Demographics of Philadelphia

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Median household income in Center City and surrounding sections, 2000 Census.
Historical population
Year Pop.   ±%  
1683* 600 —    
1731* 12,000 +1900.0%
1790 28,522 +137.7%
1800 41,220 +44.5%
1810 53,722 +30.3%
1820 63,802 +18.8%
1830 80,462 +26.1%
1840 93,665 +16.4%
1850 121,376 +29.6%
1860 565,529 +365.9%
1870 674,022 +19.2%
1880 847,170 +25.7%
1890 1,046,964 +23.6%
1900 1,293,697 +23.6%
1910 1,549,008 +19.7%
1920 1,823,779 +17.7%
1930 1,950,961 +7.0%
1940 1,931,334 −1.0%
1950 2,071,605 +7.3%
1960 2,002,512 −3.3%
1970 1,948,609 −2.7%
1980 1,688,210 −13.4%
1990 1,585,577 −6.1%
2000 1,517,550 −4.3%
2010 1,526,006 +0.6%
2012 1,547,607 +1.4%
Populations for City of Philadelphia, not for Philadelphia County. Population for Philadelphia County was 54,388 (including 42,520 urban) in 1790; 81,009 (including 69,403 urban) in 1800; 111,210 (including 91,874 urban) in 1810; 137,097 (including 112,772 urban) in 1820; 188,797 (including 161,410 urban) in 1830; 258,037 (including 220,423 urban) in 1840; and 408,762 (including 340,045 urban) in 1850. Under Act of Consolidation, 1854, City of Philadelphia absorbed the various districts, boroughs, townships, other suburbs, and remaining rural area in Philadelphia County as the consolidated City and County of Philadelphia.
Source: [1][2][3][4] [5]

As of the census[6] of 2010, there were 1,526,006 people, 590,071 households, and 352,272 families residing in the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The population density was 4,337.3/km² (11,233.6/mi²). There were 661,958 housing units at an average density of 1,891.9/km² (4,900.1/mi²).

The racial makeup of the city as of 2012 was:

Of the 590,071 households, 27.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 32.1% were married couples living together, 22.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 40.3% were non-families. 33.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.48 and the average family size was 3.22.

Percent of children under 5 years in Center City and surrounding sections, 2000 Census.

The population was spread out with 25.3% under the age of 18, 11.1% from 18 to 24, 29.3% from 25 to 44, 20.3% from 45 to 64, and 14.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females there were 86.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 81.8 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $30,746, and the median income for a family was $37,036. Males had a median income of $34,199 versus $28,477 for females. The per capita income for the city was $16,509. 22.9% of the population and 18.4% of families were below the poverty line. 31.3% of those under the age of 18 and 16.9% of those 65 and older were living below the poverty line.

The male-female ratio was 86.8 to 100, with 46.5% of the population male and 53.5% female. Of places with 100,000 or more people, this was the third lowest in the United States. Only Gary, Indiana and Birmingham, Alabama had a higher proportion of women.[7]

Of housing units, 590,071 (89.1%) were occupied and 71,887 (10.9%) were vacant. Of occupied housing units, 349,633 (59.3%) were owner-occupied and 240,438 (40.7%) were renter-occupied.

The mean travel time to work was 32.0 minutes for workers 16 years of age and older. Residents of Center City, however, had much shorter commutes. Center City has the third largest downtown residential population in the country, and most walk to work.

63.97% of Philadelphians drove an automobile to work (including carpools), 25.93% commuted by public transit, 9.22% walked to work, and 0.88% commuted by bicycle. 35.74% of households did not have an automobile. The proportion of Philadelphians who do not commute by auto is high compared to most other American cities, although lower than the proportions in New York City and Washington, D.C.

Population history[edit]

Mean travel time to work, 2000 Census. Note 1 to 22 minute commutes in Center City while some block groups in North Philadelphia exceed an hour. Low-wage service workers commonly travel to the suburbs for employment.

From its founding through the early 19th century, the City of Philadelphia was considered the area between the Delaware and Schuylkill Rivers and between Vine and South Streets. Although the City proper was second to New York City in population at the time of the first U.S. Census in 1790, Philadelphia County was the most populous urban (or metropolitan) area in the nation until 1810, when it was surpassed by New York. In 1854, the Act of Consolidation incorporated the rest of Philadelphia County and created Philadelphia's modern border. This resulted in a large population increase, evident in the 1860 census.

