On February 2, New York Magazine's architecture critic Justin Davidson asked the internet "Is Gentrification All Bad?" in an article extrapolating on his view of the merits of gentrification, which he referred to as "the social equivalent of secondhand smoke, drifting across class lines." The public responded and largely answered, despite Davidson's arguments, that yes, it is all bad. Now, Davidson is mounting his soapbox once againthis time in an attempt to answer his critics. His recent follow up article reduces the sweeping concerns of the masses about his statements into eight carefully orchestrated general questions that address the gray area of his beliefs. Here now, the most thought-provoking statements Davidson boldly makes in his latest piece:
1) "Many of the improvements to struggling neighborhoods have come from local, grass-roots activists wielding political clout to get stuff done."
2) "I do [believe people have the right to stay where they are], but it's not an absolute right. The only way to guarantee it would be to pass new universal, citywide rent control legislation — a move that, politically, is in the realm of fantasyland."
3) "...Dysfunctional cities and neighborhoods force people to stay where they are: That's the definition of a ghetto."
4) "Gentrification isn't just a byproduct of prosperity; it's part of the engine."
5) "New York needs policies that will stimulate the construction of large amounts of new unsubsidized housing in neighborhoods that are unlikely to become "hot," especially in Queens. There is enough land to do this, if only the forces of NIMBY could be tamed."
6) "Socioeconomic and ethnic diversity is a civic virtue in high-income neighborhoods just as much as in low-income neighborhoods. The housing projects that now find themselves in wealthy areas predated gentrification of course, but they do have the welcome, if unintended, effect of maintaining significant populations of low-income residents in high-income areas."
7) "I believe that nobody owns a neighborhood or gets to control its character, and nobody has a moral right to make others feel like they don't belong."
8) "Character evolves naturally, and it dissipates the same way, through a combination of pressure and economic success... This happens partly because other [ethnic] groups move in, and partly because second and third generation immigrants disperse, making way for new populations who will eventually regret the erosion of 'their' neighborhoods, too."
· Is Gentrification All Bad? Justin Davidson Answers His Critics [NYM]
· Is Gentrification All Bad? [NYM]
· Archicritic Makes A Case For 'Reclaiming' Gentrification [Curbed]
· Gentrification Watch archives [Curbed]