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In this essay, the definition of gentrification and how it evolved over time will be discussed as well as where it originated from. Additionally, case studies will be provided to discuss the status of gentrification in Toronto. Gentrification nowadays is a very important topic to discuss. It affects everyone not only low-income people but also middle-class people. Investments are done in poor neighborhood areas forcing poor people to be displaced while the middle class and rich people will move to the gentrified areas. As a result of this, low-income people will be affected by this change and have no place to stay. On the other hand, Middle class and rich-class citizens will benefit from this change.

Over the past several decades, many cities experienced population, as well as socioeconomic declines, and underwent a reversal. Studies have shown that this phenomenon is known as gentrification. What is gentrification? Gentrification is the movement of middle- and upper-class residents into and renewal of neighborhoods that have been impacted as a result of disinvestment and decline. It also is the process of residential selection where the government and households make decisions to invest in the neighborhood. Important factors that can be used in residential selection can be as availability of services nearby, school quality, crime rate, and ethnicity. Hackworth and Smith have contributed a lot to gentrification studies and understanding more about it. It was concluded in their studies that gentrification can’t be reduced to the neighborhood level, it resulted from the historical transformation. The word gentrification evolved over time by different people. For instance, Neil Smith first described it as a global strategy. As explained earlier in the paper, the word gentrification is the local process related to neighborhood social class and the transformation of market property such as investments. Now it is seen as a global fact in that it is geographically all-over according to Atkinson and Bridge. Gentrification is also found at every level of the world’s urban hierarchy (bridge et al). In addition to this, it is also related to transcultural identity (Danyluk and Ley). The word Gentrification came to light by the British-German sociologist Ruth Glass. In his famous passage, he first described the term gentrification as following the takeover of working-class cottages and houses by the middle-class ones in London.


This example talks about a remarkable gentrification case in Toronto, South Parkdale. South Parkdale was known as one of Toronto’s commuter suburbs and had different facilities nearby such as railway and streetcars. South Parkdale was known as the village by the lake, as it had an outstanding view of the lake as well as terraces. Most of the mansions were occupied by upper-middle-class citizens. All of this drastically changed within a glimpse in the 1950s, as the investors focused more on the suburban expansion in Toronto, it then became a very important site. Not only this but also, between 1955 and 1964, South Parkdale was undergoing a major construction of the Gardiner expressway. By 1959, the expressway separated the residential areas from the lakeshore blocking the views. Not only this but also, the bulldozing of the Sunnyside Amusement Park where 170 houses were destroyed, and the streets were cleared. The city has decided to build high-rise apartments hoping that the residents will stay after they have been impacted by the expressway. It turned out to be the other way around; the majority of the middle classes abandoned the neighborhood. Furthermore, in 1979 the provincial Psychiatric Hospital was shut down and thousands of patients were discharged in south Parkdale in the early 1980s. This led many low-income individuals to move into the neighborhood. The middle-class residents of South Parkdale had no choice but to leave South Parkdale and move into a different neighborhood. Housing was not enough to satisfy the needs of the discharged patients from the hospital and it was estimated that around 1,200 patients lived in South Park Dale. This led to overpopulation in the neighborhood. South Parkdale was home to a very large number of deinstitutionalized patients discharged from the hospital which led to according to the media, a little ghetto of misery. All of this changed in the 1990s when middle-class people decided to enter low-income areas for gentrification as it was found to be a very cheap neighborhood. The westward movement of gentrification throughout the 1990s towards South Parkdale was detected in the growth of artists’ studios, galleries, cafes, shopping malls, and live/workspaces which in return attracted middle-class people to the area.

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The second example of gentrification in Toronto would be the Greek town on Danforth. In the present moment, this neighborhood has different ethnicities such as Japanese, Italian, and Cuban commercial restaurants and the Greek population is no longer dominant. Greektown has indeed experienced gentrification over the past 15-20 years which changed the neighborhood significantly in terms of people, businesses, and houses. Greektown was previously named Danforth. A planning firm was hired to redesign the area with a Mediterranean style. The main goal was to attract tourists and new residents and remains until now a very authentic place for Greek festivals. Back in 1884, Greektown started as an undeveloped reception area for many immigrant groups coming to Toronto. It was separated from the city of Toronto by the Don Valley, later in 1918, the Prince Edward Viaduct opened to connect Danforth to the rest of the city. Many residents began to move to areas such as North York, Mississauga, and Scarborough after the mid-1970s. Local business officials decided to change the name of the existing BIA in 1993 which was Danforth to Greektown on the Danforth to attract tourists and residents in the area. Andonis Artemakis the chairperson for the BIA, decided to host two parades every August called Taste of the Danforth as well as provide trolley service to and from hotels in the neighborhood. The number of corporate chains such as Tim Hortons, Starbucks, and Second Cup that moved into the neighborhood. The area has experienced an increase in bars, offices, and stores. This shows how the neighborhood has changed over the past 20 years it originally started as an immigrant reception area with a dominant group of Greeks and as the BIA chairperson gentrified the neighborhood by changing the name to Greek on Danforth, hosting parades more often, opening more bars, café such as Tim Hortons has indeed attracted middle-class people to the area.

For the BIA paragraph, due to the state of emergency in Ontario, I have not been able to complete this portion of the paper.


To conclude, gentrification is a very serious topic that needs to be taken into consideration in our society for different reasons such as affecting low-income class people, ethnicity, and the history of the area. How is that done? Low-income people will get displaced from the gentrified neighborhood affecting their livelihoods and getting poor with no place to live in while middle-class people will move into the gentrified area. In addition to this, as discussed in the second case people with different ethnic backgrounds moved into the area which disrupted the cultural history of Greektown on Danforth.

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