Studies categorized under ‘gentrification’ look into those neighborhood transformation processes that often include consequences such as displacement, exclusion, social inequality and social conflict. Public space can both contribute to and be affected by these processes.
Art festivals are a feature of many urban districts undergoing gentrification; they help to catalyze change by drawing a set of consumers with particular cultural interests. This article examines whether the arts produce racial exclusions by examining long-term Black and White residents’ participation in and perceptions of the monthly Last Thursday Art Walks in Portland’s gentrifying Alberta Arts District. We use surveys to measure arts participation and follow-up, in-depth interviews to understand whether long-time residents feel excluded by the arts, and if race is a factor. We find that Black residents participate less in Last Thursdays than White residents, and they often feel uncomfortable or unwelcome. We conclude that the arts-anchored symbolic economy results in racial exclusions that have little to do with differences in arts appreciation, but much to do with perceptions of people associated with the arts, and with residents’ abilities to use the arts to identify with neighborhood changes.
In summer 2011, Israel was swept by unprecedented political protest as multiple encampments occupied streets and mass rallies were held weekly in Tel Aviv and other cities. The article focuses on the spatial politics of this protest, analysing the particular strategies it used to activise urban public space. The protest initially reflected a specific urban context and limited agenda—namely, the lack of affordable housing in Tel Aviv. However, as it materialised and expanded in public space, it also became more inclusive, incorporating more marginalised publics and places, addressing long-standing socio-spatial inequalities between Israel’s ‘centre’ and ‘periphery’, and advancing a message of ‘social justice’—with the noted exception of Palestinians in the Occupied Territories. The analysis of the Israeli protest foregrounds some dynamics that it shares with other ‘global’ protests in 2011, from Tahrir Square to Occupy Wall Street, pointing to the spatial politics of centrality, multiplicity and ‘media-space’, a mutually enforcing relationship between physical public space and mainstream and social media.
International journal of urban and regional research (2014)
McLean, H. E
The recent flurry of research about arts‐led regeneration initiatives illuminates how contemporary arts festivals can become complicit in the production of urban inequality. But researchers rarely engage with detailed empirical examples that shed light on the contradictory role that artists sometimes play within these spectacularized events. Similar research in performance studies connects the political limits and potential of social practice arts — interventions that encourage artists and non‐artists to co‐produce work — as civic boosters strive to stage cities in order to attract investment. In this article, I explore the case study of Streetscape: Living Space at Regent Park, a participatory artistic intervention programmed in a public housing neighbourhood that is undergoing redevelopment in Toronto, Canada. Streetscape was part of the Luminato festival, an elite booster coalition‐led festival of ‘creativity’. I refer to these arts interventions to demonstrate how artists engaging in social practice arts can become complicit in naturalizing colonial gentrification processes at multiple scales. But I also reveal how artists can leverage heterogeneous arts‐led regeneration strategies to make space for ‘radical social praxis’ (Kwon, 2004), interventions that challenge hegemonic regimes. I conclude by interrogating the effectiveness of place‐based efforts in unsettling the ‘creative city’.
Using evidence from Cusco, Peru, the paper examines the effects of the planned displacement of informal traders from city-centre streets. Although more than 3500 traders were relocated to new off-centre markets, the research identifies the emergence of 'unplanned' alternative city-centre locations for informal trade, especially the new courtyard markets. The municipal-led changes, influenced strongly by concerns to enhance tourism, reveal a process which displays many of the hallmarks of gentrification. Lower-class traders were displaced from city-centre streets for the benefit of middle-class tourists and local people. There was also gentrification of the trading activity itself: by manipulating stall allocation and pricing structures to exclude the poorest traders from the new higher-quality municipal markets. The changing pattern of informal trading can be viewed as an unconventional 'barometer' of the progress of policy-led gentrification, applicable to other cities in the developing world.
