The river, the railroad tracks, and the towers: How residents' worldview and use value transformed Wilton Manors into a diverse, gay-friendly, urban village

Emma Ergon-Rowe, Florida International University

Abstract

This case study examines the factors that shaped the identity and landscape of a small island-urban-village between the north and south forks of the Middle River and north of an urban area in Broward County, Florida. The purpose of the study is to understand how Wilton Manors was transformed from a “whites only” enclave to the contemporary upscale, diverse, and third gayest city in the U.S. by positing that a dichotomy for urban places exists between their exchange value as seen by Logan and Molotch and the use value produced through everyday activity according to Lefebvre. Qualitative methods were used to gather evidence for reaching conclusions about the relationship among the worldview of residents, the tension between exchange value and use value in the restructuration of the city, and the transformation of Wilton Manors at the end of the 1990s. Semi-structured, in-depth interviews were conducted with 21 contemporary participants. In addition, thirteen taped CDs of selected members of founding families, previously taped in the 1970s, were analyzed using a grounded theory approach. My findings indicate that Wilton Manors’ residents share a common worldview which incorporates social inclusion as a use value, and individual agency in the community. This shared worldview can be traced to selected city pioneers whose civic mindedness helped shape city identity and laid the foundation for future restructuration. Currently, residents’ quality of life reflected in the city’s use value is more significant than exchange value as a primary force in the decisions that are made about the city’s development. With innovative ideas, buildings emulating the new urban mixed-use design, and a reputation as the third gayest city in the United States, Wilton Manors reflects a worldview where residents protect use value as primary over market value in the decisions they make that shape their city but not without contestation.^

Subject Area

Anthropology, Cultural|Psychology, Experimental|Urban and Regional Planning

Recommended Citation

Ergon-Rowe, Emma, "The river, the railroad tracks, and the towers: How residents' worldview and use value transformed Wilton Manors into a diverse, gay-friendly, urban village" (2011). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI3502132.
https://digitalcommons.fiu.edu/dissertations/AAI3502132

Share

COinS