Downtown Wilmington, Delaware

Downtown is really an inverted L shape with Walnut clearly forming the eastern boundary. The western border is a bit fuzzier but from the south its Tatnal, West St., Jefferson, and the western down 11th street to  202. The northern border is the Brandywine Creek and the southern border Christina River with the inclusion of the Riverfront development down to New Sweden St. I like to subdivide Downtown into three districts: Midtown-Brandywine- centered along 11th & 12th streets up to Brandywine Creak; Historic Market Street- running north to South; Riverfront- newer development on the west bank of the Christina River.

Downtown Wilmington is dominated by corporations in many ways. The City has become a national financial center for the credit card industry, largely due to regulations enacted by former Governor Pierre S. du Pont, IV in 1981. Legislation eliminated the usury laws enacted by most states, thereby removing the cap on interest rates that banks may legally charge customers. Major credit card issuers such as Barclays Bank of Delaware, are headquartered in Wilmington.

Historic Market Street was the commercial center of the city between roughly 1870 and 1968 and is the most historically intact part of Dwtn with great architecture, the best being the Grand Opera House. Many restaurants, bars, and retail are here but the district seems to still struggle with vacancies. Surrounding Streets are often uninspiring modern offices with lots of surface parking . Brandywine-Midtown is a mix of early 20th century and modern office towners along 11th and 12th Streets. Between 12th and Brandywine is a lovely late 19th century historic rowhouse district. The Riverfront District was formerly a hub for manufacturing and the city’s shipbuilding industry. Rapid urban renewal efforts, driven by the state, changed the district in the late 1990s. A nice riverfront trail, many new office buildings and entertainment venues were born from these efforts. Unfortunately little attention was paid to urban design and the district feels rather dead and soulless with all its surface parking.

There are certainly good assets in Downtown Delaware and blocks of attractive historic buildings. What is needed is a focus on livability, walkability, and connectiveness to counteract decades of catering to suburban/autocentric corporate thinking. There are just too many surface parking lots, dead spaces, and large soulless modern corporate towers. My visit to Wilmington during the pandemic showed how dead Downtown Wilmington can feel when its not filled with office workers. Hopefully this leads City leaders to rethink their Downtown.

Click here to view my Flickr album for Downtown Wilmington, DE


* Solid transit access throughout most of the City of Wilmington. Hit or miss in the suburbs depending on how old the suburb is and whether its connected to a rail line that flows through Wilmington and Philadelphia. Only 20 minutes from Dwtn Wilmington to Dwtn Philly on rail but over an hour to the Philly airport due to an indirect connection. Convenient access to Dwtn DE airport but not many flights out of there.
* Excellent economic and racial diversity among the population living Dwtn.
* Dwtn for sale housing is very reasonably priced. Nice pocket of rowhomes in the Mid-Town/Brandywine subdistrict selling between 200K-400K. Some even selling in the 100s just east of King Street. Newer/higher end townhomes and condos selling in the Waterfront district anywhere between 200K-450K.
* Dwtn hosts nice riverside parks and trails along especially along the Brandywine Creek but especially the Christina River.
* Cultural amenities include a decent array of restaurants, bars & cafes, several theaters (including the beautiful Grand Opera House), a indie theater and full cineplex, the Children’s Museum, the Delaware Sports Museum, & Contemporary Art Museum, several historic sites & buildings, the convention center, a minor league baseball park, and a decent array of art galleries. Dwtn also has an attractive historic library,
* Probably about 25K-30K jobs in Dwtn Wilmington, a good number considering the City has only 70K people. Very large corporate presence here.
* Large Biz Improvement District Dwtn helping with safety and cleanliness.
* Some good areas of historic architecture especially along Market but also 11th/12th Streets.
* Great concentration of schools Dwtn across all grade levels but many of them are ranked poorly. Still many perform highly making Dwtn an ideal place to walk to school.
* Good tree canopy for a Dwtn area.
* Streetscaping is overall of a good quality throughout Dwtn.


* Dedicated bike paths within dwtn and the City of Delaware and are pretty limited. A handful of nice paths along the Brandywine and Christina Rivers that feed into dwtn. Nice array of bike paths in the Wilmington Region however, but mostly disconnected with dwtn. No dedicated bike stations.
* Highly gridded and connected streets dwtn, but many wide one-lane roads exclusive to moving car traffic..
* Rentals are modestly priced. 1-bedrooms leasing in the low-mid $1,000s and 2-bedrooms in the $2,000s. Overall product is pretty limited and very few 3-bedrooms.
* Most plaza spaces dwtn are pretty unaspiring and small. But there are a couple decent ones…Tubman Garret River Park and Rodney Square. Both have decent programming and events Rodney Square is pretty centrally located and its Dwtn Civic plaza.
* Limited sporting venues and activities dwtn. No large Dwtn post office.
* Dwtn neighborhood services are kinda limited. No dedicated grocery. But Dwtn does have a couple of drug stores, plenty of banks. many discount clothing stores, a handful of boutiques, and tons of salons and barbershops. The Wilmington Hospital is also on the western edge of Dwtn.
* The skyline is rather short and state but well concentrated along Market and 11th/12th. Modern towers are very bland but some good historic ones.
* Some better newer infill in the waterfront but still pretty bland.
* Not great pedestrian activity, especially considering how dense the districts are around it. There just seems to be a lack of buzz Dwtn even though there are a decent amount of activities going on.
* Only a handful of satellite campuses dwtn amounting to now more than 2K students.
* Urban form is a mixed bag. Good along Market, decent in the Mid-Town-Brandywine district but pretty awesome at the River front where parking lots abound and along edges of Dwtn. Lots of dead space here due to corporate nature of Dwtn. 

