Philadelphia is the fifth largest city in the country with approximately 1.55 million people according to the Official 2010 census. Center City Philadelphia has the third-largest residential downtown population in the entire country, after only New York and Chicago.
The Greater Philadelphia region is also the fifth-largest metropolitan region in the United States, home to more than 6 million people as of the 2010 census. A total of 46.1 million people live within 200 miles of Philadelphia, making it a close second to only New York City for this statistic. Approximately one-fourth of the total U.S. population lives within a six-hour drive of Philadelphia.
As of the 2010 census, the population of the city of Philadelphia was 48.6 percent white, 43.7 percent African American, 11.7 percent Hispanic or Latino, and 5.7 percent Asian. While Philadelphia has almost equal numbers of Caucasians and African Americans, the statistic is drastically different for the state of Pennsylvania, where African Americans represent only 10.9 percent and Caucasians 85.2 percent.
It is also worth noting that two of the most subjugated ethnic groups in the city during the mid-19th century, African Americans and Irish Americans, today make up the largest ethnic groups in the city. While Philadelphia has long been considered a largely "black and white" city compared with other major cities, the number of Hispanics and Asian Americans has begun to increase over the past two decades.
Philadelphia also has the second-largest Irish, Italian, and Jamaican American populations in the entire United States. The number of foreign-born residents represents about 10% of the city's population.
For the first time since 1950, Philadelphia's population is growing. It grew 0.6% over the past decade. The population peaked at nearly 2.1 million in 1950 and by 2000 it had declined by more than a quarter (26.7%). During those years, many people, left the city for the suburbs at far higher rates than people were moving in. At just over 1.5 million people, today's population is a far cry from Philly's peak, but the change of direction is certainly a good sign.
The growth occurred primarily in Center City, which is no surprise. A renaissance has taken place downtown over the past few decades, with new skyscrapers, restaurants, hotels, shops, and nightclubs, springing up everywhere. The area has become increasingly desirable, especially for young people. While some outlying neighborhoods showed a drop in numbers, some areas grew significantly, including Northern Liberties and Fishtown at an impressive 23.7%.
There is much speculation about the cause of the population growth, especially because many cities continued to shrink over the past decade, including Baltimore (4.6%), Chicago (6.9%) and Pittsburgh (8.6). Perhaps it is due to Philadelphia's relatively low cost of living compared to other major cities on the Northeast corridor. Or maybe it has to do with the many local universities in the area and the increasing numbers of students that are staying after graduation. And the business and condominium boom certainly hasn't hurt.
Whatever the cause, after dropping to the sixth largest city after Phoneix, Philadelphia is on the upswing and has reclaimed its place as the fifth largest city in the United States.