Philadelphia experienced steady growth between 1860 and 1950, except for a brief lull in 1930, which was due in part to the Great Depression. Its population peaked at 2,071,605 in 1950. Between 1950 and 2000, the city lost 554,055 people, or 26.7% of its population. To put this into perspective, Chicago lost 20.0% of its population during the same era, and Baltimore lost 31.4%, according to US Census data. This nationwide trend is often referred to as "white flight" because upper- and middle-class families, enabled by nationwide improvements to infrastructure, left cities in favor of their surrounding suburbs.

In 2011, Census data was released showing that Philadelphia had achieved its first confirmed population growth in 60 years.[8] The increase was small, just 0.6 percent. It is attributed to a variety of factors, including increased immigration (especially from countries like India, South Korea and Mexico) and migration from more expensive cities in the Northeast Corridor.[9] Between 2000 and 2010, the city's Hispanic population increased by 44 percent to 187,611 and its Asian population grew by 42 percent to 95,521.[10] Wealthy transplants, Asian American investors from New York City, and African Americans from Washington, D.C. have received media attention for setting their sights on Philadelphia.[11][12][13] The ten-year tax abatement, a historically undervalued housing market, improvements to the waterfront, and continuing redevelopment throughout the city are thought to be factors drawing people to the area.


Race in Philadelphia (2000 U.S. Census). Each dot represents 25 residents. Red for Whites; blue for blacks; green for Asians; and Orange for Latinos

Compared to its immigrant-magnet peers in the Northeast, Philadelphia has long been considered a "black and white" city of mostly native born African Americans and Whites. However the number of Hispanics and Asian Americans has increased over the past 20 years and continues to accelerate. The number of foreign-born residents increased by 34,000 between 1990 and 2000. Of foreign-born Philadelphians, 38.5% were from Asia, 30.3% were from Europe, 23.4% were from Latin America, and 6.7% were from Africa.

Recent immigrants from Asia are mainly of Indian, Korean, Chinese, Vietnamese, Laotian, Hmong, Filipino, Cambodian, Thai, Pakistani and Bangladeshi backgrounds. In addition, the Latino population continues to grow, as Dominican, Mexican, Colombian, Salvadoran, Guatemalan, Cuban, and Brazilian immigrants, as well as Puerto Rican citizens emigrate to the city. There are also a number of recent Ethiopian, Somali, and Sudanese immigrants from Northeast Africa.[citation needed]

Non-Hispanic White people[edit]

Large concentrations of non-Hispanic whites live in Center City, Northeast Philadelphia, and Northwest Philadelphia (although this is changing). Gentrification is altering the racial demographics of predominantly black neighborhoods close to Center City.

Poles and Polish Americans have a rich history in the Port Richmond-Bridesburg area, as well as areas of Kensington and the Northeast. Many other cultures can also be found throughout the city, including West Indians in the Cedar Park neighborhood, and many Russian, Greek and Ukrainian immigrants in the Near Northeast.[citation needed]

European immigration is also growing, with more Irish, Italian, and Polish immigrants. Recently,[when?] thousands of Russian and Ukrainian immigrants from Eastern Europe (many of whom are Jewish) have arrived. There are other growing nationalities, which include Spanish, Portuguese, Slovak, Greek and Serbian.

The city's Middle Eastern population has tripled since 1990, with people of Palestinian, Turkish, Lebanese, Iranian, Egyptian, Iraqi, Saudi, Syrian and Afghan backgrounds residing in Philadelphia.


Irish immigrants and the Irish Americans are associated in the North and Northeast Philadelphia neighborhoods, including Fishtown, Kensington, Mayfair, Frankford, Port Richmond, Holmesburg, Harrowgate, and Juniata, as well as Devil's Pocket, Whitman, Gray's Ferry, and particularly Pennsport in South Philly in addition to many other areas.[citation needed]. Philadelphia has the 2nd largest Irish American population in the country.


Italian immigrants and the Italian American community are frequently associated with South Philadelphia as well as Bella Vista, Central South Philadelphia, Girard Estates, Marconi Plaza, Packer Park, the Italian Market area, and Tacony, among others. Philadelphia has the 2nd largest Italian American population in the U.S.

