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'Gentefication' vs. gentrification in Boyle Heights, Long Beach and other SoCal hip spots

Brooklyn Ave. in Boyle Heights
Brooklyn Ave. in Boyle Heights
Paul Narvaez/Flickr

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The city of Boyle Heights, a working class Latino neighborhood east of Downtown, was recently profiled in The New York Times. The paper looked at the neighborhood’s twist on gentrification.

The people changing Boyle Heights are neither white nor middle-class, but are young, hip Latinos who have moved back into the area, the very place their parents had left years ago, to open up record shops and bookstores—often times the first signs that it is the beginning of the end.

They are called “Chipsters” — short for Chicano hipsters — and what they are doing has been called “gentefication" — gente means "people" in Spanish. However, the shared cultural and ethnic background hasn't made local residents and this spate of newcomers get along any better.

This phenomenon isn’t just happening in Boyle Heights, but also in places like Santa Ana, Silver Lake, Long Beach, Echo Park — cities that have always had a large Latino presence.

Is there a difference between gentefication and gentrification? Have you returned to a neighborhood you grew up in? If so, why?

Sarah Mawhorter, Ph.D student at the USC Price School of Public Policy; her research focus is on the gentrification patterns of Echo Park and Highland Park.