"Natural" Cultural Districts: A Three-City Study—2010-2013

Document Type

Research Report




From 2010 to 2012, SIAP undertook a study of “natural” cultural districts in three cities—Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Seattle. This report presents findings of two sets of analyses: a citywide analysis of the social geography and cultural ecology of each city and a set of case studies of cultural clusters within the three cities. For each case study, in the following seven neighborhoods, a statistical overview was fleshed out by qualitative study:

  • Baltimore—Highlandtown-Patterson Park and Station North;
  • Philadelphia—Callowhill/Chinatown North and South Philadelphia; and
  • Seattle—Capitol Hill, the Central District, and Chinatown-International District.

The citywide analyses examined the relationship of cultural engagement to social and economic change in the three cities. The case studies focused on the character and evolution of “natural” cultural districts and the challenges posed to their sustainability, including the role of cultural space. The broader goal of the project was to understand the dynamics of the community cultural ecosystem, connections between cultural ecology and community wellbeing, and implications for policy and planning.


The research was undertaken with support by Leveraging Investments in Creativity (LINC), a New York-­based national initiative. For LINC’s abstract (and extracts of SIAP’s Final Report), see Leveraging Investments in Creativity. LINC Research + Practice. “Natural” Cultural Districts: A Three-City Study" (2012) at http://www.lincnet.net/1898.



Date Posted: 02 May 2017