ABSTRACT

In the past decades, gentrification has become one of the most vigorously discussed phenomena of the post-Fordist city. Conventionally defined as “the restoration and upgrading of deteriorated urban property by middle class and affluent people, often resulting in displacement of lower-income people” (Gentrification 2006), gentrification processes have visibly affected and transformed many inner-city neighborhoods across the United States. While the term’s connotations of class takeover of the inner city initially led to various attempts by supporters of the process to dispose of the “dirty word” and replace it with more palatable labels such as “urban renaissance,” “neighborhood reinvestment,” or “inner-city revitalization,” both the term “gentrification” as well as the various processes connected to it have become the norm in contemporary urban development and in its discussion (Lees, Slater, and Wyly 2008: 154-8). Particularly in the context of the general restructuring from an industrial to a postindustrial economy, the ascendancy of the knowledge and information sectors, and an ensuing intense urban competition for a “creative class” (Florida 2005) as the supposed guarantor of a city’s economic survival, the presence and production of gentrified spaces has become an important asset and a “global urban strategy” (Smith 2002) for various private and public actors in the urban realm. Typically, neighborhoods experiencing gentrification exhibit a wide variety of social and ethnic, but also physical and architectural diversity. Although this heterogeneity might seem to limit the possibilities of creating easily consumable themed urban spaces, the neighborhoods’ diverse history and populations are able to exactly provide what large segments of the “creative class” seem to yearn for: presumably authentic and unique experiences within a neo-bohemian lifestyle (Lloyd 2006). Particularly a neighborhood’s ethnic past and the presence of ethnic groups have often come to play a significant role in attempts to promote and market the neighborhood’s lifestyle options.