Gentrification of Washington Heights

Research Paper Proposal

Topic Choice: Gentrification of Washington Heights

“The rehabilitation and settlement of decaying urban areas by middle- and high-income people” is what the word can be broken down to. For the purpose of this study, specifically, Washington Heights, and how the cultural domination of Dominicans is being pushed out little by little. Many see the future of the once Hispanic dominated portion of upper Manhattan as a renovated area for the better to do. While renovating old buildings is something many would not argue with, pushing out the low income inhabitants is not only causing them to migrate elsewhere but ending a cultural landmark. It is places like these that make New York City the melting pot it has always been admired for.

Analysis of issue at hand:

Because many people currently living in Washington Heights are on a low income, the building companies are renovating these old buildings and raising the rent prices. Thus, those with higher income that could not afford downtown prices are moving uptown and renting these newly renovated apartments, while those who currently live in upper Manhattan have to move elsewhere. Such a migration will not only disrupt the population group, but also the overall feel of the community.

Will see how bringing this new community of people will disturb the current community. Streets named after Dominican revolutionaries, Movie theatre that plays Dominican produced movies, Dominican restaurants, Dominican clubs, and even bargain clothing stores. These businesses will be compared to the already changing Washington heights new businesses, such as the organic deli in 180th street and Amsterdam, the new restaurants in Dyckman.

Research goals:

Learn about if there is any resistance taking place, how soon will this transformation occur in, when this process is nearly completed will there be any trace left of the Washington Heights that once was. Information will be taken from Dominican archives in City College, interviews with residents.

I chose this topic due to my own migration from Washington Heights due to rent increase. As a Dominican who migrated to this country at 4, I was comforted by this “little Dominican suburbia,” it was as if I got to experience the new country I wanted, and got to keep my own country at the same time. But because of high rent I had to move to the Bronx, when the rent became too high there I had to once again move to the most difficult place of all, a land without MTA called Westchester. My US history teacher in 11th grade once told us “these places you see little Italy, Washington Heights, they’ll be gone soon, and your children or grandchildren will never get to witness them”. Her words both astounded me and struck me at the thought of such a thing. This is the perfect opportunity to find out more on this pressing issue.

This entry was posted in CCR exchange: Stanford-CCNY, Fall 2010: Humanities, Identity, and Social Justice. Bookmark the permalink.

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