The City Paper has a good article this week on a report out of Temple University
that highlights contrasts between Center City and its surrounding regions (both in and then outside the city) and on factors that make people want to move to or out of Philadelphia
Researchers found Center City so fundamentally different from the surrounding inner-city communities that it is one of just 15 "Established Town"-type communities in the region. (Other such towns are Narberth, Media, Milbourne, Radnor and Thornbury—which seems only to highlight just how unique Center City is.)
Around Center City, MPIP's maps show several massive inner-city communities. Including West, Southwest and North Philadelphia, as well as Camden, these inner-city neighborhoods isolate Philadelphia physically and culturally from the rest of the region. And researchers found the division is going to get worse.
Basically, people are choosing not to live in the innermost ring of neighborhoods surrounding Center City, opting instead for the outer suburbs, with the result that the "ring" areas are getting poorer and more dangerous even as Center City thrives. Importantly, they note that the reasons for relocation are not primarily economic:
In the Philadelphia region, safety is the number one reason for moving (76 percent), followed by housing costs (70 percent) and good schools (59 percent). Moving in search of lower taxes actually ranked among the bottom (32 percent).
This puts a bit of a hole in arguments by the Chamber of Commerce and others that cuts in taxes will lead to more jobs, businesses, and residents in the city (see a similar argument against simplistic solutions made by Charles here
). More effective is likely to be determination among current residents to improve their neighborhoods and give those around them more reasons to stay.