From Zero To Hipster

This weekend I bought a latté in the tiny town of Marfa, Texas, population 2,121 and 100 miles from any town much bigger.
|
This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.

This weekend I bought a latté in the tiny town of Marfa, Texas, population 2,121 and 100 miles from any town much bigger. Among the humble ranch homes and empty storefronts were gift shops selling $400 dresses, galleries, upscale restaurants and, oh yeah, places that sell lattés. I felt so conspicuous at the counter, in my black t-shirt and sunglasses, the Frye boots I'd bought for $25 at a stoop sale in Brooklyn announcing that I was a member of the gentrifying class (never mind my empty wallet): a real estate vulture.

Marfa, once sustained by an Army airfield and, before the artist Donald Judd moved there in the 1970s, famous only for being the setting for the film Giant, became an art destination and second home community in the late 90s. Real estate prices soared there as in many other places--although I'm sure the first time a home hit $100,000, it was seen as a watershed. The town went from what I call "zero to hipster" in such a short time that it breeds a strange sort of city--both frontier and future, dilapidated and upscale, with very little in between. Houses are still cheap by northeastern standards, or at least by New York standards, where the bubble has yet to burst--$300,000 will get you a lovely three-bedroom adobe on multiple lots.

It's still a real far west Texas town, grappling with border issues like many others, showing free movies at the library and encouraging residents to vote (I spied many an Obama poster in town). But I wonder about the effects of rapid gentrification--doesn't it seem like places change so much faster these days, that a town or neighborhood is pronounced discovered and those residents who make it special can't resist the prospect of selling their homes for five or six or ten times what they paid for it?

Still, one can't help but enjoy the benefits of such change. The latté was delicious.

Tell me your thoughts on rapid gentrification. Where is it happening, and what do you think of it?

MORE IN LIFE