Gentrification and the Right to the City: Community Conflict and Casinos

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

Journal of Urban Affairs

Publication Date



Henri Lefebvre’s right to the city concept is increasingly used to challenge the development prerogatives associated with neoliberal development. These challenges are more common as gentrification becomes a global urban strategy. This article is an empirical investigation that examines competing claims to community legitimacy and authenticity in a conflict over gentrification in a Philadelphia neighborhood. This conflict emerged in Fishtown when long-time established residents went head to head with upper-income gentrifiers over the location of a casino in the neighborhood. Place-based identities and the temporal connection individuals had to Fishtown contributed to the differences in perspectives on the costs and benefits of the casino and on the legitimacy of long-time residents versus newcomers to be representative voices on behalf of Fishtown. The findings illuminate problems in applying the right to the city to neighborhood struggles when communities are divided over what constitutes a benefit to the community. The right to the city may not be a universal claim, particularly within a neoliberal urban context.