Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Gentrification Isn’t Always Bad

Posted by jonathanfryer on Sunday, 6th August, 2017

IMG_2663When we first started frequenting Praia de Iracema over 30 years ago, it was an arty suburb of Fortaleza, with low-rise buildings that gave it an attractive air, accentuated by the crystal blue waves that broke along the beach behind the houses. Subsequently, the city grew five-fold, population-wise, and the empty dunes that began only a few hundred metres along the shore were soon tamed and scores of hotels and gated apartment blocks were built facing them, all the way to the port at Mucuripe. Praia de Iracema itself was overshadowed by its glitzier new neighbour and became a haunt for druggies and drop-outs. Some of the old properties were knocked down and replaced with car parks by people who saw a way of making a few bucks. But in recent years, the trend has gone in the other direction, as the area has been gentrified by middle-class couples and families who, like us, have restored old properties, fought to keep conservation area status and backed the local authority’s excellent initiative to construct a wide promenade all the way along the beach from a big stone breakwater to the Ponte Ingles — a miniature pier in cast iron, imported from England a century ago, like so much of the fine ironwork in Brazil. Henceforth Praia de Iracema looked northwards the sea, with the sun marking its progress daily from east to west, as thousands of people safely bathe from the beach and in the evening enterprising locals rent out fantasy bicycles and roller skates to people from the city coming to savour the fresh air and restored environment. IMG_2682

 

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