After reading the article “Gentrification and Displacement in Harlem: How the Harlem Community Lost Its Voice en Route to Progress” I found out much about community change and resistance in NYC, specifically Harlem. Harlem is in the process of being gentrified. Gentrification means change in urban areas associated with a rise in affluence. Gentrification basically means that with the increase in wealthy people comes a change in atmosphere, a change in stores like restaurants and retail. This article talks about how before gentrification started occurring in Harlem soul food such as, butter beans, country fried steak, and oxtail soup were the dominant diners but now because of gentrification these traditional dishes are becoming increasingly hard to find. Gentrification also sometimes forces places to shut down due to its lack of costumers. In Harlem many restaurants are closing down due to lack of customers. The closing down of Harlem restaurants is a product of the intrusion of wealthy younger, non-natives into Harlem, forcing soul foods’ traditional customers to leave the neighborhood (“Humanity in Action”). I feel like the people of Harlem aren’t really resisting the gentrification of their neighborhood, rather they just cant afford to live there anymore and are forced to leave the community. I wouldn’t say that is resisting change, I would say thats just the reality of the situation. Its a sad reality but it is what it is.
Another thing I concluded after reading this article was that gentrification causes decay of culture and displacement in the area that is being gentrified. This article also gives the example of rezoning. “The controversial rezoning of 125th street is the most recent example of the gentrification. Current plans will transform it from “a low-rise boulevard lined with hair salons and buffet-style soul food restaurants into a regional business hub with office towers as high as 29 stories, more than 2,000 new market-rate condominiums, as well as hotels, bookstores, art galleries and nightclubs (Humanity in Action).” This is a perfect example of gentrification. The building of modern “hipster” life being brought into Harlem, and pushing the original settlers out.
In terms of alternative housing, the people being effected by Harlem’s gentrification are moving out of the community because its getting too expensive to live there and into cheaper areas. The graph I’ve included shows how different populations have been increasing and decreasing over time due to gentrification in Harlem.