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Restructuring the Philadelphia Region

Metropolitan Divisions and Inequality

Carolyn Adams

Publication Year: 2008

Restructuring the Philadelphia Region offers one of the most comprehensive and careful investigations written to date about metropolitan inequalities in America’s large urban regions. Moving beyond simplistic analyses of cities-versus-suburbs, the authors use a large and unique data set to discover the special patterns of opportunity in greater Philadelphia, a sprawling, complex metropolitan region consisting of more than 350 separate localities. With each community operating its own public services and competing to attract residents and businesses, the places people live offer them dramatically different opportunities.

The book vividly portrays the region’s uneven development—paying particular attention to differences in housing, employment and educational opportunities in different communities—and describes the actors who are working to promote greater regional cooperation. Surprisingly, local government officials are not prominent among those actors. Instead, a rich network of “third-sector” actors, represented by nonprofit organizations, quasi-governmental authorities and voluntary associations, is shaping a new form of regionalism.

Published by: Temple University Press

List of Figures and Tables

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pp. vii-x

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pp. xi-xiv

This book expands the focus on inequality that defined our earlier book on the central city, titled Philadelphia: Neighborhoods, Division, and Conflict in a Postindustrial City (Temple University Press, 1991). In that earlier volume, we portrayed the deindustrialization that had transformed the city during the latter half of the twentieth century, and we interpreted the consequences of that shift for the labor force...

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Introduction: Expanding the Focus

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pp. 1-14

Yesterday’s cities are today’s metropolitan areas. Not only have cities grown beyond their early municipal boundaries, but the rapid expansion of suburban areas after World War II generated a seismic shift in the way people live and distribute themselves in urban areas and in the ways that we think about current and future urban issues. With over three-quarters of the U.S. population living in urbanized areas, this new urban reality concerns the entire nation...

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1 Expansion, Decline, and Geographies of Inequality

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pp. 15-35

The narrative of the Philadelphia region’s transition into the twenty-first century is a tale of mixed themes. The metropolitan area has expanded dramatically, developing a complex spatial pattern of inequality that defies conventional categories of city and suburb. The timing of growth and decline has affected the kinds of communities we find in different locations in the region. At the most basic level, the emergence of elite suburbs in the late nineteenth century and the emergence of middle-class suburbs...

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2 Employment Opportunity

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pp. 26-73

At the close of World War II both the United States and the Philadelphia region were known for their manufacturing prowess. Yet both already had seen manufacturing’s share of employment begin to decline. Although in 1950 manufacturing held a larger job share in the Philadelphia region than in the nation as a whole, improvements in communication and transportation, technological shifts, differences in labor costs...

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3 Housing Opportunity

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pp. 74-109

The richly varied character of the region’s communities that we described in Chapter 1 provides choices among many different housing markets. Just as suburban employment opportunities and differentials have driven decentralization in the region, housing choices emerging in the suburbs and exurbs have led to a decentralization of residential opportunities far beyond the boundaries of the region as it existed in the 1950s and 1960s...

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4 Educational Opportunity

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pp. 110-140

Schooling is key to acquiring the skills and credentials needed to take advantage of opportunities, from obtaining consumer goods and services at reasonable prices to participating in the larger culture and finding gainful employment. Increasingly, success in our information-based society depends on our ability to manage the avalanche of information confronting us in every domain of life, particularly in our jobs. Admittedly, not all occupational categories require increasing levels of education. In fact, some forms of technology are being used by employers to automate...

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5 The Region’s Communities and the Value Proposition

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pp. 141-167

Thus far, we have described the many ways in which the geographic distribution of employment, housing, and education—built on a base of class, race, and spatial disparities—reinforces these very same disparities, as the region expands and decentralizes. Residents of the region are keenly aware of these differences when they make decisions about where to locate. This chapter looks at how their choices are affected by jobs...

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6 Who Takes Responsibility for Addressing Inequality?

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pp. 168-196

The opportunity gaps separating different locations across the region are likely to widen unless they are addressed by public policies. In Chapter 1 we argued that differences between places exacerbate differences in the quality of life for the region’s population. In our chapter-by-chapter examination of the distributions of employment, housing, and education, we have paid particular attention to efforts being made to overcome the inequalities in our regional landscape...

Appendix 1: Constructing the Community Typology

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pp. 197-198

Appendix 2: NAICS Coding for Industrial Classification

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pp. 199-200

Appendix 3: Lowest- and Highest-Achieving Districts: Organizational and Housing Characteristics

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pp. 201-202


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pp. 203-218


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pp. 219-224

E-ISBN-13: 9781592138982
Print-ISBN-13: 9781592138975

Publication Year: 2008