Philadelphia: More than just good cheese steaks


Philadelphia’s Girard Avenue, by Flickr user KGradinger.

Philadelphia has given us some of the world’s best cheese steaks, but the city also offers a great example of how smart growth strategies can help rebuild America’s cities.

Philadelphia’s smart growth efforts date back to 1991, when, beginning in his first term, Mayor Ed Rendell focused on revitalizing downtown. In 2001, Mayor John Street unveiled his Neighborhood Transformation Initiative that invested millions of dollars into neighborhood revitalization. And the City’s current mayor, Michael Nutter, is continuing this legacy by targeting the commercial corridors that provide goods, services and jobs to the City’s residents through the ReStore program.

These are great smart growth strategies that are revitalizing Philadelphia’s urban core and creating opportunities in underserved communities, and the efforts are beginning to pay off. For the first time in six decades, the City of Philadelphia has stopped losing population – and may be even growing. The 2010 U.S Census showed that Philadelphia’s population, which has decreased every decade since 1950, has stabilized.

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SGA News Clips, 5/20/11

Census finds Pittsburgh is growing younger
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, May 19, 2011
“The unusual drop in the city’s median age was among the findings in the U.S. Census Bureau’s release today of new information from last year’s population count. For both the city of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County, the number of elderly residents as well as their percentage of the overall population are on the decline.”

Gary, Ind., struggles with population loss
USA Today, May 19, 2011
“The 2010 Census crystallized Gary’s decline: The population, which peaked at 178,320 in 1960, is now 80,294. From 2000 through last year’s count, Gary lost 22% of its residents. The city’s unemployment rate in February was 9.8%. Gary — like Detroit, which lost 25% of its people in the past decade — faces tough questions: What is the best way to shrink a city? How can city government provide adequate services as its tax base contracts? How can new employers and residents be wooed to a place known more for blight than for opportunity?”

Sound Transit to invest $2.1M in rail,bus ridership research
Seattle Times, May 19, 2011
“Sound Transit will spend as much as $2.1 million for consultants to conduct market research, in hopes of boosting its rail and bus ridership. ‘Finding out what will get people out of their cars and into our services is going to require some deep research and talking to a lot of people in our region,’ said communications Director Ron Klein.”

Poll: Gas prices causing hardship for 4 in 10 Americans
Chicago Tribune, May 19, 2001
“With gasoline prices hovering at $4 a gallon nationally, many Americans are making tough choices: scaling back summer vacations, driving less or ditching the car altogether. Some seniors are choosing a tank of gas over their prescriptions. An Associated Press-GfK poll shows the share of Americans who say increases in the price of gasoline will cause serious financial hardship for them or their family in the next six months now tops 4 in 10. Overall in the poll, 71 percent said rising prices will cause some hardship for them and their family, including 41 percent who called it a “serious” hardship. Just 29 percent said rising prices are not causing a negative impact on their finances.”

Never Too Old To Bike To Work (video)
Grist, May 19, 2011
“Gilbert admits to being in her “high 70s,” and she has been biking since she was a 7-year-old in France. She and her friends didn’t have phones, so if they wanted to talk, they hopped on their bikes and went and found each other.”

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