By Adrienne Wolfe with Elaine Schwartz
You could have pork belly, tomato jam, pickled vegetables and local cheese at an of-the-moment restaurant in Brooklyn…but it also might be Detroit.
Detroit is known for a lot of things: the birthplace of cars and Motown Records, the largest municipal bankruptcy, poverty and crime. Now we can add America’s New Food City. Named one of the best new restaurants by Bon Appetite, Rose’s Fine Food is a high-end diner in Detroit. In an old pawnshop, Gold Cash Gold offers an Oyster Happy Hour for Equality. And Republic was among the top 100 restaurants for foodies in America.
So how can Detroit, a city with unemployment, housing, and crime problems, be the home to new, emerging restaurants?
As the paradigm for once run-down, tired cities turned trendy, hip, and full of life, Brooklyn might have some answers. Just a subway ride from neighboring Manhattan, Brooklyn served as a blank slate for both visual and culinary artists who wanted cheap prices and low rent. Now pockets of Detroit are also attracting creative occupants.
The NY Times has dubbed a myriad of cities the new Brooklyn. Like Detroit, each of the “New Brooklyns” is a cheaper alternative for artists and anyone else looking for less expensive housing. When the new residents stimulate economic and residential development, the result is gentrification.
To identify where gentrification is occurring, the website governing has gathered data from the American Community Survey. Their criteria included increases in median household income, median home values and the number of bachelor degrees.
Looking at the largest 50 cities in the U.S., they placed Portland, Oregon at the top of their list of cities where gentrification occurred.
Below you can see the top nine on governing’s list:
Meanwhile Detroit, fourth from the last, is near the bottom of the list:
Our Bottom Line: Urban Economic Development
Gentrification can be controversial. When more affluent residents move into an under-invested mostly poor community, the development that unfolds can displace the current population. Researchers also note though that the moving rate for a gentrified neighborhood’s original residents can be rather similar to what it would have been without development. Furthermore, gentrification can diminish the average poverty rate and improve a once rundown area for those who remain.
With Brooklyn a synonym for gentrification, we can either imagine an economic development process or further inequality. Both possibilities return us to a first step in the gentrification process for Detroit and some good restaurants.