Latin American scholars have recently discussed the privatization of urban public space. A fundamental aspect of this process is the disintegration of communities because it often targets and affects a peculiarly Latin American kind of public space: the plaza. Plazas have traditionally functioned as cultural centres in Latin American cites. They are central meeting points for political groups, sites of civic expression and public resistance, as well as places to purchase relatively cheap goods and services. Plazas are, therefore, sites in which families, neighbours, and political organizations mingle, interact, and also challenge authority. This paper uses these sorts of insights on public space in Latin America to develop a conceptualization of the plaza as a community centre. However, the multiple practices and interactions that occur in these forms of public space have been disrupted by state-led strategies which seek to privatize and sanitize public space, thereby disrupting—or even destroying—the community centre. I use primary materials on Mexico City's Historic centre and its plaza to explore the ways in which this specific type of urban public space has been affected physically and symbolically by a regeneration scheme known as the Programa de Rescate.
There are numerous ways in which people make illegal or unauthorized alterations to urban space. This study identifies and analyzes one that has been largely ignored in social science: explicitly functional and civic-minded informal contributions that I call “do-it-yourself urban design.” The research, which began as an investigation into more “traditional” nonpermissable alterations, uncovered these cases—from homemade bike lanes and street signs to guerrilla gardens and development proposals—that are gaining visibility in many cities, yet are poorly accounted for by existing perspectives in the literature. This article examines the existing theories and evidence from interviews and other fieldwork in 14 cities in order to develop the new analytical category of DIY urban design. I present findings on the creators of these interventions, on their motivations to “improve” the built environment where they perceive government and other development actors to be failing, and on the concentration of their efforts in gentrifying areas. This introduces the possibility of conflict and complicates their impact. I argue that DIY urban design has wide-ranging implications for both local communities and broader urban policy.
Sharon Zukin, Peter Frase, Danielle Jackson, Tim Recuber, Valerie Trujillo & Abraham Walker
Since the 1970s, certain types of upscale restaurants, cafés, and stores have emerged as highly visible signs of gentrification in cities all over the world. Taking Harlem and Williamsburg as field sites, we explore the role of these new stores and services (“boutiques”) as agents of change in New York City through data on changing composition of retail and services, interviews with new store owners, and discursive analysis of print media. Since the 1990s, the share of boutiques, including those owned by small local chains, has dramatically increased, while the share of corporate capital (large chain stores) has increased somewhat, and the share of traditional local stores and services has greatly declined. The media, state, and quasi-public organizations all value boutiques, which they see as symbols and agents of revitalization. Meanwhile, new retail investors—many, in Harlem, from the new black middle class—are actively changing the social class and ethnic character of the neighborhoods. Despite owners’ responsiveness to community identity and racial solidarity, “boutiquing” calls attention to displacement of local retail stores and services on which long-term, lower class residents rely and to the state’s failure to take responsibility for their retention, especially in a time of economic crisis.
This article examines the role of animals in the processes of social inclusion and exclusion in a gentrifying neighborhood. Residents who move into mixed-income, inner-city neighborhoods generally express a taste for diversity while simultaneously attempting to distance themselves from “undesirables.” Dogs allow newcomers to manage these tensions. The urge to control public spaces leads to the creation of new and quasi-exclusionary places, such as dog runs. At the same time, in the process of creating them, residents produce the neighborhood's image as a “diverse community.” Based on fieldwork conducted in a neighborhood of a large city in the northeastern United States, the author uses a wide range of discourse settings and genres to demonstrate that discursive production is part-and-parcel of the process of making places.
This paper aims to produce new insights into the complex relationship between the spatial and social dimensions of ethnic segregation in the public space of the walled city of Nicosia. The ethnic demographic of Cyprus is subject to a changing population dynamic by net in-migration, from both the EU and Third World countries, which is mainly found in the city centres. The mechanisms involved in the ways Cypriots and ethnic minorities use the public space of the city centre and the interface (or lack of it) between them lies at the heart of this paper. Building on existing research, the study focuses on a ring of public spaces which, despite their small size and the absence of any clearly defined boundaries, form a physically continuous spatial entity that is distinctly divided among different users. An attempt to account for the observed phenomenon is facilitated by the discussion of a number of relevant topics such as: the city centre as an edge condition; the entrance of users into the space through injection versus infiltration; the relationship between history and spatial adjacency; and the emergence of social phenomena from the attempts of individuals to 'make-do'.
