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Geography, Geology and the Environment


Alec Foster

Mentor Department

Geography, Geology and the Environment


Studies have shown that having access to green space areas are important to overall well-being and can reduce health inequalities. We documented and mapped existing greenspaces in the Olde Kensington neighborhood of Central Philadelphia near Temple University. With the gentrification and recent development boom in this area of Philadelphia, there have been many greenspaces that have been destroyed and built upon to make room for new residences. By utilizing Google Earth and recent satellite imagery, we digitized greenspaces within the study area parcel by parcel and applied their existing parcel and address data. We also included whether the greenspaces were on commercial, resident, or vacant lots, as there is a significant amount of vacant lots in the neighborhood. In August of 2019, we visited the study site in Philadelphia to conduct field work by ground truthing our results and observing if any greenspaces had been added or lost from the date of our satellite imagery. Using ArcMAP, Google Earth, and Adobe illustrator, we created a map with the current existing greenspaces found from our research as well as the amount of schools, community centers, and churches within the study area. We found 531 greenspaces in our study area, totaling 16.98 acres, or 7.9% of the total study area. The average area per greenspace was 0.032 acres, while the largest greenspace had an area of 1.33 acres. This study represents the first phase of a long-term research project in Philadelphia, by documenting the current greenspaces in this rapidly changing neighborhood, residents and policymakers can work to ensure that they are preserved as new development occurs. Future research will examine how changes in greenspaces over time relate to shifting neighborhood demographics. The methodology developed for this study can be replicated in other locations to study rapid urban socioecological change.


Authors: Seth Hardin, Alec Foster

Documenting Greenspaces in Philadelphia

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