Phoenix: Living up to the Legend?

            The legend of the Phoenix is a simple one. The bird is reborn from the ashes of its former self. Is it really murder then if the bird is deliberately torched? Granted, it will be born again, but wasnít the initial acting of murder a crime? Itís quite funny, and convenient that our city is named Phoenix for the purposes of looking at gentrification.

            Smith describes gentrification as a two step process. The first is a deliberate attempt at devaluing a region. The second step is to revalue the area through new housing and commercial developments. This process uproots the original owners of the area so that a new, more social affluent people can move in.

            In Hits and Misses, there is represented through graphs and maps, a clear devaluing of South Phoenix. Over the course of twenty years, South Phoenix has clearly become a place of the poverty stricken. The most current maps show that South Phoenix has a poor population counting up to 40%, or more, of its entire population. That means 4 out of 10 people encountered on the street are technically poor. How does an entire population become like this?

            In the midst of all this, a new housing development has sprung up. The houses arenít for the current people, but rather for people at least in the middle class of the overall society. Its very odd to stand in a parking lot full of cars that are at least 9 yrs old, and then to glance over and see a BMW pulling into the new housing complex.

            Simply driving around down there, one will see two things. Construction taking place in newly leveled land and zoning signs litter the sidewalks along the yet to be leveled buildings.

            I found it odd that South Phoenix would under go gentrification when I got down there on Monday. Phoenix growth resembles the pattern of an edge city. The new growth tends to move away from center, taking both residential and commercial with it. But in our city, itís clear that gentrification and edging are happening simultaneously. This leads to a serious concern. Where are the displaced people going to go? If the middle class is growing so fast that the city is sprawling out into the desert and now must even take over the old sections, then doesnít it stand to reason that the under classes will grow at nearly the same rate, if not more?

            South Phoenix will open up to me more as I explore down here in the next few weeks. Further research into gentrification and the actual happenings of the area must take place in South Phoenix to either uncover injustices done to an entire population, or to show that the area is simply cycling through.


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