Light rail development with or without gentrification?: Neighborhood perspectives on changing sense of place in Denver, Colorado

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

mode - tram/light rail, place - north america, place - urban, land use - impacts, land use - transit oriented development, planning - surveys, ridership - perceptions


Light rail, Land use impacts, Gentrification


The growing and continued popularity of light rail transit systems in major United States metropolitan areas is leading to growing research on land use impacts, value generation, and contributions to gentrification. While various studies explore the fiscal and environmental influences of light rail transit development in the Denver Metropolitan Area, only recently have scholars turned their attention to gentrification and social influences. This paper analyzes how one station shapes residents' sense of place, providing more nuanced understandings of the role light rail and transit-oriented development affects perceptions of neighborhood character and place attachment. We argue that gentrification can be measured and understood not only quantitatively, but also by how people feel light rail influences their attachment to place. Residents within half a mile of the Evans Light Rail Station were randomly and anonymously surveyed with a series of demographic questions and asked to provide their experiences, observations, and opinions. With 166 household responses, we examine residents' perceptions of Evans Station and sense of place to investigate relationships between factors such as race, age, income, education, length of residency, and walking distance from the light rail station. Analysis of their responses creates a more nuanced understanding of the ways that light rail contributes to positive, neutral, and negative emotions associated with gentrification ranging from appreciation of increased accessibility, younger residents, increased property values, and new commercial development to complaints about increased density, higher rents, traffic, noise, and loss of community.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Elsevier, copyright remains with them.


Journal of Transport Geography home Page: