Neighborhood Revitalization is Not a Myth

Neighborhood Revitalization is Not a Myth

Though it has happened throughout history, it is always a shock to see run-down, dilapidated neighborhoods now high in crime and destitution that were once quiet, safe, and livable.  We’re seeing this even more since our economy has taken a downturn in the last few years.  Sometimes, it can happen quite quickly with massive numbers of people moving out of the area.  Other times, it can take years for a neighborhood to get so rundown.

Even despite the current economy, revitalization still happens – albeit just a little slower than it normally would.  Many neighborhoods that were all but forsaken in the last 50 years are making a comeback.  This revitalization often begins with artists looking for affordable work spaces that might double as places to live.  Such urban renaissances begin with the artists moving into the area followed by young families and then businesses.  A perfect example of this is New York City’s SoHo.  In the 1970s it was a warehouse district with a lot of homeless and crime.  Today it is an upscale community.

Here’s a look at two recent neighborhoods in the United States to make a comeback.

Pilsen, Chicago

Pilsen is located along Chicago’s lower west side and it was a booming community with plenty of jobs in lumber yards, factories, and the docks along the Chicago River throughout the late 19th century.  The factories eventually closed and many buildings were boarded up, but Pilsen remained the first stop for immigrants relocating to the Chicago area.

By the time the late 20th century rolled around, budding artists discovered large warehouse buildings that could be used for work with cheap rent.  Young hip families, restaurants, and bars followed the artists and diversified Pilsen greatly.  Developers also followed and refurbished many of the old factories into cool apartment buildings.

Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, New York

Similar to Pilsen, Brooklyn’s Prospect Heights is one of New York’s oldest neighborhoods.  Over the last 15 years it has seen major changes in its economics and demographics.  Much of this change has come from younger residents that were price-gouged out of neighboring communities like Park Slope and arrived in Prospect Heights for more affordable rent and cheaper houses.

In the early 20th century, Prospect Heights was home to generations of Jewish, Italian, Irish, German, and Greek families.  By the 1960s and 70s, these residents were quickly relocating away due to high crime rates and a general decline in the community’s quality.  By the 1980s, an influx of West Indian residents actually began the revitalization.  Today, the century-old brownstones have been restored and share the streets with shiny new high-rise condos.

Revitalization is an exciting change for many United States neighborhoods.  It allows people who may otherwise be unable to afford a home of their own the opportunity to do so.  It let’s artists and up-and-coming business entrepreneurs have a chance in today’s market.  We’ll be taking a look at some other recently revitalized communities in the near future – who knows, you may find an area you’d like to move to!

– Lance Grooms