gentrify

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gentrify

Post by Archived Topic » Sat Dec 18, 2004 6:07 am

Hi:

Is this word - gentrify - and its derivatives - gentrification et alia - still in use? Both in USA and UK? Can anything beyond houses and places be gentrified?

Thanks

JC
Submitted by Jose Carlos Barbosa (Niteroi - Brazil)
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gentrify

Post by Archived Reply » Sat Dec 18, 2004 6:21 am

I suspect it would still be used in the UK if the process were still happening, but now I /think/ we'd be much more likely to speak of yuppification now. The difference between old and new money. Google still turns up far more hits for "gentrification" that "yuppification" though. I don't know if that's because the hits are historic, because of a difference across the Atlantic or because I'm wrong.
Reply from Tim Rowe (London - England)
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Post by Archived Reply » Sat Dec 18, 2004 6:34 am

Jose, As far as I can tell from browsing the internet, ‘gentrify and gentrification’ are alive and well in the U.S., but I must admit I have not heard the words much over the last several years. And as far as I know, the only things that ever get gentrified are neighborhoods and buildings.

GENTRIFY verb (1972): To renovate or convert (housing, especially an inner city area) so that it conforms to middle-class taste; also to make (an area) middle-class. Usually used disparagingly, with the implication of swamping genuine working-class culture with effete bourgeoiserie. The process of GENTRIFICATION first appeared in print a year later (1973).
<1972 “The humbler dwellings . . . were well-groomed rather than neat, and their little gardens had been GENTRIFIED as effectively as had their low parlours.”—‘Palace of Art’ by J. I. M. Stewart, i. page 11>

<1973 “The switch to owner-occupation has shifted overcrowding to the north of the borough which already suffered acutely before the ‘GENTRIFICATION’ process began.”—‘Times,’ 26 September, page 19/3>

<1977 “Newcomers are ‘GENTRIFYING’ working-class Islington and should be resisted, not welcomed.”—‘N.Y. Times,’ 22 September, page A2/3>
(20th Century Words by Ayto, Oxford English Dictionary)
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Ken G – December 20, 2004
Reply from Ken Greenwald (Fort Collins, CO - U.S.A.)
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gentrify

Post by Archived Reply » Sat Dec 18, 2004 6:47 am

.. gentrification is alive and well and living in Newcastle .. we are basically an industrial city that has recently had several closures of our heavy industries .. this has caused the near city suburbs that are close to these closures to become much more desirable .. funnily enough Ken this includes our suburb of Islington .. Carrington and Mayfield are the main suburbs where this has occured and old houses are being repainted and tarted up for new "inner city convenience living", to quote the real estate agent .. new houses are also being built on newly released land as old warehouses are pulled down, for example the woolsheds .. some is good and some is tacky and the beginning of new ghetto like slums .. look good now but give them 20 years and see how they are running ..
WoZ of Aus 21/12/04
Reply from Wizard of Oz (Newcastle - Australia)
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Post by Archived Reply » Sat Dec 18, 2004 7:01 am

If you didn't already know Jose, gentry (the stem of gentrify) apart from being a variant of gentilise "noble birth, gentleness" is also an Anglo-Irish name for "the fairies" (1880).
So, maybe to gentrify a house or an area means to make it more suitable for fairies!
Sounds queer to me.
Reply from Leighton Harris (Cambridge - England)
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Post by Archived Reply » Sat Dec 18, 2004 7:14 am

Leighton, To me, that is funny, and I wonder if you are being too subtle? I WAS going to pass on from this thread, then it dawned on me that all the responses on it, by the normal ( remote stance taken by most responders on this forum), had not fully informed the questioner, and by that token, future readers. Your playful attitude might pleasure Piquter, but doesn't inform Rowe. My mantra --- [[ WORDS DON'T HAVE MEANING, ONLY PEOPLE DO ]] applies here...... Greenwald's quotes are not location noted but are probably for NYK and SF where (unmentioned) it was a euphemism for gay's taking over a neighborhood and pricing the lower income inhabitants out. Yuppies shud not necessarily apply. So for the term to apply to other than homes and neighborhoods, it needs to connote a dispossession.
2k4dec21tue14:45,lneil
Reply from Louis Bussey (Boise - U.S.A.)
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Post by Archived Reply » Sat Dec 18, 2004 7:27 am

Louis, You seem to be implying that my quotes were referring to a “euphemism for gays taking over a neighborhood” in New York City (NYK?) and San Francisco, but it is not clear from your posting by what logic you arrived at the supposition. Are you implying that the word mainly refers to gays so those quotes in all probability refer to gays in NYC and SF where there are large gay populations? And are you thereby rejecting the standard definition and saying that if the word is used then it must be in reference to gays? That seems to be what you were saying, but I find it hard to believe that is what you mean. In any event, my three quotes are actually placed in Britain and have nothing to do with gays. However, after doing some further hunting around for a gay connection, I did find that you are correct on that point, but it is only a secondary meaning and certainly not the primary one and without enough currency to be mentioned in any standard or slang dictionaries (at least the ones I checked) – but I certainly do accept its existence.

