Why Harlem Is Not A Ghetto Analysis

1528 Words 7 Pages
Sharon Zukin’s “Why Harlem is Not a Ghetto” explores upon the reinvention and Manhattanization of Harlem. Zukin goes in depth about how Harlem went “from a dark ghetto into a middle-class, racially integrated, cosmopolitan community” (93). She examines the factors that pushed for gentrification, the influence it had on the neighborhood’s metamorphosis, and the effects of the displacement of traditional residents and businesses through new commercial activity. Through her detailed analysis of the past and present circumstances surrounding Harlem, it is apparent gentrification has widespread consequences from both ends of the spectrum, especially in regards to authenticity. In fact, Zukin goes in depth about two important points regarding authenticity. …show more content…
Those are all aspects of "the new Harlem Renaissance." Essentially, Zukin discusses the two points to provide a basic definition of authenticity without the inhibitions of inbred misconceptions. Essentially, she discusses how in Harlem, the unmaking of a ghetto is occurring due to the inevitable death and life of authentic urban places.
In the recent years, Harlem underwent many internal and external changes due to gentrification. The influx movement of affluent residents into the neighborhood caused Harlem to be remolded from “a community with a rich past, but an ominous future” to “one of the hottest residential neighborhoods in the five boroughs” (63). Zukin implored on the rich past of Harlem to provide full insight of the circumstances that set the scene for gentrification and to show the extent of its influence. Originally, Harlem was intended to be an area for middle-class whites. However, due to a variety of factors such as “overbuilding, targeted marketing, and overcrowding,” it became an area populated with
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New restaurants like her and her husband’s create a new atmosphere in the neighborhood. A lot of new restaurants like Settepani do not cater to the soul food heritage and instead, cater to the influx of new residents. As a result, in the beginning, they are considered to be inauthentic. However, as time goes by, such new commercialized buildings do become regarded as authentic. Since gentrification causes the displacement of residents and essentially, causes new social groups to arise. Those new residents then develop their own cultural practices and community. Thus, eventually the neighborhood becomes authentic and acceptable in societal terms since the new residents and commercialized buildings regarding the physical environment such as restaurants, cafes, and etc. have similar cultural values and desires. Not to mention, Harlem’s population has become whiter. For the most part, the ethnic groups residing in Harlem are now diverse ethnically and not just of African descent like in the past. Without a doubt, Harlem is becoming another one of Manhattan’s neighborhoods and by extension, a brand. Contrary to popular belief, this new Harlem is still authentic, though not through its origins, but through its new beginning. Its authenticity is associated with the new change brought on not just by the people, but also by the commercialized

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