Upscaling Downtown: Interpersonal Dynamics of Nightlife Revelers in Geneva, New York

Chloé Sudduth


Bars have long been recognized as the intersection of a city’s culture and commerce. They provide opportunities for social interaction, contain a multitude of local memories, and serve as sources of identity. The American Revolution, the Whiskey Rebellion, and the Stonewall riots all developed out of local bars. So, what does it mean when the character of bars in a neighborhood begins to change? How do these changes to commercial spaces affect the social fabric of a city? Using a combination of ethnographic fieldwork and interviews, I explore the upscaling of the downtown bar scene in Geneva, New York to unpack what these commercial changes mean for the disparate groups that frequent the downtown space. I argue that instead of simply diversifying the types of businesses available to consumers in Geneva, this development has altered the very character and social fabric of downtown. Rather than creating an integrated and cohesive nightlife scene in which disparate groups come together in shared space and time, this development manifests in the fragmentation of the downtown scene in new ways that increase the segregation of people in social space.

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ISSN 2369-8721