In case you missed it: this week’s good reads about Pennsylvania cities

     The rubber duck at the port of Los Angeles, 2014 (Photo courtesy of Draw Events)

    The rubber duck at the port of Los Angeles, 2014 (Photo courtesy of Draw Events)

    Memorial Day has passed and for many, it has been a short work week — but we are never short on news for this week’s urban reads.


    School may be winding down for kids, but not for education news.

    Tenth in Multiple Choices, our series of podcasts and web explainers about public education funding: What is a millage rate and how does it affect school funding?  Whoa, this can get complicated, so there are lots of helpful examples to demystify this obscure term.

    Pennsylvania cyber charter schools are not happy about Governor Wolf’s proposed budget cuts, as explained in our Multiple Choices series.

    Public, private or charter? Choosing the best school for your child can be an anxious, even tearful process for parents, as this three-part series concludes with a difficult decision. (NewsWorks)

    More than 90 percent of Pennsylvania school districts submitted plans to the state education secretary for increased funds — 92 percent, to be exact. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)


    We’ve pulled the numbers and created a series of maps showing the Commonwealth’s population distribution for each U.S. Census starting in 1960, plus the most recent municipal-level numbers for 2014. Click, zoom and search six decades of Pennsylvania population shifts.

    In The Morning Call‘s take on this data, while Bethlehem’s population has seen steady growth, other cities, including Scranton and Erie, have seen decline. 

    Centre County is experiencing pockets of population decline after steady years of growth. (The Altoona Mirror)

    Affordable housing

    The Lancaster County Coalition to End Homelessness is getting a new home. (LancasterOnline)

    A new study finds that renters in 11 major U.S. cities are facing pressures similar to their counterparts in Lancaster County, where availability and affordability have been an ongoing challenge for many residents. (LancasterOnline)

    Thirty percent of America’s workforce earns a near-minimum-wage salary while rents across the country keep rising. Here’s a map showing the hours per week a minimum-wage employee would have to work per week in their state to afford a one-bedroom place: (CityLab)

    Rethinking neighbors and neighborhoods

    Harrisburg is the latest Pennsylvania municipality to partner with Nextdoor, a social networking site, designed to foster communication in neighborhoods and between city agencies and residents.

    Welcome to open streets planning.  Through closing streets to cars, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Lancaster and Harrisburg have found a mixed bag of ways to connect neighborhoods by opening streets to bikes, rollerblading and even salsa lessons.

    A sociologist examines the role of neighborhood associations in gentrification, and questions the definition of a good neighbor  (Next City)


    As the initial lawsuits over the fatal May 13 Amtrak crash in Philadelphia are being filed, resolution may be years away.

    The “floating” bus stop may help buses and bicycles peacefully coexist. (CityLab)

    New York and Philadelphia have their own campaigns for public transportation etiquette, but their rules are too lax for Chicago.(CityLab)

    Big fun?

    This weekend, “Live on Vine” will transform a corner of Lancaster into a six-hour-long block party and mini music festival.  (LancasterOnline)

    Downtown Reading is getting so busy with upcoming festivals, markets and concerts that members of the Main Street board wondered whether they should create a community calendar to coordinate events without overlapping. (The Reading Eagle)

    The former D.G. Yuengling & Son ice cream factory in Pottsville will be transformed  into a gift shop and museum. Attractions will include a beverage sampling bar in the vintage ice cream manufacturing area, and a replica of a wooden beer keg that’s more than 10 feet high. (Scranton Times-Tribune)

    And while we are thinking big, the world’s largest floating rubber duck (61 feet tall, 11 tons) will turn the Delaware River into a bathtub during Tall Ships Philadelphia Camden 2015. Look out for your favorite bath toy June 25 to 28, 2015. Bring your own soap! (

    Happy Friday and happy reading.

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