Hilltop- Wilmington’s Little Italy

Hilltop contains several subdistricts including the more posh Cold Springs district with larger homes from the late 1800s,  West Hill centered around Titlton Park, a district of more modest and dense late 19th century rowhouse, and the Little Italy District anchored by the Lincoln Avenue commercial district and St. Anthony’s Church.

Hilltop’s urban strengths include its proximity to Downtown (only 1.5 mile away), attractive late 19th century architecture, dense form, economic and racial diversity, mix of housing types and prices, and convenience of many small/medium parks. It is a very comfortable but quiet district. The main areas for the district to improve upon is more retail and cultural amenities, urban business districts (Lincoln, 4th St, and Pennsylvania Ave) with better form and sense of place, and better bike infrastructure. The district should also consider building more dedicated affordable housing to prevent displacement should the district continue to revitalize.

Click here to see more Hilltop photos in my Flickr Album


* Very convenient access to downtown with good public transit options. Street grid is highly connective and conducive to pedestrian activity.
* Mix of modest and larger more ornate rowhouses.
* Nice mix of housing prices. Larger/renovated homes generally sell between 300K-500K. Larger mansions around Cool Spring Park Sell for more. Modest but well kept homes sell in the 200Ks. Plenty of smaller not well kept rowhouses selling between 60K-150K especially near Lancaster road. Rentals are generally affordable but a pretty limited.1-bedrooms lease for around $1,000.
* Great racial and economic diversity. * Nice array of small and medium sized parks spread throughout the district with quality amenities. Other parks are walkable in adjacent districts including the extensive Brandywine Park.
* Mix of decent and high quality historic architecture. Best architecture is in the eastern half of the district.
* Tree cover best also in the eastern half of the district, which is generally the more wealthier half of the neighborhood.
* Cultural amenities include a very diverse array of restaurants, several cafes and bars, the Delaware Children’s Theatre, a Library, Post Office, and the Brandywine Zoo is located in an adjacent district.
* The Saint Francis Hospital is centrally located in Hilltop and a very good array of churches.
* Good number of Christine and Catholic schools in and around Hilltop K-12. Very limited public schools but there is a high performing Charter School to the SW of the district.


* One dedicated north-south bike lane. Not dedicated bike stations.
* Good but not great ADA infrastructure as intersections on residential streets are hit or miss with consistant curb cuts.
* Very low generational diversity as family households is around 20%..
* No museums, theaters, or art galleries in the district. Fortunately downtown is only a 1.5 away and offers many of these amenities.
* Retail amenities are a bit underwhelming. They include many Hispanic grocerias (Achme Supermarket located in adjacent 40 acres), several drug stores, a library and post office, handful of boutiques, gift stores, dollar stores, plenty of convenience stores, and a handful of banks.
* Buzz of the district depends on where you live in Hilltop. The eastern edge and Cold Spring portions of the neighborhood seem very in demand but other parts not so much.
* Not much modern architecture in the district and what does exist is more auto centric commercial uses.
* Urban massing along Union St is decent but uninspiring. 4th Street is more residential with some commercial and has acceptable urban massing. The western half Pennsylvania Street is most auto centric commercial uses.
* Even in the early 2010s the district had some pretty high crime. This seems to have drastically improved by 2020.

Queen Village- Philly’s first “Suburb”

Queens Village was Philadelphia’s first suburb and thus has a ton of history. Despite William Penn’s planned orderly east-to-west filling of the city, new inhabitants tended to stay close to the Delaware River, preferring to subdivide Penn’s original ample lots or move just south or north of the city rather than west beyond 4th Street. Thus Queen’s Village began to fill in during the late 1700s starting with  a large Swedish population. The district also attracted Philly’s first Free African American Community in the early 1800s. Queens Village was officially incorporated into the City of Philadelphia in the mid-1850s. By the 1890s, an Eastern European Jewish population settled along the South Street and 4th Street commercial corridors, the latter of which became Philadelphia’s Fabric Row. Steams of Polish then Italian immigrants came during the turn of the 20th century taking advantage of many waterfront jobs. This helped establish South Philly as the City’s main Italian hub. Between the major wars, Queens Village became over crowded with poor local housing conditions. This unfortunately led to some ill-conceived urban renewal efforts including the construction of 1-95 cutting the district from the waterfront and the Southwark projects built between Christian and Washington Streets.  These efforts, along with suburban sprawl lead to several decades of decline in Queen Village especially in the concentrated area of poverty at the Southwark projects.