African Americans[edit]

The largest concentrations of native-born blacks are in Germantown, the central, northern, and western neighborhoods of North Philadelphia, the Point Breeze neighborhood of South Philadelphia, parts of Southwest Philadelphia, and West Philadelphia. Together these neighborhoods have a population of about 610,000 and are roughly 82% black; making it the fourth largest predominantly black area in the United States after Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, Detroit, and South Side Chicago.[14]

Philadelphia has one of the most notable West African populations in the United States; the city counts many Liberian Americans and Nigerian Americans among its residents.[citation needed] By 2008 about 15,000 Liberians had immigrated to Philadelphia; the Liberians left their native country due to two civil wars and the destruction of Liberian infrastructure.[15] There is also a sizable community of Trinidadians, Jamaicans and Haitians.

Philadelphia has a large West Indian community from the Caribbean islands and the second largest Trinidadian and Tobagonian American and Jamaican-American populations in the country. features Philadelphia and Jamaican culture in the city.[16]

Hispanics and Latinos[edit]

As of the 2010 census, there were 227,611 Latinos and Hispanics in Philadelphia. 64% were Puerto Rican.[17]

In the early 20th Century companies such as the Pennsylvania Railroad and Spanish-speaking immigrant networks attracted Spanish-speaking workers to Philadelphia.[18] By 1910 several Latino and Hispanic groups had resided in Philadelphia. Cubans and Spaniards founded and initially lead the Latino and Hispanic community organizations. Due to the Immigration Act of 1924 Puerto Ricans, who were already U.S. citizens, became the predominate Hispanic group and had taken control of the organizations by the 1950s. Other Latino and Hispanic groups began establishing themselves by the 1960s.[17] By 2005 most of the leadership was still Puerto Rican. By then some non-Puerto Ricans had taken some leadership positions[19]

Puerto Ricans[edit]

As of 2010, there was of 121,643 Puerto Ricans living in Philadelphia. This meant that Puerto Ricans are the largest Latino group in the city and that Philadelphia has the second largest Puerto Rican population.[20]

Increases in Latino immigration and migration have fueled the growth of El Centro de Oro in Fairhill. As of 2010, Philadelphia has the second largest Puerto Rican community in the United States, after New York City.[citation needed] Puerto Ricans constitute over 75% of the Latino population in the city and most[quantify] live in the area that straddles the border between the North and Northeast sections of the city. Philadelphia has also seen strong increases among its Dominican and Mexican populations.[citation needed]


As of the 2000 U.S. Census there were an estimated 6,220 Mexicans in Philadelphia. By 2003 the estimate was over 12,000.[20] As of 2011 over 15,000 Mexican-origin people live in Philadelphia.[21]

The first Hispanophone population in Philadelphia was a small group of Mexicans who arrived in the 19th Century. A small group of Mexicans remained throughout the city's history. A group of Mexicans arrived in the 1970s.[20] Several Mexican communities in North and South Philadelphia opened as a result of a 1990s wave of Mexican immigration.[22] A rise in housing prices in New York convinced some Mexicans there to settle the more inexpensive Philadelphia and in cities in New Jersey.[21] Another wave of immigration started in 1998 with Mexicans arriving from Mexico and areas outside of Mexico such as New York.[22] The September 11, 2001 attacks caused a slowdown in the economy in New York City, causing Mexicans to move to Philadelphia from New York City.[21]

As of 2000 the largest Mexican community was in the area bounded by Front Street, 18th Street, Oregon Avenue, and Washington Avenue in South Philadelphia.[20] As of 2011 most Mexicans in South Philadelphia originate from the state of Puebla.[21] The communities of Kensington and Olney in North Philadelphia have Mexican populations. Mexicans have also settled Northeast, Southwest, and West Philadelphia and some suburbs and nearby towns.[20]

Mexican immigrants have drastically changed the Italian Market area in South Philadelphia and have set up a small community in and around the market. Today[when?] Mexicans are the third largest Hispanic community, after Puerto Ricans and Dominicans, both of who mainly reside in North Philadelphia.[citation needed]


As of the 2010 Census there was 55,963 Dominicans, giving Philadelphia the United States's 2nd largest Dominican population and Philadelphia's second largest Hispanic group.[22]

Dominicans began coming to Philadelphia after 1965.[17] Prior to 1990 there was a very small population of Dominicans. The a significant wave of Dominican immigration started in 1990 with a group of Dominicans moving from New York to gain jobs.[22]

As of 2000 most Dominicans live in Puerto Rican areas in North Philadelphia. Some Dominicans live in Northeast and West Philadelphia.[22]


As of the 2000 Census there was an estimate of 2,370 Cubans.[22] Cubans, along with Spaniards, had founded and initially controlled several Latino and Hispanic organizations in Philadelphia. In the early 1960s large numbers of Cuban refugees arrived in Philadelphia.[17]

