Joy. While it’s been a contentious 18 months of protests, marching, and debating about a proposed new basketball arena in Philadelphia’s Center City, for at least one Saturday morning, an urban planning and design discussion about the proposed arena location brought some joy to the conversation. At the Center for Architecture in Philly, just a few blocks from the site of the proposed arena, about a hundred people gathered on Jan. 27 to brainstorm alternative uses for the site. The public workshop was organized by the Save Chinatown Coalition, an alliance of 245 organizations from Chinatown and around the city who oppose the new arena because they fear its proximity to Chinatown will disrupt and displace the community.
Since the summer of 2022, the city of Philadelphia has seen a fierce battle over the home of their professional basketball team, the 76ers. Currently located at Wells Fargo Center on Philly’s south side, economic power players have been shopping around a proposal for a new 18,000 seat arena called 76 Place, which would move NBA games to the city’s bustling downtown core (known as Center City). With a billion-dollar price tag, 76 Place represents a partnership between team owners Josh Harris and David Blitzer and real estate mogul David Adelman, who have argued that the arena would create new jobs, raise tax revenue and revitalize a part of downtown that many see as full of untapped potential.
Englewood Chicago — Deborah Payne’s neighborhood of 35 years on Chicago’s South Side no longer exists. Dirt piles tower where families once gathered for Sunday dinners in single- and multifamily homes. Concrete lots cover backyards where children watched fireworks and caught lightning bugs. Streets that maintained generations of Black Chicago razed and left empty for railway cars. Today, less than 10 blocks from Payne’s old neighborhood, sits the repercussions of diesel pollution caused by the expansion of a railyard. Over a decade ago, the city, along with railroad giant Norfolk Southern, announced a plan to buy out Payne’s 12-block community of more than 200 households to replace it with the freight yard.
Sitting on a street bench on the closed-off Chihuahua Street on a crisp El Paso evening, Romelia Mendoza and Selfa Chew recall the seven-year struggle to save the historic Duranguito neighborhood from demolition. Since 2016, they and other locals have believed a sports arena would be built atop the home where Mendoza saw her siblings grow through the 1970s. Today, fences placed by the city surround the building. One of El Paso’s oldest barrios, Duranguito, sits along the border between El Paso and its Mexican sister city, Juarez. Once the “Ellis Island of the South,” as local historian David Dorado Romo puts it, was the entry point for hundreds of thousands of Mexican immigrants and even Chinese immigrants, some of whom made a home in Duranguito.
West Side Congressman Jerry Nadler faced boos and catcalls September 6th at the Fulton Senior Center in Chelsea. Dozens of tenants of the Elliott-Chelsea and Fulton Houses jammed the meeting chanting “My house is not for sale,” and “no demolition.” Residents of the two housing projects located between Ninth and Tenth Avenues are enraged by Nadler’s support of a plan to demolish and rebuild the half dozen buildings and replacing the public housing with a luxury 3500-unit development. Three-quarters of the new units would rent at New York City’s astronomical market rate. One quarter would be reserved for low- and middle-income tenants.
It’s an undeniable fact: Green spaces are crucial to our health and wellbeing. Again and again, researchers have found that access to urban green spaces – from parks to gardens to greenways – positively impacts multiple measures of health, such as community satisfaction, social cohesion and access to healthy foods. Having a stable, quality place to call home is associated with various positive life outcomes, from lower mortality rates to lower rates of drug use. However, in a process known as ecological, green or environmental gentrification, green amenities can contribute to gentrification and, over time, the displacement of low-income residents.
An urban area, or a borough, can be perceived as an organism and the communities that constitute it can be considered its active living cells. Depending on their passive or dynamic stances, communities can act as catalysts to the quality and direction of urban development in the area. A very good example lies in Tottenham, which aside from its globally known football / soccer team the Tottenham Hotspur, is also known for the Latin Village. In the borough of Haringey in north London, about half of Tottenham’s 130,000 people are white, and half of those are immigrants from Eastern Europe. A big Latin American community mostly of Colombian ancestry thrives among the very diverse other half.
