Mapping Poverty Over Time in Philadelphia

Philadelphia had the highest poverty rate of all the big cities in the United States in 2016. According to Shared Prosperity, “28% of Philadelphians – between 430,000 and 440,000 people – live below the federal poverty level, including 39% (135,000) of children, 27% (250,000) of work-age adults and 17% (32,000) of seniors. This reflects a sharp increase from Philly’s 1960 low of 15.4% and a divergence from the national trend of slowly decreasing poverty (aside from the increase related to The Great Recession).

Year Poverty Rate (Philly) Poverty Rate (US)
1960 18.8% 22.2%
1970 15.4% 12.6%
1980 20.6% 13%
1990 20.3% 13.5%
2000 22.9% 11.3%
2010 26.7% 15.1%
2014 26.7% 13.5%
Source: Us Census Bureau

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Mapping Poverty Over Time in Philadelphia

Philly Solidarity Map

I designed this map to be a poster-sized map that people in Philly could hang it on their wall and feel both inspired and called to action. Not only does it give people a sense geographically of where their various voting districts are, it also gives them relevant contact information so that they can put pressure on their elected officials when the moment calls for it. At the same time, the map calls attention to some of Philadelphia’s social movement assets, and marks locations that I see as spaces of hope in Philadelphia: worker cooperatives, independent book stores, and congregations affiliated with The New Sanctuary Movement and POWER (both of which I have been personally involved with). The Kickstarter did not pan out in the end, but I was able to raise more than $3,000 primarily from my own network of colleagues, friends, academics, and activists in a short period of time.

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Philly Solidarity Map