Gentler Gentrification in Philly's Germantown
Philadelphia is the fourth most segregated city in the United States according to a study from Brown University, but Germantown is an exception. "Philadelphia overall is one of the country’s more diverse large cities: African-Americans make up 43 percent of the population; Caucasians account for 41 percent; and Asians and those who identify as other races make up about 6 percent each," Sandy Smith writes for Next City. Smith argues that Germantown in is a bit of a hidden treasure, unfamiliar to those outside of northwest Philadelphia, a neighborhood that's 80% African American with a wealth of homegrown resources and “third places,” whether barber shops or coffee houses.
Germantown is home to residents of a variety of different income levels and it has welcomed a mix of different people for centuries. "William Penn was a Quaker who left England to establish an American colony that would be tolerant to all religious beliefs. In 1683, Penn sold land in his new colony to Francis Daniel Pastorius so that the German religious dissident could establish a settlement where his fellow Pietists, as well as Mennonites and Quakers, could practice their beliefs freely," Smith reports.
Today, Smith argues, local developers and a slow pace of change has meant that, even as Germantown has become home to some wealthier residents, it has been able to maintain its character and not push out those who lived there already.