Neighborhood Gentrification, A Photography Documentary – Part 16

This is a photography documentary that explores how neighborhood gentrification is transforming a Dallas neighborhood called Old East Dallas.

This is a photography documentary that explores how neighborhood gentrification is transforming a Dallas neighborhood called Old East Dallas.

As I continue to document this process of gentrification the number of old houses is dramatically reducing. As you can see there was no shortage of construction. Construction is happening all over the neighborhood non-stop. Instead of taking photos of the construction and new houses. I find it more interesting to take photos of the old houses with the construction and new houses around them. I think this approach tells the story of gentrification very well.

Housing developers are preparing to tear down these two small houses. They seem to start by knocking down all the trees and shrubs around the house first. Then knock down the outside portions of the house, the patios, and the porches. And then sadly, the whole house is completely destroyed. When I came back by these houses, construction workers were already laying the foundation for new townhouses that will replace them. I often wonder about the people that used to live in those old houses.

Street Portraits

As I’m out walking around taking photos, I sometimes meet people and ask them for a spontaneous portrait. The man in the photo below told me he was selling that car. He asked me if I wanted to buy it. I had to respectfully let him know I wasn’t interested but he did agree to this photo.

The guy in the photo below shared with me how gentrification has completely disrupted his life. He told me he had lived in Old East Dallas all his life. And when the home builders started building new houses and apartments in this area it started driving up the rent and pushing the local small businesses. To survive he took a job helping build the new houses. Then one day while on the job, he fell and injured himself pretty badly to the point where he couldn’t work for a little while.

He said the construction company immediately fired him which left him without income. Unfortunately, he’s now homeless. This neighborhood is all he knows and now he can’t find a job here nor can he afford to pay the extremely high rental fees of the apartments that have replaced affordable housing.

Dallas Skyline

I took this photo from atop an apartment building in Old East Dallas. This photo is not directly related to gentrification but it does show you how close the neighborhood is to downtown Dallas. Dallas has exploded in population and to accommodate the growth, builders have been aggressively gentrifying neighborhoods near downtown. One unfortunate downside is it pushes low-wage workers further out of the city when they already have a hard time affording transportation.

Neighborhood Gentrification, A Photo Documentary

This photo documentary has been exploring neighborhood gentrification in Old East Dallas on medium format film since 2016. You can see the best of this series in this gallery.

View Comments

  • Thanks for posting. I always get a kick out of seeing new construction around the "one holdout house" that they have to build around...

    • Glad you enjoyed it, Scott. Yes, it is interesting seeing the homes of the people who hold out and try not to give in to the erasure of their neighborhood.

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Matthew T Rader