if such analysis was essential, scholars shortly realized that it is significant to look at the motivations for as well as, effects of this “rehabilitation. ” Who is benefiting from these strong changes in generally downtown areas full of culture and life? Is it essential to replace the barrios and ghettos of America with mini condos and coffee shops?
How do these drastic changes to places rich with culture and character affect the family and issues of race, and gender in American society? All these questions are covered in this article regarding Chicago. A geographer Neil Smith described gentrification with the help of economics and the relationships between flows of capital and the production of urban space. According to him, because of the low rents in the urban areas in two decades just after the World War II, capital was moved toward the development of suburban areas. Devaluation of inner-city capital was the main effect of this.
The result of this was extensive abandonment of inner-city properties in favor of those in the areas, and a resulting fall in the price of inner-city land relative to rising land prices in the suburbs. White flight and investment red-lining were the result of this ‘devaluation’ of the inner-city. Because of this devaluation of homes and property values, most white Americans decided to leave inner city in search of safer and more stable communities. Increasing economic gain in the suburbs of more prominent and prestigious cities was also the reason behind moving from inner city.
The people, who were capable, moved into suburbs. The main advantages of moving into suburbs were reduced crimes, increased economic investment in new homes, and schools and stores. The people, who could not move from the inner city because of barriers of race and poverty, faced many problems such as “higher crime rates, and a loss of jobs and property values”. It was only after years of decline and neglect of inner-city neighborhoods that interest and investment returned to the inner city.
This new interest took the form of gentrification and focused not on helping those poor and minority families still living in depressed inner city neighborhoods but on rebuilding inner-cities for white, middle-class Americans looking for cheaper housing in urban rather than suburban areas. “Long term outcomes of urban development in Chicago” were stated by the many researchers. According to one researcher because of the development in Chicago whites will move in, but to choose to stay on the outskirts of the central city. In cities residential communities are closer.
Suburban areas have less community involvement. Because of this house would be segregated. The main effect would be the racial gap because there would be less interaction between the DINKS (Double Income No Kids) and the inner city citizens. According to him because of this history of racial segregation will repeat as in the 1950s and 1960s (Medill News Service Staff 2002). If the government, in gentrifying areas, does not lower the property taxes then the minorities, already living in the city, can not afford the property.
That’s why there would be an effect called “minority flight” instead of white flight. This effect will take place when the people with more income come into inner city. This will raise the value of the property. Hence minorities will have to find cheaper places in the suburbs. If the government fixes property taxes according to the income basis instead of property value, then there would be more diversity within the communities. Most of the Chicago communities at present are facing gentrification as a result of a common cycle that cities throughout the U. S.
, Europe and other developed nations face on a daily basis— community reinvestment and displacement of low-income residents. This issue of gentrification is very sensitive one for many Chicagoans. Because of this Conflicting feelings develop among neighbors which can create the situation of “mistrust, resentment and community tensions”. The population of Chicago is increasing day by day. The community development efforts are trying to bring new residents to neighborhoods. It would be a big contributor in the quality life in this city. There should be face to face contact among affected community residents.
Gentrification involves the displacement of people. But we should see the effect of this process on the everyday life of the family. a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, John J. Betancur , wrote about “the local dialectics of power associated with gentrification in the community of West Town in Chicago” (Betancur 2002). Betancur states that “much of West Town has been gentrified, although historically West Town was a place for European immigrants, including Polish Jews, Italians, Scandinavians and Germans” (Betancur 2002).
Even the parts of town that were rich in minority low-income clusters have seen gentrification “clean their town up”. Gentrification creates an effect on both “churches and schools”. Congregations that were once full have seen their numbers dwindling while others have had to close for lack of parishioners. Public school enrollments have also suffered while higher income students are taking over the private schools. Families are often in transition and being shuffled around as the landscape and texture of their town is changing constantly.
One can see from the research done by Betancur that race and ethnicity plays a large role in gentrification. As these groups settled in made West Town home, that is made it a cultural and ethnic mecca. This place was rich with the traditions of these people and the city was vibrant with their ways of life. After World War II, as whites moved out for better opportunities in the suburbs, Puerto Ricans, Mexicans, and later African Americans moved into town, and with these moves came disinvestment in the town (Betancur 2002).
