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Vancouver's Chinatown Night Market: Gentrification and the Perception of Chinatown as a Form of Revitalization

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The Chinatown Night Market is held in Vancouver's downtown historic Chinatown. Iconic elements of Taiwan and Hong Kong, night markets have a specific sensorial design created by tightly packed crowds, loud music, Chinese dim sum, and vendors selling pop culture goods. The Chinatown Night Market represents an urban landscape shaped by both the expansion of capital markets in devalued inner urban areas and the emerging consumption preferences of the new middle class. In the case of the former, culture is produced to raise real-estate values. In the case of the la er, urban developers and city managers are engaged in promoting and producing consumptionscapes that cater for the live-work-play philosophies of baby boom professionals and the creative class. Since its inception, the Chinatown market has served as a safe night-time gathering place for the area's Chinese community, while catering for tourists, and a racting suburban families and local residents. Increasingly, it provides seasonal ambiance for the leading edge of gentrification in the inner city. Drawing on interviews with consumers, vendors, city officials, and market administrators, as well as participant observation in the markets, this paper connects the concept of inclusivity and the current cultural conceptualization of consumption space to the future and fate of Vancouver's Chinatown. The Chinatown Night Market is produced for consumption to serve revitalization goals. Ultimately, a sense of long-term inclusivity is overlooked in the hopes of future economic success.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2013

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  • Built Environment is published quarterly in March, June, September and December. With an emphasis on crossing disciplinary boundaries and providing global perspective, each issue focuses on a single subject of contemporary interest to practitioners, academics and students working in a wide range of disciplines. Issues are guest-edited by established international experts who not only commission contributions, but also oversee the peer-reviewing process in collaboration with the Editors.

    Subject areas include: architecture; conservation; economic development; environmental planning; health; housing; regeneration; social issues; spatial planning; sustainability; urban design; and transport. All issues include reviews of recent publications.

    The journal is abstracted in Geo Abstracts, Sage Urban Studies Abstracts, and Journal of Planning Literature, and is indexed in the Avery Index to Architectural Publications.

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