Studies in Rapid Neighborhood Change

Since 2011, Ira Goldstein and Mark Stern have taught URBS200—Urban Research Methods—using a community case study approach. We have chosen a neighborhood and used a variety of quantitative and qualitative methods to learn about its economic, social, and cultural life.  Because Philadelphia is a dynamic city, these case studies typically focused around issues of community change: what has changed and how have those changes affected community residents?

Beginning in 2014, Stern added an additional step.  During the final weeks of the semester, students were asked to condense all of the work for the semester into a single report. 

In 2014, the class studied Point Breeze, which, for decades, was a high-poverty predominantly African American neighborhood. In recent years, the neighborhood has experienced a building boom and an influx of more affluent residents.  In 2015, the students turned their attention to Mantua and Powelton Village in West Philadelphia.  There we discovered that institutional players—especially Drexel University and its students—are having the most profound impact on the neighborhood’s built environment and residents. In 2016, the students studied the Chinatown North/Callowhill neighborhood north of Vine Street and east of Broad Street, a neighborhood with a long history of serving as a temporary home for a variety of groups, including single men and immigrants.

During the Spring 2017 semester, the students of URBS200 completed a report on the Grad Hospital neighborhood—the area between South and Washington west of Broad-- again, used their newly-acquired research skills to probe the impact of rapid neighborhood change on an urban neighborhood. The Grad Hospital study differed from earlier efforts, because it was more a study of a neighborhood after rather than during the neighborhood change.

These four reports constitute Urban Studies’ Studies in Rapid Neighborhood Change. 

Check out the 2017 report on Grad Hospital, as well as the Chinatown North/Callowhill report from 2016, Powelton and Mantua Report from 2015, and the Point Breeze Report from 2014.