Philadelphia: Neighborhoods, Division, and Conflict in a Postindustrial City

By Carolyn Adams; David Bartelt et al. | Go to book overview
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4
Philadelphia's Redevelopment Process

Up to this point our discussion has focused on the transformation of the regional economy since World War II, and its impact on neighborhood change, racial relations, and housing conditions. We have argued that the effect of economic change over the past forty years has been to widen the gaps between the haves and have-nots, measured in terms of incomes, housing, and educational opportunities, and the quality of life in different neighborhoods. Our quantitative analysis of these trends has stressed the structure of the economy--regional, national, and even international--as the primary force behind such changes.

Yet it would be a mistake to imagine that the region's postwar transformation has been entirely the result of large-scale, uncontrollable economic forces such as the decline in manufacturing jobs nationwide. Rather, the region's business and political leaders have responded to national and international economic forces by making decisions that have channeled investment and growth toward certain types of projects and certain geographical areas. Although many policy areas influence this spatial allocation of resources, redevelopment programs are one of the most important.

Thus, our examination of Philadelphia's transformation must turn from the quantitative analysis of economic trends and their consequences for individuals' employment, incomes, and social inequality to a more qualitative analysis of policy choices and their consequences for different economic and political factions, for different neighborhoods, and for the continued uneven development of different geographical areas of the metropolitan region. We will examine local leadership groups, both public and private, and their decisions within the context provided by the global economy and federal policy initiatives.

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