October 24, 2010

Gentrification Thread

Megan McArdle, of The Atlantic, has a great post (with a messy, awesome wall of comments) about gentrification. A must read about the many and myriad attempts and failures to tame gentrification.

McArdle frames this entry as a mega-rebuttal to a critique of one of her previous posts. And because McArdle is responding to criticism from someone less experienced and less prominent (the person in question is a college senior and intern at Greater Greater Washington), she takes pains to put the college intern back in her place. What happened to the intern is probably every aspiring idealist's worst nightmare--be a little too flip in putting down a noted writer's opinions; get publicly dismantled. McArdle's rebuttal is spot on, but yowza, did she have to make it burn?

McArdle's original post--the one that prompted the collegian's critique--is also worth a read. She quotes at length from an essay by Benjamin Schwartz, an essay that outlines the only substantive rebuttal to Jane Jacobs that I've read in my (rather limited) experience with planning literature.

Here's the teaser:

Thanks to the profound influence that The Death and Life of Great American Cities has exerted, the West Village circa 1960 has come to epitomize--really to be the blueprint for--the urban good life. But in its mix of the new and the left over, in its alchemy of authenticity, grit, seedy glamour, and intellectual and cultural sophistication, this was a neighborhood in a transitional and unsustainable, if golden, moment. Which meant that it was about to lose its soul.

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