Visualizing the Impact of Gentrification

Liam Oakwood


“The Atlas of Gentrification” is a book by artist and designer Herwig Scherabon. The Atlas visualizes the nuances of gentrification in a number of cities around the United States and United Kingdom. Scherabon hopes to unveil the hidden processes of gentrification, which is often caricatured as the ‘migration of hipsters’. He hopes to reignite interest and stimulate debate about the decades-old process through a design-led approach to data.

Inspired by personal observations in London, Chicago, and San Francisco, Herwig sought to explore this phenomenon and the way it plays out in cities around the Western world. He found that each city has it’s own unique issues associated with gentrification, whether it be sky-high rent in London, racial segregation in Chicago, or forced evictions in San Francisco.  All these factors make the displacement, movement, and replacement of populations uniquely nuanced.

Herwig has used open access government data to conduct the research behind the book, turning the data into a series of graphs, maps, and data visualizations which have revealed a number of interesting patterns. These include a huge drop in housing construction after Margaret Thatcher’s election and massive racialized income inequality in Chicago. Herwig elaborates about Chicago, saying “beneath the anger lies deep racial divides, which are decades old and a direct result of public policy.”

UK housing construction volume.
UK housing construction volume.

Scherabon elaborates “What really matters to me is that I get people to engage with the information, and sometimes an abstract approach is more engaging then a literal one.” He has captured this approach comprehensively, with the book comprising a series of sharply drawn and illuminating graphics outlining the geographic and temporal distribution of many factors that are associated with gentrification.

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Scherabon’s book was completed as a final project at the Glasgow school of art and is awaiting a publisher, with further editions covering new cities possible in the future. Scherabon has previously received recognition for visualizations of income inequality in Los Angeles and Chicago.

Visit: The Atlas of Gentrification


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About the author
Liam Oakwood
Liam Oakwood is a freelance citizen scientist and blogger, specializing in ecology, geography, and food sovereignty. From Liam: I enjoy photography, music, climbing, forest adventures, and growing things. I'm currently on the cusp of major changes after forming an Irish folk band with friends and getting ready to explore a whole world of possibilities. Some of my previous writing can be found at Wilderness Witness.