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Higher Ed in the News

Campus growth transforms cities

May 3, 2009

In Boston, Harvard has plans to remake a gritty urban enclave - Allston - over the next five decades. As Harvard stutter steps its way toward a massive expansion of its campus, first moving too fast for neighborhood tastes, and now not fast enough, it's using lessons from Penn's investment in West Philadelphia.

It used to be that the University of Pennsylvania would warn its students not to cross 40th and Walnut streets, a seedy corner on the edge of campus once nicknamed McDeath because shootings and stabbings commonly occurred just steps from a McDonald's.

That was in the mid 1990s, before Penn launched a $500 million initiative, before it bought and redeveloped block after block of blighted buildings and empty lots, before an upscale grocery moved in, even a Mexican restaurant owned by a celebrity chef. Today, the neighborhood is filled with faculty, students, and hope.

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