Old City Named One of America’s Top Neighborhoods for the Arts

Publication Date: January 7, 2013

First Friday - Clay Studio - by B. Krist for GPTMCAnyone who has strolled along Philadelphia’s North Second Street knows that Old City is abuzz with arts, commerce, and creative energy. The neighborhood’s mix of performing arts, studio arts, shops, restaurants, historic sites, and unique residences creates an undeniable energy and spirit that makes the neighborhood one of Philadelphia’s most desirable places.

Today, ArtPlace, a national coalition of foundations, banks, and federal agencies, has recognized Philadelphia’s Old City as one of America’s best examples of “creative placemaking,” along with iconic neighborhoods and corridors in 11 other metropolitan areas, including Central Hollywood, South Beach, Brooklyn's Park Slope, and Oakland's Jack London Square.

From ArtPlace’s announcement:
Arts organizations and venues such as the Arden Theater and Philly Fringe were part of the reason the community ranked so highly and have played a big role in making this neighborhood a place that people want to be. Local and independent businesses like The Continental Restaurant and Old City Coffee benefit from the vibrancy that results.
“I chose Old City 15 years ago because of the eclectic mix of galleries, loft space and its artsy feel,” said Ellen Yin, owner of Fork restaurant in Old City. “Since then, it’s become home to independent fashion retailers, design firms, and high-tech companies — but the things that initially drew me are still here.”

"The impact the arts has had on the vibrancy and economy of Old City and the rest of the Top Twelve ArtPlaces is unmistakable,” noted ArtPlace director Carol Coletta. “This study shows how the arts can provide a foundation for a diversity of neighborhoods to thrive.”

ArtPlace is a collaboration of leading national and regional foundations, banks, and federal agencies committed to accelerating “creative placemaking”—putting art at the heart of a portfolio of strategies designed to revitalize communities.

The full list of the Top Twelve ArtPlaces for 2013 is as follows:

Brooklyn, NY / The intersection of Downtown, Fort Greene, Gowanus, Park Slope and Prospect Heights
Dallas, TX  / The Dallas Arts District, with parts of Deep Ellum and Exposition Park
Los Angeles, CA / Central Hollywood
Miami Beach, FL / South Beach
Milwaukee, WI / East Town and a portion of the Lower East Side
New York, NY / Manhattan Valley
Oakland, CA / Downtown, including Chinatown, Old Oakland, and Jack London Sq.
Philadelphia, PA / Old City
Portland, OR / The Pearl District and a portion of Downtown
San Francisco, CA / The Mission District
Seattle, WA / The Pike-Pine Corridor
Washington, DC / The intersection of Adams Morgan, U Street, and Dupont Circle

America’s Top ArtPlaces is a new annual ArtPlace initiative recognizing neighborhoods in the largest 44 metropolitan areas in the country where the arts are central to creating the kinds of places where people want to be.  The complete list is available for download at http://www.artplaceamerica.org/AmericanArtPlaces

ArtPlace’s selection of the top twelve neighborhoods was based on a set of six indicators identified by Impresa Inc., a Portland-based consulting firm specializing in the study of metropolitan economies. Four indicators measure ingredients of vibrancy: the number of retail and service businesses; the percentage of independent businesses; the neighborhood’s Walk Score; and the percentage of workers in creative occupations living in the neighborhood. Two arts-related indicators were also used: the number of arts-related non-profits and the number of arts-related businesses.  Finally, neighborhood scores were normalized for family income so that neighborhoods with the highest concentration of income did not skew the results.

“The results are twelve exciting, and sometimes surprising, neighborhoods,” said Ms. Coletta. “They are all unique, all deeply local, and all have art at their heart.”
As a proponent of arts and creativity as a driver of strong, vibrant communities in the Philadelphia region, the William Penn Foundation is proud to be part of the national ArtPlace collaborative.