Know Your Price, Philadelphia: Housing Price & Demographic Change in the Neighborhoods, Part II

In our previous Leading Indicator, we examined three Philadelphia neighborhoods through the lens of our recent Know Your Price analysis. The “Know Your Price Philadelphia” study tells the story of 

property devaluation for communities of color by comparing property values over time in neighborhoods that are majority white, Black, or Latino. With this analysis as a backdrop, this Leading Indicator series is exploring how demographic changes correlate with changing property values at the neighborhood level. 

 

This week, we continue this series by focusing on three new neighborhoods that experienced little to no property value appreciation between 1950 to 2022: Oxford Circle, Carroll Park / West Parkside, and Ogontz. For each neighborhood, we will compare change over time in demographic data and property values to illustrate how population changes are correlated with rising and falling property values. 

 

What You Need to Know: 

  • The total population of Oxford Circle has nearly doubled since 1950 as the neighborhood’s demographic composition has shifted substantially. While Oxford Circle was 99% white in 1950, today the white population makes up less than a third of the neighborhood. As of 2020, no racial or ethnic group dominates, with white, Black, and Latino populations each comprising 20-30% of the neighborhood, and a fast growing Asian population rounding out the diversity. 

  • In Carroll Park / West Parkside, the total population in 2020 is less than 2/3 the size of the 1950 population, and this total population decline is correlated with a loss of white residents. The departure of the white population took place slowly over time, as the group decreased by half each decade from 1950-2010. The neighborhood’s Black population grew in size from 1950-1970, then also began a slow decline to present day. 

  • Ogontz’s total population decreased by more than 1/3 between 1950-2020, transforming from a predominantly white to a predominantly Black neighborhood. The Black population became the majority group in 1970. Although it has grown to an increasing percentage of the neighborhood over the following decades, the absolute count of Black residents has been in gradual decline since 1980.  

 

The Northeast: Oxford Circle 

 

Oxford Circle is situated in Northeast Philadelphia in the 9th City Council District, due north of Frankford and east of Olney. Oxford Circle’s population in 2020 is nearly twice its 1950 population, yet the demographics today look distinctly different. While the neighborhood was more than 99% white in 1960, today white residents make up just 26% of the total population. The white population increased significantly from 1950 to 1960 before beginning its steady decline to present day. As of 2020, the white population is 1/3 of its 1960 maximum.  

 

Conversely, the population of other racial and ethnic groups have been steadily increasing since 1970. Of all minority groups, the Latino population was the largest from 1970-1980; the Asian population was the largest group from 1990-2000, and the Black population was the largest in 2010-2020. As of 2020, Oxford Circle was 29% white, 27% Black, 23% Latino, and 14% Asian. 

 

 

 

Property values in Oxford Circle experienced a steep decline from 1950 to 1960, shrinking by nearly 2/3 over the 10-year period. Although values recovered somewhat throughout the 1960s, there was another sharp drop after 1967, landing at a quarter of 1950 levels in 1971. In the decades since, home values have fluctuated through peaks and valleys, beginning a gradual upward trend in 2000. As of 2020, property values are at their highest since 1968, but still far below 1950 levels.  

 

Figure 2: 

 

 

West Philly: Carroll Park / West Parkside 

 

Carroll Park and West Parkside are in the 4th City Council District in West Philadelphia. They stretch from the southern edge of Fairmount Park west towards Morris Park. The neighborhood has experienced significant population loss and demographic change from 1950-2020. In 1950 the neighborhood had about 28,000 residents, 74% white and 26% Black, while in 2020 the neighborhood was home to just over 15,000 residents, 93% Black and just 3% white.  

 

The white population declined dramatically, falling by 50% each decade between 1950 and 2010. The Black population more than doubled between 1950-1960, grew by another 20% by 1970, and after a few decades of decline, has stabilized since 2000.   

 

 

In Carroll Park and West Parkside, property values fell by more than 60% from 1950 to 1980. Over the following decades, prices have been trending slowly upward. After a dramatic drop between 2006-2012, home values have been rapidly increasing, eventually surpassing 1950-levels as of 2021. 

 

Figure 4: 

 

 

North Philly: Ogontz 

 

Ogontz is in the 8th City Council District in Upper Northern Philadelphia, bordered on the east by Broad Street and on the west by East Germantown. Much like in Carroll Park and West Parkside, Ogontz’s demographic story is one of a white majority in 1950 turned Black majority in present day. The white population dropped swiftly between 1950 and 1970, falling from 97% to just 23% over the twenty-year period. Since then, the Black population has maintained its majority, growing from 74% of the neighborhood in 1970 to 92% in 2020.  

 

However, this is coupled with significant population decline. While the early exodus of white residents gave way to a Black majority, the population of Black residents has also been decreasing in more recent decades. The Black population in 2020 is only 2/3 of its 1980 size, and the neighborhood’s total population fell by a similar percentage. 

 

 

Housing prices in Ogontz experienced the greatest decline from 1950 to 1962 and reached their lowest point in 1975. Since 1975, property values have been gradually increasing, with the most recent acceleration beginning 2013. As of 2022, Ogontz housing prices are still less than half of their 1950 values. 

 

Figure 6: 

 

 

Conclusion and Takeaways 

 

As in our previous installment, each of these three neighborhoods illustrate how population losses and gains as well as demographic shifts are correlated with changing property values. In both Carroll Park and Ogontz, housing prices plummeted as the white population left the neighborhood over the course of several decades. Although prices recovered to varying degrees in the two areas, this initial steep loss resulted in the low long-term accrual of value we see today. However, in Oxford Circle, the most significant loss in property value occurred as the white population grew in size from 1950-1960. The more recent gradual rise in home prices has happened alongside a growing total population and an increased representation of minority groups. The analysis of Oxford Circle suggests that an influx of residents can be a primary driver of rising home values and that more recent demographic shifts may have a lesser effect on property values than shifts in the early decades of the study.