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Pushing Back the Gates

Neighborhood Perspectives on University-Driven Revitalization in West Philadelphia

Harley F Etienne

Publication Year: 2012

As college and university administrators expand and develop their urban campuses, they have also become developers—and primary drivers—of neighborhood change. But how do institutions contend with urban real estate needs, revitalization opportunities, and community outreach? And how do the residents benefit? Pushing Back the Gates provides a lively discussion of neighborhood-level perspectives of the dynamic changes brought about by institutions' urban planning efforts.

Harley Etienne outlines the rationale for university-driven development and neighborhood revitalization balanced by caution for the limitations of the model. He provides a summary of the University of Pennsylvania's West Philadelphia Initiatives and the challenges and successes of this unique plan. Etienne also examines the implementation of similar efforts at different universities around the country.

Pushing Back the Gates speaks to communities, university leaders, and urban developers who navigate the boundary between neighborhood revitalization through physical development and investments in incumbent populations and human capital.


Published by: Temple University Press


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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. ix-xiv

Midway through my graduate studies at Temple University in Philadelphia, I read Lisa Redfield Peattie’s Rethinking Ciudad Guyana , which was a transformative experience. Peattie’s illustration of how sociocultural anthropology could be used to assess the impacts of planning made more sense...

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pp. xv-xx

No matter how a writer feels about a project, it must come to an end, and when the end comes, there are people to thank. This work has been on my radar since December 1996 in one form or another. Given that this is my first book (and I hope not my last), my thanks go to all of those...

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1. Cities and Their Universities: Logical Places to Search for Hope

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pp. 1-12

In the wake of the “Great Recession,” there are many questions about how the U.S. economy will ultimately rebound and which institutions will help make recovery happen. The losses to the manufacturing, banking, and housing sectors have been nothing short of sensational...

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2. West Philadelphia, the University of Pennsylvania, and the Rough Road to Revival and Cooperation

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pp. 13-50

For many reasons, the West Philadelphia/University of Pennsylvania case is one of the most notable examples of universitydriven revitalization and university–community collaboration. In the mid-1960s, Penn began to develop strategies for improving campus life. This required expansion into previously...

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3. Early Returns on Dramatic Efforts to Change: The West Philadelphia Initiatives, 1990–2005

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pp. 51-78

On October 21, 1994, Judith Rodin walked into her inauguration and into history as Penn’s seventh president, after a distinguished twenty-year career in higher education. She returned to Penn as the first woman president of an Ivy League institution. Rodin’s return to Philadelphia...

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4. The Dual Nature of Revitalization in the Twenty-First Century

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pp. 79-94

Media coverage of the West Philadelphia story speaks of rapid and positive revitalization. This chapter presents evidence that speaks of the emerging dual nature of current urban revitalization, the contemporary measure of which has taken a decided turn away from poverty alleviation...

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5. Comparative Views of Contemporary University-Driven Neighborhood Change

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pp. 95-110

Despite the economic downturn, many universities are working to expand their campuses. Ideally, we would have data on patterns of neighborhood change around university campuses, as we do for revitalization programs carried out by other institutions. Failing that, by examining...

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6. Conclusion: Lessons from West Philadelphia

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pp. 111-130

If a university engages in neighborhood improvement and gentrification results, does the university become a villain or a hero? The literature on community development provides few examples of community development and upgrading that do not coincide with gentrification and displacement...


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pp. 131-152


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pp. 153-166


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pp. 167-170

About the Author

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pp. 171-171

E-ISBN-13: 9781439900703
Print-ISBN-13: 9781439900680

Page Count: 192
Publication Year: 2012

OCLC Number: 816351447
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Pushing Back the Gates

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Community development, Urban -- Pennsylvania -- Philadelphia.
  • Urban renewal -- Pennsylvania -- Philadelphia.
  • Community and college -- Pennsylvania -- Philadelphia.
  • University towns -- Pennsylvania -- Philadelphia.
  • University of Pennsylvania.
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