Report: ‘Anyone who cares about the future of Philadelphia should pay attention to the state and fate of the Northeast’

Whether you love your Northeast Philly neighborhood, or you’re one of our commenters who laments the changes you’ve seen over the years, you should read this piece from Hidden City contributor Sandy Smith about Philadelphia’s middle class neighborhoods. No surprise, the piece devotes a lot of attention to the Northeast.

“While many of us celebrate the reversal of the city’s declining fortunes as indicated by rising population and house values, especially in the center, that declining middle is a sign of potential trouble down the road, for it has historically been the middle class that has been the backbone of our economy. Which is why anyone who cares about the future of Philadelphia should pay attention to the state and fate of the Northeast.”

Smith’s argues the city should be paying more attention to the new residents coming in from other countries. “Immigrants may start out with relatively meager incomes, but they take jobs and build businesses that soon lift their incomes upward, to their benefit and that of the city as a whole.”

It’s an interesting point in a story worth reading. We do have to call Hidden City out on one thing, though.

In Smith’s discussion of Northeast neighborhoods, he mentions Port Richmond and Kensington. Both are below the Tacony-Frankford Creek, and therefore not in Northeast Philadelphia. It’s important to recognize the value in a city-wide publication paying attention to the rarely newsworthy Northeast. But in a piece that calls on the city to take notice of what’s happening for the sake of improvement, we’ve got to get the geography right. The first step in identifying — and ultimately solving — issues is to understand where they are.

Smith finishes his piece with this:

“Perhaps it’s time the rest of us rethought our vast in-city suburb–not only in terms of strengthening its urbanity, but in terms of keeping it the kind of place other cities would love to have within their borders, where those in the middle can grab on to the good life still.”

We look forward to more coverage of the Northeast from Hidden City.

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