Other Latino and Hispanic groups[edit]

As of the 2000 Census there was an estimate of 2,414 Colombians.[22]

As of the 2000 Census there was an estimate of 544 Nicaraguans, 518 Guatemalans, 501 Costa Ricans, 466 Hondurans, 378 Panamanians, and 337 Salvadorans.[23]

As of the 2000 Census there was an estimate of 531 Argentineans, 471 Peruvians, 420 Ecuadorians, 409 Venezuelans, 182 Chileans, 86 Uruguayans, 55 Bolivians, and 38 Paraguayans in Philadelphia.[23]

Asian Americans[edit]

The Asian American community has long been established in the city's bustling Chinatown district, but recent Vietnamese immigrants have also forged neighborhoods and bazaars alongside the venerable Italian market. Korean immigrants have notably added to the melting pot of Olney.[citation needed] In several decades before 2010, the cost of living in Chinatown increased due to an influx in settlement, so Asian Americans began moving to other neighborhoods in northwestern Philadelphia, northeastern Philadelphia, and South Philadelphia.[24] As of January 22, 2010, according to David Elesh, a Temple University urban sociologist, there were almost 60,000 Philadelphia residents who stated that they were born in China and many of them lived in South Philadelphia.[25]


A group of Hmong refugees had settled in Philadelphia after the end of the 1970s Laotian Civil War. They were attacked in discriminatory acts, and the city's Commission on Human Relations held hearings on the incidents. Anne Fadiman, author of The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, said that lower-class residents resented the Hmong receiving a $100,000 federal grant for employment assistance when they were also out of work; they believed that American citizens should be getting assistance.[26] Bee Xiong, a Hmong leader in Philadelphia, stated that by the late 1970s there were up to 5,000 Hmong in Philadelphia but by in 1984 there were 650 Hmong.[27] Between 1982 and 1984, three quarters of the Hmong people who had settled in Philadelphia left for other cities in the United States to join relatives who were already there.[28] Reverend Edward V. Avery, a Roman Catholic priest quoted in the Philadelphia Inquirer, stated that unemployed black youths questioned why Hmong people instead of native-born U.S. citizens received the federal aid, and that contributed to violence against Hmong people.[27] A U.S. Attorney, Edward S.G. Dennis, had begun an investigation by 1984. His office asked the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to determine if there was a hate crime. By the same year Xiong opened an employment assistance office to stabilize what was left of the Hmong population. He had used $100,000 in federal grants.[27]

Native Americans[edit]

Sticker by the Delaware Valley's Lenape Indians in 2008 claiming West Philadelphia is their home.

There is even a small Native Americans of the United States community known as Lenapehoking for Lenni-Lenape Indians of West Philadelphia.[citation needed] West Philadelphia is currently being gentrified.[29]


Christianity is the dominant religion in the city of Philadelphia. The largest denomination is Roman Catholic. Metropolitan Philadelphia's Jewish population, the sixth largest in the nation, was estimated at 206,000 in 2001 and almost 300,000 in 2009.[30] There is also a significant Eastern Orthodox population as well as a strong Lutheran community. In fact, the greater Philadelphia area is home to one of the largest Lutheran communities in America (The largest on the East Coast).[citation needed]

Many new religions have arrived, including Islam and Hinduism. With immigration from the Middle East, the Horn of Africa, Pakistan, Bangladesh and India, these two religions have increased their presence. The largest concentrations of Muslims and Hindus live in the Northeast and North parts of the city, Center City, West Philadelphia, and sprawling into the nearby suburbs.

Religions with less numerous adherents can also be found. There is Buddhism in Chinatown, and Caribbean and African traditional religions in North and West Philadelphia. These numbers are also growing. Historically the city has strong connections to The Religious Society of Friends, Unitarian Universalism, and Ethical Culture, all of which continue to be represented in the city. The Friends General Conference is based in Philadelphia.

The Muslim African American community in Philadelphia has grown substantially over the last decade. According to several statistics, Philadelphia has surpassed Detroit and New York City to become the American metropolitan area with the highest proportion of Muslims.[citation needed]

Ethno-religious groups[edit]

Jewish people[edit]


  • Vázquez-Hernández, Víctor. "From Pan-Latino Enclaves to a Community:Puerto Ricans in Philadelphia, 1910-2000" (Chapter 4). In: Whalen, Carmen Teresa and Víctor Vázquez-Hernández (editors). The Puerto Rican Diaspora: Historical Perspectives. Temple University Press, 2005. ISBN 1592134149, 9781592134144.


