Gentrification in cities in the United States is a hot topic, but this book contributes something new to the ongoing discussion by offering a rich case study of seasonal gentrification and its effects on long time residents. Asbury Park, New Jersey, an iconic beachfront city, was a dynamic resort community in the late 19th and early 20th century. As the century wore on Asbury Park became an illustration of some of the macro social and economic structural changes occurring in cities across the United States with its own beachfront twist. Yet in 2019 Asbury Park’s narrative has shifted again—named among the coolest small towns in America the city has multimillion-dollar beachfront condos attracting the attention of Hollywood stars and national media attention as a travel destination. Summer days in Asbury once again mean tourists strolling the boardwalk and dining by the Atlantic Ocean. But just across the railroad tracks from the seasonal crowds, many of Asbury’s long-time residents live below poverty and struggle for their share of this prosperity throughout all four seasons of the year.
Molly Vollman Makris and Mary Gatta engage in a rich ethnographic investigation of Asbury Park to better understand the connection between jobs and seasonal gentrification and the experiences of long time residents in this beach-community city. They demonstrate how the racial inequality in the founding of Asbury Park is reverberating a century later. This book tells an important and nuanced tale of gentrification using an intersectional lens to examine the history of race relations, the too often overlooked history of the post-industrial city, the role of the LGBTQ population, barriers to employment and access to amenities, and the role of developers as the city rapidly changes. Makris and Gatta draw on in-depth interviews, focus groups, ethnographic observation as well as data analysis to tell the reader a story of life on the West Side of Asbury Park as the East Side prospers and to point to a potential path forward.