'How Deep the Roots Are': Cultural and Historic Preservation of Northside, Chapel Hill, North Carolina

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Hensley, Victoria
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Middle Tennessee State University
Gentrification has become an increasingly important topic throughout the last twenty years, with urban planners, journalists, urban sociologists, and geographers all tackling the issue. As more development flows into a city or neighborhood, the previous residents and renters, more often than not people of color and low-income families, are pushed out and displaced from the area they lived for decades. Historic preservationists can add to the discourse on gentrification and displacement by using public history methodology to better understand what current residents deem significant about their neighborhood and engaging the community to glean what they want preserved. This thesis uses the Northside neighborhood of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, home of the University of North Carolina, to illuminate the ways in which residents of a neighborhood threatened by gentrification took preservation into their own hands. Through petitioning the Town Council, working directly with planners, and peacefully protesting development that leads to displacement, the residents of Northside worked diligently for over ten years, and continue to do so, to preserve their historic and culturally significant neighborhood.