Thanks to several conditions (a burgeoning historic preservation movement, commercial revitalization efforts along South Street, and a stabilizing effort by Italian and other immigrant families who refused to leave the neighborhood), revitalization came to Queens Village in the 70s and 80s. Now the district is one of Philly’s best urban centers but also very expensive. Other than the affordability issue, there is not a whole lot to improve to this dense, mixed-use neighborhood. But if I’m being nitty picky the district could use better tree canopy, ADA infrastructure, a public library, and better park amenities.

Click here to view my full Queen Village Album on Flickr


* Great density. Nearly 40K per square mile.
* Great access to Center City Philly being just south of Society Hill.
* Convenient district for all modes of transportation via bike, walking, and public transit.
* Decent but not great diversity here.
* Good amount of project housing near Washington Ave.
* Access to a several smaller parks, playgrounds, and plazas well distributed throughout the district. Jefferson Square/Sacks Playground is the largest recreational space in the district.
* A very safe feeling district with very limited amounts of blight.
* Only a handful of solid schools within the district but several good ones in surrounding neighborhoods along with walkable access to several alternative high schools about 1 mile away.
* High level of cultural amenities here including a great diversity of restaurants, bars, and cafes, several live music venues along South Street, and many art galleries.. There are also several historic homes and museums just to the north and northeast in adjoining Society Hill and Navy Yards.
* Great Amenities are also great and include: several supermarkets just outside the neighborhood boundaries, many grocerias/small grocers, a couple drug stores, a great array of boutiques, antique stores, bookstores, and creative shops, plenty of banks, a local post office, hardware store, desert joints, and a decent mix of churches.
* Excellent historic architecture Georgian styling near front and Italianate further within the district. Lovely 2-story bays in the commer. buildings as well.
* Modern infill stylistically is hit or miss depending on what decade it is, but always very contextual (with the major exception with the affordable housing near Washington Street (bland 89s/90s structures with courtyard parking).
* Urban form is great throughout the district with the major exception of parts of Washington Street.
* Great mixed use development helped by several biz districts (South, 4th, & Bainbridge) and mixed use buildings throughout. 


* Decent ADA infrastructure. Good along Commercial streets but modern ADA curbs are spotting on residential streets.
* While this is a very expensive neighborhood still a good amount of smaller 2 & 3 bedroom rowhouses/condos selling in the high 200Ks/ and 300Ks. Modest sized but higher end product selling between 400K-600K. Larger higher end product selling between 600K and about 1 Million.
* Rentals are also pretty expensive but plentiful. Studios go for around 1K. 1-bedrooms in the mid to high 1,000s. 2-bedrooms the high 1Ks to the mid 2Ks,
* No library within the district.
* Tree cover is okay. Its certainly difficult to fit trees in with such limited side walk space.

Olde Kensington- a renewed industrial hub on Philly’s Northside

Like most inner-city Philadelphia neighborhoods, Olde Kensington has roots in colonial Philadelphia. It was conceived in 1730 by  a wealthy provincial councilor named Anthony Palmer to become a mirror of upscale London, with regal sounding street names like Hanover, Prince (Girard) and Bishop (Berks). Gradually, however, it proximity to the waterfront and rail lines lent the neighborhood more to manufacturing and Olde Kensington ultimately became a quite the North Philly industrial hub centered along American St. One can still see vestiges of its regal ambitions with grand Italianate flats along 2nd Ave.

After World War II, the neighborhood began to decline due to deindustrialization and abandonment became commonplace in Olde Kensington, although not as widespread as other North Philly neighborhoods like Sharswood or Cecil B. Moore. Since the 2000s the gentrification of the surrounding districts of Northern Liberties and Fishtown spilled over into Olde Kensington drawn by its more affordable rents and loft spaces. Many industrial spaces have also been converted into artistic workspaces and interesting mixed-use buildings. The City recently made major infrastructure investments  along American St, giving it a road diet and adding dedicated bike lanes, and creating a boulevard. The neighborhood is now seeing significant renovation projects and in-fill leading to a rapid ride in housing costs.

The biggest missing piece in Olde Kensington from an urbanist perspective is more retail amenities. Girard is the closest thing the district has to a business district but its not very consistant. Park amenities and Bike infrastructure are also limited. I hope the district can produce more affordable housing to offset district’s rapid price increases. There are plenty of vacant lots remaining.


