Gentrification 1.0...

7th Sep 2017

Gentrification 1.0: Urban transformations in late-19th-century Berlin

A new paper by Philipp Reick is now available online


This article explores how contemporary theories of gentrification improve our understanding of past urban change. Discussing municipal housing statistics and local newspaper coverage from late-19th-century Berlin, it first illustrates the tremendous increase in rents that the German capital witnessed in the second half of the century. Rather than focusing on the rise of highly segregated neighbourhoods as urban historians usually do, the article then studies to what extent the growth of industrial cities like Berlin was accompanied by physical displacement in existing proletarian and middle-class quarters. Based on a methodologically innovative use of historical address books, it thus portrays an uneven geography of inner-city transformation. By compiling samples of socio-demographic change on the micro-level of individual streets, this article reveals that historical patterns of displacement followed a peculiar logic that affected socio-economic groups very differently. The article indicates that there exists a contentious pre-history of gentrification that has been utterly neglected in urban studies so far. At the same time, it epitomises the potential of historical research for the advancement of urban theory.

You can access and read the full article here

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