The Center City District in Philadelphia has made physical improvements spawning safer streets and economic vitality.

Failing Streets

In the 1980s, downtown Philadelphia was ridden with crime and economic decline. The Center City District Business Improvement District formed to promote a “clean, safe, attractive and well-managed public environment.”

Logan Circle, though in a prime downtown location, was rarely used by pedestrians and was designed primarily for automobiles.

Pedestrian-Oriented Improvements

Center City District’s plan to create a more pleasant and profitable urban environment succeeded primarily because of pedestrian-oriented improvements. Streetscape improvements include new pedestrian-scale lampposts, trees, street furniture, and effective, directional signage to local destinations.

Center City District worked with area stakeholders to develop a vision that reduced the number of lanes through Logan Circle.

Downtown Revitalized

Short-term improvements have already been implemented, including narrowing roads, adding amenities and installing art. The pedestrians who now fill the streets keep downtown safe and promote local business. In the ten years following the inception of the Center City District plan, crime plummeted, and the downtown economy boomed.

Small business improvement districts with smaller operating budgets can follow this model for promoting neighborhood revival.

Proposed changes to Logan Circle include art, seating, a market, programmed activities, and outdoor caf├ęs as illustrated above.

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