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In the Shadows of the High Line

In the Shadows of the High Line | Geography Education | Scoop.it
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.

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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.?

James Hobson's curator insight, September 15, 6:07 PM

(North America topic 4)
I was surprised to find out how projects such as the High Line could raise strong oppositional viewpoints. Before looking into this topic it seemed like an all-around beneficial project. Delving deeper, however, the unseen consequences of revitalization and gentrification (2 major keywords right there!) become more apparent. Also at this level it is important to note that what is "good" vs. "bad" becomes much less objective, but rather mainly subjective and viewable in many different lights.

Jacob Crowell's curator insight, September 25, 5:55 PM

I found this article extremely insightful, a first hand account of how gentrification affects the lives of those who witness their community changing to suit the needs of people who can bring revenue in for the city. Also it shows how well-intentioned grassroots efforts to improve a neighborhood can be high jack by those who see the potential to make money. In the beginning the idea to take this unused high line and convert it into a public green space seemed like a terrific way to take the landscape of the neighborhood and convert it into a public good that reflected the community in which it existed. The railway was covered in graffiti with a "wild urban meadow", if I lived in that community I would have supported making it a public space because it showed my communities creativity and culture. Unfortunately, the policy makers in NYC saw a way to bring tourist in with a new trendy hot spot. They covered the graffiti, erasing the communities imprint on the high line. The NYC government used the walk way as a means to increase revenue and in doing so they over crowded the neighborhood making no room for those who were already living under the rail. What is even more striking is that these gentrification efforts even lead to the rezoning of West Chelsea so they could build luxury developments and destroy existing buildings. This public space started out as a great communal asset that was perverted through gentrification.

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