By Tom Ferrick Jr.
There was visible evidence available to anyone who went walking around
Passersby noticed that the playground at
Now we know what it was, thanks to U.S. Census data released recently that offers a picture of
While the rest of
Ten of them ended the decade under stress, due to loss of people and personal wealth. We told their story in Part One. (Read profiles of those neighborhoods.)
Ten of them grew and prospered -- at a pace that far exceeded any other neighborhoods and the city itself. (Read profiles of these neighborhoods.)
Often, it involved a continuation of trends that began, in some cases, 20 to 30 years ago. But, they accelerated in the last decade. In the process, these trends redefined what is seen as Center City Philadelphia.
It used to be that
The engine of this change is the central business district of Center City.
As Paul Levy, head of the Center City District, pointed out recently,
Its "gravitational pull" brings in folks from all city neighborhoods to work. One out of five Philadelphians now works downtown, but that share rises the closer you get to City Hall. For instance, 48 percent of private-sector workers in the zip code that includes Northern Liberties work in Center City; the number is 47 percent in Bella Vista, 40 percent in Passyunk Square, 38 percent in Pennsport, 32 percent in Point Breeze and 30 percent in Grays Ferry.
In a sense, the neighborhoods adjacent to
Three other neighborhoods are on the Metropolis list of 10. Two are in
One big reason for the change is the program the
The final neighborhood on our list is Fox Chase in Northeast Philadelphia, which has seen a rise in residents and wealth far outside the norm for the city.
What is story in the rest of the city?
As mentioned in Part One, taken as a whole,
Here is a summary of how the city fared in key indicators:
The bad news was that personal wealth -- as expressed by median household income -- declined in the decade, when measured against inflation. (Go here for data on Median Household Income by neighborhood.) There were some exceptions, but most neighborhoods lost ground when it came to household income. (Go here for a ranking of MHI by neighborhoods.)
Poverty increased, but only slightly, a good sign considering that the data covers the beginning of the 2008 recession. Still, nearly one out of four Philadelphians live in poverty and in some neighborhoods it is a deep and persistent condition. (Go here for a list of poverty rates in neighborhoods.)
Until the recession, median home values increased in all neighborhoods, with the largest increases -- once again -- in the 10 neighborhoods that grew and prospered the most during the decade. (Go here for a list of median home values by neighborhood.)
The data shows that the city is a complex organism. The challenge going forward is to find ways to sustain neighborhoods that have been buffeted by hard times.
It won't be easy. It may be that the only way to rebuild the city is to do it the same way it was built: house by house, block by block.
Covor Photo: 1800 block of Bainbridge St. in Southwest Center City.
Photos by: Jessi Melcer