PCPC staff and partner City agencies created a series of ‘existing conditions’ memos to kick off the Upper North District Plan. Read our existing conditions memos here.
The Upper North District roughly coincides with Bristol Township, one of the many municipalities that were consolidated into the City of Philadelphia in 1854. Its neighborhoods include Cedarbrook, West and East Oak Lane, Melrose Park Gardens, Belfield, Ogontz, Fern Rock, Olney, Logan, and parts of East Germantown and Nicetown.
Over the past 30 years, some neighborhoods in the District have undergone dramatic changes, including broad shifts in ethnic makeup and the loss of over 900 homes to subsidence in Logan. Despite these changes, many of these neighborhoods retain well-deserved reputations for being stable, affordable, safe communities with good transit access and strong institutions. The Districts population is projected to grow over the coming decades.
Immigrants have been finding homes in the Upper North District for generations. In recent years, however, foreign-born residents’ share of the District population has been growing faster than the proportion in the city as a whole. Between 2010 and 2014, the District’s foreign-born population went from a 10% share of the total population to 13%. Although this is comparable to the city-wide share (12.5%), the District-wide figure cloaks large differences between neighborhoods. Census tracts east of 5th Street have some of the highest proportions of foreign-born residents in the City—as high as 44% in one tract in East Oak Lane.
The District has more than twice as many employed workers as it does jobs. The central and eastern portions of the District are linked tightly to the employment centers of Center City, North Philadelphia, and University City via the Broad Street line and regional rail lines. This, coupled with the relative affordability and stability of many of the district’s neighborhoods, makes them attractive as bedroom communities for workers employed in middle-class, clerical and service jobs in the city’s high-density employment areas. Jobs within the district are heavily concentrated in an institutional core centered on Broad Street and Olney Avenue.
The Upper North District is well-integrated into the transportation networks of the City and region. Transit plays a critical role by providing strong connections to the Metropolitan Center—Center City and University City. On the other hand, trips between the District and car-centric suburban locales, which are both destinations for residents and points of origin for employees, tend to be made by car. Walking and cycling to work are relatively uncommon for District residents.