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Tracing the Revitalization of New Brunswick Through Gentrification

 

George Street, New Brunswick

Historic George Street

George Street today

Gentrification is the expansion of wealthier populations into poorer urban areas, and results in increases to property values, property taxes, and the cost of living. Although the term is often used negatively as it implies the displacement of poorer communities, oftentimes crime rates decrease, drug and alcohol abuse decreases, more resources become available and education levels increase during and following gentrification. Each location we chose to examine has a long history, and has been part of the changes to the physical, cultural, and economic landscape of the entire city of New Brunswick. By looking at these histories and changes, we hope to prove that while gentrification may be helping to make New Brunswick a safer place to live, there are still communities that need more attention so that they too can thrive in our town.

Before the 1960s, career opportunities provided by Rutgers and Johnson & Johnson provided New Brunswick residents with stable incomes while allowing them to remain in the city. A changing economic situation in the 1960s led to a loss of factory jobs and catalyzed the city’s ”white flight”--the departure of white residents--drastically changing the city’s economic and racial composition in the following decades. In an attempt to eliminate the effects of concentrated poverty on the community, New Brunswick has begun catering to the professional class, expanding the theater district and building new housing developments. These economic and cultural opportunities for professionals have displaced poorer residents, endangered independently-owned business, closed school systems, and resulted in the demolition of the Memorial Homes low-income housing district. A central question to this tour: what comes next? Will new memories of change and displacement continue to be generated in the future, or are there alternative courses to explore?

 

Credits

Naveen Mehta, Michelle Hoey, Emma Pallarino, Elizabeth Gokhman, Aubrey Thomas, and Kelsi Brown