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Gettysburg College Headquarters

Primary Discipline

Humanities

Abstract

Urban renewal or gentrification has affected many low-income minority families in the United States with redevelopment projects that destroyed their neighborhoods for the affluent white middle class. Unlike, many minority groups who protested against the intrusive practice Chinatowns communities saw themselves divided over the issue. Chinatowns throughout the nation benefitted from redevelopment projects that brought new investments into their neighborhoods’ businesses, but like other minority neighborhood, they also suffered as their residents were displaced. This case study examines the debates over urban renewal of Philadelphia and Washington D.C’s Chinatowns through local newspaper coverage from the 1970s-1990s. Specifically, this study uncovers the patterns, voices, and circumstances that led to the preservation or destruction of these Chinatowns due to gentrification. While Washington D.C’s Chinatown embraced urban renewal projects to bolster its businesses and witnessed the transformation of its neighborhood into a culturally co-opted tourist site, Philadelphia’s Chinatown took the path of protest and successfully fought for the survival of their neighborhood as a cultural bastion. These inner conflicts over redevelopment revealed that Chinatowns had to make difficult decisions regarding the future of their neighborhoods and gentrification. The results of that decision created two frameworks of Chinatowns that continue to persist today: Chinatowns that continue their role as an ethnic enclave or the conversion of Chinatowns into economic cash cows for tourism. Future research needs to incorporate the diverse voices in all neighborhoods affected by gentrification and examine how communities choose to navigate the phenomenon in the present day.

Citation Style

Chicago Manual of Style

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