Repackaging the inner city: Historic preservation, community development and the emergent cultural quarter in London
Marcus, George E.
Doctor of Philosophy
I trace the transformation of two inner-city districts in London from semi-derelict industrial areas to emerging showcases of cultural enterprise, King's Cross, the site of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link terminus and Spitalfields, east of the financial district. By using a methodological melange that includes a host of interviews, first-hand observation and volunteer work at a community planning group over a year and a half, I explain how various efforts at historic preservation, community planning, economic development and, increasingly, promoting cultural activities have produced this transformation. Rather than focusing on gentrification or working-class displacement, I look at how these efforts have mobilized 'urbanist agency,' that is, of people such as architects, architectural historians, community activists, non-profit developers, planners and cultural entrepreneurs, who have become actively engaged in the production, preservation, and revitalization of inner-city spaces. Such agency not only recasts the popular image of the inner city. It also repositions it in a service economy led by explosive growth in the financial and cultural sectors. In fact, it is in repackaged inner city areas such as King's Cross and Spitalfields where we can most clearly discern the spatial effects of this increasingly global economy.
Cultural anthropology; Architecture; Urban planning; Regional planning