The successful process of gentrification in the city of Philadelphia might be the beginning of ab urban crisis that could affect the quality of life of its citizens.
It is a contradictory situation, because the impulse of its industrial developments, the urban redefinitions that returned the old glory to the city center and its competitive costs in residential areas, are situations that could conspire against the city.
Richard Florida, an American expert in geography and economic growth born in 1957 in neighboring Newark, author of The Flight of the Creative Class .The New Global Competition for Talent, edited by Harper Collins, recently wrote an article called: Philadelphia’s next challenge: Stemming the tide of America´s new urban crisis.
The urbanist Florida is part of “The Philadelphia Fellowship “and has been working with local stakeholders and academics to benchmark where the city stands on key metrics and to develop strategies for the future.
According to the specialist, the low costs and the city updating, transformed Philadelphia into an affordable alternative to New York and San Francisco, as well as to Boston and DC on the east coast. That helped make the city a mecca for young people and the creative class of technologists, innovators, professionals, managers, artists and designers.
A journey from more to less
As stated by the analyst, in the years spanning 2006 and 2012, Philadelphia had the greatest proportional increase in migrants millennials of any major city, with the population of 20 – to 34 year- olds increasing around 100 thousand residents, a rate of more than 6 percent per year.
Another catalyst that boosted the city is the region´s world-class colleges and universities. They are great magnets for talented young people: in all, the metropolis is home to more than 340,000 college students, making it the fifth- largest college town in the nation. And through the work of groups like Campus Philly and other local organizations, more and more graduates have chosen to stay in the region.
Bad times come from good times
Richard Florida considers that this city revival may be reaching a tipping point. The city seems to be on the verge of a new urban crisis. If its old urban crisis of the seventies and eighties was one of economic decline and dysfunction, the new one is a crisis of success, manifested in accelerated gentrification, rising housing costs and growing inequality and social division.
The new urban crisis in Philadelphia is not as extreme as New York or San Francisco or LA, not yet. “But the region ranks eighth on my New Urban Crisis Index, a composite measure of inequality, economic segregation and housing affordability. And it has the third- highest level of income inequality in the nation among largest cities, on par with that of Bolivia and Honduras, “says Richard Florida.
Translated by: José Espinoza