Gentrification and neighborhood change over eight decades: Integrating Census and Zillow building data for Denver from 1940-2016


  • Dylan Connor
  • Kerri Clement
  • Angela Cunningham
  • Myron Gutmann
  • Stefan Leyk


Current research provides conflicting images of low-income neighborhoods as both highly persistent through time but also increasingly at-risk to gentrification. Attempts to understand neighborhood persistence and change are severely limited by the absence of long-term longitudinal neighborhood data. Using Denver as a proof-of-concept, we devise a new approach to study how neighborhood development and change over eight decades. We find that the structure of Denver neighborhoods has, indeed, been highly resilient with respect to neighborhood income, and this persistence is closely linked to the racial stratification of places. We do also, however, show that gentrification is significantly higher today than in the past, and today’s gentrifying neighborhoods differ in their racial and locational characteristics when compared to the changing neighborhoods of the past. We conclude that taking a long-term perspective on neighborhoods may help reconcile conflicting claims regarding the prevalence and nature of changes in cities today.


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