We rent a little house in one of the oldest inner-city residential neighborhoods in our city. It's a mixed-race, mixed-income neighborhood and we've been really happy living there. We're on the shabby side of the main boulevard, where the houses are smaller, the yards are scruffier, and the dogs are bigger. Over the past two years or so, housing values in this area have been rising rapidly, and the developers have been moving in, buying up and tearing down older homes to put in townhomes and hugely bloated neo-Victorian houses.

Our block has been a townhouse-free zone, in large part because six of the houses on our street have been owned by two families who have been here for generations. There's three generations of each here on this one block. That kind of rootedness, that kind of local history, is increasingly rare in a large city these days - - and it's so completely different from my own family's trajectory. I've been sort of fascinated by our neighbors, who have this kind of local existence in the middle of what is a very urban setting.

We'd heard some disturbing rumors a week or two ago, and today our concerns were realized: the brightly-colored signs of one of the major developers dot two of the yards across the street from us: the parents and grandparents of the guy who lives two houses down from us. They've sold their adjoining lots and their two older houses will be torn down to make 5 or more yuppie homes.

It's a sad day. They won't be closing until June, but then we'll have a long summer of noisy construction going on all around us. We'll never have another Christmas with Sylvia's super-bright lights and crazy decorations in her yard. Rich people are going to come into our block with their fancy cars and their babies and their immaculate tiny lawns. The flavor is draining away.