Steady increases in office workers, shoppers, theater- and museum-goers, and visitors helped downtown pedestrian volumes reach 78% of February 2019 levels, a new Center City District/Central Philadelphia Development Corporation (CCD/CPDC) report notes.
The number of pedestrians in the core of Center City, from Vine Street to South Street, river to river, reached an average daily volume of 347,800 in February 2023, 78% of the February 2019 level, according to Placer.ai, which uses anonymized cellphone location data, and confirmed by CCD’s own on-street pedestrian sensors.
Of the February 2023 total, 20% were people who live in core Center City; 25% were non-resident downtown workers; and 55% were tourists, shoppers, patients at health care providers, or visitors to cultural institutions or events in the Pennsylvania Convention Center, including the Philadelphia Flower Show.
“Residents have been the most consistent and, with the continued addition of new housing, are now living in Center City in greater numbers than before February 2020,” CCD President Paul R. Levy said. “However, the largest rebound has been in the visitor category, rising from an April 2020 low of 38,600 to 190,500 in February 2023. There was also a pronounced increase in non-resident workers from a low of 25,800 in April 2020 to 87,900 in February 2023, 62% of the pre-pandemic level.”
The return of office workers is one of the most promising signs of returning vitality, because of the impact on transit ridership and downtown retail sales and jobs. Data from CCD’s on-street pedestrian sensors located in the main office district -- the 1700 block of JFK Boulevard and the 1600 and 1800 blocks of Market Street -- show pedestrian counts rising last month to 48% of 2019 levels, compared to 11% in April 2020. Ridership on both SEPTA and PATCO have also reached their highest levels in three years.
For more detail, download the 7-page report at- Pedestrian Vitality: Spring 2023.