Click here to view my Olde Kensington Flick Album


* ADA curbs are pretty consistant along the commercial streets but hit or miss on the residential streets. But better than most Philly neighborhoods.
* Great racial diversity. Also very good economic distribution but too high of a poverty rate (around 25%).
* Cultural amenities include a very diverse array of restaurants, several bars, distilleries, and breweries, a handful of art galleries, a couple local museums, and a local theater. Also convenient access to the plethora of cultural amenities in adjacent Northern Liberties and Fishtown.
* Neighborhood amenities include convenient access to Acheme Markets, many ethnic grocerias, several drug stores, several boutiques, convenient access to a couple post offices and a library, a couple bike stores. Several churches open across a decent diversity of denominations but not a ton. These are concentrated along Girard Street but decent mix of uses throughout. Also good access to amenities in surrounding districts like Fishtown and Northern Liberties.
* Only a handful of smaller schools within Olde Kensington but plenty in surrounding neighborhoods that are still very walkable.
* Generally very good architecture with the historic warehouses, a fair amount of more elaborate rowhouses mixed in and great urban in-fill.
* Urban massing is generally pretty good but some vacant lots and industrial uses still existing along American and Cecil B. Moore. Urban streetscaping is pretty tired and uninspiring with the major exception of American St. which is getting a complete make over and road diet. 


* Bike infrastructure a bit limited. Only dedicated lanes along American Street and a handful of dedicated bike stations.
* Generational diversity is deceit but not great.
* For sale prices are beginning to look like Northern Liberties in Olde Kensington, especially the eastern half and southern edge. Still some modest price homes selling in the high 200Ks and look 300Ks. There are mainly smaller condos/townhouses. The majority of homes selling anywhere between 400K-800K. These are either renovated or new product.
* Rentals are pretty expensive as well with 1-bedrooms leasing in the $1,000s, 2 bedrooms in the mid 1000s to low $2,000s. and 3-bedrooms in the 2Ks and low 3Ks. Some dedicated affordable apts are present here.
* Park amenities within and near Olde Kensington but there is the Hancock Playground  and Cruz playground/recreational center.
* No active hospitals within or adjacent to the neighborhood.
* Crime does not appear to be a major issue in Olde Kensington but still a decent amount of blight remains here.
* Tree canopy is wanting. 

Fishtown- One of my favorite Philly neighborhoods

Fishtown is a largely working class Irish Catholic neighborhood, but has recently seen a large influx of young urban professionals and gentrification. The name Fishtown derives from the major original occupation of its residents. Early settlers were fishermen and over time they controlled the fishing rights to both sides of the Delaware River from Cape May to the falls at Trenton, NJ. The neighborhood was originally built up by German immigrants in the early-mid 19th century followed by Polish and Irish Catholic immigrants in the late 19th century. Poverty grew in Fishtown in the 70s-80s after many good jobs left during the deindustrialization era, however many of Fishtown’s workers stayed keeping the neighborhood for slipping into widespread poverty like so many surrounding North Philly districts.

This neighborhood is one of my favorites in Philly. This may surprise some, but Fishtown’s recent revitalization builds upon an existing neighborhood with quality urban fabric. Fishtown is very similar to the better South Philly neighborhoods but it still retains good economic diversity and its improving its racial diversity. Housing is certainly increasing here but much lower the “hot” neighborhoods like Northern Liberties to the south. Plenty of 2 & 3 bedrooms selling for 200K/300K. Fishtown’s recent gentrification has certainly added to its retail and cultural amenities. My biggest concern for the future is that rising housing prices will spiral out of control as this is such an attractive urban area. City leaders would be wise to building a significant amount of affordable housing here immediately. Other urban metrics where the district could improve include better street trees and bike infrastructure, ADA curbs, and more generational diversity. 

Click here to view my Fishtown Album on Flickr


* Excellent density at nearly 25K per square mile.
* Solid architecture both modern infill and historic buildings.
* Great access to Dwtn as its well connected to a heavy rail line, short drive, and very bikeable via Delaware Avenue.
* Bike infrastructure is good but not great. Delaware and York have dedicated lanes and a handful of dedicated bike stations.
* While housing is getting price here lots of for-sale variety and sales prices thanks to the diverse housing stock. Plenty of smaller 2 & 3 bedrooms (rowhouses & condos) selling in the 200Ks and low 300Ks in good condition. Medium sized renovations or new construction 3 & 4 bedrooms selling between 350-500K. Higher end and larger product selling between 500K-800K. This is mostly new construction.
* Nice array of well dispersed smaller/diverse parks. Decent riverfront park as well.
* Great cultural amenities including a plethora of restaurants, bars, breweries, and cafes. Also a good amount of art galleries, a couple local theaters and live music venues.  No museums though.
* Good retail amenities as well including several smaller grocerias, a food co-op, and two discount groceries. Also convenient access to Giant, which is just over the line in Northern Liberties. Other amenities include a couple drug stores, lots of banks, great array of unique and creative stores, boutiques, thrift stores, a post office, and public library.
* Lots of walkable elementary/middle schools in Fishtown w/ generally decent rankings. View high schools.
* Commercial districts generally have very good urban form but decent streetscaping.


