Analyzing Gentrification Through the Lenses
Analyzing Gentrification Through the Lenses
Professor of Urban Affairs and Planning at Hunter College, Peter Kwong once said, “Living in this gentrification environment is much more difficult for residents. Actually, what they’re doing is killing the indigenous culture.” This process of gentrification that Kwong is referring to is defined as the purchasing and renovating of low-priced properties, usually by higher income individuals, in often deteriorated urban neighborhoods. The result is an influx of wealthier residents, and in effect, higher property prices. Gentrification applies to many different aspects of society, especially in urban communities. It is important to analyze the complex process of gentrification through several different lenses. For example, the effect of art and artists on how popular a neighborhood gets. Another significant perspective to consider is the social and cultural aspect. There are two different viewpoints on the effects of gentrification. On one end, the gentrifiers do not realize that they are causing racial tensions within the community, yet on the other end, older residents of gentrifying neighborhoods are objecting to this injustice. Moreover, gentrification also impacts the economics of a neighborhood. These impacts include both the positive and negative situations for their community. Lower-class residents are constantly being targeted by large city government corporations to relocate, however, along with these negative connotations, are benefits. Benefits that include a more lavish lifestyle which include the installation of boutiques, bookstores, coffee shops, and clubs. Gentrification also impacts economics on a larger scale when considering redevelopment projects. These projects are often managed by big name corporations who use gentrification to their aid when undergoing such businesses . The question of ethics also applies to the process of gentrification. An analysis of gentrification through an ethical perspective reveals the disagreements that exist over whether it should be tolerated. Some view it as unethical due to several negative consequences, such as displacement and outright racism. On the other hand, some see it as ethical because of the many benefits it brings, such as increased environmentally-friendly interests among the residents of a society.
Here in New York City, one of the most attractive and gentrified neighborhoods is Chelsea, one of New York’s most important art districts. It is hugely populated with art galleries: there are over 200 today, and there were over 350 during Chelsea’s peak. It is hard to imagine this booming metropolis as what it once was: a land of abandoned railroads and refuse. An interesting project that was completed in Chelsea in 2013 was the Getty Station Sheep Station, which featured a playful scene of 25 sheep sculptures grazing in a fenced off grassy pasture, all made by artist Francois Xavier Lalanne. Why bring the countryside into the city? This project was actually masterminded by real estate developer Michael Shvo, in an attempt to create news and curiosity over the plot of land that he wanted to soon turn into a luxury residential tower. This clear public relations stunt shows the allure that art creates, and how it draws people into places they would have otherwise never thought to look. This is proven in many cases, such as when tourists visit famous museums like the Louvre in France, or the Metropolitan Museum in New York. Art is a magnet for tourists and the wealthy, who are interested in novelty or social awareness. By associating a new development with art, Shvo got every publication in the art world talking about his plot of land. A centerpiece of Chelsea and the Meatpacking District is the Highline, a raised city garden park that is also home to art installations and is neighbors with tall buildings painted with murals. The Highline, first opened in 2009, is a...
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