Where Philly’s “Creative Class” Lives

The mighty urban theorist and Atlantic Cities honcho Richard Florida has descended upon Philly to judge its creativeclassishness. The results: Philly has two substantial but tightly clustered cohorts of “creative class” individuals–“which includes workers in science and technology, business and management, arts, culture media and entertainment, and law and healthcare professions”–in Center City and Manayunk/Chestnut Hill. (Many assume creative class means “hipster” but these days it seems to mean ‘professionals,’ basically.)

Overall, Florida designates 34.6% of the metro area as “creative class,” on par with NYC’s 35.9% and Chicago’s 35.1%. Not surprisingly, the city’s working class (by which Florida appears to mean blue-collar working class), is all but absent, comprising 17.8% of the metro area. Besides D.C. and Miami, which have never been industrial strongholds, no city Florida studied (of 9) scored this low.

Using snappy heuristics to explain a region’s character can be perilous ground for big thinker pundit types (as this magazine taught David Brooks), but Florida appears to be on target here; manufacturing is indeed dead and Center City is indeed doing well. (With such a broad definition of “creative,” Florida is essentially commenting on the city’s revival in the last 20 years or so, so judgments about its arts scene and general hipness are not material.) Florida’s series is called “Class-Divided Cities.” The question that remains is whether Center City’s success (and subsequent outgrowth into gentrifying neighborhoods) exacerbates or alleviates the stark class divide he notes. [Atlantic Cities]