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.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

the right to the city

There is a good Atlantic piece, "The Politics of the Urban Comeback: Gentrification and Culture in D.C.," responding to another whitey is taking over the city/appropriating black culture piece in the Washington Post, "The Brixton: It's new, happening and another example of African-American historical 'swagger-jacking'."

The interesting thing about these perspectives is that while half right, about appropriation of what we can call the "exchange value" of culture or blackness, they are half wrong in that they inadequately provide historical perspective in terms of analyzing the city demographically--e.g., Prince George's County didn't become majority black because of the white conspiracy, but because people of means moved out of the city in great numbers.  
 
For example, the "famous" New York Times Sunday Magazine cover story in 1992, "The New Black Suburbs," which featured Jack and Leslie Johnson in the cover photograph.  I remember reading that piece.

As far as dealing with the more fundamental issue of why so many African-Americans in the city are ill-prepared to compete in the context of a market economy, the articles don't address the problem.

I happened to write something about this last December, in response to a similar article, "Low income, high income, [the housing] market, and the right to the city."  The end of the blog entry discusses some of the policy/programmatic options that could be utilized.

Note that I have speculated that the issue of neighborhood change (with no opinion about whether or not this is good or bad) in Shaw and Anacostia is more a function of achieving a critical mass of new, higher income residents, and is a function of time/access to transit/safety issues, that these neighborhoods are likely to change demographically too, significantly, just at a different pace from areas like Capitol Hill.

Basically it's a challenge to the thesis by Prof. Hyra that Shaw has successfully resisted gentrification.  I counter that his thesis employs too narrow a time frame.

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