The relocation of the poor to the suburbs not only increases the portion devoted to transportation on their small incomes but, unlike the urban poor of the second half of the 20th century, they are also doomed to live in neighborhoods whose ruins have no charm, whose decay is just ugly, whose decline will never inspire nostalgic feelings. There is nothing more miserable than an abandoned mall, nothing more frightful than a crumbling McMansion. Sarah Kendzior in Al Jazeera:
Gentrifiers focus on aesthetics, not people. Because people, to them, are aesthetics.Because thriving suburbs are already ugly, there will be no beauty in their form of decay.
Proponents of gentrification will vouch for its benevolence by noting it "cleaned up the neighbourhood". This is often code for a literal white-washing. The problems that existed in the neighbourhood - poverty, lack of opportunity, struggling populations denied city services - did not go away. They were simply priced out to a new location.
That new location is often an impoverished suburb, which lacks the glamour to make it the object of future renewal efforts. There is no history to attract preservationists because there is nothing in poor suburbs viewed as worth preserving, including the futures of the people forced to live in them. This is blight without beauty, ruin without romance: payday loan stores, dollar stores, unassuming homes and unpaid bills. In the suburbs, poverty looks banal and is overlooked.
In cities, gentrifiers have the political clout - and accompanying racial privilege - to reallocate resources and repair infrastructure. The neighbourhood is "cleaned up" through the removal of its residents. Gentrifiers can then bask in "urban life" - the storied history, the selective nostalgia, the carefully sprinkled grit - while avoiding responsibility to those they displaced.
Hipsters want rubble with guarantee of renewal. They want to move into a memory they have already made.
The urban form of decay will always be much more aesthetically moving than that of even the most New Urbanist suburb. The way to distinguish the two forms of ruins can be borrowed from the way Lord Kames distinguishes Gothic and Grecian ruins in his Elements of Criticism:
Whether should a ruin be in the Gothic or Grecian form? In the former, I think; because it exhibits the triumph of time over strength; a melancholy but not unpleasant thought: A Grecian ruin suggests rather the triumph of barbarity over taste; a gloomy and discouraging thought.