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It’s difficult to discuss Philadelphia these days without mentioning how millennials are shaping the city. They’ve been moving to this city by the thousands and 2014 seemed to mark the official transformation. Young people got involved in city government, helped make outdoor spaces popular and drew national attention from Forbes.

Philadelphia is offish a happening place

Drone Billy

Pew Charitable Trusts released a report in January revealing the number of 20-to-34 year-olds had increased by 6.1 percent or about 100,000 from 2006 to 2012. No other big city in the country had as large of a growth for people in this age bracket. While Philadelphia’s share of 20-to-34 year-olds (26 percent) is average for big cities, it has distinguished itself in terms of growth.

There’s always downside, though. And the downside to Philadelphia’s millennial resurgence is that Pew also revealed this boom to likely be a temporary one. Only 50 percent of millennials surveyed by Pew thought they’d be living in Philadelphia in five to 10 years and only 19 percent thought for sure they would stay.

Millennials take over the 30th Ward in Graduate Hospital


In at least one section of Philadelphia, millennials shed their reputation for not being civically involved when 23 candidates in their 20s or 30s ran for Democratic City Committee in the 30th Ward in Graduate Hospital. Thirteen of them won the primary race for the 34 spots available. Neil Oxman, a Center City political consultant, later told the Inquirer, “If millennials could insinuate themselves in politics in the same way they have in nonprofit work and activism, this city would be a lot better off.”

Summertime comes and so do more pop-ups


The last few years Philadelphia has become a much better place to eat and drink outside — largely thanks to the design prowess of this man — and never was that more apparent than this summer. Philadelphians could spend time enjoying the warm weather and drinking at The Pop Up Beer Garden on South Street, Morgan’s Pier, the Spruce Street Harbor Park and Independence Beer Garden. The Independence Beer Garden and Spruce Street Harbor Park were both open for the first time this summer. VisitPhilly called this summer the summer of the beer garden.

Philadelphia millennials learn they are super-smart


In October, City Observatory reported that Philadelphia had the nation’s seventh-highest population share of millennials with college degrees. And since 2000, the number of 25-to-34 year-olds in Philadelphia with college degrees has risen 22 percent.

Downside: Though millennials are smarter, they’re less likely to be employed than young people in Philadelphia’s past. There are also a lot of them still living in their mother’s basements compared to other big cities.

Forbes brings its celebration of high-achieving young people to Philly

The Forbes Under 30 Summit was held here in late October. More than 1,000 business leaders, celebrities and gathered for networking, speeches and conferences. Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai was the highlight (she also spoke here after receiving the Liberty Medal), but if you weren’t on the list (or really rich), you probably didn’t even realize the event was going on.

State of Young Philly shines

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Young Involved Philly’s annual shindig didn’t feature the same amount of starpower as The Forbes Under 30 Summit, but in November it did bring together hundreds of young Philadelphians looking to get involved with their city over a week’s period. One of the highlights of State of Young Philly was the Millennial Mouth Off. With help from established city leaders who said they wanted to cede some of their influence to the younger generation, millennials jotted down ideas for how to improve the city that were both fun and farfetched (ban cars!) and practical (What if new housing developments mandated inclusion of low/moderate income residents).

It’s probably up to millennials to make Philadelphia’s real estate market continue to boom or bust

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Philadelphia’s buildings grew like never before in 2013. More than 1,700 new apartment units were built in Center City that year, a Center City record nearly twice as great as the second-highest year. Who to credit for the boom? Millennials, of course. Experts say millennials are also responsible for drawing major businesses like Timberland, New Balance and Under Armour to Philly and getting them to pay record-high rents.

Will it all fall apart if millennials move away, though? That’s certainly possible. But nobody is betting on it yet. An estimated 2,600 residential units were completed in Center City this year.

A 25-year-old Philadelphian wants to fight student debt, just for you

Montez Smith

Montez Smith graduated from Temple in 2011 and has been saddled with debt since. Now, Smith is working on a project to help others (70 percent of college grads) who have the same problem. Smith has started an Indie Go Go campaign for “The Fight Sallie Mae Project.” It will provide information and resources for people with debt and contain a bailout fund for those in need.

Billy Penn launches new lists to honor young people’s contributions in Philadelphia


Billy Penn wants to recognize the up-and-coming leaders of Philly and to do so has started the series “Who’s Next.” So far, we’ve honored community leaders and people involved in politics. There will be plenty more lists to come in 2015.

Mark Dent is a reporter/curator at BillyPenn. He previously worked for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, where he covered the Jerry Sandusky scandal, Penn State football and the Penn State administration. His...