Date of Award
Master of Urban and Regional Planning (MURP)
Geography and Planning
Matin Katirai Ph.D., MPH
Gary Coutu, Ph.D.
Jongwoong Kim, Ph.D., MUP
This case study investigates the demolished structures and lost wealth due to the construction of the Delaware Expressway (I-95) along Philadelphia’s Center City waterfront. The history of the Delaware Expressway is embedded in a larger freeway-building era in the United States that led to the destruction of urban neighborhoods throughout the country. Yet the neighborhoods that once occupied these corridors have fallen out of the collective memory, and there exists a lack of research analyzing the original conditions of these areas before freeways permanently changed them. This thesis seeks to understand the historical context of freeways in the United States that led to the construction of the Delaware Expressway, calculate the tax revenue potential if the residential dwellings in this corridor still existed today, and digitally recreate one of the impacted neighborhoods, Southwark, in a 3D environment. By using a comparatives sales method, the results of the fiscal analysis determined that the current tax value of these dwellings would be $8.23 million annually if the structures still existed today. This historical perspective is especially relevant given the passage of the 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which authorizes a level of funding unseen since the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956. As transportation planning in the United States enters the next chapter of its history, this research provides an important analysis and historical context of how freeways impacted the built environment during 1950s-1970s in order to better guide transportation infrastructure going forward.
Edmonds, Don, "Philadelphia Before I-95: Uncovering the Lost Wealth and Neighborhoods Destroyed by the Delaware Expressway" (2023). West Chester University Master’s Theses. 284.