Theses Master's

Preserving Place Identity & Place Attachments: Perceptions on Prioritizing Community Connections Over Urban Redevelopment in Harlem, NY

Coleman, Gabrielle (Gabby)

Once vibrant Black communities are falling victim to the social consequences of city growth from forces like profit-driven urban redevelopment and its consequent invitations of gentrification, displacement, and loss of place attachment. The study argues that preserving place identity is crucial in mitigating the process of cultural displacement and fostering community agency.

Through a neighborhood case study, interviews, and a participatory memory mapping activity, this research demonstrates the forces connected to the existence and loss of place identity through an exploration of place attachments, feelings of connectedness, and a sense of belonging. Interviews with residents and community organizations revealed that place identity has been lost in Black spaces, local businesses, and recreation venues, but remains in streetscapes, parks, housing communities, and cultural establishments. The attributes of place identity loss include displacement, superficial preservation, asset devaluation, and insensitive developments.

Conversely, the affordance of place identity includes community legacy, political agency, and thriving social networks. Positioning place identity as a tool of community agency, this investigation argues the preservation of place identity is a potential method for mitigating the process of cultural displacement and fostering community agency rapid urban change through an analysis of place relationships in Central Harlem, NY.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Urban Planning
Thesis Advisors
Dublin-Boc, Jenna L.
M.S., Columbia University
Published Here
August 2, 2023