Trend Watch

"Happily Gentrifying" Denver Cafe Faces Rebuke

Lookups for 'gentrification' rose 2500%

Gentrification and gentrify both spiked on November 27th, 2017, after media coverage (and widespread protest) of a Denver coffee shop which employed the word in a manner which many felt occupied the fine middle ground between crass and insensitive.

The sign outside Ink Coffee was supposed to be a joke: “Happily gentrifying the neighborhood since 2014,” read the sidewalk board, displayed in a rapidly changing part of Denver once full of black and Latino families. The joke did not last long.
— Julie Turkewitz, The New York Times, 27 Nov. 2017

We define gentrification as “the process of renewal and rebuilding accompanying the influx of middle-class or affluent people into deteriorating areas that often displaces poorer residents,” and gentrify (in a transitive sense) as “to attempt or accomplish the gentrification of.” The former is the older word, apparently having been coined in 1964 by sociologist Ruth Glass. Gentrify began to see regular use in the early 1970s.

Once this process of 'gentrification' starts in a district, it goes on rapidly until all or most of the original working class occupiers are displaced, and the whole social character of the district is changed.
— Ruth Glass, London: Aspects of Change, 1964

There are a large number of deteriorating old houses and flats and a large percentage of overcrowding, while there also is an increasing number of ‘gentrified' houses and flats for relatively better-off people who want to have easy access to the core.
— Shinya Hoshino, Comparative Studies on Housing Policies in Three Metropolitan Cities, 1973

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!