* Good ADA infrastructure on commercial streets (Girard & Frankford) but hit or miss in the residential streets.
* Rentals are pretty plentiful but on the higher end. 1-bedrooms  lease in the low-mid $1,000s, 2-bedrooms generally in the high $1,000s and low $2,000s, and good amount of 3-bedrooms leasing anywhere between the high $1,000s and 3Ks.
* Some dedicated aff. housing but certainly less than ideal.
* Delaware Ave is pretty industrial and doesn’t have the best urban form or streetscaping. 

Poplar- Philly’s Northside district with aspirations to become a truly mixed-income neighborhood

Originally, the neighborhood was composed mostly of single-family row houses and with some industry and active commercial streets along Girard, Broad, Ridge, and Spring Garden. The depression interestingly lead to widespread disinvestment in Poplar several decades before its adjacent northside neighborhoods. This prompted the City to raze much of the historic fabric in the 1930s and build Richard Allen Homes, one of the City’s first large public housing projects. The Richard Allen Homes remained Poplar’s defining physical characteristic for the next several decades. Budget cuts by the City in the 60s lead to an egregious degree of deterioration compounded by poorly planned open spaces. This encouraged crime and gave Poplar notoriety as a center for crime and drug trafficking in the 1970s and 1980s. Allen Homes and the Cambridge Plaza high-rise were demolished in the early 2000s and replaced with more suburban-style duplexes and single-family homes. I find most of this replacement housing rather bland and unsensitive to the surrounding urban context, but the redevelopment appears to have greatly reduced blight and crime in the neighborhood.

The edges of Poplar is where the best urban fabric remains. Broad Street still retains much of its grand mid-level urban fabric housing a good array of cultural amenities. Its intersection with Ridge Street has become an excellent urban node with TOD like development near the Fairmount Metro Station. Spring Garden is gritty but is becoming an interesting historic mixed-use area. There is also a good amount of historic rowhouses along the southern and eastern edges of the neighborhood. Girard Street is the least attractive thoroughfare sadly succumbing to the twin forces of blight and auto centric development. My hope is the neighborhood becomes a shinning example of a mixed-income neighborhood. Poplar already hosts a high percentage of affordable housing and has significant room of new market rate development. The neighborhood could use particular attention to building up its retail/neighborhood amenities along its commercial corridors, reconstructing Girard street, eliminating remaining blight, and creating more parks and recreational amenities.

Click here to view my Poplar Album in Flickr


* Great public transit access and convenient access to Dwtn.
* Good array of dedicated bike lanes and a handful of bike stations in the district.
* Great racial diversity in the district.
* Tons of subsidized units. In really they probably make too high a pct% of the housing units but seem like a good building point as the district fills in with market rate housing. Market rate rentals concentrated along the SW edge, Girard Street, and the Poplar’s east border with Northern Liberties. Some 1-bedrooms leasing in the low to mid $1,000s. 2-bedroom are more plentiful and rent the whole range of $1,000s. Also some 3-bedrooms lease in the 1Ks and 2Ks.
* Decent tree cover helped by all the recent Public Housing Projects.
* Cultural amenities concentrated along Broad, Spring Garden and near Northern Liberties. They include a good array of restaurants, a decent # of bars, cafes & breweries, several art galleries, Philly MOCA, the Jewish Museum of Art, the Met and a couple live music venues.
* Retail amenities are ok. They include an Aldi’s but plenty of little grocerias, several drug stores, a public library, post office, a handful of banks and boutiques, and a Target just SE of the Poplar boundaries.
* Pretty good school options including several decent public and charter schools within the district. Easy access to several more in surrounding areas.


* Most intersections have curb cuts but most do not have up to date ADA curbs.
* Economic diversity seems to be slowly improving but still a very high poverty rate (42%). Family diversity not great. Only 30% of households are family households.
* For sale homes are very concentrated in the southern and east district edges. Decent amount of condos and smaller 2 & 3 bedroom flats selling in the high 200Ks and 300Ks. Should be more of this product however. At least 1/2 of the for sale product is larger/higher end homes selling between 400K-700K.
* Recreational amenities aren’t great but several worth mentioning including Poplar Park, the John F Street Community Center, an Carrie Turner Community Park. Some parks within a 1/3 mile of the districts boundaries.
* Good amount of blight still in the community but much of it cleared away by urban renewal. Girard def the most blighted/autocentric/uninspiring street in the district. Crime is prob still moderate but much better than past decades.
* The District’s best urban form and streetscaping is along Broad, Spring Garden and the Southern and eastern edges of the neighborhood. This is also where the best historic architecture lies.

