Last week I read with some perverse delight a paragraph in the Post:
Then, in 1950, Congress passed the Old Georgetown Act “to preserve and protect places of historic interest,” but it had the effect of making Georgetown’s gentrification legally enforceable. It was pushed through despite fears from “Negro groups,” The Washington Post reported at the time, that it “might drive them from the area.” Less than a decade later, Georgetown’s black population had dwindled to fewer than 3 percent, and in 1972 The Post noted that fewer than 250 remained, “so few that some Georgetown residents are unaware they are there.”
–From Georgetown’s Hidden History, Washington Post 7/16/06 B01
As some of you may know I am a bit distrustful of some historic preservation efforts, and I’ve said that HP does hurt poor people. Yet Georgetown is a place that did need historic preservation because of it’s old housing stock, notable residents, unique history, etc. At the time, I gather “black = poor” or not financially able to deal with the new demands the Old Georgetown Act HP placed on the African American community in G’town.
Later in the Post there was “For Whites in Prince George’s, a Mirror on Race County’s Black Affluence Reverses Roles“. Interesting but not really the same thing. If I wanted to throw the “historic” element into PG County then I’m looking at those white pockets of the county like “Old Town” College Park and “Historic” Riverdale and “Historic” Hyattsville, and maybe “Historic” Greenbelt. I’m not sure about Greenbelt because I haven’t been in that area in the day, when people are just mulling about. There are other pockets, but for the most part when I’m in PG County, it is the land of the Black middle class. As the article says, when whites move into parts of PG, that gentrification thing doesn’t occur. The home prices in some spots are already up there, so if they get pushed up any further then that’s just icing on the cake.
So that has me concluding that it is economics and not race that plays more of a role in gentrification. Maybe Historic Preservation may play a part. I’d need to check the census and figure out where all the “Historic” towns with HP rules are and play with the two. But that’s PG and I’d rather focus in on the city.