Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Invention of Brownstone Brooklyn: Gentrification, Renovation and the Search for Authenticity in Postwar Brooklyn: Lecture Tuesday 9/13

(It happens I am reading this book right now. Prof. Osman is an EXCELLENT writer. Of course, the process he describes in Brooklyn is fully relevant to DC and other center cities that utilize historic preservation based strategies for neighborhood stabilization and improvement. I do intend to do a writeup soon.)

-- Oxford University Press webpage for the book

From the Latrobe Chapter of the Society of Architectural Historians:

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

6:30 P.M. – light refreshments, 7:00 P.M. – lecture
The National Trust for Historic Preservation
1785 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, DC.

Reservations are not required. $10.00 for Latrobe Chapter members, student members (full time) free with ID, $18.00 for non-members.

The gentrification of Brooklyn has been one of the most striking developments in recent urban history. Considered a “blighted” slum by city planners in the 1940s and 1950s, Brownstone Brooklyn by the 1980s had become a landscape of hip bars, yoga studios, and expensively renovated townhouses in new neighborhoods with creative names like “Boerum Hill” and “Carroll Gardens.”

Professor Osman locates the origins of gentrification in the cultural upheavals of the 1960s. Starting in Brooklyn Heights in the 1940s, a new urban middle class (or “brownstoners” as they referred to themselves) began to migrate into Brooklyn’s brownstone areas, purchasing and renovating aging townhouses.

Where postwar city leaders championed slum clearance and modern architecture, "brownstoners" sought a new romantic urban ideal that celebrated historic buildings, industrial lofts and traditional ethnic neighborhoods as source of authenticity they felt was lacking in new suburbs and downtown skyscrapers. They started new reform democratic organizations, founded block associations and joined forces with long-time residents to battle urban renewal.

But as brownstoners migrated into poorer areas, race and class tensions emerged, and by the 1980s, as newspapers parodied yuppies and anti-gentrification activists marched through increasingly expensive neighborhoods, brownstoners debated whether their search for authenticity had been a success or failure.

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