Friday, August 27, 2010

A walk around the neighborhood

Despite the fact that I look forward to having a little yard some day, I love living in the city. On walks around the neighborhood, I always find charming little scenes like this one…



The house isn't perfect by any means. No HOA is telling these people to take down those Christmas lights. Some critter took a few bites out of a corner of the bottom step. The threashhold of the door looks a little gnarly.

But

I love this cute house.

Of course, in a gentrifying neighborhood, there's a mishmash of homes. Some haven't changed hands in decades and are meticulously maintained by proud, older couples. Some have fallen into disrepair. Some are rentals. Some are just waiting for someone to coax them back into shape.

Every time I shake my head while walking by this house, where the backyard is a gathering spot for all sorts of random people who don't want to be observed:



I have to remember my favorite house...the one with the purple door and the sleepy cat always napping on the porch.

Gentrification is a touchy subject. I honestly didn't know I was part of it when I was moving here. I just saw some pretty buildings while driving down Main Street when I visited for my job interview here and googled to figure out if they were rentals (at the time they were. I bought my unit during a condo conversion). There are times when I love the neighborhood that surrounds my little condo community. There are times when I get frustrated by it (like when a teenager told me this was HIS neighborhood, not mine or when someone told me about catching some kids trying to steal a bike).

Is anyone else living with gentrification? How have your experiences been?
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7 comments:

  1. Where I grew up gentrification is big. We lived in the really expensive part of town up until just before I sold the house 6 yrs ago most people couldn't afford the houses that went up for sale (They have to break the houses up into condos in order for wealthier people to afford them, I don't know one person that could afford to buy these houses and keep them intact i.e. not break them into condos, even the real estate investor who bought our house broke it into condos and sold each one off). gentrification was happening there for many years, if you weren't originally from there you were called the slang term Barney. My mother grew up 10 minutes from where I grew up she was born and raised in Charlestown, if you were not born and raised there and instead moved into the area (these houses sold for close to 1 Million so the average person couldn't afford to buy there just as the average person couldn't afford to buy where I grew up. Houses also went from generation to generation). So if you moved into the area you were called a Toonie and can never be allowed to call yourself a townie, if you had immediate family who were born and raised there you could be called a townie by association.

    I loved growing up where I did it wasn't until the "Barneys" started moving in that the neighborhood changed not in a good or bad way just different, you lost neighbors that you spent your whole life knowing, sitting on each others front porches in the warm weather after dinner or having bbq's together to getting new neighbors who kept to themselves and only said hello or smiled in passing. You went from knowing your neighbors and helping each other out at any time to living with strangers around you. I was fortunate to still have the neighbors I grew up with on either side of my house still there when I sold the house and I still keep in touch with them. But it was different when the neighbors who lived behind us moved my sister and I no longer felt comfortable laying out in the backyard in our bikinis when the "new" neighbors moved in, because the "old" neighbors where there since before we were born we considered them family and never felt strange around them.

    I still miss living in the city I will always be a city girl at heart but part of what I miss is the "family" of my old neighbors.

    The first development I moved to after selling my childhood home... The houses were nice, had a lot of land but the people themselves were stuck up, cold and had no interest in the comradery of what I was used to. The development I'm in now, the houses are closer together (like where I grew up) and the neighbors have a similar comradery, it's nice knowing you can feel like some of your neighbors are family again.

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  2. Our street downtown is mixed. Some of the houses are modest ranches, while are others (including ours) are new in-fill construction that's larger. It's a bit funky, but I like it.

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  3. I've lived in several "works in progress" neighborhoods. I always loved them, and found myself getting along with the old-timers (both young and old). Generally you have much more interesting neighbors. More outgoing. And a stronger sense of community, with everyone watching each others' backs. At least that's what I found.

    I had NO idea Charlottesville had 'hoods with boarded up homes downtown.

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  4. I have mixed feelings about gentrification. My own neighborhood (Belmont) has been undergoing gentrification for years and my husband and I became an unwitting part of it because we simply wanted a house in the city that was large enough for our four children and Belmont was the only neighborhood that could supply that. I like the diversity and I don't even get all that bothered by the prostitutes and drunks who still frequent Belmont park. I do have strong objections to people dealing drugs out of their cars--the police seem to think that residents are being unreasonable for calling them about this. I have also had some bad frights when random people have walked up to my front door at night and stood peering in the window. We've lived here ten years now and I would never consider moving to the suburbs.

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  5. you've seen our hood - it's such a mish mash, a little gentrification effect, a little things get 'different' further away from the water effect. . . but I honestly love the character it brings. I feel like we aren't so cookie cutter suburban because our HOA cares about taking care of the communal waterfront and not the giant Bob's Big Boy in the yard of the guy with the classic cars. While some of our houses were obviously developed in stretches, the whole neighborhood isn't so "themed." I like feeling like it's still a little beach town. Now, I feel like walking to Rita's for some custard. . .

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  6. Oh dear, pandora's box. We mostly love it, (those photos could be from Kirkwood, where I live!) Our street is dead end, and only has two houses, or three, where really nasty people live. For the most part, since this is Atlanta, we are all used to living next to each other. I find stray shoes in my yard, and people come to the door, someone got carjacked at gun point across the street, in the middle of the day (but come on, who stops the car with two masked men standing on the curb? I ask you?) Mostly great, but when the hubs is out of town? I worry. In Atlanta we don't have much choice if you cant spend over 400 for a 3 bedroom home, then you live in the burbs, NO WAY, or in a hood like mine.

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  7. to ironic to have found your blog tonight while my husband is in C'ville right now! Keep posting girlfriend.

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