Gentrification and the Growth and Decline of LGBT Space in New York City

  • Ronan Vivian-Byrne

Student thesis: Master's ThesisMaster of Philosophy (MPhil)


The association between LGBT communities and gentrification has long been noted in academic literature. This study shows that the LGBT community had a significant role in the gentrification of neighbourhoods in New York City, particularly Greenwich Village, the East Village and Park Slope. It shows that, while bearing similarities, this community’s role was substantively different from that of other demographics elsewhere in the same period. It shows that, rather than simply gay males being the critical actors, lesbian and transgender people were important, pointing to the heterogeneity of the community in this period. The development of communities in these neighbourhoods resulted in the expansion of political influence, and the cultural and social life of the wider community during the gay liberation movement and AIDS crisis. Neighbourhoods in which these communities developed experienced changes as a direct result. Efforts of LGBT people to make areas safer for themselves, as well as cleaner and more attractive, resulted in rising property values as a consequence. As gentrification accelerated in these neighbourhoods, it has increasingly been to the detriment of the same LGBT people that contributed to its early growth. This study analyses the significance of this development for the community and the identities founded and strengthened in these neighbourhoods. Thus, it states the importance of ensuring that the debate over the consequences of gentrification considers the significance of specific places for historically disempowered groups. It argues that with these communities, it is essential to consider more than just direct spatial displacement on the part of residents. Indeed, it is necessary to examine the broader consequences. Gentrification does not just threaten individuals in specific places, but entire communities for whom these neighbourhoods are repositories of symbolic meaning and collective memories.
Date of Award19 Mar 2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bristol
SupervisorTim Cole (Supervisor) & Robert Julio Decker (Supervisor)

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