Callow Hill- Philly’s Ultimate Loft District

I used the boundaries of Broad, Spring Garden, 6th St. and 676 for Callow Hill. The district was named after Hannah Callowhill Penn, William Penn’s second wife. Callowhill became a major large-scale manufacturing hub siting just outside of Central City in the turn of the 20th century but it always retained a decent residential population. During the 1970s and 1980s, industrial warehouses began to decay and the district’s population also fell. Since probably the early 2000s, developers started to employ adaptive reuse projects, so much so that many call Callow Hill “The Loft District”  Callow hill also hosts a large Chinese population due to its proximity to Chinatown just to the south of I-676.

Grit lovers will certainly find a home here in Callow Hill. Not only do you encounter fascinating industrial lofts apartments, but the district retains a incredibly raw and gritty feel. This also comes with downsides like, few trees and green spaces, limited streetscaping improvements, and plenty of unattractive industrial building with autocentric layouts. But the district has many quality urban attributes including quality cultural amenities, decent retail amenities, excellent public transit, convenience to Center City, and  a good array of quality walkable schools. Callow Hill also hosts Philly’s high line, a  former Reading Railroad Viaduct that will be converted into a quarter-mile-long, elevated park.

I fully anticipate Callow Hill to continue filling in and attracting a niche of grit and historic architecture lovers. There is so much potential for urban growth here. 
Click here to view my Callow Hill Album on Flickr


* Excellent public transit access and very convenient to Center City.
* Very good dedicated bike lanes and a several dedicated bike stations in the district.
* Almost half of the district’s population is Asian., 38% White and a good mix of other races. Excellent economic distribution living in the district.
* For sale housing includes mostly industrial loft conversions. Some very interesting spaces. Decent amount of 1 & 2 bedroom product selling in the high 100Ks, 200Ks, and 300Ks. Higher end product selling in the 400Ks & 500ks. True luxury product and townhouses doesn’t exist here yet.
* Rent is pretty moderately priced. 1-bedrooms lease for around 1,000 and 2-bedrooms in the mid to low $2,000s. 3-bedrooms generally in the $2,000s.
* Historically some very interesting old warehouses and excellent architecture along Broad Street.
* While prices aren’t as high as other surrounding districts, a buzz definitively seems to be building here.
* Cultural amenities include a good number of restaurants, bars, cafes, and breweries, several art galleries, several live music venues & theaters, and convenient access to many of Central City’s cultural amenities.
* Retail amenities include a target, several drug stores, an Aldi’s a quarter mile north of the districts border, several ethnic grocerias, a handful of boutiques and banks, and several industrial supply stores.
* Several great school options spanning age and public/private pretty well. Many other schools walkable in adjacent districts.
* Urban form is generally good along the main biz districts (Broad and Spring Garden) but not great along the eastern edge. No recent investment in the streetscaping. Rough in spots within the district.


* Decent ADA curb cuts along the main arteries (i.e. Broad, Spring Garden and Ridge) but pretty poor on the side streets, albeit always with sidewalks.
* Pretty Low density for a Philadelphia district but at 12K/ sq mile its not too bad.
* Family households is only 30%. Decent amount of adult diversity between 20-50 but few elderly.
* Other than the rail park, trees are very limited. Also no other park space the rail park. There is however a climbing wall and decent access to plazas in nearby Center City. Fortunately there are plans to expand the rail park.
* Mixed bag with urban infill. Some nice newer projects have been erected but plenty of ugly post WWII industrial buildings.
* No post office nor library in the district. Few unique or creative retail.

Cecil B Moore- A North Philly neighborhood in the shadows of Temple University

The Cecil B. Moore district is located between Susquehanna Ave to the north, Girard to the south, Broad to the east and 24th/Ridge to the West. The district is named after Cecil Bassett Moore, a 20th century Philly Lawyer active in the Civil Rights movement and major player with the local NAACP chapter. The oldest parts of the neighborhood development  along Broad. There is a large concentration of grand 3-5 story flats built between the 1860s-1890s. The rest of the neighborhood was built in the late 1800s mixing large and more modest rowhouses. Plenty of affordable in-fill built between 60s-90s as well, as the district experienced significant blight and disinvestment.

Living in the shadows of Temple University has not surprisingly created conflicts between longtime residents of the neighborhood and the University. Development west of Broad street feels to residents as a take over of their community and Temple University has a tendency to isolate itself due to the district’s safety issues. Worse was the controversial term “Templetown” coined by former Temple president Peter J. Liacouras.

