Gentrification, Artists, and the “Rediscovery” of American Cities: A Conversation With David Goodwin and Artspace’s Tio Aiken
Join us as David Goodwin discusses his new book, LEFT BANK OF THE HUDSON, with Tio Aiken of Artspace, here in Minneapolis. They’ll discuss the artists and development of Jersey City – as well as the forces currently shaping the Twin Cities’ own landscape.
Established in 1979 to serve as an advocate for artists’ space needs, Artspace effectively fulfilled that mission for nearly a decade. By the late 1980s, however, it was clear that the problem required a more proactive approach, and Artspace made the leap from advocate to developer. Since then, the scope of Artspace’s activities has grown dramatically. Artspace is now a national leader in the field of developing affordable space that meets the needs of artists through the adaptive reuse of historic buildings and new construction.
About the book:
Gentrification. The very word elicits powerful emotions. For local politicians, it symbolizes an opportunity to bring amenities and opportunities to their cities. For developers it implies the chance to grow and make a lot of money. Unfortunately, for the early adopters—the trailblazers—the word is often synonymous with being displaced, evacuated, or exiled.
Afflicted by deindustrialization, population loss, drugs, and crime, Jersey City limped through the second half of the twentieth century. Then, in the late 1980s, a small, yet dedicated band of artists rented studio space at 111 1st Street, the former P. Lorillard Tobacco Company warehouse near a derelict stretch of the Hudson River waterfront. Over the next two decades, several hundred artists lived and worked in this building, contributing to the rejuvenation of the surrounding neighborhood and Jersey City. The local arts scene flourished, igniting hope that Jersey City would emerge as the grassroots center of the art world.
However, a rising real estate market coupled with a provincial political establishment threatened the place of the artists in 111 1st Street. The resident artists found themselves entangled in a long, complicated, and vicious fight for their place in the building and for the physical survival of 111 1st Street itself.
The history of 111 1st Street and its community offers a window into the demographic, political, and socio-economic changes experienced by Jersey City during the last thirty years and the complex, often mischaracterized relationship between artists and gentrification. Goodwin has interviewed artists and residents who lived at 111 1st Street, as well as businesses, government officials, community activists, nonprofit and civic organizations. In Left Bank of the Hudson, Goodwin addresses important questions, including:
• Why communities such as 111 1st Street are important to cities, and what we should do to prevent early adopters from becoming victims of gentrification.
• What the artists of 111 1st Street could have done differently, and what other towns can learn from some of the mistakes they made.
• The kinds of tools citizens and communities possess that can shape gentrification in a positive way.
• How gentrification works, and how residents can become proactive and retaining their power within the community.
111 1st Street presents an illustrative lesson to government officials, scholars, students, activists, and everyday citizens attempting to navigate the “rediscovery” of American cities and working toward ensuring both old and new urban residents maintain a right to their respective cities. Left Bank of the Hudson serves as a powerful example of the complicated story communities throughout the United States are facing as emerging cities and towns are taken away from those who gave it life in the first place
Educated at St. Bonaventure University, Drexel University, and Fordham University, David J. Goodwin works by day as a librarian at Fordham University School of Law. He is a past commissioner and chairman of the Jersey City Historic Preservation Commission. Currently, he serves as a board member of the Jersey City Landmarks Conservancy. He writes regularly at anothertownonthehudson.com.
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