Urban redevelopment, housing loss and class segregation: a case study of gentrification in Seattle
This dissertation examines changing patterns of spatial stratification by social class in downtown Seattle, Washington from 1960 through 1990, focusing on the loss of low-cost housing and displacement of low-income residents. During this period, the social and class composition of downtown Seattle underwent a significant transformation: the in-migration of middle and upper-income households occurred simultaneous to the dramatic loss of low-cost housing and a decline in the numbers of poor and working class residents. I examine the process of downtown redevelopment through two case studies utilizing critical theory and elite theory. I analyze how the relationship between elite interests, local government, and community life---especially the downtown low-income community---unfolds in the context of urban redevelopment in Seattle in a particular period of time. Utilizing interviews with local informants, Census data, city government archives, and other primary sources, I explore the processes and impacts of urban revitalization in Seattle, and the link between local elites, public policy decisions, and the displacement of low-income urban groups. I argue that changes in the housing market and the residential composition of downtown neighborhoods were not the result of neutral "market forces." Instead, they usually occurred due to public and private efforts to promote a particular form of downtown redevelopment that served elite interests at the expense of the poor. Despite the promise of urban revitalization and the stated desire of city leaders to incorporate a mix of social classes into a refashioned international city, in reality the profit-making interests and class biases of local elites thwarted this vision.