Is your neighborhood gentrifying? What signs have you identified that make you think that way?
Stages of Gentrification
In the first, “pioneers” — often bohemians and artists — move to dilapidated or abandoned areas in search of cheaper rents; in the second, the middle classes follow; in the third, their numbers displace the original population; and in the final stage, the neighborhood is fully turned over to banks, developers and the wealthy. The fifth and last phase of gentrification is when neighborhoods aren’t just more friendly to capital than to people but cease being places to live a normal life.
Forget ‘The Bronx Is Burning.’ These Days, The Bronx Is Gentrifying
As rents rise across the city, people who’ve been priced out elsewhere are moving here, and after years of disinvestment, money is flowing in. Within a few blocks of the waterfront, there’s a new gourmet pizza place, a new boxing gym, and a new coffee shop. And they all have something — actually, someone — in common. Developer Keith Rubenstein co-owns these businesses. He’s building seven new residential towers on the waterfront: about 1,400 luxury apartments with panoramic views of Manhattan, plus swimming pools, gyms, a dog spa, music studio, an art studio, and a new waterfront park open to the public.
But Rubenstein admits some of his marketing efforts have backfired. First, he tried to brand his development the Piano District — after old piano factories that used to be here. Residents accused him of trying to invent a new neighborhood. Later, as a promotion, he hosted a star-studded party, with a “Bronx is burning theme,” with flaming trash cans and a car with bullet holes as decor.
The question for many people here is, when the new Bronx is built, whether they will be part of it.
How Vampires Vs. The Bronx illustrates the actions of real developers like Keith Rubenstein?
What evidence the characters of the film encounter that make them certain that they will not be included in the re-building of the Bronx? Why they think that if they disappear nobody will notice?
When Gentrification Isn’t About Housing
In a gentrifying neighborhood, title to the land is transferred first in the literal sense and then in the spiritual one, as local businesses and institutions change to serve the tastes of wealthier arrivals. To use “gentrification” to describe lifestyle trends is to focus on that second step rather than the first one — to focus on class signifiers instead of class itself.
The poor are still gentrification’s victims, but in this new meaning, the harm is not rent increases and displacement — it’s something psychic, a theft of pride. Unlike housing, poverty is a potentially endless resource.
What this metaphorical gentrification points to instead is dishonesty, carelessness, and cluelessness on the part of the privileged when they clomp into unfamiliar territory. When they actually profit from their “discovery” and repackaging of other people’s lifestyles, it’s a dispiriting re-enactment of long-running inequalities. But what seems most galling isn’t that they’re taking dollars off the table. It’s that they’re annoying.
Here in the States, though, we’ve adopted a novel word meaning “one who gentrifies” — the active colonist, someone who tries on neighborhoods like shirts at a thrift shop.
What solutions to gentrification Vampires Vs The Bronx proposes?
What was a major takeaway from our class?
Send some good vibes and words of encouragement to your classmates.