This paper investigates the growing inequality of public spaces in contemporary cities. In the era of neoliberal urbanism, stratified economic and cultural resources produce a spectrum of unevenly developed public parks, ranging from elite, privatized public spaces in wealthy districts to neglected parks in poor neighborhoods. Contemporary economic and cultural practices in public space are equally segmented, as privileged public spaces such as New York’s High Line reflect the consumption habitus of the new urban middle class, while violence, disinvestment, and revanchist policing permeate public spaces on the urban periphery. Using New York’s High Line as an archetypal neoliberal space, I trace its redevelopment from a decaying railroad viaduct to a celebrated public park. I argue that contemporary parks and public spaces are best analyzed on a continuum of privilege.
This paper presents a comparative case study of two northern suburbs in Melbourne, Australia, in order to analyze local perceptions of proximity, mobility, and spaces of community interaction within diverse neighborhoods experiencing socioeconomic and demographic transition. We first look at government policies concerning the two suburbs, which position one suburb within a narrative of gentrification and the other within a narrative of marginalization. We then draw on diverse residents’ experiences and perceptions of local space, finding that these “everyday geographies” operate independently of and often at odds with local policy narratives of demographic and socioeconomic transition. We conclude that residents’ “everyday geographies” reveal highly varied and contested experiences of sociospatial dimensions of local change, in contrast to policy narratives that are often neoliberally framed.
Urban designers and their design process remain largely outside the literature on public space. Either designers are cast as simple tools of capitalist social relations, producing exclusionary public spaces, or they figure as entrepreneurs that complement economic renewal schemes through beautification measures that bring business and jobs to the city. This paper analyzes both of these arguments, through an ethnographic analysis of the urban design process behind the redevelopment of a public square in Syracuse, NY. I argue that aesthetic considerations most often derive from economic and political pressures, pressures that draw upon the social contexts of urban designers within an international division of labor and their relationship to class struggle. Because public space serves such an important role in political and social life, its status as a product of urban design should therefore act as a crucial component in any discussion of rights to the city.
The success of a city’s retail core is largely dependent on the composition and organization of its merchant constituents. Not only should the price-point and products of a city’s retail align with its resident and visitor demographics, but the stores should be strategically balanced to maximize consumer spending and interest. Heritage destinations dependent on the tourism market should pay special attention to this issue, assuring their visitors a valuable shopping experience while simultaneously preserving the destination’s cultural appeal. This case study considers the rapidly evolving shopping district of Charleston, South Carolina, focusing specifically on the retail core’s recent influx of chain merchants to what was once predominantly a local main street. An historical account, paired with and an in-depth survey of merchants, is presented. The research builds upon previous studies that have considered the issue of merchant mix from the perspective of the city’s stakeholders, tourists and residents.
This article is based on a cross-national qualitative study of homeless and street-involved youth living within Olympic host cities. Synthesizing a Lefebvrian spatial analysis with Debord's concept of 'the spectacle', the article analyses the spatial experiences of homeless young people in Vancouver (host to the 2010 Winter Olympics) and draws some comparisons to London (host to the 2012 Summer Olympics). Tracing encounters with police, gentrification and Olympic infrastructure, the article assesses the experiences of homeless youth in light of claims made by Olympic proponents that the Games will 'benefit the young'. By contrast, the authors argue positive Olympic legacies for homeless and street-involved young people living within host cities are questionable.
Journal of Urbanism: International Research on Placemaking and Urban Sustainability (2016)
Hélène Littke, Tigran Haas & Ryan Locke
The popularity and impact of the High Line in New York mirrors the complex reality of contemporary provision of public space. The development of the project, its relation- ship to its surroundings and the evolving trend of elevated parks are analyzed in relation to the role of urban green space and impacts of Landscape Urbanism. The High Line shows the way to a new role for urban green space by utilizing aban- doned infrastructure. In analysing the narrative of the High Line, this article stresses the importance of understanding localities and connectivity. Based on observations as well as a review of the literature and media, the article concludes that great landscaping does not create great places without careful consideration of the surrounding commu- nity and residents.
