Aspen and the American Dream: How One Town Manages Inequality in the Era of Supergentrification

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Univ of California Press, Mar 23, 2021 - 304 pages

How is it possible for a town to exist where the median household income is about $73,000, but the median home price is about $4,000,000? Boring into the "impossible" math of Aspen, Colorado, Stuber explores how middle-class people have found a way to live in this supergentrified town. Interviewing a range of residents, policymakers, and officials, Stuber shows that what resolves the math equation between incomes and home values in Aspen, Colorado--the X-factor that makes middle-class life possible--is the careful orchestration of diverse class interests within local politics and the community. She explores how this is achieved through a highly regulatory and extractive land use code that provides symbolic and material value to highly affluent investors and part-year residents, as well as less-affluent locals, many of whom benefit from an array of subsidies--including an extensive affordable housing program--that redistribute economic resources in ways that make it possible for middle-class residents to live there.

Stuber further examines how Latinos, who provide much of the service work in Aspen and who tend to live outside the town, fit into the social geography of one of the most unequal places in the country. Overall, Stuber argues that the Aspen's ability to balance the interests of its diverse class constituencies is not a foregone conclusion; rather, it is the result of efforts by local stakeholders--citizens, government, developers, and vacationers--to preserve the town's unique feel and value, and "keep Aspen, Aspen" in all its complex dynamics.

 

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Contents

List of Figures and Tables
1
The Old Aspen Drug
17
Place Based Class Cultures
29
Place based class cultures
34
Aspens Mountain Chalet Hotel
41
Affordable housing units at Fairway 3
56
Living the Aspen Dream? Redefining and Realizing
62
Aspen egalitarianism at the music tent
84
A Victorian era chamfered corner
125
Sunday Funday
133
Negotiating Aspens
146
Public amenity space outside Paradise Bakery
167
A Mall at the Base of a Mountain?
170
Modern luxury in an Aspen Victorian package
171
Latinos in the Valley
199
A dance ensemble in the Independence Day Parade
221

Steadying the Pendulum
91
Aspens messy vitality and exclusivity
96
The Aspen Art Museum and Hechts Victorian Square Building
104
The Aspen Core Building a k a The Tangerine Monster
106
Place Making and the Construction of Small Town
114
A western style arcade
123
Place Making in the Era of Supergentrification
228
Acknowledgments
245
Notes
263
Index
283
Copyright

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About the author (2021)

Jenny Stuber is Associate Professor in Sociology at the University of North Florida.

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