Why White Migration to Center City is Unlikely to Save Philadelphia. For the first time in 60 years, Philadelphia is adding white residents more quickly than it is losing them: 3,980, to be exact, as reported in Thursday’s Philadelphia Daily News. But as The20’s @pkerkstra writes Friday, that may not save the city.
“For every rowhouse Rocky who leaves, there’s a white empty-nester or young college graduate who moves in, usually to Center City or one of its bordering neighborhoods.
The white residents swelling Center City tend to be reasonably well-off and highly educated. That means they pay a lot in taxes while requiring relatively little in the way of city services, a combination that makes them a welcome addition to the poorest big city in the country.
Of course, there are some drawbacks to their increase in Philadelphia. Gentrification tensions are common along many of Center City’s bleeding edges. And one wonders what will happen to Philadelphia’s very identity - so closely linked to the city’s white ethnic neighborhoods - once the white population is dominated not by Joey and Stacey from the block, but by Jacob and Sophia from Swarthmore.”
Kerkstra also mentions urbanist Alan Ehrenhalt’s new book The Great Inversion and the Future of the American City, which covers the demographic inversion taking place in America, where central cities increasingly are where the affluent want to live, while suburbs are becoming home to poorer people and those who come to America from other parts of the world.
In talking about Philadelphia, Ehrenhalt shows that it takes more than a few - or even a bunch of - rich white people moving downtown to save a city. At its core, Philadelphia is, as Ehrenhalt says, “a fashionable city center surrounded on two of its four sides by a periphery of seemingly endless poverty.”
More from Kerkstra:
In Ehrenhalt’s view, Philadelphia’s liabilities - namely the blight, violence, and taxes - are so extreme they will ultimately put a halt to Center City’s growth. In other words, instead of the engine that powers the redevelopment of all of Philadelphia, Center City is more likely to stay an affluent island amid mass poverty.
@pkerkstra, Philly.com, Amazon