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Gentrification Down the Shore

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.

Author Information

MOLLY VOLLMAN MAKRISis an associate professor and program coordinator of Urban Studies at CUNY-Guttman Community College. Her work investigates the intersections of gentrification, urban education, and the lives of youth. Her previous book, Public Housing and School Choice in a Gentrified City: Youth Experiences of Uneven Opportunitywon the AESA Critics Choice Book Award.

MARY GATTAis an associate professor at CUNY-Guttman Community College. She is a leader in research on gender, workforce development and policy. Her latest books are Waiting on Retirement: Aging and Economic Insecurity in Low Wage Work and All I Want Is a Job! Unemployed Women Navigating the Public Workforce System.


"Focusing on historical segregation both residentially and in the labor market, Makris and Gatta’s rich qualitative work and presentation of intersectionality in Gentrification Down the Shore sheds light on the experiences of living in Asbury Park from the perspective of people who were there long ago during the music heyday, and more recently during itsrevitalization."
— Kathe Newman, Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, Rutgers University

"From Venice, California, to the Rockaway Peninsula, beach towns like Asbury Park are changing from funky, diverse communities to pricey, sanitized tourist zones of hipster cool. Gentrification Down the Shoredocuments the tragic consequences of this kind of redevelopment, which bypasses longtime residents in favor of seasonal visitors and deprives them of access to nature, culture, and civic life."
— Sharon Zukin, author of Naked City: The Death and Life of Authentic Urban Places

Audience: College/higher education;