Philadelphia sees population jump
March 31, 2011, 3:18 am·
For the first time in many years, Philadelphia has seen a population increase, according to recently released statistics from the United States Census Bureau.
According to 2010 Census data, in Center City East, the population has jumped by 5,000 since 2000. Center City West rose by 3,000. Northern Liberties has also seen a modest increase of roughly 2,000 people in the last 10 years.
Families, artists and single professionals have flocked to these areas due to new and affordable housing developments, as well as many trendy restaurants, cafes and shops.
Tom Daniels, a professor of City and Regional Planning, said it was encouraging to see the city’s growth.
This is the first time Philadelphia has increased in population since the 1950s, he said.
“To see Philadelphia actually add population is cause for some pretty good feelings,” he said. “There’s been a lot of hope that we would see this urban renaissance.”
Domenic Vitiello, an assistant professor of City Planning and Urban Studies, suggested that immigration has had a large role in the city’s overall growth.
People from Mexico, Africa, Central America, the Caribbean and China are moving into the city, “many by way of ‘secondary migration’ from the greater New York area,” Vitiello wrote in an email.
While Daniels agreed with Vitiello on the fact that immigration has had a large impact on the city’s population, other factors are also fueling the vitality of areas such as Center City and Northern Liberties.
For one, he said, Center City has become more attractive to empty nesters from the suburbs, mostly due to the 10-year property tax abatement. This tax break translates to low property taxes for residents.
In the case of Northern Liberties, Daniels said, the affordable housing has attracted many artists from New York.
In 2005, a New York Times article named Philadelphia the next borough of New York. According to a March 25 Philadelphia Daily News article, artists and young professionals that got priced out of Manhattan and Brooklyn flocked to eastern Philadelphia, as developers turned the area’s terrain from industrial to modish with the addition of fashionable restaurants and shops.
While this is positive for the city as a whole, not all of Philadelphia’s neighborhoods are doing well, including West Philadelphia, which has decreased in population. Experts believe this is due to a large ratio of elderly residents to younger ones.
The population in southern West Philadelphia — or Cobbs Creek — has fallen since the year 2000 from roughly 40,000 to 37,000. Northern West Philadelphia — Parkside — fell from a population of 49,000 to 47,000.
Decreases in population in poorer areas like West Philadelphia, he wrote, reflect the large amount of elderly residents who have died in the last 10 years.
Daniels also noted that since he came to Penn eight years ago, the University has had a role in revitalizing University City. While there have been recent setbacks related to the bad economy, he said, a long-term goal of the University is to help create jobs through development.
“The idea is to continue to grow University City,” he said. “Penn certainly has the ability to create jobs where there is financial strife.”