It appears that the OED had a quote but not the earliest one on ‘gentrification’ (1973) and that the word was actually coined by sociologist Ruth Glass in London in 1964:

"One by one, many of the working-class quarters of London have been invaded by the middle-classes - upper and lower. Shabby, modest mews and cottages - two rooms up and two down - have been taken over, when their leases have expired, and have become elegant, expensive residences . . . Once this process of 'GENTRIFICATION' starts in a district it goes on rapidly until all or most of the original working-class occupiers are displaced and the whole social character of the district is changed."
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For a very comprehensive discussion on gentrification go to http://members.lycos.co.uk/gentrificati ... sgent.html.

Perhaps the apparent confusion in your posting results from your mantra that “WORDS DON'T HAVE MEANING, ONLY PEOPLE DO,” which is very noble-sounding, but may lead to a lot of confusion in the field of human communications à la this posting and your non sequiturs under the posting ‘factor.’ (<:)
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Ken G – December 21, 2004
Reply from Ken Greenwald (Fort Collins, CO - U.S.A.)
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Post by Archived Reply » Sat Dec 18, 2004 7:41 am

Ever get the feeling that people are talking across you as if you weren't there?
Anyway, in reply to Louis first:
You're quite right, we have all gone away from one of the questions that Jose posted. And also, although I was playfully suggesting that gentrification meant to prepare something for the fairies, I don't for one minute, think that is true.
It was just another example for Dale of English humour!
And for Jose, I think that the term gentification could (and is) used as a desciption of people (nouveau riche) trying to climb the social ladder and appear more 'classy', and other things too, not just houses and areas.
Reply from Leighton Harris (Cambridge - England)
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Post by Archived Reply » Sat Dec 18, 2004 7:54 am

Thank you all of you. And in order to round off this thread (may I?), my final question: is there an opposite for gentrification? With the meaning of leading something/some place to decadence?
JC
Reply from Jose Carlos Barbosa (Niteroi - Brazil)
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Post by Archived Reply » Sat Dec 18, 2004 8:07 am

Jose, The nearest thing that I can think of is URBAN BLIGHT. But some may define it more as the result, rather than the process, of neighborhoods in cities slowly deteriorating with the middle class gradually leaving as it slowly becomes a slum. I experienced this first hand when I lived in New York City and watched various areas, including my own, decline as the original inhabits fled to the suburbs. At one time Flatbush in Brooklyn where I grew up was actually very nice with large Victorian homes and tree-lined streets, with well-kept apartment houses (doormen and all). I left that area in the 1950s and by the 1970s it was a disaster.

The south Bronx was another famous example of urban blight which eventually got so bad that the area resembled a bombed out city after a nuclear attack. The main cause of this particular brand of blight was the rent control laws that were enacted in NYC after WWII whereby landlords could not increase their rents by any reasonable amount and as a result many landlords abandoned and even torched their buildings to collect the insurance (this has been referred to as the “South Bronx Effect”).

But in general I think that ‘normal’ urban blight occurred as upwardly mobile folks left the cities for the suburbs and were replaced by waves of immigrants from the U.S. South and from overseas. In NYC, at least, there was a vast influx of Blacks from the southern states and immigrants from Puerto Rico in the 1950s and 60s who quickly filled the vacuum created by the older fleeing population.

And BTW I suppose that if we want a precise word to describe the reverse of ‘urban blight,’ it might be ‘urban renewal,’ which is defined as the ‘clearance and redevelopment of slum areas, ghettos, etc.” I suppose that a ‘blighted area,’ as Soho in Manhattan, could either be said to have undergone ‘gentrification’ or ‘urban renewal,’ but I think that urban renewal may officially include the use of public funds. In my own town of Ft. Collins it would be hard to say whether the process should be called ‘urban renewal’ or ‘gentrification’ (maybe both) because the city is designating many old and beat up houses and commercial buildings as ‘historic sites’ and gives grants for restoration. However, even with the grants it takes a pretty hefty chunk of money to restore these old homes and buildings so that the people who end up occupying them are fairly well-to-do.
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Ken G – December 22, 2004
Reply from Ken Greenwald (Fort Collins, CO - U.S.A.)
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