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VPA 114 - Chelsea gentrification research project: Home

Background sources

What kinds of sources can provide background info?

  • Reference articles give an overview of a topic. These are short, Wikipedia-sized articles from academic encyclopedias, usually written by professors. They often give definitions of terms and break down a big topic into smaller topics so you can understand the context better.
  • Newspaper articles tell you about something happening right now (or as a historical source, something that was happening right then). They are especially good for reading eyewitness accounts, seeing the reaction of the public and of local authorities to an event, and can also be read critically to examine how the media has portrayed an issue at a given time.
  • Newspaper editorials and op-eds aim to persuade you about an idea - these help to summarize the arguments about what should or should not be done in a particular situation.

WHY look up background resources?

  • to understand the bigger picture or a general trend
  • to get definitions and explanations of terms that are new to you
  • to better understand the detailed, in-depth information that you will later find in a research article.

Links to examples of background sources and how to find articles like these:

Overview articles How I got this list: used Hostos Library's OneSearch to search for the keyword gentrification, then used a filter to find reference resources (see box below for more on OneSearch). Reference resources are short overview articles from academic encyclopedias.

Newspaper articles about Chelsea and gentrification from the New York Times How I got this list: used Google to perform a site-specific search in the New York Times website for keywords Chelsea artists gentrification: site specific search in Google


JSTOR and alternatives

What is JSTOR?

JSTOR was created in the 1990s as a digital archive of academic articles. It was not intended or designed to be a searchable database, although you can perform some searches.

What is a library database?

Databases are also collections of publications, but they are designed with searching in mind. Depending on the database, they may contain articles from scholarly journals, news or trade magazines, newspapers, reference works, or primary sources. Some helpful databases for this project would include SocINDEX, US History in Context, and the Historical New York Times.

What is OneSearch?

OneSearch is the main search engine now used by all CUNY colleges. It allows you to search across multiple databases at once (as well as searching for books and ebooks). 

In OneSearch, after you do a search, you can use the filters on the right to find the kind of document you want:

onesearch with filters

What are keywords?

Keywords are the search terms you use when you do any kind of online search. Some good starting keywords for this project could include: Meatpacking Chelsea gentrification art artists real estate galleries- try different combinations of these and related terms.


How to get to library resources

How to get to the Hostos Library website from

hostos homepage

How to search OneSearch on the library's front page:

OneSearch box

How to get to any database from the library's front page:

click on database tab to get list of databases

Glossary of terms and places


mta map with Hostos and Chelsea/Meatpacking Where Chelsea and the Meatpacking District are in relation to Hostos.

Map from MTA

‚Äčmap from Fodor's Travel Guide

Map from Fodor's Travel Guide


What is "gentrification"? 

There is no one simple definition of gentrification. Like any other complex social and economic phenomenon, there are different ways that it can be described. Here are a few definitions that Prof. Beachdel agrees are worth thinking about:

The upgrading of decaying, normally inner-city housing, involving physical renovation, the displacement of low-status occupants by higher-income groups, and (frequently) tenure change from private rental to home ownership. The term was first used by the British urban sociologist Ruth Glass (London: Aspects of Change, 1964). Oxford Dictionary of Sociology

Gentrification refers to the process in which members of a highly educated, professional class move into formerly working- or lower-class city districts, populated largely by members of minority groups. The term gentrification derives from the European concept of “gentry” and the “gentry class” and suggests, historically, a class whose manners, tastes, and sense of leisure, refinement, and gentility mirrored and emulated the values and habits of the aristocracy. Encyclopedia of Social Problems

Gentrification, or the funneling of middle- and upper-class money, power, prestige, and persons into a working-class or poverty-stricken area of a city is a process thought to lead to the displacement of some or all of the original inhabitants of the area. Gentrification can take place within several years or over a more extended period of time, even decades. Encyclopedia of Street Crime

Few who use the term gentrification agree completely on its meaning. As applied loosely in the popular press, it refers to the movement of new middle-class residents into poor and working-class inner city neighborhoods, spurring the rehabilitation of a district's previously abandoned or neglected housing stock and the revitalization of its commercial life. Even that simple definition, however, is controversial, to the extent that it neglects the broad economic repercussions and remote historical origins of a much more complex process. Most critics of gentrification, for instance, insist that it involves as well the displacement of existing residents, usually with some experience of economic hardship or disadvantage. Encyclopedia of American History


How to get research help in the library

You are welcome to come to the library (3rd floor of the A building, around the corner from the Atrium) any time.

Whenever the library is open, there is a reference librarian on call, waiting to answer your questions and give you one-on-one help with research. You will find the reference librarian when you come downstairs in the library and turn LEFT. Head to the big desk.

We also have some 1-on-1 appointments available through Rocket Your Research.

You can also feel free to contact me by clicking "email me" below to set up an appointment with me if you like.

Guide author

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Haruko Yamauchi