I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of chasing the hood. As a youngin’ coming up, it was considered a generally bad thing to grow up and turn a blind eye to the low-income neighborhoods we grew up in. The ideology promoting this anti-sellout mentality is simple: If all of the successful individuals leave an area, the area (and its less successful inhabitants) will forever fail to prosper.
However, while failing neighborhoods are really bad for inhabitants and land values, it conversely makes them great places for outsiders to buy cheap homes. In a city like Portland, crime is rarely enough of a deterrent to keep someone of affluence from jumping on a great deal; in fact, living in an “ethnic” and “diverse” area is all the rage!
Hipsters are always the first to show up, eager to dive into trendy new worlds and awkwardly experience cultures they can then claim expertise on, all while educating and helping the residents. But a hipster here and there is not always a sign that your neighborhood is being gentrified; no, this is a complicated dynamic. So in the interest of simplicity, here’s a list of things you’ll see before “the man” comes for your block.
1) Street Murals
I didn’t even know these things had names, but when a giant permanent mural suddenly appears painted on your intersection, it’s an international symbol that your neighborhood has been selected for gentrification.
2) Bike Lanes
Roads for people that prefer not to burn gasoline, bike lanes connect street murals for all who want to confirm that the neighborhood is “getting better”.
A Starbucks might appear anywhere, but when a “Sexy Coffee” stand appears where Johnny and them used to sell rocks, there’s a good chance the drug of choice in your hood has changed.
4) New Seasons Market / Whole Foods
Nothing – I repeat – NOTHING says gentrification like the sudden appearance of an overpriced chain health food store. In most cases, any affordable grocery stores are closed at approximately the same time.
5) Dog Groomers / Sitters
Yuppies love dogs. They are the perfect excuse to walk around your neighborhood at all hours of the day or night and snoop around for clues of crime and vice. Obviously, these K9 companions deserve the best upkeep daddy’s disposable income can afford.
6) Front Porch Instruments
In addition to walking around being nosy, those committed to saving the “ghettos” love to sit on their porches and play random instruments, including bagpipes, pan flutes and the ever-popular didgeridoo. This effectively scares drug-dealers, prostitutes and other street hustlers from continuing to claim the block as their own.
7) Efficient Homes
I remember going back to my old neighborhood on NE Prescott Street only to find that there was a house – maybe 15 ft wide – between my old home and my old neighbor’s house. How did they build that little house in there? Similarly, hipsters flock to the tiny apartments that are built above the new independent coffee shops.
Hipsters are not about that having kids life… The little buggers can’t be kenneled which makes it hard to live in a 350 sq ft apartment with your best friend.
9) Vintage Shops
Look… People in the hood are trained consumers. We want to pop tags. So when boutiques not called “Goodwill” start popping up with used threads for the cheap, you might understand why “Thrift Shop” was such a commercial success.
Nothing defines the financially practical explorer like a Subaru. The green Forester station wagon with the bike rack signifies that hipster families are arriving, which is similar to the end of Apocalypto when Jaguar Paw saw the pilgrim ships pulling up to shore.