Gentrification occurs on a landscape of spatial differentiation, generated by historic flows of capital and people and regimes of capital accumulation. Transit’s role in gentrification has been noted by some scholars (Grube-Cavers and Patterson 2014; Lin 2002; Kahn 2007; Pollack et al. 2011). It has the potential to widen/open up a rent gap through enhanced possible density and “to alter the distribution of accessibility benefits socially and spatially throughout the city” (Revington 2015: 158), and is further utilized as part of municipal plans to reinvest in “under-utilized” neighborhoods (Jones and Ley 2016). Empirical studies of land value change and gentrification along transit lines reveals a patchwork reality, with most scholars finding a positive relationship between land value, gentrification and transit, though with variable results between studies and between stations within the same study (Higgins and Kanaroglou 2016).
Following on Higgins and Kanaroglou’s (2016) recommendation that research more carefully examine the sources of this heterogenous result, I intend to examine and explain the station-level land value effects of rail transit in Portland and Chicago. I’ve selected Portland and Chicago for several reasons. First, both cities capture a highly differentiated landscape, including gentrified/gentrifying tourist-friendly cores which typify the city’s brand and disinvested inner suburbs with high concentrations of disadvantaged populations. Additionally, I chose Portland because of my familiarity with the city and picked Chicago as a somewhat contrasting situated context. Chicago, unlike Portland, still has a significant stock of close-in gentrifiable neighborhoods with good transit access; presents contradictory global city and decaying rust belt urban dynamics; and potently weaves in issues of racial justice, considering the city’s plurality white population and observed data indicating that gentrification in Chicago didn’t occur in any tract with a black population above 40% (Huang and Sampson 2014). Examination of these two cities’ differentiated experiences of
What contributes the differential landscape of appreciation and gentrification around rail transit in Portland and Chicago?
- Map and analyze land value uplift and gentrification by socioeconomic change by rail station in Portland and Chicago.
- Build a model and run a linear regression, attempting to maximize the model’s explanatory value through controlled variables (age of structures, density of commercial shops, amount of recent development, zoning, proximity to downtown, density of street network, school quality, parks, crime, distance to roads).
- Conduct a review of newspaper articles and city documents to analyze any potential narrative about transit accessible locations which haven’t gentrified.
- Grube-Cavers, Annelise, and Zachary Patterson. 2015. “Urban Rapid Rail Transit and Gentrification in Canadian Urban Centres: A Survival Analysis Approach.” Urban Studies 52 (1): 178–94.
- Higgins, Christopher, and Pavlos Kanaroglou. 2016. “Forty Years of Modelling Rapid Transit’s Land Value Uplift in North America: Moving Beyond the Tip of the Iceberg.” Transport Reviews.
- Hwang, Jackelyn, and Robert J. Sampson. 2014. “Divergent Pathways of Gentrification Racial Inequality and the Social Order of Renewal in Chicago Neighborhoods.” American Sociological Review 79 (4): 726–51.
- Jones, Craig, and David Ley. 2016. “Transit-Oriented Development and Gentrification along Metro Vancouver’s Low-Income SkyTrain Corridor.” The Canadian Geographer / Le Géographe Canadien 60 (1): 9–22.
- Lin, Jeffrey. 2002. “Gentrification and Transit in Northwest Chicago.” Transportation Quarterly 56 (4): 175.
- Revington, Nick. 2015. “Gentrification, Transit, and Land Use: Moving Beyond Neoclassical Theory.” Geography Compass 9 (3): 152–63.
- Pollack, Stephanie, Barry Bluestone, and Chase Billingham. 2011. “Demographic change, diversity and displacement in newly transit-rich neighborhoods.” Transportation Research Board 90th Annual Meeting. Washington, DC.
- Kahn, Matthew. 2007. “Gentrification Trends in New Transit-Oriented Communities: Evidence from 14 Cities That Expanded and Built Rail Transit Systems.” Real Estate Economics 35 (2): 155–82.