Social mixing and the historical geography of gentrification

David Ley

in Mixed Communities

Published by Policy Press

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9781847424938
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781447305538 | DOI:
Social mixing and the historical geography of gentrification

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This chapter discusses the ‘moral landscape’ of False Creek South in Vancouver, Canada, a neighbourhood that was redeveloped in the 1960s and 1970s by planners enacting their vision of the liberal, livable city. False Creek South was built as a socially and tenurially mixed neighbourhood on the south shore of False Creek in downtown Vancouver. The chapter discusses the ideas/ideologies behind its conceptualisation as a socially mixed neighbourhood, describing and evaluating the development, and discusses its successes and failures re. social mixing. The final part of the chapter considers la longue durée with respect to gentrification and social mixing. Among student radicals, artists and young professionals in the 1960s and 1970s, social mixing was politically progressive. By the 1970s, it was being institutionalized by left-liberal governments in the last hurrah of the welfare state (False Creek South), when funds for social programmes were relatively plentiful. The fiscal crisis of the state and a new conservative consensus put an end to all that in the neo-liberal 1980s, an era that is only now collapsing under its own contradictions. But today social mixing is vilified in some quarters as an underhand strategy of a conspiratorial state to displace the poor. What has changed? Social mixing or our framing of it? To answer this, the chapter underscores the progressive intent of inner city social mixing in the 1960s–1970s and then projects that argument against the critical response in the present. Its sub-theme is that as gentrification turns 50, we can profitably learn from some historical comparison. To do so, we need to preserve a lively memory of intellectual legacies.

Keywords: False Creek South; mixed neighbourhood; Canadian urban policy; socially mixed; welfare state

Chapter.  6427 words. 

Subjects: Urban and Rural Studies

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