Philadelphia’s peripheries

I was driving through Philadelphia earlier today, specifically from my office on Logan Circle to the Schuylkill Expressway to get out of the city. I snapped this photo as I was waiting at a red light, about to merge onto the expressway.

The city is changing, most obviously with the near-topping-out of the latest Comcast tower to the far left. The Cira Center looms large on the right. Much more is planned and potentially starting this year on that side of the Schuylkill River in University City. Plenty of other large and smallish projects throughout Center City.

But I wonder how much is being done to create vibrant neighborhoods in other parts of the city. Not much, I suspect.

Places like Manayunk continue to thrive, but the poorest neighborhoods and those in transition like Brewerytown don’t seem to be developing coherent cultures of their own in the way a place like Manayunk has, or in the myriad ways that Center City enjoys from river to river.

The health of Philadelphia over the course of the long 21st century will be determined as much by the development of the cultures of these neighborhoods on the periphery as it will by the redevelopment and jobs available in Center City and West Philadelphia.

Fingers crossed.

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