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GENTRIFICATION AND GROWTH MANAGEMENT IN SEATTLE, 1990-2000. Richard Morrill Geography University of Washington January, 2003. Richard Morrill Geography, University of Washington Introduction
University of Washington
Geography, University of Washington
My purpose is to use a set of maps of demographic change to depict gentrification and displacement within the city of Seattle, 1990-2000
The city experienced moderate population and job growth. Expansion of the information and technology sectors fueled city growth.
Seattle changed from a relatively egalitarian city in 1970 to one of startling income inequality.GENTRIFICATION AND GROWTH MANAGEMENT IN SEATTLE, 1990-2000
Growth Management constrained growth on the fringe, enabling the city of Seattle to intensify and densify both jobs and housing.
Even though much of the displacement of the poor was to southern suburbs in King county, only the city of Seattle will be studied.
Seattle is one jurisdiction and fully built, so the effect of redevelopment can be easily seen.
Seattle versus the suburbs
For perspective here is a little information on how gentrification in Seattle has displaced the less successful to the suburbs.
Change in minority share
Seattle Suburban King 5.3% 12.1%
Change in share 25-64
5.8% -.1 %
Change in med house value
88% 66 %
Change in husb-wife families
Change in college grad share
9.3 % 5.0%
Change in prof. occup share
Change in share of poor
-.6 %` 1.2%
Greater increase in share of minorities in the suburbs
Greater increase in share of workers 25-64 in the city
Greater decline of husband-wife families in the suburbs
Greater increase of median house value and rents in the city
Astoundingly high shares of college educated (47%) and of professional occupations (48%) in the city.
Reduced share of the poor in the city, increased in the suburbs.
Almost all the growth in the city occurred in high density apartments and condominiums, mostly in and around downtown, where the population more than doubled.
Race is part of the gentrification story. In the far north and far south of the city, the share of whites fell moderately, and were replaced by Asians, but in the area of displacement east of downtown, white numbers grew dramatically.
Change in the Black population is a major component of gentrification. The large area of decline east and southeast of downtown is the core of the historic Black community. Aggressive white reentry and reinvestment displaced several thousand Black persons. Even public housing projects are affected, as they are rebuilt with a share of ‘market’ homes.
Seattle is unusually attractive to young adults and fairly unattractive to families with children.
Numbers of children under 10 are declining over most of the city, from already extremely low levels and even affects minority areas, where many families have been displaced to the south.
Change in young adults, 25-34, is totally different, and very high, despite already high numbers. They are the main constituent of growth downtown, on Capitol Hill, on Queen Anne and in areas west of the University of Washington. Many work in the engineering, information and technology firms expanding in the area.
The older population, over 65, declined in much of the city, often displaced by the more aggressive gentrifying 25-34 year old group
Seattle is not a family city, and shares and numbers fell in much of the city. Small gains did occur in areas of Asian immigration in the far south, and in the downtown core, over 90% in the form of husband-wife couples without children, both young and empty-nesters.
Non-family households with 2 or more persons, which in Seattle are about 2/3 opposite sex and 1/3 same sex grew very rapidly over most of the city, but especially in and around downtown, in the Fremont, Ballard and Greenlake areas, where they often displaced aging families. These are the dominant agents of gentrification.
Although most housing expansion in Seattle has been in the form of apartments, ownership shares increased slightly because of condominium construction and conversion. The map of ownership change highlights its role in the reinvestment and gentrification of the core.
The areas dominated by small apartment structures (under 10 units) very much corresponds with the areas of gentrification. However, in downtown Seattle, new housing was mainly in the form of large, high-rise apartment structures.
Change in housing values may be the single best indicator of gentrification, especially areas with over a 100% appreciation. This map is quite different from one of the current values, as change in most affluent areas was modest. Four areas of gentrification include Capitol Hill (east of downtown), Beacon Hill-Rainier Valley to the SE
Change in median rents show a more concentrated downtown pattern of highest rent change, often from new construction of much higher quality.
Change in shares with college degrees is another good indicator of gentrification. Higher shares prevail in most areas of gentrification, far to the west of the UW, and in West Seattle and the southeast from low to moderate levels, and in Greenlake and Queen Anne from already high levels.
Areas with the greatest increase in shares of professional occupations almost perfectly correspond with areas of gentrification: downtown, on Capitol Hill, southeast along Lake Washington, in West Seattle, and in Fremont and Greenlake.
Change in Median household Income
No surprise here! Areas of greater gain in income are the gentrifying areas in and around downtown, west of the UW and southeast along Lake Washington, while already affluent, less professional parts of the city had little change.
Change in the percent poor is a good indicator of the displacement effect of gentrification, evident mainly downtown and in areas of minority displacement to the east and southeast. Poverty rates increased in areas of recent Asian immigration in the far north and far south of the city.
The geographic pattern of migrants, those from beyond King county is highly concentrated, and a telling indicator of WHO is doing the gentrifying: not locals, but young people from other counties, states and countries, attending the university and filling hi-tech and professional jobs in the gentrifying areas.
The maps of change in Seattle persons working in the city or in the suburbs reveals an intriguing division: higher shares staying in the city occur in gentrifying areas west of the university, as the workforce shifts toward the professions.
Hill and high tech areas
around Lake Union, higher
numbers like to live in the
urbane core, while working
in the suburbs (Microsoft, et al), leading to a broad equivalence in the rush hour east and westbound commutes.
Gentrification is real
Population, income, housing, jobs, education and race
Agents of gentrification
Geography of gentrification
Reinvestment and displacement
Why did this occur?
High tech information economy
Natural environment and recreation
Social environment and tolerance
Revitalization of downtown
The Planning context
The New urbanist ideal
Market and planning in sync