Contemporary Brooklyn Gentrification

This is a word cloud based on five academic journal articles about contemporary gentrification in Brooklyn. A word cloud counts the number of times individual words appear in texts. They are a simple and effective way to convey major topics and themes in multiple works. Based on these five articles, it is clear to see that neighborhood, community, and gentrification are major topics. Fort Greene is a neighborhood in Brooklyn and is the subject of a lot of scholarly works on contemporary gentrification; its history as a black neighborhood undergoing gentrification by younger, white residents is central to patterns of gentrification today.

Contemporary gentrification is not geographically limited to Brownstone Brooklyn. Neighborhoods like Crown Heights and Fort Greene are undergoing some of the initial stages of gentrification that areas like Prospect Heights experienced in the 1960s. Geographically, gentrification is moving east and inward into Brooklyn as neighborhoods further along in the gentrification process become more and more expensive.

The emphasis on words such as “community”, “neighborhood”, and “people” underscores current scholarly work on gentrification that focuses on the disruption of community dynamics. In neighborhoods like Fort Greene, Park Slope, and Crown Heights incoming white residents, who are often younger, more affluent, and more highly educated than current residents, have a disruptive effect on interpersonal and larger socioeconomic dynamics. Some view gentrification as a positive force, as it brings better services, retail options, infrastructure, and lower crime rates; but others view it as a divisive force, especially when its economic effects manifest themselves in pricing out residents who have been there for generations.

Retail spaces have a huge impact on residents in gentrifying neighborhoods. Higher-end retail establishments not only signal  economic progress, but also act as indicators of social capital. One article from the word cloud in particular focused on retail signage as an indicator of gentrification. Two types of signage (Old School Vernacular and Distinction Making) represent the old and the new,  pre-gentrification and in-gentrification. The aesthetic differences between these two methods of signage indicate to patrons different levels in class, quality, and service. Distinction Making signage evokes ideas and feelings catered to wealthy and cultured residents, while Old School Vernacular signage makes to attempt to distinguish class, but rather indicates the services and products within the establishment.


Post-War Brownstone Brooklyn