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The Sustainability MythEnvironmental Gentrification and the Politics of Justice$
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Melissa Checker

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781479835089

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479835089.001.0001

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“Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap”

“Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap”

Industrial Gentrification and the Geography of Sacrifice and Gain

(p.84) 3 “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap”
The Sustainability Myth

Melissa Checker

NYU Press

This chapter defines the term “industrial gentrification” as the creation of new manufacturing zones that feature ecologically friendly, high-tech, and small-scale businesses designed to attract upwardly mobile, eco-friendly gentrifiers. I begin with an historic look at how zoning regulations created areas of sacrifice and gain. Initially, these regulations insulated wealthy residential zones from noxious facilities while interspersing industrial land uses and affordable housing. In the early 1960s, New York City elites reshuffled these spatial arrangements in ways that favored the growth of the finance, insurance, and real estate sectors and pushed industrial businesses to the city’s perimeters. Gentrification (and displacement) were a key part of this new economic strategy. After the 2008 recession, the Bloomberg administration rebooted the manufacturing economy as part of its larger sustainability agenda. However, like other green amenities, the location of low-tech manufacturing spaces corresponded with upscale redevelopment. This further concentrated heavy manufacturing facilities in non-gentrifying neighborhoods. Moreover, rather than reviving a lost employment sector, new manufacturing offered high-priced items produced by a small number of nonunionized, low-wage workers.

Keywords:   displacement, industrial gentrification, manufacturing zones, Michael Bloomberg, New York City, redevelopment, sustainability, zoning

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