Planning for the London Gentrification Tour 2006

British Airways had a sale and I took the bait. So before winter ends and spring starts, I’m going to London town. I figure I’d throw in a gentrification tour in there since I don’t do touristy things. The problem is, it is going to be Winter. In London. A city not well known for bright sun shine and balmy weather, so when I get there it might be a toss up between wandering around cold & lost in a gentrifying neighborhood or soaking in a nice claw foot tub with a Lush bath bomb.
I’m curious to see how a city ten kazillion times older and bigger than DC deals with gentrification. Brixton is a definite stop. I’ve made the comparison between Brixton and Shaw before. I visited Brixton often back in the early 90s and I’d like to take a look at it now in the mid aughts.
I also may visit Earl’s Court, where I lived for one summer. I don’t know if the area gentrified or ever was something else to be gentrified. But I do remember there were women of “questionable” occupation and a guy with a burnt off face always hanging out near the tube (subway) station. Earl’s Court had a lot of tourist and cheap hotels. There were Aussies & Kiwis all over the place. I remember being told it was a transitional neighborhood, but I always thought it meant that no one stuck around very long because many of us were foreigners.
I remember looking out the window of my Earl’s Court flat. A no-frills flat I shared with 6 other foreign girls. From my window I could see the back of one of the many cheap hotels and see immigrant women taking care of their families in what looked to be crowded conditions. From another window in the flat I could see into distinctly middle class and upper middle class homes. In front there was a beautiful gated garden square that only residents (real residents not us foreigners) had a key to enter. I could see the contrasts, but all I cared about then was cheap rent and being close enough to take the midnight bus home from my part-time job near Piccadilly.
So fair warning some of my gentrification posts might have a British accent between now and my trip.

4 thoughts on “Planning for the London Gentrification Tour 2006”

  1. I spent 6 months at the corner of Earl’s Court & Old Brompton roads in the 1st half of 2003. I can’t remember seeing much of the poor, working-class people of London there or of any particularly crowded conditions. There are still lots of Kiwis and Aussies there, though, I lived with 5 of them myself in my no-frills (relatively) cheap flat.

    While reading your older comments on Brixton and Shaw I was very surprised to hear that Brixton is gentrified. I never was there personally but I always heard of it as the “bad” neighborhood.

  2. I was living in Earl’s Court in 1993. I did visit in 2004 and saw a difference. I couldn’t find the hole in the wall curry place I loved. And for me it’s ALL about the curry.

  3. Writing from Brixton: The area is a partially gentrified multi-ethnic neighbourhood.

    The “gentrification” is not as advanced as in some previously unfashionable London neighbourhoods, but it is visible and it is particularly unfair when assessed in tandem with the local authority’s (in the US you’d call this “the city’s”) failure to safeguard the area’s special character and the rights and amenities of less moneyed or middle-class residents.

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