The Center for Disease Control (CDC) defines gentrification as the transformation of neighborhoods from low value to high value. This process can lead to displacement of long-time residents and businesses due to rising rents, mortgages, and property taxes.
In 2017, Realtor magazine rated Charleston the "fastest-gentrifying" city in the US. The north end of the peninsula, which was once home to many black neighborhoods and communities, has become ‘gentrification central’. Though the root causes of gentrification remain a complex issue, the main drivers in Charleston include the city's growing tourism industry, increasing demand for housing in desirable areas, and a lack of affordable housing options. As a result of these factors, many long-time residents, particularly those from low-income and minority communities, have been pushed out of their neighborhoods as property values and living costs have risen. Since the 1990s, the demographic makeup of the area has shifted from roughly two-thirds Black to two-thirds White, resulting in a 55% decrease in the Black population. This evidence is bolstered by a 2020 Stanford study, which found that minority communities are disproportionately affected by the negative effects of gentrification compared to their white counterparts.
Overall, while the city of Charleston is experiencing economic growth and prosperity, it is important to consider the impact of gentrification on the residents and communities who have been there for a long time. The loss of historical and cultural sites that are significant to the city's African American community, as well as the displacement of residents from these communities, has resulted in a loss of community identity, as well as cultural heritage, which is part of the city's history. Efforts to address this issue must include the creation of affordable housing options, preservation of historical and cultural sites, and the protection of the rights of long-time residents.
Locations selected encompass the upper peninsula (gentrification central). The 24” x 24” reflective aluminum signs are mounted alongside current traffic signage in prominent locations to maximize visibility. County traffic counts suggest more than 140,000 commuters will be exposed daily.
I-26 E / Rutledge Ave.
I-26 E / Morrison Dr. – E. Bay St.
I-26 E / Meeting St. – Downtown
I-26 W / Romney St.
17 S (Septima Clark Pkwy) / King St.
17 S (Ravenel Bridge) / Morrison Dr.
17 N (Septima Clark Pkwy) / Line St.
Cannon St. / President St.
Signs of the Times
Morrison st / e. Bay st.
““…the city began spending on different things, turning away from social programs that help the poor and toward ones that help the rich—namely, subsidizing redevelopment.”"
Septima p. Clark pky.
& morrison dr.
“Gentrification is often presented as a sort of corrective to the suburbs: instead of white flight and unsustainable cookie-cutter planning, we get dense, urban, and diverse cityscapes. But gentrification is simply a new form of the same process that created the suburbs; it's the same age-old, racist process of subsidizing and privileging the lives and preferred locales of the wealthy and white over those of poor people of color..”
Septima p. Clark pkwy.
(us 17N) & line St.
“To fight gentrification is to fight American thinking.”
Septima p. Clark pky.
& king st.
“When we think of gentrification as some mysterious process, we accept its consequences: the displacement of countless thousands of families, the destruction of cultures, the decreased affordability of life for everyone.”
Cannon St. & Ashley Ave.
“Gentrification, at its deepest level, is really about reorienting the purpose of cities away from being spaces that provide for the poor and middle classes and toward being spaces that generate capital for the rich.”
I-26w & romney st.
"Gentrification is simply a new form of the same process that created the suburbs; it's the same age-old, racist process of subsidizing and privileging the lives and preferred locales of the wealthy and white over those of poor people of color. The seesaw has just tipped in the other direction. Gentrification is not integration but a new form of segregation. The borders around the ghettos have simply been rebuilt.”
Meeting st / downtown
““Gentrification brings money, new people, and renovated real estate to cities, but it also kills them. It takes away the affordability and diversity that are required for unique and challenging culture. It sanitizes.”
“This is what gentrifiers and gentrification boosters often fail to grasp about gentrification: it's not that most poor people or people of color hate the idea of anyone moving to the city, but that gentrification almost always takes place on top of someone else's loss. Gentrifiers see cities through fresh eyes, unencumbered by mental maps that might suggest something more nefarious than revitalization had happened before their arrival.”