Proposal Perspectives: Reflections from the Second Week

A common theme that has come up in proposals has been to honor the strengths of the communities Philadelphians form with each other, and the risks these communities form in the face of citywide gentrification. Each of the selected proposers views the issue with a unique perspective, with each person wishing to portray gentrification different as a result. Some proposers wish to portray the systemic issues behind gentrification, some wish to memorialize the physical effects of the process, and some wish to honor Philadelphians’ strong existing bonds with their neighbors.

            Firstly, some of these proposers feel that it is best to portray the causes of gentrification. In this proposal, one Philadelphian wishes to memorialize how gentrification can benefit a small amount of affluent newcomers to a neighborhood while disadvantaging its larger amounts of poorer original residents, which can damage that neighborhood’s community fabric. The proposer blames the negative effects of the capitalist economic system for this, which he portrays in the design elements of the monument idea.


Secondly, some of the selected proposers wish to portray gentrification’s physical effects on neighborhoods. This proposal aims to accomplish this by memorializing how development will soon replace vacant lots that held importance to their communities. When urban planners and other associated city officials discuss gentrification, they frequently criticize vacant lots for numerous reasons. Politicians and planners often argue vacant lots serve as holes in the fabrics of communities and drains on tax revenue for city governments. These officials and other community members in various cities rarely contemplate benefits vacant lots can have for communities. According to this proposer, South Philadelphians repurposed a large nearby empty lot into a dog run, where they would come to exercise their dogs and marvel at the views from there. The proposer knows about plans to redevelop the lot, and as a result, they want to construct a monument there to teach future passersby about the lot’s impact on the neighborhood. This proposal represents a unique and important way of examining gentrification by presenting a view on how vacant lots can actually benefit people living near them, contrary to how planners and other city officials tend to see such lots.      


Finally, some of these proposers which to portray gentrification by honoring many Philadelphians’ solid bonds with their neighbors. Each of the selected proposers who touched on this chose to honor such community bonds through simple symbols. These two Philadelphians chose to honor the importance of stoops to the city. These proposers discuss how they see Philadelphia neighborhoods dominated by row homes often lack public places to sit, which leads residents to lounge on the row homes’ stoops. Through this, they can communicate with passersby who live near them, which leads to the formation of community bonds. Affluent newcomers who arrive to such row home neighborhoods in Philadelphia not only displace the original residents and fracture those old community bonds made at these stoops. Memorializing the stoop’s significance in shaping Philadelphia’s neighborhoods can teach affluent newcomers to the city of the impact they have on neighborhoods when they move into them.


Gentrification has clearly arrived in Philadelphia, and it is affecting residents in various ways. Each Philadelphian is responding to gentrification in unique ways that are shaped by their backgrounds and how they have experienced Philadelphia throughout the lives they have spent here. Some of these Philadelphians want to portray the systemic issues that cause gentrification, some prefer to memorialize gentrification’s effects on the city through its physical effects, and some wish to honor Philadelphians’ strong bonds they have forged with each other.

Ian Schwarzenberg