Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





John E. Seley

Committee Members

David Chapin

Cindi Katz

Zvia Naphtali

Susan Saegert

Subject Categories



This dissertation adopts a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) approach to map gentrification. It explores the combination of GIS and publicly available data as a new research tool to investigate gentrification at the Census Tract level within three New York City neighborhoods (Park Slope, Williamsburg and the Lower East Side). Results are compared to contemporary gentrification studies to argue the advantages of utilizing this methodology.

Since the term “gentrification” was coined (Glass, 1964), scholars with different research methods have produced a considerable body of literature. However, debates on causes and effects persist. While disciplinary differences could be the reasons for disagreement, another explanation is the various study geographical scales that can range from a single property to an entire city. This dissertation argues neighborhoods are the suitable spatial scale to study gentrification. Three neighborhoods are defined with selected Census Tracts. Rather than aggregating these selected Census Tracts into a single neighborhood, the gentrification maps were created by connecting socio-economic status indicators from Census Surveys to each Census Tract. This approach demonstrates the different degrees of gentrification within these three neighborhoods. Data from 1980, 1990, 2000 and 2010 Census Surveys are used for cross-sectional and longitudinal comparisons. The advantages of this design are: first, the cross-sectional maps demonstrate the different degrees of gentrification within the neighborhoods at a given time. Second, the longitudinal maps show where gentrification moved and expanded through time. Third, as the surrounding Census Tracts outside the defined neighborhoods are also mapped, the “spillover effect” is also examined. Fourth, the clearly defined geographical boundaries of neighborhoods ensure exact comparisons with other researchers and future studies. These gentrification maps revealed that the gentrification of these neighborhoods has been spatially uneven. Certain areas were gentrified first and subsequent gentrification anchored these initial sections. Further, gentrification did not spread equally or endlessly. There were several factors that either facilitated or impeded the expansion of gentrification, and these factors usually worked in tandem with each other. In summary, the gentrification maps in this study provided an enhanced understanding of the spatial-temporal patterns of gentrification in these three neighborhoods.


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