But for all these tensions between the University and Cecil B. Moore, the neighborhood has benefited in many ways through a decent amount of neighborhood and cultural amenities, more development and better schools than neighboring North Philly districts, and good urban form along Broad and Cecil B More Avenues. My hope is that the neighborhood continues to revitalize but with a strong sense of partnership between the university and community with attentiveness to the needs of both communities and creating affordable housing alongside market rate investment.
Click here to view my album on Flickr


* Excellent public transit options and access to Dwtn only about 2-2.5  miles away.
* Great connectively with this very gridded street network.
* A surprisingly high diversity of for sale options. Outdated more modest homes sell in the 100Ks. Nicer or medium sized homes in the 200Ks and 300Ks. The district’s southern edge is starting to see higher end new construction or renovations selling in the 400Ks.
* Good amount of rentals and many of them are quite affordable (at least for Philly). 1-bedrooms lease between $800 and low $1,000s. 2-bedrroms in the low to mid-$1,000s, and due to the large student population there are a lot of 3-5 bedrooms homes. These go anywhere from the low $1,000s to mid $2,000s depending on size and condition.
* Temple University has brought a good amount of cultural amenities to the district especially along Broad street. This includes a cineplex, a good array of restaurants and bars along Broad and Cecil B. Moore, the New Freedom Theater (dedicated to A.A. arts),  several Temple performing arts spaces, a handful of live music venues, and several museums.
* The University has also helped bring a fair amount of neighborhood retail to the district esp. along Broad (i.e. supermarket, several banks, a paint store, several drug stores, a Barnes and nobles, a public library. Also plenty of convenience stores, salons/barbers shops along Cecil B. Moore Ave.
* Temple police force adds patrolling of the district and hopefully results in less crime for the neighborhood.
* Good number of walkable schools in the neighborhood for all ages. Mix of poor, medium and excellent ranked-schools. Carver High School is a highly ranked Engineering and Science charter school.
* Urban and form is a decent along Broad St. Some car centric uses. Cecil B Moore is surprisingly a solid urban  and streetscape. Temple seems to have played a role in promoting good urban infill with lots of neighborhood serving retail.


* ADA infrastructure concentrated along Broad St. Most of neighborhood streets have curb cuts but not up to date ADA curbs.
* Lots of blight and abandonment remain in Cecil M Moore. But the neighborhood is certainly headed in the right direction with plenty of revitalization along Broad, especially in Tempe University and in-fill housing concentrated in pockets (i.e. Cecil B. Moore.
* Bike infrastructure isn’t great as there are no dedicated bike lanes and only a handful bike stations.
* Economic diversity seems to be increasing as more Temple students decide to live in the district, but likely at least 70% African American.
* Very high poverty rate (around 45%) . Some income diversity from students and new development.
* Thanks to the heavy student population family households is pretty low but they create decent age diversity.
* Parks and recreation space is so . Unfortunately the Temple fields and parks sitting within the neighborhood don’t appear accessible to residents. There is a decent MLK rec center and the new Ingersoll Park but not much else. Some parks nearby in adjacent districts. There is also a YMCA along Broad.
* No post office in neighborhood and limited access to doctor’s offices and hospitals.

Sharswood- North Philly’s next district to revitalize

Sharswood is a small neighborhood located between Cecil B. Moore, 25th Street, Ridge, and College Ave. The district is named after Georges Sharswood, a Pennsylvania jurist. The district is comprsied of mostly 3-story large rowhouses built in the 1870s-1890s. Like much of North Philly, the district experienced significant disinvestment starting in the 1960s. Sharswood was hit especially badly and has lost nearly all its business districts along Cecil B. Moore and Ridge Ave. The neighborhood has only recently begun its long path to revitalization starting with quality historic renovations and a sprinkling of infill rowhouses. The Philly Housing Authority is also investing heavily with its new headquarters and a mixed-use development along Ridge Ave.

Hopefully Sharswood’ revitalization continues with a healthy amount of affordable housing mixed in. Its seems to be moving in that directly. More of a challenge than building new housing will be recreating the district’s historic business districts along Ridge Ave and Cecil B. Moore. But the neighborhood has a lot going for it with its close proximity to Center City (2.5 miles) and stable adjacent districts to the west and south (Brewerytown and Francisville to the west and south). 
Click here to view my Sharswood Album on Flickr


* Great public transit service and solid access to Central City.
* Solid racial and family diversity.
* Rental housing is certainly cheaper than most Philly neighborhoods but more than you expect with a district that still has a lot of blight and disinvestment. 1-bedrooms go in the lot-mid $1,000s. And 2-bedrooms in the mid-high $1,000s. 3 bedrooms around 2K. But this is nicely renovated apts. Plenty of affordable hsg in the neighborhood. The Housing Authority is currently constructing a new mixed-use development on Ridge Rd.
* For Sale prices are definitively on the upswing here, but still a good mix. Unrenovated 2&3 bedrooms selling in the high 100Ks and low 200s. Smaller but renovated homes selling in the 200ks-mid300Ks. Larger renovated or new build selling between mid 300Ks to about 500K. Few condo units.
* Good connectivity and decent neighborhood border but few landmark buildings or nodes to create a strong sense of imageability here.
* Mix of quality and bland modern infill. There is more and more quality contextual in-fill rowhouses popping up but also a large affordable housing development from the 1990s that is quite bland.
* Nothing special about the streetscape of Ridge and Cecil Moore but at least the sidewalks are in decent shape and new ADA curb cuts have been installed.
* Good density even though the district has largely emptied out from its historic peak population. 


