Date of Completion


Document Type

Honors College Thesis


Environmental Studies

Thesis Type

Honors College, Environmental Studies Electronic Thesis, College of Arts and Science Honors

First Advisor

Meghan Cope

Second Advisor

Alec Ewald

Third Advisor

Laurie Kutner


urban greening, environmental gentrification, revitalization, social justice, 'Rust Belt', mixed-methods


In this research I explore the complex relationship between urban greening projects in revitalizing cities and gentrification trends. The research is focused on two mid-size post-industrial ‘Rust-Belt’ cities: Buffalo, New York and Cleveland, Ohio. Both of these cities were deeply divided by racist housing practices and disinvestments in their urban centers, along with significant economic and material decline in the late twentieth Century. Now, both cities are engaged in ongoing revitalization projects, or increased municipal attention toward capital reinvestment. Urban greening has become a major component of these efforts, with well-publicized benefits of trees and green space for residents, property values, and business growth. However, the expansion of green space may have negative — and inequitable — consequences for economically and racially marginalized communities by sparking rising rents, displacement, and the loss of Black and Latinx community ties. Though this project, I will attempt to understand the impact urban greening in Rust Belt cities has on neighborhoods, specifically regarding the phenomenon of green gentrification.

This research is based on a mixed-methods approach, starting with US Census data from two timespans (2000 to 2010, and 2010 to 2020) to identify census tracts in each city that are at greater risk for gentrification. I then used qualitative analysis to explore the urban greening processes occurring during each time frame in and near these neighborhoods. My aim is to discover narratives related to urban greening in each city that can help provide a deeper understanding of the social-spatial-racial interactions causing green gentrification.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.