Tuesday, August 08, 2006
A demographic map of Philly’s neighborhoods would probably look a little like a checkerboard drawn by a drunk. Old folks, young folks, white people, black people, Asians, Hispanics, Irish, Italians, gays, straights – it’s not precisely a melting pot; it’s more like a paper bag into which the city’s ingredients have been dumped and shaken up.
On trips into the city with my grandparents when I a kid, I remember being amazed at the way that the look and feel of an area could change drastically in the space of a few blocks. My overall sense of urban history is a little sketchy, so I can’t attest to why this is – surely immigration and migration patterns, segregated housing practices, and the constant, lurching roller coaster of the housing market account for most of it.
There are over 100 named neighborhood in Philadelphia, say our ever-to-be-taken-with-a-grain-of-salt friends at Wikipedia. The goal of Philly Field Trips is to go to as many of those neighborhoods as possible; to have a look around, hopefully talk to some residents, maybe snap some decidedly non-professional photos. Your narrator is not a journalist, nor a Philly native – instead, you’ve got an overeducated, perpetually awkward twentysomething who’s lived in the city for a mere three years, and has undertaken this project primarily for his own amusement. Well, sorry. We all have to make do somehow.
I’ll try to update this on more or less a weekly basis; generally speaking, I should have a new post up every Tuesday night. Where possible, I’ll try to link to as much information as possible about each neighborhood. Two websites in particular are always handy: a similar project is ongoing at phillyskyline.com, albeit with a little less narrative and way better pictures than I’ll be able to take; and the forums at phillyblog.com, where various Philadelphians discuss, update, quibble, and argue about the changes taking place in their necks of the woods.
By Tuesday, I should have my report from this weekend’s trip to Bridesburg up on the site; if half of these trips go as well as this one did, this site will absolutely rock.