The costs of urban transformation

August 28, 2008
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In yesterday’s New York Sun Harvard economist Edward Glaeser reviewed Derek Hyra’s new book The New Urban Renewal: The Economic Transformation of Harlem and Bronzeville. Hyra’s book looks at urban gentrification in two neighborhoods—Chicago’s Bronzeville and New York’s Harlem—and its impact on various socio-economic groups, revealing a sharp divide between middle-income and less affluent residents in benefiting from such transformations. As Glaeser explains:

A dynamic private sector… has made New York and Chicago increasingly prosperous places over the last 15 years.… As these cities have done well, demand for space has exploded. We see rising demand in the skyrocketing price of space in Manhattan and in the cranes that seem to be a permanent feature of Chicago’s Lake Shore Drive skyline. Booming demand has also increased the desire among middle-class people to move to formerly poor areas such as Harlem and Bronzeville: Upwardly mobile urbanites, priced out of more expensive areas, have become urban pioneers “gentrifying” areas that used to be poor. But just as the real pioneers weren’t always such a blessing for the American Indians on the frontier, gentrifiers aren’t always a boon for the established residents of an area.…

Continue reading the article on the New York Sun website.

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