Reaction Paper 2: Highland “Hipster” Gentrification

Once flooded with Hispanic culture and liveliness, Highland Park has slowly become a more contemporary neighborhood with a more progressive group moving in. To be more precise, hipsters. Since 2008 there has been a shift in who is coming in and who is leaving Highland Park. The financial crisis that hit the area allowed for many smaller businesses to opening. In other words, the crisis opened up the gates for hipster mania, usually of the middle to upper class sort. Many interviews done within the area have brought up the appearance of many new white neighbors and rent spikes that don’t allow for families that have a full time job to keep their homes. These new shops that are opening up are raising their prices that aren’t allowing for the Latino families to keep up with. They are allowed to do this by adding slogans to their food like “Organic, Raw, Natural” This is causing an influx of more upper-middle class into the business district of Highland Park and an exodus of Latino families. Just like our readings from “Driven From New Orleans”, there is a push for wealthier residents to come into the neighborhoods while there is a push out against the lower class residents. Begging the question, “where do we go?”

In New Orleans, we saw the new affordable housing homes not being affordable because the money they put into the new homes raised the prices of the newly built homes. Unlike Dudley Street, where people got to be involved with the designs of the new homes, both New Orleans and highland Park are being forced out by high rent and new homes. In the case of Highland Park, however, its not a complete tear down of homes but a more gradual increase of rent driving people out. The property owners know that there is a spike in small businesses like Berry Bowl that have $10 juices, to help them increase the rent. They understand there is a change within the city that is happening very slowly and discreetly amongst the business owners and property owners.

Journalists have tabbed Highland Park the new “Ground Zero” for gentrification in the United States. There have been white people blaming Hispanic people for institutional racism because they own stores. You can see the irony in that. There has also been an explosion in the music industry within the neighborhood. More and more music stores and bands are being created everyday. Some was quoted, “When I moved in 2001, there was nothing around here. Now there’s all these record stores, eateries and bars. My bands were always other places” As more money floods into the city, the more talent comes flowing in. Highland has become a music hub for neighboring cities as well.

There are many different opinions on whether or not the gentrification of Highland is a good or bad thing. Yes gentrification seems inherently a bad thing and as I write this I feel guilty for saying this but it is bringing money in the city. I now feel like Satan himself after I wrote that. I think if you can do it with respect to the people who already live in the neighborhood of Highland, everyone can benefit. Are $9 juice shops going to help my comment? Is gentrification going to happen regardless? Yes. Trying to see the light in a dark situation is hard.

Works Cited:


Bogado, Aura. “Dispatch from Highland Park: Gentrification, Displacement and the Disappearance of Latino Businesses.” Colorlines. N.p., 20 Jan. 2015. Web. 18 Oct. 2015.

Lin, Jan. “Northeast Los Angeles Gentrification in Comparative and Historical Context.” KCET. N.p., 4 June 2015. Web. 18 Oct. 2015.

Liu, Kevin. “The Occidental Weekly.” : Berry Bowl, Occidental Complicit in Gentrification. N.p., 22 Sept. 2015. Web. 18 Oct. 2015.

Roberts, Randall. “LA’s Highland Park a Hub of Young Artists, Labels and Vinyl Stores.” South China Morning Post. N.p., 19 Oct. 2015. Web. 19 Oct. 2015.




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