Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Public Policy

First Advisor

Ann Withorn

Second Advisor

Michael E. Stone

Third Advisor

Donna Haig Friedman


Gentrification of urban neighborhoods is part of an ongoing restructuring of the city, linked to the emerging occupational structure of the service economy and the remaking of built environments that were created for a production economy. It is the name given to processes in which commodification and reinvestment accompany the in-migration of professional and managerial workers, often displacing prior residents and giving altered spatial form to inequality.

This dissertation is a case study of gentrification in Hyde and Jackson Squares, part of Boston's Jamaica Plain neighborhood. The emergence of gentrification pressures and their uneven distribution within the area is documented and situated in the context of the area's historical development, using a combination of descriptive numeric and qualitative data. A method to observe the block-by-block process of reinvestment and occupational transformation at the building and street level is tested, with attention to factors that advance and factors that appear to inhibit gentrifying changes. Over a period of decades, professional workers and students are observed to be making their way further into the neighborhood, creating opportunities for real estate actors. As the process advances, other kinds of workers have a sustained presence in housing that is outside the market or has not recently traded. The paper concludes with suggestions for removing housing and land from the speculative market and other strategies to mitigate the housing affordability impacts of neighborhood upscaling.