Cities often produce whatever the next wave of social change is going to be, and then violently reject it for altering the nature of the city. The tech kids clustering in San Francisco depend on the special virtues of the old San Francisco—contiguity, character, charm—which they cannot help but diminish. The old city recoils, even as it is, inevitably, remade. As city people, we are our own pathogens and our own patients.
Can we be our own doctors, too? Certainly, the chief way that cities have renewed and restored themselves in recent times is through the process that has the ill-given name of gentrification—ill-given because it is dehumanizing to fix under the label “gentry” the mixture of social types who reënter the urban arena, ranging from real-estate keeners to young gay couples to painters seeking space, just as it is to label a similar mixture of social types an “underclass.”
Adam Gopnik, “Naked Cities”, The New Yorker (5 October 2015), 85.