* Most intersections have curb cuts but most do not have up to date ADA curbs.
* Bike access not great. The district does include a couple dedicated bike stations but no bike lanes.
* High poverty rate at 30% but still some economic diversity here.
* Tree cover isn’t that great here.
* Few parks within the district (other than a couple urban gardens and small plazas). A couple of nice recreational centers in nearby districts.
* Cultural amenities are limited as there are few restaurants, no bars or cafes. At least the district is within a mile of some descent biz district (Girard in Brewerytown and Broad St).
* Neighborhood services aren’t much better. But some services remain including a local pharmacy, plenty of mini marts/small grocerias, and a public library.
* Crime is certainly above average and plenty of blight here, even though some revitalization efforts are underway.
* A nice array of walkable schools within Sharwood but generally of poor quality.
* Urban form is good where buildings are still standing. Lots of vacant lots along Cecil Moore and Ridge, the historic biz districts.
* Sharswood is still considered a rough district but some buzz and new in-fill development started around 2019-2020. 

Brewerytown- Philly’s historic Germantown

I used the boundaries of Cecil B Moore and Popular to the north and south and Fairmount Park and N 25th to the west and east.  Brewerytown got its name because of the numerous breweries that were located along the Schuylkill River during the turn of 20th century. Proximity to the river and nearby farmland allowed these establishments to flourish. By the early 20th century Brewerytown was a thriving German settlement. Two world wars and prohibition certainly did a number on the German heritage of Brewerytown but its wasn’t until the 1970s that the neighborhood went down hill. North Philly’s economic depression spread to the district, especially the north and eastern edges. Sadly much of this was along racial lines.

Brewerytown benefitted from the slow revitalization expansion  of the Fairmount neighborhood from the south, although its pretty clear that the southern half of the district witnessed much less deterioration than the northern half.  Brewerytown’s biz district Girard Ave is an attractive in-tact district with a good mix of businesses and restaurants but definitively still gritty. Many of the breweries on the western edge of the district have been renovated into lofts and plenty of good infill as well. Master St is more or less the dividing street between blight and renovation. The contrast is stark juxtaposed with blocks that have new in-fill and others with almost none and plenty of vacant blocks.

Hopefully the renovation of the rest of Brewerytown continues to the northern and the eastern sections of the neighborhood. While this will certainly raise gentrification concerns there is actually a nice array of price points with for-sale options. Rental housing, however, is much more expensive. Hopefully affordable rental housing will be more intentionally built. Brewerytown could also use better bike infrastructure and tree cover, more consistant ADA infrastructure, a complex streetscaping rehaul on Girard, and more neighborhood services and cultural amenities. 
Click here to view my Brewerytown album on Flickr


* Solid density.
* Good diversity especially economic diversity. The median income hovers around the City average of 47K. Mix of all types of incomes although still too much poverty (around 1/3 of households).
* Excellent array of price points of for sale housing. Good array of modest 1-3 bedroom flats and condos selling in the high 100Ks and 200Ks. Modest but well renovated or new construction selling in the 300KS and 400Ks. The top end of the market are large new (or recently renovated) 3 & 4 bedrooms selling in the 500Ks & 600k.
* Quality park and recreation assets esp. with Fairmount park on the neighborhood’s eastern border. Athletic Recreation Square also bring a rec center, pool, playground and Jefferson St. Park a basketball court & playground.
* Culturally a nice array of restaurants, bars, and cafes especially along Girard the district’s primary main street. Also a handful of art galleries and breweries.
* Solid neighborhood amenities including: a bike shops, a pharmacy, several local clothing stores, an ALDI’s supermarket, several hair salons, a butcher shop, a bank.
* A decent 3 of walkable schools within and nearby the district, but generally ranked poor or mediocre.
* Solid modern in-fill architecture particularly good with fitting into the existing urban form.
* Generally very good form including the main biz district along Girard. The vacant lots of the district northern and eastern edge certainly takes away from Brewery town’s overall urban form.


* Generally good ADA infrastructure limited ADA current ramps on residential districts.
* Bike infrastructure could be better. District includes one dedicated bike lane running along Fairmount Park and a handful of dedicated bike stations.
* Good array of rental housing but a bit on the expensive side. 1-bedrooms lease in the low-mid $1,000s. 2-bedrooms span the $1,000s topping out around 2K. 3-bedrooms a mix of the mid 1,000s to 2Ks.
* No theaters or museums within Brewerytown  but only about 1.5-2 miles from many options in Logan Square.
* Still a lot of blight and abandonment in the northern half of the district (north of Master’s Street). Amazing how start the change is from one block to another.
* Streetscaping is fine but nothing inspiring. I wish they would invest in a revamped streetscape along Girard.
* Tree cover is not great but not terrible. Certainly much to be desired including only a smattering of trees along Girard.