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Even Hey Arnold’s Neighborhood Is Gentrifying Now

Series creator Craig Bartlett explains how he built the cartoon city that every ‘90s kid dreamed of living in.
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Courtesy of Nickelodeon Studios

When it comes to life in the city, perhaps no cartoon has dreamed as big as Hey Arnold! While the rest of Nickelodeon’s ‘90s lineup dwelled in suburbia, here was a football-headed fourth grader who lived in a crowded boarding house under a freeway overpass, who could just climb up to the roof whenever he wanted to take in the skyline. At any moment, Arnold was just a fire escape away from an urban adventure with his friends and classmates.

After more than a decade off the air, Arnold is coming back to TV this week for Hey Arnold!: The Jungle Movie. In the show’s timeline, just one year has passed. But Hillwood, their fictional city, has clearly changed. Just like the the real-life places it’s based on, Arnold’s historic neighborhood has been discovered by hipsters.