Layers & Dynamics in Gentrification

After more ethnographic study of the Bushwick gentrification, I found out that the issue is much more complicated than what people would usually describe in media. Because the different people living in the space, even just the gentrified ones, are so different in social backgrounds and economic abilities, each of their narratives of gentrification could be very different.

To start with, there are definitely many people who are forcibly displaced into further neighborhoods, and they are the ones who are most victimized by the issue. The new real estate developers would usually buy off an entire block of buildings with the goal to make them look more attractive for the young professionals, artists or students. As these buildings become unaffordable for the gentrified ones, they are forced to move out of their homes. “It’s becoming a very hot area … and they don’t want it to be known as a Puerto Rican or Spanish area anymore,” according to a Brooklyn-based real estate developer, “I think it would help the image of the area [by changing that culture]” (Malika Giddens, 2014). As the “locals” gradually become the outcast of the new gentrifier culture, they could in worse cases be bought out or harassed out of their homes.


These victims of gentrification are usually those who don’t have a stable income, and, in many cases, illegal immigrants. Because of their illegal status, they mostly live on small business such as deli shops, fruit stands, street food stands, hair salons, and small restaurants. Even though some of them have better economic ability, they cannot buy their own real estate properties, and do not dare to fight against the powers because of their illegal status. Once gentrification happens, they have no choice but to find the next place for home.

However, this unfortunate narrative of being forcibly displaced does not apply to all the gentrified ones. There are many local Latino-origin immigrants who are actually happy to see the changes of the neighborhood. In some of the people that I interviewed, they were enthusiastically describing how nice is Bushwick now. Living in the neighborhood for more than 15 years, they talked about how it used to be a placed full of drug dealers and gunshots. They believe that it is only after the “white people coming in” that Bushwick started to get nicer and safer. “Before I would not sit here like this,” an Ecuadorian guy told me in Maria Hernandez Park in a Sunday afternoon, “right now I don’t need to worry about someone who might scare me from my back.” Having lived in the “dark time” of Bushwick in the 80s and 90s, these residents really appreciate the peace of the neighborhood after the government and the developers started to step in and made it more desirable.


The term gentrification is very complex and there are so many dynamics if we study deeper into it. However, this blogpost does not conclude all the affects, as what Teresa Brennan would argue, in Bushiwick gentrification. Apart from the affordability and displacement issues, there are also many cultural aspect such as what many people would call “neo-colonialism” that I still haven’t look into (Rowland Atkinson & Gary Bridge, 2-3). Therefore I wish that I could discover more invisible affect that the Bushwick gentrification is causing in my following research.


~ by ashleytang14 on October 24, 2017.

4 Responses to “Layers & Dynamics in Gentrification”

  1. Engagement: This blog post felt like something I’d read on Refinery29 — your ability to incorporate interviews, specifically quotes from the “Ecuadorian guy”as well as photographs, kept me reading until the very end. There were so many perspectives in one piece. Great job!

  2. I’m going to give you number 1 for engagement and style. You have added pictures that help with illustrating Bushwick as an area with differing narratives and perspectives. You also show an engagement in curiosity for examining different opinions, and including it in your website plan. Good job ❤

  3. Because of all the pictures to help create a image of Bushwick, which I haven’t visited before, I’m going to give you the best in show! I love the way you illustrated your point of view and told the narrative of the issue in different perspectives to help readers understand different opinions that exist about the issue of gentrification in Bushwick.

  4. The images that you chose to depict Bushwick are truly beautiful and depict the juxtaposition of gentrification and of what was Bushwick and what it is now. Your images alongside with your content is one that together I really think deserves best in show! Awesome job!

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