In the late 1990s the returns of white Americans hoping to “reinvent” and “reinvigorate these slums” were removed many of the long standing residents in the town and displaced them to neighboring communities. These changes ripped away at the social fabric of the communities in West Town. One example of the effects that gentrification has on ethnic groups is the problems that Puerto Ricans have had to face. After multiple displacements around the Chicago area, Puerto Ricans were eager to rebuild their lives in a different community but faced the same problems that haunted them in other parts of the city.
Housing discrimination, low-end jobs, and police harassment made it virtually impossible to build a community. Puerto Ricans had to struggle for a significant place in a community they once controlled. The affluent see gentrification as a testimonial to the values of individualism, and a sign of upward mobility, and the rewards of hard work (Smith and Williams, 1987). The outcomes, however, place heavy burdens on the poor, the elderly and minorities, especially in terms of rising and changing cost of housing and have wide effects on employment.
Gender also plays an important role in gentrification. Women are very likely to be involved in the moves associated with gentrification, but they are not only among the displaced. More women are in the work force than ever which increases their chance of the gaining well-paid career jobs. Because of this upward mobility these “yuppie” women are able to help their families move into expensive private housing, often displacing poor single mother families that are living in the places where these new modern families want to settle in.
“This group, which includes lone women and households headed by women, takes advantages of relatively cheap property and upgrade it themselves” (Bondi, 1999). “Much of the city’s gentrification has clustered in the North Side neighborhoods of Lincoln Park and Lake View, areas that have retained a large stock of older housing, adjoin Lake Michigan and its parallel chain of municipal parks, and permit short commuting via mass transit to the downtown Loop.
In the late 1950s the city of Chicago initiated a major urban renewal project in Lincoln Park, which resulted in considerable housing demolition in the southeastern portion of the neighborhood, especially along North Avenue. Within a few years, however, plans for further clearance met resistance from homeowners and renovators seeking to retain the area’s historic ambience. Old Town was Chicago’s first neighborhood to experience gentrification, as thousands of middle-class house-seekers bought and restored old single-family dwellings, two- and three-flat buildings, and coach houses.
Since the 1970s gentrification has spread to Wicker Park and Logan Square on the city’s near Northwest Side, to River North, the Near West Side, and the South Loop in central Chicago, and to the Gap in the Douglas Community Area on the South Side. Much of the residential upgrading in these areas has been initiated by large-scale developers. In Wicker Park, the Near West Side, and River North, the conversion of industrial buildings to residential and commercial uses has been commonplace. ” (Bennett) Possible improvements were discussed at the Nathalie P.
Voorhees Center for Neighborhood and Community Improvement Conference. Suggestions were made for revitalizing the Chicago area without separating the poor within the neighborhood, and alienating the help of some organizations needed to build communication. Communication with the government for assistance with aid is a problem that needs to be addressed order to help rebuild the neighborhood without losing its integrity. The first thing that can be done is to increase government resources for affordable rental housing programs.
Another solution is to continue to develop assisted low income and moderate-income rental and ownership housing to counteract the trends in the private market, while preserving and maintaining existing rental housing units. The final possible solution is to offer some type of relief program for property, since it is difficult to low-income of citizens in Chicago to pay the property taxes for their homes depending on their income. If the revitalization of the homes increases property values, the current residents would not be able to afford to stay, without some kind of relief or subsidy.
So, if we are trying to keep the current residents in the neighborhood then the property tax should be based on the income level not on the surrounding property values. In conclusion, immense changes have occurred due to gentrification in Chicago. Chicago’s inner-city has undergone economical, aesthetic, and demographic transformations in the past thirty years. These changes have caused a reformation of the social structure in the city. There is still much to be done if gentrification is going to improve and serve the existing community. The fate of these people is yet unknown.
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” 1990. Taub, Richard P. , D. Garth Taylor, and Jan D. Dunham. “Paths of Neighborhood Change: Race and Crime in Urban America. ” 1984. Taylor, D. Garth and Puente, Sylvia. “Immigration, gentrification and Chicago race/ethnic relations in the new global era. ” 24 Nov. 2008 <http://www. about. chapinhall. org/uuc/presentations/TaylorPuenteSummary. pdf> Betancur, John J. “The Politics of Gentrification: The Case of West Town in Chicago” Urban Affairs Review 37. 6 (2002):780-814. 3 Oct. 2005. 24 Nov. 2008. <http://uar. sagepub. com/cgi/gca?
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