The Philadelphia Revival Story


My latest piece will be in this Sunday’s Philadelphia Inquirer but is already available online now. It’s about the nascent revival in Philadelphia over the past decade, and its relevance, or rather lack of relevance, to many other struggling cities in Pennsylvania. Here’s an excerpt:

In many ways the city has been ideally positioned for new economy success. The Philadelphia metro area is a very large region of 6.1 million people in an era in which larger cities have been growing faster.

Philadelphia has a highly educated population, with nearly 38 percent of people over the age of 25 in the region having a college degree. This is critical in a knowledge economy era, when biomedical research, high-tech and digital business, creative service and health care are in high demand. While not quite at the most elite levels, Philadelphia’s share of adults with a college degree is significantly above the national average.

Philadelphia is also one of only a handful of cities with a major urban transit system and extensive commuter rail network. It has geographic proximity to much more expensive New York and Washington, and is well connected to them via rail. It has a strong local vernacular culture, and also stellar high culture institutions.

For people looking for a high quality, authentic urban experience at a reasonable price, Philadelphia is one of only a tiny number of places that qualify.

Click through to read the whole thing.

This piece originally appeared on Urbanophile.

Aaron M. Renn is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, a contributing editor of City Journal, and an economic development columnist for Governing magazine. He focuses on ways to help America’s cities thrive in an ever more complex, competitive, globalized, and diverse twenty-first century. During Renn’s 15-year career in management and technology consulting, he was a partner at Accenture and held several technology strategy roles and directed multimillion-dollar global technology implementations. He has contributed to The Guardian,, and numerous other publications. Renn holds a B.S. from Indiana University, where he coauthored an early social-networking platform in 1991.