An Insightful Perspective: Richard Florida on Philadelphia’s Status as a Thriving City

The future of Philadelphia is a puzzle to be solved. From poverty and social problems, to city government reforms and creating new green spaces, there are a whole range of issues Philadelphians need to tackle if we are going to make sure that we all benefit from new opportunities for our city. 

Someone who is looking especially closely at this puzzle is renowned sociologist and economist Dr Richard Florida, author of the bestselling 2004 book, The Rise of the Creative Class, which explored the growing role of creativity in the American economy.

Dr Florida recently received the Philadelphia Fellowship on Inclusion and Equality, funded by three major Philadelphia universities and GPA members – Thomas Jefferson University, University City Science Center, and Drexel University. Dr Florida will use his new fellowship to conduct a study of Philadelphia’s urban trends, planning to use our city as a model for other urban areas.   

This study takes its lead from Dr Florida’s 2017 book, The New Urban Crisis: How Our Cities Are Increasing Inequality, Deepening Segregation, and Failing the Middle Class – and What We Can Do About It. Dr Florida will work with all three partner universities to explore urban trends and changes in the city, particularly looking at the causes of economic and racial segregation, and trying to establish goals for greater equality and economic inclusion. Using resources such as city maps and income data, Dr Florida will examine issues like the availability of affordable housing in Philadelphia, and gaps in our city’s workforce.

At a recent event, Dr Florida stated that Philadelphia has incredible assets. Our city is strategically located in the middle of one of the United States’ most economically, culturally and politically active areas – the Boston-Washington D.C. corridor. Philadelphia’s rich history is another asset – we are not only the country’s first World Heritage City, but also home to almost 70 National Historic Landmarks and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Independence Hall. We have a whole range of established knowledge-based institutions carrying out groundbreaking research in many disciplines, the University of Pennsylvania, Temple University, Villanova University, and Drexel University to name just a few.

However, our city continues to face great challenges, even as these assets help it to grow. Issues such as income inequality, racial injustice, housing costs, and healthcare availability need to be resolved. Dr Florida believes it is possible to achieve a balanced urban economy in Philadelphia, where businesses can grow and new technologies can develop to the benefit of everyone. He feels that creativity will play a role in achieving this balance; creativity is in everyone, and new ideas will be immensely important in tackling our problems and generating growth for all.

Check out Dr. Florida’s most recent book, available for purchase on Amazon.


Article written by Alice Krainock on behalf of Global Philadelphia Association