Smart Phones and Urban Change in the 2010s
If the Aughts were a decade of recovery, when Philadelphia emerged from a half-century slide and began growing its population again, this has been the decade of disruption. Blame it on Apple’s juice.
Although the iPhone came on the market in 2007, followed by the Android in 2009, their effects weren’t felt on the city’s urban form until the start of what we’ll probably end up calling the Teens. In a matter of a few years, this leisurely and livable city found itself wrestling with an array of unintended consequences, including gentrification, traffic congestion, a demolition free-for-all, and upheavals in its retail districts.
No doubt, many of these are the problems of success, shared by thriving cities around the United States. But the urban changes that Philadelphia experienced in the first years of the 21st century were gentler and more likely to enhance the city’s existing 20th-century form. The tech-induced trends from the last 10 years have challenged that physical form by radically reconfiguring the way we move through, and interact with, the city.