The Gentrification of Bogotá’s Calle 65

It has been a long time in coming, but, finally I decided to write about the cross-section of Bogotá life and the evolution of the Colombian capital as seen on Calle 65 between Carreras 2 and 7 in the desirable area of Chapinero Alto.

Calle 65

chic restaurants, fancy apartments and a ballet school, the gentrification of the Calle 65

It’s one of those inevitable things, the gentrification of a barrio and Chapinero Alto here in Bogotá has been one of the priviest in recent years to this change. In order to understand what has happened and continues to take place on this section of the Calle 65, one needs to understand the total concept of gentrification.


Old Chapinero Alto on show…but for how long?

Gentrification is much more than the physical renovation of residential and commercial spaces, it signifies a new urban form of capitalism and therefore is a knowable and replicable act which ends up filling countless pages in glossy magazines and travel pages the world over. In this day and age, when you see hipsters, coffee shops, flash condominiums and struggling families at the periphery, you know that the policies in place have been in play for years and it’s a question of favouring the creation of wealth over the creation of community.

Just figure out where the biggest potential for profit is located in the city and you’ll find the next gentrifying area. Is it the Siete de Agosto, the fringes of Galerias or further adrift in our beloved Bogotá. I am probably way off base and too late to the party in my guessing. Look for the punks, artists (graffiti and otherwise), LGBT communities and you’ll discover that these groups will inevitably be pushed out by the gentrifiers.

So, let’s study Calle 65 for a minute, it’s fascinating. Start at the very top of the hill and you are in a neighbourhood that looks so out-of-place now. This is Juan XXIII, a formalized squeeze of invasiones and tiny warren-like passageways. Already, space up here has been sold off and high-rise apartments constructed creating an incongruous imbalance between a traditional working-class barrio and the gomelo Chapinero Alto.


Traditional eats in the barrio at Dona Nieves

There are still remnants of the traditional barrio, but sadly many of the authentic furniture repair workshops have been replaced by painfully fashionable and quite frankly, overpriced restaurants. There are a couple of hole-in-the-wall establishments still holding on, or holding out for the highest sale price possible for their land. And look how it is selling, there are restaurants down here (I’m looking at you Koyote) that are but a couple of meters wide. And while the famous piqueteadero may outlive some of the more fashionable and flash in the pan new restaurants, the space it occupies is surely coveted by construction companies.


the Café Lavé coffee and laundromat

I am curious to see how the laundromat/coffee shop fares in coming months. It does seem like a stretch, but then again, I have been wrong on these counts before!


feeding the pigeons on Calle 65



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About Richard

Anglo-Canadian resident in Colombia. Journalist, Writer, Hotelier, Expedition Guide
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