Put A Bird On It

Portland is the most gentrified city of the century

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New data compiled by Governing Magazine shows Portland, Ore. has experienced more gentrification than any other city in America over the past 13 years.

The Governing team, led by data editor Michael Maciag, compared eligible Census tracts in America’s 50 largest cities between 2000 and 2013. The main eligibility criteria was whether, in 2000, its median household income and median home value were both in the bottom 40th percentile of all tracts within a metro area. The tract was considered gentrified if by 2013 both measures fell in the top third percentile when compared to all other tracts in a metro area.

They found that 58 percent of Portland’s lower-priced neighborhoods had gentrified since 2000.


“An initial wave started back in the early 1990s, and young professionals continue to flock to the city today,” Maciag writes, quoting a local urban studies expert that the city was at the forefront of the return to urban living.

The results also jibe with a report from United Van Lines, America’s largest mover, that Oregon was seeing the highest rate of inbound moves — and, thus, money — in the country.

Washington, DC came in second at 52 percent.

Gentrification remains controversial, as some analysts and commentators believe it is a zero-sum proposition that forces out residents with less financial wherewithal. Maciag writes that the city now “contends with significant pressures in maintaining housing affordability and neighborhood diversity.” Linda Bates, director of Urban Studies at Portland State University, says there is now chatter about the city becoming “a playground for wealthy people.”

But others, like Pete Saunders, a writer and urban planner based in Peoria, Ill., believe some gentrification in some situations can be good.

“Nationally, the gentrification debate is defined by the experiences [cities] like New York, San Francisco and Boston,” he recently wrote. “There, the issues are rapidly growing unaffordability, concerns with displacement and growing inequality. But the gentrification debate is quite different in … cities like Philadelphia and Atlanta, where seeking ways to more equitably spread the positive benefits of revitalization might lead such discussions.”

Here is the full list for cities that have seen the most gentrification.


Among specific neighborhoods within major metro areas, the former Jeweler’s District in downtown Los Angeles saw the greatest jump in home prices, with the median value there surging 1,365 percent to $476,100 from $32,496 in 2000. Downtown was next, with the median home value increasing 579 percent to $329,500 from $48,250.

And among bachelor’s degree holders, Washington DC’s Capitol Hill neighborhood saw the most growth during the period, with its rate increasing 52 percentage points. Philadelphia’s Center City neighborhood was next, with a 47-percentage-point jump from 2000 to 2013.

Williamsburg in Brooklyn saw home values climb 470 percent, and its bachelor’s degree penetration rate increased 20.7 points.


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