Do Barrios Ever Gentrify?
August 06, 2011, 04:00 AM
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A much-emailed New York Times article about the always popular topic of what neighborhood will gentrify next is Striking Change in Bedford-Stuyvesant as the White Population Soars.” It’s about a black neighborhood in Brooklyn notorious for its crime at least as far back as Billy Joel’s hit “You May Be Right:”

I’ve been stranded in the combat zone

I walked through Bedford Stuy alone …

You may be right

I may be crazy

Here’s a question: We’ve all noticed in recent decades famously black neighborhoods tip to another race. But what about Hispanic neighborhoods? Do they ever gentrify (i.e., turn white?) The lower crime rates typically found in Hispanic than black neighborhoods would make you think that gentrifying would be easier for whites, but perhaps the, uh, demographic vibrancy of Hispanics is more important.

A friend who is writing a book on race and voting in American history just got back from driving around the Southwest visiting court houses to scan in old voting records by precinct. One of his findings: “Once a barrio, always a barrio.”

I’m trying to think of exceptions: One might be Echo Park / Elysian Heights near Dodger Stadium overlooking downtown L.A. has been gentrifying. A few Census tracts of Valley Glen in the central San Fernando Valley have been getting whiter, probably due to foreboding ex-Soviet immigrants moving in and erecting lethal security fences around their yards. But I can’t think of too many.