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Gentrification in Chicago by tsaeed
September 3, 2008, 1:43 pm
Filed under: Social / Cultural Issue | Tags: , , ,

Gentrification refers to trends in neighborhood development that tend to attract more affluent residents, and in many instances concentrated, upscale commercial investment.

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. (From the encyclopedia of Chicago:

Bibliography on the history of gentrification in Chicago

The new public housing museum

Other articles:

Chicago’s Olympic Bid Stokes Gentrification Fears

Panel: Gentrification challenges public housing residents’ sense of community,12093

What went wrong with public housing in Chicago? A history of the Robert Taylor homes.

1 Comment so far
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I’ve always heard gentrification as associated with “bad,” and that “bad” associated with the displacement of poorer people, not so much the attraction of more affluent people. Nonetheless, gentrification is complicated, and what some call gentrification, others call moving. What some call gentrification, others call revitalization. Moving can be good or bad for both those moving into and out of a place. It’s hard to paint revitalization as bad for a neighborhood, except maybe when it might lead to moving (as bad for those moving out).

Logan Square hasn’t experienced the large scale development of e.g. Wicker Park, and our commercial development has been negligible.

Comment by Lynn Stevens

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