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The Philly Neighborhood Index: The safest, loudest, and most livable ‘hoods

Old City, Fishtown, Market East and more: Check out where your area lands on our hipster index.

What do you really know about Philadelphia’s neighborhoods? We always hear the same generalizations: Fishtown is hipster. Rittenhouse: Expensive and trendy. South of Washington in Pennsport, it starts getting sketchy.

There are a few guides out there, but they’re largely crafted from anecdotal or incomplete data, and sometimes they don’t accurately split up Philadelphia into its many neighborhoods. We decided to give that a shot. Want to learn more/brag about your own neighborhood? Looking to move? This is the guide for you.

A disclaimer right up front: We didn’t tackle every block of the city. (There’s literally a site called EveryBlock that’s chock full of data, so that’s covered.) Instead we looked at 16 of Philadelphia’s most popular neighborhoods: Bella Vista, Fairmount, Fishtown, Graduate Hospital, Logan Square, Market East/Chinatown, Northern Liberties, Old City, Pennsport, Powelton Village, Queen Village, Rittenhouse Square, Society Hill, Spring Garden, University City and Washington Square West (“The Gayborhood”). The dots on the map represent these neighborhoods; you can click on each for an at-a-glance look at how each neighborhood stacks up in terms of population of young people, number of restaurants, hipster status and much more.

Our information comes from the 2012 U.S. Census – the most recent data — Philadelphia Police, Kwelia and Yelp. It’s real data (OK, the Yelp stuff isn’t quite as scientific), and through data we were able to confirm and dispel a few generalizations made about Philadelphia neighborhoods — Fishtown, for instance, isn’t the most hipster neighborhood in Philadelphia.

Actually it’s not even close.

The basics: Size, price and crime 

Population and density: University City has the most people, but Rittenhouse is the most crowded, with almost twice as many people packed into each square block as the average of these 16 neighborhoods.

Price: Not surprisingly, Rittenhouse Square and Logan Square are the most expensive places to rent. Of the seven “trendiest” neighborhoods for young people (see a little below) six of them — Graduate Hospital, Fishtown, Pennsport, University City, Powelton Village and Fairmount — have median rents below the average of these 16 neighborhoods.

As a note, accurately calculating home prices by neighborhood proved very difficult, given the data available — so we didn’t try.

Crime: Market East/Chinatown, right in the middle of Center City, had the highest rate of crime by far. The areas in the south parts of Center City, like Pennsport, Graduate Hospital and Queen Village proved to be some of the safest areas.

Diversity: Market East/Chinatown has the largest non-white population. Fishtown, once considered a racist neighborhood, still has the least amount of diversity.

The youth factor: How many young people are in each neighborhood

Everyone talks about millennials moving to Philadelphia. From 2006 to 2012, the number of millennials living in Philadelphia increased by about 100,000 or 6.1 percent. We went inside each neighborhood to find out exactly where all these 20-34 year olds are living.

Most millennials/highest concentration of millennials: In terms of percentage of millennials, Old City even beats out the college areas of University City and Powelton Village in this category. So if you really want to hang out with young people, move here. Fishtown, despite its talked-up growth, still has a percentage of millennials below the average for these 16 neighborhoods.

The trendiest: In the last two years, which neighborhoods have seen the highest growth in millennials? Those would be Powelton Village, Market East/Chinatown and Graduate Hospital. Drexel has been trying to build up its area for years, explaining Powelton Village, and Graduate Hospital has relatively low rental prices. Northern Liberties, once considered a trendy spot, is apparently getting less popular with the younger crowd — or too full.

The fun: Neighborhoods ranked by entertainment, restaurants, yuppieness, quietness and more

Life’s not all about trends you can spot through the U.S. Census or crime reports. If you’re going to live in Philadelphia, you might want to have fun (and if you’re the quiet type, we’ve got you covered, too).

The smartest: We got this by finding out how many people at least had undergraduate degrees. Nice job, Rittenhouse. Nearly 3/4 of you have at least a bachelor’s. And sorry, University City and Powelton Village. Until you Drexel and UPenn students actually graduate, you don’t count.

The most restaurants: Upset city: Rittenhouse Square may have the most restaurants but not the most when you calculate it per 1,000 people in each given neighborhood. Market East/Chinatown ranks at the top, with Old City in second. On the lower end, people in Graduate Hospital, Pennsport and Fairmount may be getting cheaper rents, but the entertainment options are limited.

The most nightlife establishments: Partiers unite in Old City. Calculating for nightlife establishments — bars, concert venues etc. — per 1,000 people, Old City wins. No surprise that it also has the highest concentration of young people.

Hipster ranking: Hipsters love organic kale, vintage clothing stores and juice bars. That’s a scientific fact! So we found out how many places like these were in each neighborhood and then divided that by the population of the neighborhood. We then assigned a ranking based on that number. Got it?

And get this: Fishtown is not a hipster neighborhood. Northern Liberties is but not Fishtown. Fishtown doesn’t even have a place that sells organic kale. The real hipsters are hanging out around Market East/Chinatown.

  1. Market East/Chinatown
  2. Old City
  3. Society Hill
  4. Rittenhouse Square
  5. Northern Liberties
  6. Queen Village
  7. Washington Square West/Gayborhood
  8. Logan Square
  9. Fairmount
  10. Bella Vista
  11. Fishtown
  12. University City
  13. Spring Garden
  14. Powelton Village/Drexel
  15. Graduate Hospital
  16. Pennsport

Yuppie ranking: We used the same metric as the Hipster rating, except we replaced organic kale, vintage clothing stores and juice bars with gastropubs, Fro-Yo and mentions of Red Bull Vodka. The winner? Old City. If you’ve been out there on a Saturday night, that should come as no surprise. And Fishtown actually ranks higher as a yuppie neighborhood than a hipster neighborhood.

  1. Old City
  2. Market East/Chinatown
  3. Northern Liberties
  4. Rittenhouse Square
  5. Fishtown
  6. Society Hill
  7. Washington Square West/Gayborhood
  8. Spring Garden
  9. University City
  10. Graduate Hospital
  11. Logan Square
  12. Fairmount
  13. Powelton Village
  14. Queen Village
  15. Bella Vista
  16. Pennsport

Quiet ranking: Like getting to bed early? We added the number of nightlife establishments per 1,000 people with the number of crimes per 1,000 in the last six months for each neighborhood. The neighborhood with the lowest total ranked as the quietest. The people of Bella Vista, Pennsport and Fairmount are sleeping soundly. Penn, even though it’s supposedly the No. 1 party school, is in the University City neighborhood that isn’t even as loud as Drexel’s neighborhood. And you hipsters of Market East/Chinatown? OMG, you guys are loud!

  1. Bella Vista
  2. Pennsport
  3. Fairmount
  4. Graduate Hospital
  5. Queen Village
  6. Spring Garden
  7. Society Hill
  8. University City
  9. Fishtown
  10. Rittenhouse Square
  11. Powelton Village/Drexel
  12. Washington Square West/Gayborhood
  13. Logan Square
  14. Old City
  15. Northern Liberties
  16. Market East/Chinatown

The Quiz

Now that you’ve learned everything about the neighborhoods, see where you fit in via our quiz.

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