Northeast Times

River Wards changes, by the numbers

North­ern Liber­ties takes the lead as the most rap­idly changed River Wards neigh­bor­hood with­in the last sev­er­al years.

One of the charts presen­ted at the LSH meet­ing, which shows the changes in me­di­an in­come in the River Wards over the past sev­er­al years. COUR­TESY OF POLICY MAP

As any loc­al will at­test, there is no short­age of dis­cus­sion about how much the River Wards in re­cent years have changed, and are con­tinu­ing to change.

It’s not too of­ten, though, that a com­munity meet­ing is fo­cused solely on that dis­cus­sion, as well as on how such change might af­fect a neigh­bor­hood’s fu­ture.

Such a meet­ing did take place, though, on Aug. 7, at Fishtown’s Luther­an Set­tle­ment House, 1340 Frank­ford Ave. LSH in­vited the Fishtown com­munity and sur­round­ing neigh­bor­hoods to the dis­cus­sion in hopes of de­term­in­ing how demo­graph­ic changes might af­fect LSH’s abil­ity to be a val­ued neigh­bor­hood re­source.

More than that, though, the meet­ing was a thought-pro­vok­ing con­ver­sa­tion about the pos­it­ive and neg­at­ive ef­fects of gentri­fic­a­tion, as well as changes in res­id­ents’ levels of in­come, edu­ca­tion and cre­at­ive and busi­ness pur­suits alike.

At the meet­ing, it be­came clear to at­tendees that change in the River Wards isn’t just talk. Ac­cord­ing to U.S. Census data made avail­able by Policy Map, the 19122, 19123, 19125 and 19134 ZIP codes are largely be­com­ing wealth­i­er, young­er and more edu­cated. See the in­form­a­tion box be­low for the spe­cif­ic num­bers, which were presen­ted at the meet­ing. 19123, which in­cludes North­ern Liber­ties, by and large saw the greatest per­cent­ages of change over time. 

“It’s pretty clear there have been some pretty sig­ni­fic­ant changes in these neigh­bor­hoods,” said Sar­ina Is­sen­berg, cur­rent com­munity as­sess­ment in­tern at LSH, who led the 6:30 p.m. meet­ing.

Kelly Dav­is, ex­ec­ut­ive dir­ect­or of LSH, said at the meet­ing that LSH en­lis­ted the help of Is­sen­berg to con­duct what is es­sen­tially com­munity re­search.

“How do these [neigh­bor­hood] changes in­form Luther­an Set­tle­ment House’s fu­ture as a com­munity or­gan­iz­a­tion?” Dav­is asked at the meet­ing.

LSH has been in Fishtown for 112 years, Dav­is said, and is un­der­go­ing sweep­ing changes to, as she put it, “har­ness the new en­ergy of the neigh­bor­hood.”

Dav­is also men­tioned that the LSH build­ing will un­der­go 1.3 mil­lion dol­lars’ worth of renov­a­tion and changes, fun­ded by the state, and will see the ad­di­tion of green space and a 24-bed urb­an farm across the way, along Mas­ter Street, where teen­agers af­fil­i­ated with LSH pro­grams will work along­side seni­ors to tend to the farm.

It’s all an ef­fort, Dav­is said, to make sure LSH keeps up with how the sur­round­ing neigh­bor­hoods are chan­ging.

Veron­ica Szy­manski, hu­man re­la­tions rep­res­ent­at­ive for the city’s Com­mis­sion on Hu­man Re­la­tions was present at the meet­ing, and said she has per­ceived a great change in the River Wards neigh­bor­hoods, but that she wasn’t sure if those changes were over­whelm­ingly pos­it­ive or neg­at­ive.

“The down­side to these changes is some people are be­ing dis­placed,” Szy­manski said. “People need more in­form­a­tion about how to as­sess their homes, how to work with L&I, do taxes and doc­u­ment­a­tion, and get people to meet­ings,” she said.

“Young­er people need to re­cruit older people to get in­volved,” Szy­manski con­tin­ued.

Steve Hon­ey­man, who has worked in and out of River Wards neigh­bor­hoods for many years, said that he be­lieves it’s im­port­ant to keep sev­er­al things in mind when con­sid­er­ing the neigh­bor­hoods’ changes, par­tic­u­larly when it comes to gen­er­ally rising hous­ing prices.

“The most im­port­ant thing is that this whole area re­main a mixed in­come com­munity,” he said. “How do you keep some piece of hous­ing af­ford­able?” 

Changes in the neigh­bor­hood, Hon­ey­man said, hap­pen gradu­ally.

“Waves of gentri­fic­a­tion don’t just hap­pen. First come the pro­fes­sion­als, and then later, chil­dren. How good or bad schools are is a big factor,” Hon­ey­man said. “People think [gentri­fic­a­tion] just hap­pens, but it’s a pro­cess. ull;•

See be­low for stat­ist­ics on the chan­ging River Wards. All data from the U.S. Census, cour­tesy of Policy Map.

Me­di­an In­come of a House­hold (2007-2011)

19122: $19,832 (an 8.27 per­cent in­crease from 2007-2011)

19123: $45,665 (a 108.69 per­cent in­crease from 2007-2011)

19125: $40,647 (a 40.12 per­cent in­crease from 2007-2011)

19134: $23,850 (a 10.97 per­cent in­crease from 2007-2011)

Phil­adelphia County, 2010: $36,957 (a 20.20 per­cent in­crease from 2007-2011)

Per­cent Change in the Num­ber of Homeown­ers (2000-2010)

19122: 4.01% in­crease

19123: 18.62 % de­crease

19125: 59.41% in­crease

19134: 8.29 % in­crease

Phil­adelphia County: 7.18% de­crease

Per­cent Change in the Num­ber of People Age 18 to 34 (2000-2010)

19122: 49.74% in­crease

19123: 124.22% in­crease

19125: 30.52% in­crease

19134: 15.85% in­crease

Phil­adelphia County: 15.27% in­crease

Es­tim­ated Per­cent Change in the Num­ber of People with At Least a Bach­el­or’s De­gree (2000-2010):

19122: 66.50% in­crease

19123: 189.58% in­crease

19125: 233.25% in­crease

19134: 81.48% in­crease

Phil­adelphia County: 27.66% in­crease

You can reach at mjamison@bsmphilly.com.

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