Tattered Banners, Ghosts of Gentrification Battles Past, Still Hang Over Hyde Square

The back of a Hyde Square billboard still sports remains from what is probably an anti-displacement sign from the era of the Whole Foods battle

Chris Helms

The back of a Hyde Square billboard still sports remains from what is probably an anti-displacement sign from the era of the Whole Foods battle

While walking to a meeting Monday night, I glanced at the back of the billboards above JP Knit & Stitch. Shreds of banners from the 2011 Whole Foods fight hang there still.

That was the year the Whole Foods Market in Jamaica Plain became a flash point for the debate over the neighborhood’s gentrification.

The banners appeared in March 2011, as neighborhood discussions focused on the proposal for the upscale grocer to move in to the Hi-Lo Foods space. The owners of Hi-Lo sold after many years serving a primarily Latino clientele.

There were two banners slung atop the billboards, one in mangled Spanish and the other in English. They read: “An Affordable JP is Truly a ‘JP For All.’ No Whole Foods.”

You can still see the remains of what is almost certainly those banners if you look at the back of the billboards from Moraine Street. The lettering style, though no longer readable, appears to match the banners activists put up.

Of course, Whole Foods did move in. And though the conversation over gentrification/development will never end, the temperature of the public debate is nowhere near as hot as it was The Year Whole Foods Came.