It all started with the searching for an answer to the construction site on Clemens-Schultz-Strasse in St. Pauli, Hamburg. The weird thing was that the construcition site was decorated with a huge Versace sign on top. Everybody’s suggestion was that a Versace store was coming to St. Pauli. But nobody turely believed it, including me, so I was searching for an answer.
At what’s wrong with the zoo, I found out that it is an art installation of Hamburg based artist Filomeno Fusco. Fusco wants to criticize the gentrification of St. Pauli. And by the way, he got sued by Versace.
Gentrification is the process of renewal and rebuilding which comes with the influx of middle-class or affluent people into debasing areas which are usually inhabited by poorer residents. The term gentrification was first used 1964 by Ruth Glass to describe the changes of london working class quarters. Popular places where gentrification took place are the New York’s quarters East Village or Williamsburg, North Beach in San Francisco, the Spittelberg in Vienna, the Prenzlauer Berg in Berlin or the Sternschanze in Hamburg.
I really had to laugh about a term which was used in the German Wikipedia article about gentrification: “Yuppisierung”, you can translate it with a word like “yuppiation”, because more and more yuppies are invading into these areas.
I recognized it myself in my home town Düsseldorf. The nothern part of the former poorer quarter Flingern was once inhabited by working class people and immigrants. In the past few years nice little boutiques, cafés, and bars openend and the cultural offers got more. The apartments in the old buldings got renovated and the rents are still rising.
Gentrification is a tough topic, you can have lot of opinions. I have some of them myself, on one side I like what Flingern became, but on the other side I know i will be angry when the first franchise shops are opening there, like Starbucks or American Apparel. The crazy thing is, I like these shops, too, but not in this part of town. Because they will oust the nice independent and unique shops and cafés.
And it is the same with clothes, music or style, if you are one of the first (or mostly you belive you are one of the first), who took notice of it, you are no longer interested in it any longer when the big mass is interested in it.
some interesting links about this topic:
The German documentary “Empire St. Pauli – Von Perlenketten und Platzverweisen” is now online with a cc-license: