Ugh. Can't you guys just keep quiet about White Center?
I'm the end result of 4 generations of White Center living. My great-grandparents, grandparents, and parents all lived within earshot of Highland Park Grade School, and I still meet some of them for breakfast every week at Young's. Anyway, I don't think the term "gentrification" is an apt concept for "Southwest" Seattle (inside joke). Sure, even the neighbors were self-deprecating about it (Rat City jokes and all), but the neighborhood itself never got to the point of seedy/bad/derelict to bottom out in a way that a term like "gentrify" seems appropriate. It was a white, working middle class place that became more diverse, but it didn't go downhill. While never a glitzy U-Village style "urban village", people like my grandparents never thought about moving away or avoiding doing business there.
However, the gay thing is kind of new, and, oh man, much appreciated. You can't go to McLendon's anymore without seeing major Grindr/Scruff worthy envy. Even at my weekly Young's confab, there is usually a gay group or two intermingled with my grandparent-esque type locals. A few years ago I kind of got a hazy vibe about this demographic shift, but recently it has been really accelerating.
I moved to Capitol Hill to be closer to work, but I'm kind of regretting it. Funny though, I have to correct my dad and uncle when they automatically make White Center jokes when something goes awry ("must be somebody from White Center, haha!") because now it just seems like a lot of artsy, cool, funky people --- old-school Seattle style.
I've never heard of anyone suggesting that a neighborhood has to reach some sort of predetermined nadir before any subsequent upscaling constituted "gentrification". If the old, regardless of its condition or level of socio-economic status, is being bulldozed to make way for the new-and-more-expensive/upscale, that sounds pretty much like gentrification, no matter how you slice it. It's walking and quacking like a duck, so...
Has there been talk of renaming it? Not snarking, just curious. (I'm glad to see it was not racial, it was that George White won a coin flip with Hiram Green.)
From HistoryLink, and their article is fascinating all through, too.
White Center used to have this awesome combo garden/hardware/pet store place that sold parrots. I was heart broken when it closed! Is the big bowling place still there?
We used to go there every week when I was in high school. It's really a great place for fun and food. I feel guilty for driving all the way there to do things now with our wretched traffic and the climate problems. So wish we could have a decent regional subway system!
14 year (het, married) resident of White Center. Had a blast at the Pride event I went to. Got waaaaay too drunk! The neighborhood is changing, and if the word gentrification doesn't apply here, it has no meaning in this world.
Some of my favorite ways to track gentrification... dog types... used to be (almost) all rottys, pit bulls and chihuahuas with a smattering of herders. The rottys are pretty much gone. The pit bulls and chihuahuas are in steep decline. The wiesla crowd hasn't quite gotten here yet, but the lab mix and French bulldog people are taking over.
Fences... chain link was the standard. Continuously replaced by tall solid wood that says... I'm white and I don't want to interact with you.
And bars... most of the 6am to 2am places are gone. The bars you used to find in West Seattle are moving in.
The gay couples themselves are gentrifying! Used to be mostly older lesbian couples with children looking for a place they could afford and not be bothered. Now, the party boys are moving in.
Oh, and the fireworks around the 4th. It's still the craziest thing you've seen, but nothing like it was when the working class dominated the neighborhood, and it used to stretch for a week plus. Back in the day, I remember a friend saying... the entire GDP of White Center was exploded here tonight. He might not have been far off.
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