Gentrifying Philly: This map shows neighborhoods undergoing change - Philly


Feb. 18, 2014 10:30 am

Gentrifying Philly: This map shows neighborhoods undergoing change

Can new construction point to a neighborhood's revitalization? This mapping tool from Frankford developer Jim Smiley aims to explore that question.
Full Disclosure: Jim Smiley is's contributing web. This project was not part of a initiative.

Can new construction point to a neighborhood’s revitalization?

That’s what Jim Smiley, civic hacker and also’s contributing web editor, wondered as he made Gentrifying Philly, a map (with, you might say, a slightly loaded name) that shows which neighborhoods had the biggest jumps, as well as drops, in construction from 2012 or 2013.

Visit the map here.

You can also check out jumps and drops in construction from years ranging back to 2007, as well as a map that compares 2007-2011 changes to 2012-2013.

Smiley used the city’s permit data and marked a property as “under construction” if it had at least one kind of permit.

He cautioned that the map can be misleading. For example, the North Philadelphia neighborhood of Brewerytown shows a 50 percent drop in construction permits, but that could be in part to the especially high number of properties under construction in 2012.

Smiley built most of the project at weekly meetups with Code for Philly, the city’s civic hacking group.

Smiley also built a map of violent crime near SEPTA Regional Rail stops.

Juliana Reyes

Juliana Reyes became's editorial product lead after reporting on the Philadelphia tech scene for four years. She's co-president of the Asian American Journalists Association Philadelphia chapter and a two-time Philadelphia News Award winner for "Community Reporting of the Year." The Bryn Mawr College grad lives in West Philly, likes her food spicy and wears jumpsuits often.

  • adamgram

    Do people not know what the word “gentrification” means? Demographic insinuations aside, looking at construction permits is hardly an indication of people moving into or out of a neighborhood. Having just pulled a permit to build onto my own house, this strikes me as a bit flawed.

  • Stuart Hean

    This piece from Tufts gives an idea of how many variables are involved in the concept of gentrification. Definitely more complicated than the number of housing starts or construction permits.


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