6th and Market, San Francisco — a less gentrified area of the city

Beyond Gentrification: Towards More Equitable Urban Growth

A new report by the Center for Opportunity Urbanism explores the successes and failures of urban revitalization — or gentrification. To read or download the full report, click here. (PDF opens in new tab or window)

Below is an excerpt from the report.

A metropolitan economy, if it is working well, is constantly transforming many poor people into middle-class people, many illiterates into skilled people, many greenhorns into competent citizens… Cities don’t lure the middle class. They create it.— Jane Jacobs

The past two decades have been heady times for America’s urban cores. After drifting towards decrepitude since the 1970s, many core cities have experienced real, and often bracing, turnarounds, particularly in the urban centers of our largest metropolitan areas. Yet there is concern that revitalization has often left part of these cities better off, to the detriment of many residents whose neighborhoods have been transformed.

At the center of this perceived, and sometimes real, recovery has been “gentrification,” which a 1978 U.S. Housing and Urban Development working paper described as “… a newly-coined term” that “has come to mean the process by which a neighborhood occupied by lower-income households undergoes revitalization or reinvestment through the arrival of upper-income households.”

The term was first used in 1964 to describe developments in Inner London by sociologist Ruth Glass, who wrote: “Once this process of “gentrification” starts in a district, it goes on rapidly until all or most of the original working class occupiers are displaced, and the whole social character of the district is changed.” By the 1970s and 1980s, gentrification had emerged in US inner cities.

Photo credit: InSapphoWeTrust via Flickr under CC2.0 License