  1. ^ "Census". United States Census.  page 36
  2. ^ Campbell Gibson. "Population of the 100 largest cities and other urban places in the United States: 1790 to 1990". United States Bureau of the Census. 
  3. ^ "Historical, demographic, economic, and social data: the United States, 1790–1970". Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research, Ann Arbor, Michigan. 
  4. ^ U.S. Census Bureau Delivers Pennsylvania's 2010 Census Population Totals, Including First Look at Race and Hispanic Origin Data for Legislative Redistricting
  5. ^ [1]
  6. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  7. ^ [2][dead link]
  8. ^ Cornfield, Josh (3/10/11). "This is Not a Misprint: Philadelphia's Population is Up". Philadelphia Daily News. Retrieved 6//14/12. 
  9. ^ Matza, Michael (3/13/11). "Immigrant Surge: Why Area Grew". Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved 6/14/12. 
  10. ^ Cornfield, Josh (3/10/11). "This is Not a Misprint: Philadelphia's Population is Up". Philadelphia Daily News. Retrieved 6/14/12. 
  11. ^ Pressler, Jessica (August 14, 2005). "Philadelphia Story: The Next Borough". The New York Times. Retrieved May 1, 2010. 
  12. ^ Muhammad, Nisa Islam. "D.C. ‘exodus’ sparks district renewal efforts for Whites", The Final Call, June 21, 2007. Accessed June 25, 2007.
  13. ^ "Washington's Black Majority Is Shrinking". The New York Times. September 16, 2007. Retrieved May 1, 2010. 
  14. ^ "American FactFinder". Retrieved 2012-08-26. 
  15. ^ Herold, Benjamin. "Student 'ambassadors' tackle divide between Africans, African Americans." The Notebook.[clarification needed] Northern hemisphere Fall 2008. Volume 16, No. 1. 1. Retrieved on December 16, 2010.
  16. ^
  17. ^ a b c d Vázquez-Hernández, p. 88.
  18. ^ Vázquez-Hernández, p. 89.
  19. ^ Vázquez-Hernández, p. 88-89.
  20. ^ a b c d e "Latino Philadelphia at a Glance." (Archive) Historical Society of Pennsylvania. p. 1. Retrieved on January 15, 2014.
  21. ^ a b c d "From Puebla to South Philly." Philadelphia Inquirer. October 28, 2011. Retrieved on January 15, 2014.
  22. ^ a b c d e f g "Latino Philadelphia at a Glance." (Archive) Historical Society of Pennsylvania. p. 2. Retrieved on January 15, 2014.
  23. ^ a b "Latino Philadelphia at a Glance." (Archive) Historical Society of Pennsylvania. p. 3. Retrieved on January 15, 2014.
  24. ^ Teague, Matthew. "Heroes: South Philly High’s Protesters." Philadelphia (magazine). August 2010. 1. Retrieved on January 31, 2013.
  25. ^ "Bullying against Asian students roils Philadelphia high school." Associated Press at the USA Today. January 22, 2010. Retrieved on January 20, 2013. "Many of the city's nearly 60,000 residents who report being born in China live in the neighborhoods, said David Elesh, an urban sociologist at Temple University."
  26. ^ "The Melting Pot." Fadiman, Anne. The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down. The Noonday Press, 1997. ISBN 0-374-52564-1, ISBN 978-0-374-52564-4. p. 192. "In Philadelphia, anti-Hmong muggings, robberies, beatings, stonings, and vandalism were so commonplace during the early eighties that the city's Commission on Human Relations held public hearings to investigate the violence. One source[...]"
  27. ^ a b c Robbins, William. "VIOLENCE FORCES HMONG TO LEAVE PHILADELPHIA." The New York Times. Monday September 17, 1984. Late City Final Edition, Section B, Page 16, Column 2, 1100 words
  28. ^ "The Melting Pot." Fadiman, Anne. The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down. The Noonday Press, 1997. ISBN 0-374-52564-1, ISBN 978-0-374-52564-4. p. 195.
  29. ^ Spikol, Liz. "You Know You Live in West Philly If … Our city’s neighborhoods have a talent for giving themselves away." Philadelphia magazine. July 12, 2011. Retrieved on January 31, 2013. "You Know You Live in West Philly If …[...]The white people describe themselves as “pioneers,” and they’re not making a Willa Cather reference."
  30. ^ "Philadelphia". Jewish Virtual Library.

Sources and further reading[edit]