Clare Mathias '18 Wins Class of ’61 Award

The Class of '61 Award ( supports honors-level research by a member of the incoming junior class.  

Gentrification: the buzzword immediately conjures contrasting images of community growth and displacement, economic development and segregation, urban restoration and demolition. Public space development projects often cause gentrification by bringing new populations and capital into “failing” neighborhoods. While researchers credit well-designed public spaces with fostering social capital and thus strong communities, they can potentially benefit communities of newcomers more than the preexisting local population.


Claire’s research will investigate how public green-space development projects and related gentrification processes affect local populations.  The Class of ’61 Award will support fieldwork in three sites: the 11th Street Bridge Park in Washington, DC, the Highline in New York, NY, and the LA River Revitalization Project in Los Angeles, CA.  Using these sites as case studies, she will examine the role that public space plays in fostering social capital and how this role differs across various communities; how local communities interact with public spaces before and after the development projects; and how much different projects do or do not consider local populations in their project designs.