When Gentrification’s Neighborhood Name Game Runs Into True Identity

03-23-15 betancurnews

John Betancur, former GCI faculty scholar and associate professor of urban planning and policy, is quoted in NextCity.org on the practice of real estate developers renaming neighborhoods or sub-neighborhoods, the use of those names as an indication of gentrification, and the blurring of neighborhood boundaries by the real estate industry.

John Betancur, an urban planning and policy professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, thought of 11 examples of recently renamed sections in Chicago alone before saying, “You know, it’s all over the place.”

While an overall dread for the g-word can be observed in news articles, forums and community meetings, the popularity of new neighborhood names reflects a desire to create distance from old stigmas, and in the process, local character too. The old guard may find this “alienating,” explains Hwang, as legacies and conventions they may cherish appear snubbed. Betancur notes that it might read to some longtime residents as prejudice veiled under a different “code.”

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