Gentrification in Philadelphia Neighborhoods—An Artist’s Perspective

A common gentrification story begins with artists. In search of large work spaces at low prices, they move into neighborhoods full of vacant industrial buildings. They’re soon followed by wealthier arrivals, who are drawn to the renovated lofts and cultural buzz. Eventually, rising costs threaten to drive out the same artists who first raised the profile of the area.

In Philadelphia’s Northern Liberties neighborhood, a version of this story has been playing out. Painter and sculptor Jennifer Baker set up her studio at Third and Green streets in 1978, taking over an industrial building with no heat or plumbing. She is now part of a dwindling community of working artists.

This video shares her perspective on how the pace and scale of development is changing the neighborhood and leaving few connections with the past.

Gentrification in an old industrial area like Northern Liberties looks different than change in other types of Philadelphia neighborhoods. Learn more about gentrification in Philadelphia here.

Historical photos courtesy of Jennifer Baker.


Philadelphia’s Changing Neighborhoods

Gentrification and other shifts since 2000.

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Elizabeth Lowe

Officer, Communications