Date of Award

5-2008

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science

Major

Geography

Major Professor

Anita Drever

Committee Members

Thomas Bell, Ronald Foresta

Abstract

First viewed as an aberration by some when it began to occur in inner cities, the process of gentrification is now common and even significant in U.S. cities, as it runs counter to the urban sprawl that plagues most of them. Gentrification can have far-reaching effects, as it usually involves rising property values and changes in ethnic make-up, and sometimes gives rise to concerns over displacement of original residents and affordable housing. In the context of a broad literature on gentrification which has failed to produce much agreement on its causes or how it works, this research attempts, utilizing census data from Atlanta, Georgia for 1990 and 2000 to attempt to understand how gentrification begins and progresses in a Southern city. I conduct T-tests between gentrifying and non-gentrifying inner city neighborhoods for socioeconomic, housing and geographic characteristics, and then attempt to create a predictive model for where gentrification will occur based on these variables. I then further examine the geography of gentrification and the housing and ethnic make-up of gentrifying neighborhoods in Atlanta. Only one housing variable, percent built before 1940, and no socioeconomic variables were significant in the model. The significance of this variable, coupled with the overall difficulty in predicting gentrification, confirmed that various forms of gentrification are taking place in Atlanta, with older housing in some areas being cleared by development companies to make way for large multifamily housing developments, and in others being renovated one by one. Significantly, this research found that geography has an important role in the process, with clustering of gentrifying neighborhoods probably as a result of diffusion from maturing gentrified neighborhoods. Despite Atlanta’s sizable African-American middle class, the data did not indicate African-Americans playing a larger role in gentrification there during the 1990s. Along with these findings, this study confirms the need for further research on the ways gentrification starts, progresses, and affects the people involved.

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