The affluent ghetto – A triptych of contrast

I used to live in an area that gentrified pretty quickly. Which led to the formation of something that can be called an affluent ghetto. Historically ghettos were places were urban Jews were allowed to live in Eastern Europe. Later they denoted inner city district in the United States that became places were mostly black people and immigrants lived in poor conditions.

The affluent ghetto 1
The affluent ghetto I (2012) Olympus PEN E-P1 M.Zuiko14-42mm F4@1/60s ISO 800
The entrance: A fenced-off concrete tunnel. Is this a correctional facility or a place people call home?

Today many cities seem to have reverse ghettos. Places were affluent and educated people stream in. Their demand for apartments raise the average rent or real estate price so high, that other less affluent (but by no means poor) people can not afford to live there. With affluence comes of course a taste in the finer things of life so that many stores and restaurants cater to the well-off too. Cheaper stores are simply not much in demand and can’t cover the rising commercial rents.

wall grafitti flower bed
The affluent ghetto II (2012) Olympus PEN E-P1 M.Zuiko14-42mm F4@1/125s ISO 200
The side. A sad flower bed with no flowers. Just a bunch of cheap scrubs. Some of the local youngsters saw felt the same ghetto vibe and added the appropriate decoration

At some point a city district becomes monocultural despite it’s ostentatious diversity. People might come from different countries or seem very diverse in their identities but they are all well-educated, well-off, mostly left-leaning and eco-friendly. There is nothing wrong with being like this. I myself tick three of the boxes and you can guess which. It becomes a problem when everyone is like this. You end living in a bubble where everyone thinks and acts alike. How boring and how limiting. Only exposure to different kinds of people, different ways of life can really help us to understand each other.

back yard tenement apartment building
The affluent ghetto III (2012) Olympus PEN E-P1 M.Zuiko14-42mm F4@1/250s ISO 200
The backyard: Small, dark with a wonderful view of a wall made from corrugated sheet iron. Note the beautiful “stone beds” right. I am standing on a supermarket parking lot for this shot.

Therefore I find the these three photos quite ironic. The building shown was newly built in 2012 and the units sold out quickly for eye-watering prices. Many affluent families moved in. But the building is incredibly ugly. The developer knew that demand for apartments was so high that he could essentially sell anything. So he build this monstrosity of concrete and iron. This is the price people pay for living in their bubble.

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