Friday 20 October 2017

Gentrification 7

Trying to rename New York neighbourhoods in order to gentrify them has a long history.

Wake up Nimbys, the option is either Tory housebuilding or Marxist social engineering (Daily Telegraph 7 June 2017) Can they possibly mean “Look out, they’re going to plonk poor people next door to YOU?” Of course they can. “Planning would soon be completely centralised, with bureaucrats in Whitehall dictating everything to the smallest detail… Mass council-house building, including in leafy areas, run by Marxist ideologues, a giant social engineering programme directly aimed at growing the Labour base and killing off the home-ownership dream?” The Tory alternative is new garden cities and suburbs, where poor people can be segregated and “home-ownership culture” preserved. Because of course, apart from the annoyance of having poor people living next door, it would bring down the price of your house. Oh I see – the whole point of Tory “garden cities”, ie new towns, is to keep house prices up, and keep people who need to be housed away from Tory voters. (And note the weasel “leafy areas” for “rich areas”.)

I grew up in the Yorkshire equivalent of what posh people who live in Essex claim is Hertfordshire. (John Avocado ‏@SuperCroup)

Increasingly clear my mum has been slyly upgrading my London location to Greenwich for the benefit of the neighbours. (via Twitter)

The British obsession with class has left writers inventing their own, fictional settings, in order to escape judgments about their characters' background and social standing... Sophie Hannah, the bestselling crime author, said she had created a new county for her novels after finding homegrown readers could not avoid thinking about the stereotypes of the British regions. Saying people are now "obsessed with attaching ideas about what kind of people live in a certain place", she claimed she had struggled to escape judgments about storylines. (Guardian. “Now”? They always did it!)

“Islington dinner-party”
is now code for “dangerously left-wing, not nearly racist enough”. (Islington may have a few million-pound houses, but it also has a lot of social housing and deprivation.)

Complaining about the "easy condemnation" of gentrification is the most tiresome form of fake contrarianism there is. (@davidjmadden)

A vandal in Fresno explained his actions: “If you truly love downtown try embracing the folks who’ve been here for decades instead of just running them out and replacing them with snobby little hipsters looking down their noses at everyone else.” He complained that rich white people from North Fresno didn't want to mix with the more diverse people of South Fresno.

Let's rip down anonymous big blocks & spend millions replacing them with anonymous big blocks. (@createstreets on 21st century architecture and planning)

Upwards like to say of a place “It’s very atmospheric”, meaning that it's close to the stereotype they have of a (Polish restaurant, Greek island, Russian housing estate). East London is so atmospheric - like something out of Dickens!

Gentrification used to be called “tarting up”. Workers’ cottages got brightly painted front doors flanked by little trees in pots. Now, when your area is rechristened “something quarter” you can consider yourself gentrified. But it usually includes knocking down something decent and building tin-can flats.

In the 80s, Upwards used to say hopefully that their area was “coming up”, meaning that middle-class people were moving in, so the pavements would surely become cleaner, the street lights brighter and the shops less grimy. And you might even be able to buy lemons, rocket and tarragon vinegar. They waited years while everything stayed the same apart from one Marxist bookshop. What they really wanted to “come up” was of course the value of their house.

It happened in Hackney – the street lights are brighter, enabling “night life” for young people, but we’re too old for that now. We were thinking more of reclaiming beautiful old Georgian houses which were too good for the garment factories and working-class families that inhabited them.

The South Bank... entirely full of pop-up fish restaurants and jugglers on unicycles. (‏@IanMartin Juggling unicyclists haven't been seen since the 80s, but there are too many street food stalls, and over-amplified singer-songwriters given busking licences by a tin-eared committee.)

Central London used to be quite seedy and downmarket and there were few tourists. It was full of chorus girls and motor salesmen, according to a friend – also market traders, tarts and film companies. The area around Centre Point was all guitar, sheet music and drumstick shops. Now it's getting more and more crowded with restaurants, especially noodle bars and burrito bars for the Japanese and American visitors. And everywhere is rather expensive. When I was young and a student we couldn’t afford to eat out all the time! I suppose now young people get decent salaries, and affluent middle-class people send their children to university in greater numbers.

Someone makes the point that hipsters can’t afford a flat or get a regular job – but they can have locally sourced sausages and 50 different types of coffee. (Perhaps because they only job they can get is to open a cafĂ©.) Surely the market can’t sustain ALL those coffee shops? Except they don’t just sell coffee, they are shared offices as more and more people “work from home”. And middle-class people live in public more than they used to, and they have laptops, and it’s easier to work surrounded by other people, and they don’t have tables at home because there isn’t room.