Gentrification in Philadelphia Neighborhoods—How Institutions Try to Adapt

Gentrification in Philadelphia Neighborhoods—How Institutions Try to Adapt

November 7, 2019 10 By Kody Olson


My name is Rev. Edward Sparkman and this neighborhood
is called Graduate Hospital. Prior to that it was just called South Philadelphia. I’ve been here as senior pastor 18 years. Gentrification to me really means to me a change: a change in the demographics of a neighborhood, a change in
the housing in the neighborhood, and a change in the people in the neighborhood. When I was born in this neighborhood, it was like 95 percent African American. It was working
class, and mainly people worked in the neighborhood. What you’ll see now is a lot of apartments
and condos. Housing prices have gotten very expensive. I’ve never seen so many dogs
in my life. (laughing) We still have a lot of African Americans that
come through the neighborhood, and still consider it as part of their own.
But now, it’s mainly white. (Choir singing) The church has been here since 1868. Our size has really dwindled, mainly because this was an older congregation. I believe that a lot of people think that the church has no purpose in the new community, that we’re just a building. And my goal is to have the community look at us as an
asset. We’re not just open on Sunday. If you need
a meeting place we will allow it. With the different art groups that rent out
space, we have two. And they use one of our high 40- foot ceilings upstairs. Change brings friction, and that’s where we’re about relationships. So I really think
that as long as we encourage people to accept change, embrace it, and then move forward.
I think we’ll be alright.