Can Re-Designing Parks Help Desegregate Philadelphia?

By Carla Murphy Mar 19, 2015

The Philadelphia metro area ranks among the most economically segregated in the country. Compared to less populous areas like, say, Orlando, Portland or San Jose, according to a new report, "Segregated City," the rich and poor in and surrounding the City of Brotherly Love hardly mix. That’s saying a lot considering the trend over the past few decades, even after the Civil Rights Movement, has been to increasingly sort ourselves by income, education and job. Now, a new $11 million project is testing whether the re-design of five Philadelphia public parks and libraries can help beat back segregation and help rich and poor (and racially diverse*) residents connect with each other. The five parks targeted for re-design, along with their new purpose, according to CityLab:

So, Philadelphia metro residents familiar with these park spaces and surrounding neighborhoods: can this project work? During the 20th century, residential segregation was aided and hardened by the placement of our highways and other roadwork. In the 21st century, can craftily re-designed public spaces in any city help slow the country’s trend towards more not less segregation? 

[*Note: Racial segregation tracks with economic segregation of course but, how, differs by group and their share of population in a metro. In general, and compared to other races, low, middle and upper-income whites tend to interact with each other more, regardless of wealth. See the February report for more.]

(h/t CityLab)