I was sitting with B in the Prospect Park the other day. Mothers with SUV sized baby carriages, moving en masse up the pavement, the guy with the hands-free pacing back and forth nattering in business speak about deals made, deals yet to be made. A few joggers. The usual Park Slope side of the park scene.
We wondered if if the recession wouldn’t put an end to gentrification, speculating on it from both sides. The fact is, I think the suburbs have come to the city, in a reverse of white flight – the inner cities have been made safe so the suburbanites are re-colonizing them and giving cities a whole new identity.
And, recession or not, I don’t see it getting any better. The oil crisis might even make it worse – as driving becomes more and more expensive, city centre will become the place to be and all the poor people will have to go somewhere else. Maybe American cities will follow the European model (I hear cities like Philedelphia and Boston, not to mention Washington DC, already have), with cute city centres dominated by yuppies, and the poor in sprawling housing projects around the periphery.
In a way this is just returning to the old pattern – neighborhoods like Bed-Stuy and even East New York were originally built for the bourgeousie – but the difference is in the homogenity. No more working class areas side by side with the rich, like what used to exist in Manhattan. Less and less middle class. Gentrification is, above all, a blitzkrieg of homogenization.