Ideas We Should Steal: The 20-Minute Neighborhood - The Philadelphia Citizen

Paris, Portland, Houston and even Detroit are planning neighborhoods where residents can walk or bike to everything they need for a healthy and vibrant life. Is now the time to do the same in Philly?


BY ROXANNE PATEL SHEPELAVY

Photo Credit: Urban Engineers. SEPTA 5th Street Station Philadelphia
Photo Credit: Urban Engineers. SEPTA 5th Street Station Philadelphia

For decades, the Detroit neighborhood known as Fitzgerald was, like so many Philly neighborhoods, an example of urban disinvestment and neglect. In 2016, some 30 percent of buildings and lots were abandoned. Home prices were too low even for owners to get loans to fix them up. Many streets didn’t connect to each other. Park space consisted of one small, run-down playground. The commercial corridor lacked the kind of small businesses that provide vibrancy and economic strength to city neighborhoods.

In 2016, Mayor Mike Duggan made Fitzgerald the centerpiece of a plan that he vowed will bring Detroiters within 20 minutes by foot or bike from retail, transit and parks — and also free from blight, including abandoned buildings and crumbling infrastructure. That made Detroit one of several cities around the globe — including Paris, Portland and Houston — to make a deliberate effort to create what is known as a 15-Minute City or 20-Minute Neighborhood, in which all of a resident’s non-work needs can be reached within a few minutes without needing a car.


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