How does a so-called bad neighborhood go about changing its reputation? Is it simply a matter of improving material conditions or picking the savviest marketing strategy? What kind of role can or should the arts play in that process? Does gentrification always entail a betrayal of a neighborhood’s roots? Tackling these questions and offering a fresh take on the dynamics of urban revitalization, The Philadelphia Barrio examines one neighborhood’s fight to erase the stigma of devastation.
Frederick F. Wherry shows how, in the predominantly Latino neighborhood of Centro de Oro, entrepreneurs and community leaders forged connections between local businesses and cultural institutions to rebrand a place once nicknamed the Badlands. Artists and performers negotiated with government organizations and national foundations, Wherry reveals, and took to local galleries, stages, storefronts, and street parades in a concerted, canny effort to reanimate the spirit of their neighborhood.
Complicating our notions of neighborhood change by exploring the ways the process is driven by local residents, The Philadelphia Barrio presents a nuanced look at how city dwellers can make commercial interests serve the local culture, rather than exploit it.