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The New Urban Frontier: Gentrification and the Revanchist City

4.20  ·  Rating details ·  114 ratings  ·  8 reviews
Why have so many central and inner cities in Europe, North America and Australia been so radically revamped in the last three decades, converting urban decay into new chic? Will the process continue in the twenty-first century or has it ended? What does this mean for the people who live there? Can they do anything about it?
This book challenges conventional wisdom, which h
Paperback, 288 pages
Published August 22nd 1996 by Routledge
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Dec 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
I first read this in 2001/2002 doing research to inform community organising around gentrification and displacement. I confess my non-theoretical self didn't much like it. Most of it was over my head, and what wasn't seemed so obvious. Even so, the desire to help support movement and stop gentrification was so clear I always did want to meet Neil Smith. I'm sad I didn't get to.

Now I find it much more useful, probably because I've done the hard work of going through Marx, figuring out Harvey's th
Jan 09, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Empowering analysis of the gentrification process. Because if you know what's happening you have a better chance of stopping it.
Feb 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A foundational text about gentrification and the neoliberal city. I was pleasantly surprised at how readable, gripping, and well-written this book was (it certainly isn't as dense as I was expecting). The case studies are old but no less compelling or relevant feeling. Smith studied with David Harvey (who coined "uneven development" most famously), and this analysis fits nicely within that wheelhouse. One of the most interesting concepts from the book is that of the "revanchist city", which Smit ...more
Jun 21, 2009 rated it liked it
The most useful part of the book in terms of understanding cities is the chapter on the economic theory of gentrification, that economic incentives force landlords in a declining residential area to under-maintain their building, causing further deterioration of the neighborhood's housing stock until the buildings are so undercapitalized relative to the land value underneath that capital swooshes back in with rich people. (OK so this is kind of complicated for us non-economists but it's an impor ...more
Sterling Hall
Aug 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is a truly wonderful book on gentrification. It analyzes the genesis, life, and (potential) demise of gentrification, both in terms of 'hard' economic data and in terms of a rhetorical analysis of the 'frontier' myths that accompany gentrification, both through close analysis of specific situations of gentrification and worldwide trends created through the spread of neoliberal economic policies.

My only critique would be that the book ends up adopting the frontier myth in various ways, and
Smith argues for a systematic understanding of gentrification, rather than a simple consumer-driven one. He does this in a convincing manner, relying heavily on a Harvey-esque examination of capital disinvestment.

My chief complaint is that after his fascinating introduction, Smith pretty much drops the cultural analysis of the "urban frontier" myth, which I found fascinating.
May 25, 2007 rated it liked it
I want to give this book a higher rating but its super dry and academicky. It is however a highly valuable contribution to the study of gentrification and holds many insights to the processes that reshape our cities.
Dec 08, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: urban-studies
interesting and convincing; perhaps not as tightly structured as it could have been.
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Several different Neils Smiths tend to collect here.

For the linguist, see Neilson Voyne Smith
For the author of Boo, and Bang Crunch, see Neil Smith

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