Center City is the spoiled golden child of Philadelphia: always getting the accolades, the extra allowance, and all that special attention from Mom (City Hall) and Dad (the media).
Understandably enough, this can make the other neighborhoods a bit jealous. Where’s our Sister Cities Park? asks Fairhill. Why does murder seem to matter more when it happens in Center City? wonders Kingsessing.
Those are fair questions. But the disparity in treatment between the city’s neighborhoods and its core isn’t going away any time soon, and for good reasons.
Center City is the most essential neighborhood in Philadelphia, and its success over the last 15 or 20 years is arguably the biggest reason the city as a whole hasn’t followed Detroit into the urban afterlife.
This case is convincingly made in a new report on private-sector employment released Thursday by the Center City District.
Unsurprisingly, the study found that Philadelphia has far too few jobs, and that it continues to shed those it has at an alarming clip. More on that in a bit.
More interesting is the report’s finding that fully 38 percent of all private-sector jobs in Philadelphia are located in Center City’s 2.8 square miles. An additional 11 percent are directly adjacent to Center City, in the Penn-and-Drexel-fueled University City area. Some jobs are found at Temple University and at the Navy Yard, but otherwise the city is something of a jobless wasteland, with little work beyond neighborhood retail and some small-scale manufacturing.
Here’s another gobsmacking figure the Center City District calculated: There are 129 jobs per acre in Center City, and an average of just 4 per acre in the rest of Philadelphia.
In other words, Center City is far more than a collection of restaurants and expensive condos. It’s an economic engine that powers literally every neighborhood in Philadelphia.