Jessica Bellamy wants to stop paying almost a thousand dollars a year to help displace the community that shaped her as a child: Louisville’s historically-Black Smoketown neighborhood. That’s the current property tax bill for the camelback shotgun house her grandmother gifted her a few years ago. It’s the house where Bellamy spent part of her childhood, just steps from her grandmother’s soul food restaurant, Shirley Mae’s Cafe. The restaurant, where Bellamy often took orders and served drinks over the years, is still hanging on as a neighborhood landmark. But like so many other homes in the redlined neighborhood, the house had gradually fallen into an unlivable state of disrepair.
Inside a small taco stand located in the heart of the Coney Island amusement district, a small but vocal group of community members gathered over a platter of tacos al pastor, to discuss how a proposed casino would affect their lives. “They will push us out and push local business out,” Jenny Hernandez, 30, said at the event. She has lived in Coney Island since she immigrated with her family from Mexico when she was a child. To her, a casino would destroy everything that she loves about her neighborhood. “I love Coney Island and what I love the most about it is the diversity of nationalities that is here. I want it to stay that way and I want my kids to see all the nationalities.”
“This is a huge victory for Brixton … Brixton has defended itself from further gentrification,” said Jordi, an organizer with the #FightTheTower campaign. The proposed construction of what’s been called Hondo Tower, or Taylor Tower, has been withdrawn. The project was to be a 20-story building built right next to Brixton’s vibrant Pope’s Road street market in London. This particular movement, #FightTheTower (FTT), is now considered one of the most effective, persistent, hard fought and victorious anti-gentrification struggles currently held in the United Kingdom. Unicorn Riot previously explored the history of Brixton, the planned tower and the anti-gentrification movement.
London’s residents face the highest rents and have the lowest rate of homeownership in the U.K. today. One solution would be for local councils to expand public housing, known as “council housing.” However, the waitlist for these homes has jumped by 50,000 since 2020. This has happened partially because London councils have reduced their housing stock by 10 percent since the beginning of the pandemic, often due to privatization. Building complexes made up of only council housing, called council estates, are becoming increasingly rare sights in the capitol.
‘The Guns of Brixton’ sung by the Clash in 1979 made Brixton synonymous with resistance, anti-oppression, and anti-racism beyond the borders of the United Kingdom. The song presaged the riots of 1981 which rose Brixton into a symbol even as they spread all over England* that summer. The emblematic city of Brixton is currently at a crucial crossroad, struggling not to lose its character as gentrification spreads across London. With a vibrance of ethnic identities represented, Brixton’s main market on Pope’s Road in the heart of the city is the where activists and campaigners have launched their wide-reaching #FightTheTower campaign. The anti-gentrification campaign is aimed at stopping the construction of Taylor Tower, a 20-story building that will alter the landscape of the market.
Louisville activist Cassandra Webb has been working to curb violent crime in her city for years. Cities United, the national nonprofit with which she works, has taken on the mission of violence reduction in the city from seemingly every angle: working with youth leaders at the ground level, convening a network of urban leaders and stakeholders, advancing place-based initiatives to align public and private resources with Louisville residents’ vision for reversing disinvestment in their communities. But increasingly, Webb says, it’s become clear to her that some of these problems can only be solved through money – specifically, cash flowing directly to Louisville residents every month through a guaranteed income program.
London, England — Gentrification has transformed the urban landscape of London’s Southwark Borough over the last decade. In the Elephant and Castle area, a district known for its squatting history, community networks and strong counterculture background, activists and political groups are now trying to reconnect struggles and reignite political movements calling for fair development. This article is the first in our three-part series, Tale of the City: Gentrification in London. This series looks at three current struggles against gentrification across different boroughs of London — each containing threads of thought and action that intertwine in the city canvas presenting experience, education and perspective into explanations around the motives and definitions of gentrification.
Philadelphia - Leading chants of “we saved the peoples townhomes” and “housing is a human right1” activist Krystal Strong opened a press conference and rally attended by University City Townhomes residents and supporters at 40th and Market streets on April 21. After a two-year struggle to stop the demolition and displacement of one of the few remaining predominantly Black and Brown affordable housing developments in Philadelphia, a tentative agreement was reached April 19 between the city and site owner IBID Associates, for the development of 70 new units of affordable housing on one-fifth of the 2.7-acre property.