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In the Shadows of the High Line

In the Shadows of the High Line | Geography Education |
The High Line has become a tourist-clogged catwalk and a catalyst for some of the most rapid gentrification in the city’s history.


Earlier I have posted about the High Line, a project in NYC to transform an old elevated train line into a public green space. This project has fallen under criticism as the property values of homes below the High Line have risen and the neighborhood is undergoing gentrification. Linked is the NYTimes opinion article that critiques the High Line as a “Disneyfied tourist-clogged catwalk.” This project has change the economic profile of the neighborhood and its sense of place and communal identity. The critic’s blog is (self-described) “a bitterly nostalgic look at a city in the process of going extinct,” so he is naturally going to be against anything that at changes the historic character of the city. As geographer Matthew Hartzell has said, “to say that nothing should change is an awfully conservative view of urbanity. Cities evolve—neighborhoods evolve.” This is a good article to share with students to get them to think about the economic and cultural issues associated with urban revitalization projects and the impacts they have on the city.

Paige McClatchy's curator insight, September 15, 2013 8:17 PM

Moss's bitter op-ed piece about the gentrification of West Chelsea due to the creation of the High-Line park does not offer any solutions to the problem he perceives nor does it seem a call to arms for "regular New Yorkers" to support neighborhood businesses over national chain brands. Moss's analysis of the "Disneyland" that now resides in West Chelsea sparks a debate in my mind about economic evolution and the cultural/societal value of preserving neighborhoods- keeping it classic. Perhaps I was too turned off by Moss's style to walk away in complete agreement, but I do see the downside he is refering to. But then again, what mayor doesn't want to see his/her city evolving to become more urbane and attractive? People move around all the time and the nature of capitalism dictates that some businesses will fail. 

Brett Sinica's curator insight, September 27, 2013 12:40 PM

The issue of gentrification is always a sensitive topic.  I personally have never been a "victim" of planning that would displace my home or anything of the sort, though an idea to help a neighborhood should always be evaluated and considered.  As other members stated before, this could actually be beneficial to residents in the surrounding neighborhoods by giving them an area still in the city, but unique to them as well.  Green spaces, parks, any areas with greenery that acts as a meeting place have been proven to lighten communities as an attempt to bring people together and even reduce crime.  There will always be people that will complain about projects such as this, but in the end if it shapes the existing community into a better place overall, it should at least be given a chance.

Gregory S Sankey Jr.'s curator insight, February 19, 10:59 AM

This is a scary article to read, as I find it immensely relevant to an issue that is very clearly here in Providence as well. In studying the impacts of Water Fire on Providence in a class here at RIC we spoke of talking points that the city could use to attract high end investment. It's become increasingly apparent that this sort of investment is the last thing my city, or any other city, needs. This project could have served New Yorkers as opposed to tourists and the elite, but it hasn't. As someone who wants to head into the field of urban planning and community revitalization I must be aware and keep thinking ahead. What will my project do for a community? Will it make it stronger or completely decimate it.?

Geography Education
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