South Park’s Episode 3 (Season 19) — The City Part of Town — stepped away from more abstract topics and blatantly tackled gentrification in cities throughout the U.S.
Plot: the people of South Park decide to boost their town’s image by transforming the poorer area of town into a vibrant cultural and entertainment center called SodoSopa (South of Downtown South Park).
What does SoDoSoPa mean? The term stands for South of Downtown South Park – the formerly blighted part of town that’s being revitalized in Episode 3, Season 19. The historic area – mostly just Kenny’s house – gets a makeover and is turned into a shopping and entertainment district that also features upscale living options (The Lofts at SoDoSoPa), in an attempt to prove that the city of South Park is worthy of a Whole Foods store.
Speaking out for social policy and economic development in our cities, South Park’s gentrification mirrors the countless rapidly changing neighborhoods spread throughout the country; and to make sure nobody misses the point, creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker included a handful of sleek – and incredibly familiar – video ads for new housing options . Needless to say, people all over the country resonated with the changes the little town of South Park is going through:
— Craig Hlavaty (@CraigHlavaty) October 2, 2015
Moreover, everyone turned to reddit and Twitter to pin down the gentrifying neighborhoods in their own cities. Scroll down to see what the SodoSopa of your city is – and if you know of a neighborhood that’s been left out, let us know.
New York, NY
Manhattan: Meatpacking District, North Manhattan (NoMa)
While Manhattanites are ‘tempted to say everywhere’, the Meatpacking District stands out, ‘now home to overpriced everything and the hipper than thou clubs, used to be the go-to spot for heroin in the 70s.’ Redditors also signaled out North Manhattan:
Los Angeles, CA: North Hollywood (NoHo), West Hollywood (WeHo), South Central (SoLa), Downtown LA (DTLA), North East LA (NELA), Playa Vista
Like Manhattan, Los Angeles has its fair share of gentrifying neighborhoods, but redditors agree that North and South Hollywood deserve a shout-out, as well as South Central — one user saying that ‘Los Angeles has a new nickname for South Central. It tried rebranding South Central as South LA but now it’s SoLA‘ — downtown LA, and the North East part of town (NELA).
Playa Vista also made the list, especially since it literally just got a Whole Foods.
Chicago, IL: Wicker Park
Chicago’s Wicker Park got a few mentions, managing to surprise former city residents: ‘Really? Boy, Wicker Park must have really changed since I lived there. I mean, parts of Lincoln Park and Old Town I can see, but Wicker Park didn’t have anything close to SoDoSoPa when I lived in Chicago.’
Houston, TX: City Centre
While many Houston areas popped up, City Centre was the most popular, one redditor pointing out that ‘City Centre is the best match in this case, for those who remember what it USED to be (Town and Country Mall). Grant it, you’re seeing plenty of gentrification happening in Midtown and The Heights, but City Centre fits the example perfectly as far as the centralized shopping, the lofts, everything.‘
Philadelphia, PA: Northern Liberties (NoHo, NoLibs)
— Cori Shirk (@corishirk) October 1, 2015
Phoenix, AZ: Central Phoenix
San Antonio, TX: The Pearl
No disagreements here, The Pearl got a universal shout-out as San Antonio’s fastest gentrifying neighborhood: ‘Yep. The whole part about “we will build in and around the preexisting structure to give it more authenticity” immediately reminded me of Southerleigh being built into the old brewhouse of the Pearl.‘
— Elyssa Rae(: (@elyssaraeftw) October 1, 2015
Austin, TX: Rainey St, South Congress Ave (SoCo)
The new episode of South Park is nailing Austin. #SODOSOPA
— JACK GIFOLSON (@codynutter) October 1, 2015
San Francisco, CA: South of Market (SoMa), Mission District
Everyone agreed that the resemblance between South Park’s SodoSopa and San Francisco’s SoMa and Mission District are striking: ‘Yep. We even have some fairly new development in S.F. that looks very much like “The Lofts”, “The Residences”, and “The Villas.” Plus, if you check the web for a place to live in one of these gentrified spots, you’ll encounter a video just like the one used to showcase “SodoSopa” — right down to the light-techno music bed. You’ll also find a Whole Foods (or a proposed one) near EACH location. Heh.‘
Columbus, OH: The Short North
Fort Worth, TX: West 7th Street
While it may not have a fancy name yet, West 7th Street was the most frequently mentioned Fort Worth neighborhood, one redditor pointing out that ‘it was a pretty run down area with disused factories and sub-$100K homes ten years ago but has basically become the most gentrified place in the city since then.’
Charlotte, NC: North Davidson (NoDa)
‘Charlotte, NC’s hipster part of town, complete with bars, coffee shops, ‘unique’ restaurants, pricey apartments, run down mills and a music venue. The term NoDa stands for North Davidson, after the name of the street running through it.’
Detroit, MI: District Detroit
Denver, CO: Lower Downtown (LoDo), Colfax Ave
Denver redditors are convinced that LoDo — which stands for Lower Downtown — is the district that the South Park people are poking at: ‘LoDo, which stands for Lower Downtown, is the district in Denver that they are making fun of. LoDo is actually in the north part of the city, it is lower in elevation.’
Washington, DC: North of Massachusetts Avenue (NoMa)
Boston, MA: South of Washington Street (SoWa)
— Oscar Flippt (@OscarFlippt) October 1, 2015
Nashville, TN: The Gulch, 12 South, East Nashville, Germantown, South of Broadway (SoBro)
Nashville redditors have so many gentrifying neighborhoods that they feel the whole city is going through the process.
Las Vegas, NV: Downtown Las Vegas, Container Park
— Jess Wedemeyer (@jesswedemeyer) October 1, 2015
Louisville, KY: New Louisville (NuLu)
‘Definitely not the coolest part of town (Highlands or Frankfort Ave take that honor) but we needed something to keep people in downtown after 5. Pretty much all of downtown is undergoing gentrification though.‘
Oh my god I think Matt and Trey have been secretly living in Louisville after this new episode of South Park. #SoDoSoPa
— Thunder Boilpoint (@AntiEverything) October 1, 2015
Atlanta, GA: Buckhead, Ponce City Market, O4W
While redditors point out that ‘Buckhead in Atlanta, GA is exactly like SoDoSoPa in every way. The resemblance is uncanny‘, Ponce City Market and O4W also made the list.
Can’t find your city? We’ll happily add it! Just tell us what’s the fastest gentrifying neighborhood in your city in the comments section below.