Atlanta’s Neighborhood’s: Cabagetown Not Accepting Gentrification

 

    Introduction

Poster showing proof of new renovations to lower income families for upper income families.

  Atlanta today has undergone a lot of changes in the sense of its neighborhoods. The neighborhoods today are seen conforming to the idea of “new and improving” neighborhoods in the Atlanta area. Conforming is the sense of adjusting one’s rules to fit in with the rest of the crowd. In this case, it’s the neighborhood’s way of becoming socially acceptable.

This happens all the time in Atlanta’s neighborhoods. In fact, majority of this conforming inside Atlanta’s neighborhoods came from the idea of gentrification. This is simply when people try to upgrade and improve a neighborhood so that it is to a more first or middle class type of feel and liking. Basically, taking people who have a lower income and replacing them with people of higher incomes. Gentrification has been happening in many areas throughout United States. In Atlanta, the gentrification is also known to be radically altered, due to the increase of Caucasians entering the area and number of African Americans being forced to leave the area. According to Zak Cheney Rice, a writer from Mic Network stated, 31% of Atlanta alone has experienced gentrification in this 21st century. Although this horrific thing has been occurring in Atlanta very frequently and very fast, there is one city in particular that I personally have seen that refuses to let this happen to them. The idea of becoming “socially acceptable” is not apart of their traditions and customs. This city is none other than Cabbagetown, Atlanta.

 

Picture of Cabbagetown sign

        With this being stated, throughout the rest of this analysis you will learn some of the key features of genterification, how Cabbagetown has refused to change its customs and values of the city and how this town came together to not let this happen their neighborhood. First, I will inform you on some genterification features and also the many places in Atlanta alone experiencing gentrification. Then, I will include a comparison and a contrast of other conformed places in Atlanta to the “non-conformed” Cabbagetown. Next, I will provide information about the history of Cabbagetown and how much has not changed and why Cabbagetown has been such a success from not going under gentrification.

Gentrification at its Finest

As stated above, gentrification is the overall idea of moving lower income families out of their homes for the better of upper class (wealthier) people to a more middle class/ richer feel. As such, gentrification affects an area’s demographics because this increase in middle income individuals and families often results in an overall decline in racial minorities . The history of gentrification came from a sociologist Ruth Glass around 1964 when she noticed a drastic change in lower income were replaced by wealthier people in London during this time. Over time this idea became a relationship between money and reproduction.

The process of gentrification may seem like a lot but in all reality it  is very simple. The first step is finding the right location that it said to be considered “run down.” Then people send pioneers and artist out to overlook and inspect the area to see if it is fixable and what they can do with it. Once it passes that test, the next thing is to make small adjustments to the area and raise prices of housing amenities and then finally they force people to leave their homes because of the increase of their finances.

Atlanta Places Experiencing Gentrification

   

Moreland Avenue Before
Moreland Avenue After

There are so many places that have already been gentrified and conformed to more upscale likings on Atlanta. Northwest Atlanta, Southwest Atlanta, South Atlanta are all places that have been affected. To be a little more specific, Moreland Avenue, which is located South Atlanta has been conformed to new conditions as seen as in the image to the right. The picture on the right shows the Moreland Avenue in 2007 when there was a single-family homes all along the strip who had a lower income and were happy with where they were, because it fit them and their price of attendance here was affordable at the time. As time passes by this street on Moreland Avenue eventually turns into what you see on the left. This image is Moreland Avenue today being under construction for higher end rentals for those wealthier people. Basically, what you can conclude from these two images is, the single-family homes that required a lower income, has been pushed out, tore down, dismantled and renovated their homes for higher rentals for people of higher incomes. Not fair, right? While this is horrific this is not just a one town thing. Like stated earlier before, Northwest and Southwest Atlanta have also experienced some gentrification. It has been stated by Shaila Dewan, A New York Times reporter, that areas in Northeast Atlanta such as Riverside, Buckhead, and Cobb County have already experienced some adaptations of gentrification, while Bankhead and Rockdale are surfacing media everywhere of new renovation projects. Another area in Atlanta that is associated with East side Atlanta, is known as the area that has the most gentrification. Places in this space include Turner Field, Georgia Dome, and Edgewood. As interesting as it is to note, Cabbagetown is located in East Side Atlanta. So, shouldn’t they be experiencing this too?

 

Gentrified Atlanta vs Cabbage Town Atlanta

Cabbagetown before
Cabbagetown after

It is very easy to associate Cabbagetown with the rest of East Atlanta’s gentrification problem, simply because it is located there, but in fact Cabbagetown has done little to know change within the city itself. For instance, having to visit Cabbagetown personally for a Built Environment Description, I instantly noticed the very ancient theme of the whole area. While visiting this space, and knowing absolutely nothing about it I could make some conclusions. I saw that everything in this little town did not look anything else like the rest of the gentrified “affected” Atlanta. As seen in this image on the right, this was Cabbagetown roughly around the 1880’s. As you can see it looks very ancient, and older than the houses and neighborhoods that you would see in today’s 21st century type of home. As surprising as it may sound, Cabbagetown today still looks pretty much the same. The image to the left is Cabbagetown today in the 21st century. This year was 2015 to be exact. This is the same street and the same block with the same house. With this being stated, it is clear that genterfication has not happened here.

To say that nothing has changed would be a lie, but little to nothing changed. The things that changed in this space were very small and were a change for a good cause. For instance, all different forms of art and colors were added to the space to jazz it up a bit, but no type of renovation or destruction was added to move these people out of their homes or form this town to be considered as “socially acceptable.” In contrast to other areas in Atlanta, I can say that from living in Atlanta for quite some time now I can conclude that Cabbagetown and the rest of Atlanta are very different. Cabbagetown is a unique type of difference from the rest of Atlanta. It looks like its own type of world compared to other areas and neighborhoods in Atlanta. In my opinion, I cannot associate Cabbagetown as being a part of a suburb or anything because of how unique and unbothered it is from the rest of Atlanta. The only real association of the other places in Atlanta and Cabbagetown have in common is the fact that Cabbagetown is still located East side Atlanta where gentrification is still occurring. When thinking about the rest of the cities in Atlanta I can conclude that coming together as a community can help gentrification from happening in other areas/cities in Atlanta. For instance, participate in board meetings and also do a lot of research and maybe even some protest will be beneficial. Some may ask, why Cabbagetown is so special? What’s its importance? Why aren’t they being associated with the gentrification drift? With this being stated, let’s take a look at Cabbagetown history and importance.

All About Cabbagetown

 

Beauty of Cabagetown today

Cabbagetown Atlanta is a very important town located Eastside Atlanta. In fact, Cabbagetown District has been documented in the United States National Register of Historic Places. It was built around the end of the Battle of Atlanta around 1981 and started out as a mill town. Cabbagetown was a very agricultural cite and was one of Atlanta’s first well-built neighborhood. Because of its importance here, it seems like gentrification will never happen here. Around the late 1990’s and early 2000s Cabbagetown became known for its art and colorful graffiti in the area. Although the houses in Cabbagetown looks the same from 137 years ago the residents who lived here have done a lot to keep the town to still have that ancient and unique appearance.

The residents here have come together as a community to prevent gentrification from happening. The people in this space took it among themselves and their community to help portray a beautiful and colorful town, with all different type of color houses street signs, and even walkways. Within this space I was also able to make a few connections as well. I noticed a diverse amount of people I the space. I saw people who were African American, Hispanic, Asian, Caucasian, and much more. With this being stated, From my time there, it seemed like  everyone knew each other and were happy with where they were. Walking down the bright streets of Cabbagetown everyone waved and greeted me with respect and made me feel very welcome. Its not like the rest of the places in Atlanta don’t do the same, but in fact I can hardly ever tell of place or neighborhood being diverse.  Like I mentioned earlier, this town made me feel as if I was in another world because of how happy everyone was.

 

Conclusion

In conclusion to this it is seen that there is gentrification all throughout Atlanta, but at the same time not all of Atlanta is effected by it. For instance, Cabbagetown is a town/ neighborhood in Eastside Atlanta, where majority of the gentrification happens the most. With this being stated, it is still obvious that it has not done much change to the city or its neighborhood. One reason for this is because of its importance and history to Atlanta. Not only that but how the community comes together to prevent such things from happening. It is always good to understand why some areas are being gentrified and why others aren’t. Cabbagetown is a town that I can honestly say understands their old history and knows how to benefit it and not conform.

Works Cited

Mic. “These 7 Cities Expose Exactly What Gentrification Is Doing to America.” Mic. Mic Network Inc., 19 Aug. 2016. Web. 07 Apr. 2017.

Bunn, Curtis. “10 US Cities Where Gentrification Is Happening the Fastest – Page 4 of 6.” Atlanta Black Star. N.p., 20 Feb. 2015. Web. 07 Apr. 2017.

Kahn, Michael. “Gentrification Struggles Nothing New in Atlanta.” Curbed Atlanta. Curbed Atlanta, 28 Mar. 2016. Web. 07 Apr. 2017.

Dewan, Shaila. “Gentrification Changing Face of New Atlanta.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 11 Mar. 2006. Web. 07 Apr. 2017.

Atlantatimemachine.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Apr. 2017.

“Gentrification of Atlanta.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 25 Mar. 2017. Web. 07 Apr. 2017.

Writer, Amanda Briney Contributing. “Is Gentrification a Good Thing?” ThoughtCo. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Apr. 2017.