This month's Atlantic magazine has a special report on The Future of the City, and it is loaded with apologias for gentrification, a sort of anti anti-gentrification backlash. It was bound to happen, especially now that we're in the Bad Old Days and people are feeling nervous and angry about lost investments.
There's one piece in which a blogger insists, in all caps, "NOTHING STAYS THE SAME." In another piece he says, "nostalgia alone should not be understood as a rational evaluation of the present and its merits." And the anti-nostalgia continues in "Gentrification and Its Discontents." They even stick in an article written by Robert Moses.
But the most strikingly fierce and frightening statement about the present moment comes from an interview with Andres Duany, the father of New Urbanism (which means making Stepford towns like Disney's Celebration). He's talking about Miami, but it sounds so familiar:
"There's this generation who grew up in the suburbs, for whom the suburbs have no magic. The mall has no magic. They're the ones that have discovered the city. Problem is, they're also destroying the city. The teenagers and young people in Miami come in from the suburbs to the few town centers we have, and they come in like locusts. They make traffic congestion all night; they come in and take up the parking. They ruin the retail and they ruin the restaurants, because they have different habits then older folks. I have seen it. They're basically eating up the first-rate urbanism. They have this techno music, and the food cheapens, and they run in packs, great social packs, and they take over a place and ruin it and go somewhere else.
I've known for 10 years about this destructive monoculture that's condensed in the suburbs. These people would normally be buying real estate by now. And we designed for them. We kept saying, 'Aha, these kids, between 24 and 35, will be buying real estate.' Guess what? They aren't. Because they can't afford it. But they're still using the cities--they're renting and so forth. The Gen-Xers also discovered the cities; they're buying in a proper way. The Millennials are the ones we're talking about. And they love cities desperately. And they're loving them to death."