What Philly's gun violence drop looks like in neighborhoods like Kensington, North Philly, and Parkside

Chris Palmer, The Philadelphia Inquirer on

Published in Political News

PHILADELPHIA —Two years ago, 38 people were shot in Tioga and Nicetown in just the first five months of the year. This year, there have been just eight shootings there.

Like other cities across the country, Philadelphia has experienced significantly lower levels of gun violence so far this year — and the drop-off is especially pronounced in some neighborhoods.

Tioga and Nicetown have seen one of starkest declines, according to an Inquirer analysis. But nearly every neighborhood in the city has experienced a drop-off, even those that have struggled with gun violence for years.

The reasons for that are elusive, officials say. And they caution that an early decline does not guarantee that the trend will continue throughout the year, particularly in those areas that are smaller or have fewer incidents, and where a weekend rash of shootings can have outsize influence.

With that in mind, here are three areas where the decline in shootings has stood out so far this year.

North Philadelphia

This sprawling section of the city — which, in the census-tract maps, spans nearly river-to-river and covers the area north of Fairmount and Northern Liberties toward Fairhill and Nicetown — has long been one of its most violent.

Poverty levels in the area have been high for decades, and some blocks — particularly those west of Broad Street — have seen perpetually high levels of shootings. And the rate of gunfire per square mile has long been higher than the city as a whole.

But that's slowed down this year, according to The Inquirer's analysis.

Two years ago, more than 180 people had been shot in this part of the city through May. But this year, that tally was 85 — a reduction of more than 50%.

In fact, if the radius is broadened to include other nearby neighborhoods around the core of North Philly — including East Germantown, Fairhill, Frankford, Germantown, Hunting Park, and others — shootings in the first five months of the year dropped by 57%, from 563 people in 2022 to 242 this year.

And shootings per square mile in those areas fell from from 19.8 to 8.5.



Another notable decline has occurred in Kensington.

The community has long been one of the most challenged in the region, with a massive open-air drug market, dealers competing for turf, and high levels of homelessness and drug use. Numerous studies in recent years have found that the blocks near McPherson Square have had not only the highest rates of gun violence in the city, but also the highest concentration of shootings in the entire country.

But gun violence in Kensington to start 2024 was down more than 70% compared to two years ago, The Inquirer's analysis shows. The number of people shot per week during the first six months of this year are as low as they've been in recent memory.

The drop-off occurred even before Mayor Cherelle L. Parker's administration began implementing its plan to aggressively confront many of the neighborhood's challenges, leaving some officials puzzled about how or why shootings have fallen so dramatically.


Gunfire has also been perpetually high in some areas west of the Schuylkill River, but nearly all of them have experienced steep declines this year.

That's particularly true in Parkside, the section between Overbrook and Cobbs Creek, and just northwest of University City.

Through the end of May, police statistics show, 21 people had been shot in Parkside this year — a 65% decline compared to last year, and the lowest year-to-date tally since at least 2015.

The rate of shootings per square mile there has also dropped there by more than 18% from 2021, the peak of gun violence.

And in neighboring Mantua, the rate of shootings per square mile declined by even more — about 25%, the Inquirer's analysis shows.

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