- This dissertation examines the spatial distribution of park access by type in relation to trajectories of gentrification in Seattle from 1990 to 2010. The dissertation includes 5 Chapters. The first chapter provides an overview of the literature that motivated this research. The second, third and fourth chapters are research papers that seek to address the overall question: What is the relationship between park access and trajectories of gentrification? Chapter 5 is an overall conclusion. This study tests how the urban parks, shape the communities around them and focuses on three main objectives: (1) To gain a better understanding of socioeconomic and racial factors that are associated with gentrification in Seattle, Washington, (2) To develop a transferrable approach for assessing trajectories of gentrification in urban areas, and (3) To determine how the spatial distribution of different park types and community investment in parks are associated with gentrification. The research is motivated by the environmental justice literature and seeks to explore issues as they affect where people live and how they interact with parks in a large urban area. Little is known about how environmental amenities such as parks interact with socio-economic and racial characteristics of neighborhoods over time. Chapter 2 , examined the relationships among park system development over time, park typologies, and socio-economic and racial patterns, in order to understand how park system evolution is related to environmental justice. The results suggest that park access differed among socio-economic groups, and by park type. Significantly greater proportions of African Americans and Asians were found in census block groups with below-median levels of education, income, and home value, which in turn had access to significantly larger numbers and more area of recreation parks. In contrast, census block groups with above-median income, home value and education, which had significantly fewer minorities, had access to greater numbers and more area of natural passive and multiuse natural parks. The patterns did not change much over the study period suggesting that park development had the effect of maintaining differences in park access. This work raises the question of whether investments in park improvements led or followed the changes in educational attainment, home value, and income, suggesting that further work is needed to test hypotheses of environmental gentrification in Seattle. Chapter 3, used available digital spatial data including census data as well as spatially explicit mixed media coverage to map gentrification in order to test hypotheses about causes and consequences of the process. Gentrification was defined as change from below to above the median value for education, income, and home value in a census block group over the period 1990 to 2000 or 2000 to 2010. These patterns were compared to changes in proportions of minorities and perceptions of gentrification in the media over those time periods. Gentrification was clustered in central, north and west Seattle. In Central Seattle these changes were accompanied by large declines in the proportion of African Americans in the population. However, gentrification in terms of education, income, and home value also occurred in areas that did not have large proportions of minorities. Media perceptions of gentrification were reported in places that met the definition of gentrification, but also in areas experiencing changes in minorities, but which did not yet meet the definition of change in terms of education, home value, and income. The findings of this study suggest that gentrification is multifaceted, multidimensional and spatially contagious process that does not always lead to displacement of minorities. More work is needed to understand the causes of gentrification especially with regard to the role of urban parks. Chapter 4 examined the relationships between spatial patterns of change and investment in urban parks and processes of gentrification overtime. A spatial analysis was conducted using GIS to test relationships between changes in socioeconomic characteristics and changes in parks from 1990 to 2010. Changes in access to three different park types (recreation, natural passive, and multiuse natural) were compared to changes in socioeconomic characteristics from 1990 to 2000 and 2000 to 2010. Spatial data on community-initiated investment in parks were also compared to spatial patterns of change in park access and socioeconomic characteristics. The results suggest that gentrification was associated with locations where the number and acreage of recreational and natural passive parks increased from 1990 to 2000, and where high levels of park investment had occurred from 2000 to 2010. Therefore, changes in park access and investment influence the character of neighborhoods over time. The results also showed that moderate and low values of park investment were less associated with gentrification. The findings ultimately contribute to the understanding of resilience of a community and the capacity to absorb changes without being pushed into a gentrified regime. Lastly, Chapter 5 provides an overall conclusion to this dissertation and provides suggestions for future research.
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