Parallel to the recent rise in interest in public spaces, the proliferation of alluring, distinctive and exclusive public spaces in many post-industrial cities raises the question of how far these environments are truly ‘public’. This paper discusses the question of the ‘publicness’ of contemporary public spaces in Britain, where they have been placed at the top of the political agenda of the Labour Governments since the late- 1990s. Studying in depth the changing ‘publicness’ of the Grey’s Monument Area (GMA), a public space recently refurbished in the city centre of Newcastle upon Tyne, regarding the dimensions of ‘access’, ‘actor’ and ‘interest’, the paper seeks to show that, contrary to the wide recognition of diminishing ‘publicness’ of contemporary public spaces in urban design and planning literature, the recent refurbishment has in fact had both positive and negative impacts on the ‘publicness’ of the GMA. The paper concludes that contemporary public spaces may show different shades of ‘publicness’, in which degrees of ‘access’, ‘actor’ and ‘interest’ can vary widely, and seeks to underline the emerging trends and threats of: (i) the blurring distinction between public and private spaces, and (ii) image-led regeneration strategies dominating everyday society’s needs and civic functions of genuine ‘public’ spaces, and ultimately violating the ‘publicness’ of public realms in post-industrial cities.
International journal of urban and regional research (2009)
Atkinson, R. & Easthope, H.
The idea of ‘creative cities’ has gained prominence amongst urban planners and policymakers who often now find links between economic development and the ‘soft’ attributes of cities. While definitions of the ‘creative industries’ and the ‘creative class’ continue to be contested, many key urban policy actors continue to focus on developing strategic programmes and policies to boost ‘creativity’ and economic growth. In this article we review recent attempts to implement creative city ideas across five Australian state capitals. Following the analysis of interview material derived from contact with 100 key community and policymaker actors, we first develop a typology of approaches to creative city ideas: concerted action, engagement and strategic drift. We then move on to consider how the idea of the creative city provides a simultaneously criticized yet powerful organizing device that informs local strategies in relation to prosperity. Our analysis highlights a series of connected consequences around four key issues: (1) arts projects and gentrification; (2) housing affordability; (3) revanchist strands to public space management; and (4) relative rates of social investment. We find that the rhetoric of universal social potential accompanying creative city ideas continues to overlook those unable to participate in this new economy, as well as those who are more actively excluded.
Scholarship in urban sociology has pointed to the reliance of city governments on ever-more market mechanisms for organizing social and economic policy. This form of governance involves prioritizing cities’ cultural and social assets for their value in a global competition of urban “brands,” each competing for new infusions of human and investment capital. At the same time, however, cities have been at the center of seemingly progressive policy efforts aimed at promoting innovation, sustainability, and creativity. These themes represent a newly dominant planning discourse in cities across the globe. While researchers have thoroughly examined how “creative classes” and “creative cities” may exclude everyday, working-class, or poor residents, new urban imaginaries focused on sustainability potentially imply less stratified urban outcomes. Analyzing two high-profile interventions in Buenos Aires, Argentina—a sustainable urban regeneration plan for the historic downtown, and the creation of an arts cluster in the impoverished south of the city—this paper argues that despite divergent narratives, creative and sustainable urban projects suggest similar policy agendas, planning assumptions, and relationships to market mechanisms. Increasingly, global policies, whose design and objectives may appear to contradict market logics, may have outcomes that further them.
People reside in homes; however, they live in neighbourhoods comprised of parks, sidewalks, restaurants, shops and other everyday places. Whether current or potential neighbourhood residents feel at home in these places remains an under theorised aspect of neighbourhood change. Rather than housing policy or real estate development, this essay explores public space as a mechanism of neighbourhood change. Drawing from ethnographic research in the Latino barrios of North Denver, It deconstructs the history of one small yet vital public space—la Raza Park. During the 1970s, this park, its pool and the many events it grounded, built community cohesion and fostered cultural identity. In 1981, city authorities went so far as to deploy a SWAT team to la Raza Park to enforce a permit violation. The following summer, they demolished its pool. North Denver is now gentrifying rapidly. This essay stitches these disparate-seeming events into a story of neighbourhood change.