30th Street Station Unveils Its “Porch”

photo: Rob Lybeck

Mayor Michael Nutter was proud to announce yesterday the beginning of a transformation of the urban space that had bewildered him for all his life as a resident of West Philadelphia, the bland and barren stretch of Market Street just south of 30thStreet Station.

After several months of construction and a community-driven search for a name (some 500 suggestions), it is now “The Porch at 30th Station,” a public plaza that seeks to evolve and connect.

The Porch is the result of the University City District (UCD) seizing upon an opportunity to “piggyback” on PennDOT’s street improvements. Other organizations, civic groups, and companies like Amtrak and Brandywine Reality Trust, who together flank the space, were engaged in the process. With such limitations, designers looked to Manhattan for inspiration, citing Gansevoort Plaza and Greeley Square Park as examples of the novel “Lighter, Quicker, Cheaper” philosophy in big city public space.

Nutter remarked that the plaza is emblematic of Philadelphia’s new approach to take the initiative in its own transformation. “We don’t have time to sit around and debate … What we want to do is create big, open, public spaces.”

All of this institutional collaboration, creative design, and financial realism explains the project’s small price-tag of $300,000.

Evolutionary

UCD head Matt Bergheiser told the hundreds present that the Porch was envisioned as a truly public space—“a blank canvas,” to be defined by those who walk among it.

photo: Rob Lybeck

To advertize the possibilities to be offered by the Porch, circus performers, farmers’ markets, and Drexel students practicing yoga were present.

Project Manager Prema Katari Gupta called it a “democratic space” that will suit the needs of upwards of 250 people at any one time. Considering that some 16,000 people work within a five minute walk from the Porch, there is a great deal of faith within UCD that that kind of figure will be commonplace.

Gupta also claimed that a research assistant would be analyzing the public’s behavior during the Porch’s “beta-testing” in the coming months. “Are users sitting or standing? Are they alone or in groups? Are they reading or talking or eating? Where are they in relation to shade, pedestrian traffic, and other elements?”

Being as all of the space’s elements are moveable, that data will guide its future development.

Connectivity

The other major talking point was the possibility for this most immediate intersection between Center City and West Philadelphia to better promote a sense of spatial fusion among what is increasingly being regarded as “a single, thriving business district, from Front to 40th streets.”

photo: Rob Lybeck

Bergheiser admitted as much in explaining the choice of the name. “Porches serve as transition spaces as this does, first between the indoor grandeur of the station and the wonder and expanse of the city, and second, between the vibrancy of Center City and the dynamism of University City.”

Stephen Gardner, Amtrak’s Vice President of Strategy and Development, spoke of his company’s enthusiasm to invest in Philadelphia’s future, as 30th Street Station remains the third busiest point within their system. New arrivals from Washington and New York will be introduced to Philadelphia through this space for years to come.

Gateway and crossroads were also words liberally thrown about throughout the festivities. A more telling descriptor of the UCD’s aspirations, however, would be this, voiced by William Penn Foundation President Jeremy Nowak: “the hub of the rebirth of Philadelphia into a 21st century city.”

 

About the author

Stephen Currall recently received his BA in history from Arcadia University. Before beginning doctoral studies, he is pursuing his interest in local history, specifically just how Philadelphians engage their vibrant past. Besides skimming through 18th century letters, Steve is also interested in music and travel.

Send a message!



No Comments


Trackbacks

  1. Philadelphia 2035 - Page 12 - City-Data Forum

Leave a Reply

Comment moderation is enabled, no need to resubmit any comments posted.

Recent Posts
Digging Up Vine Street In Search Of Old Skid Row

Digging Up Vine Street In Search Of Old Skid Row

April 26, 2017  |  Vantage

Public health scholar Steve Metraux exhumes the heart of Philadelphia's Skid Row, buried under the Vine Street Expressway by the hands of urban renewal. > more

Khmer Monastery In Kingsessing Enlightens The Schuylkill

Khmer Monastery In Kingsessing Enlightens The Schuylkill

April 24, 2017  |  Vantage

Dan Papa celebrates the Cambodian New Year with a look at the Wat Khmer Palelai Buddhist temple under construction in Southwest Philly > more

How Franklin’s Grave Became A Monument And Philadelphians Were Persuaded To Like It

How Franklin’s Grave Became A Monument And Philadelphians Were Persuaded To Like It

April 19, 2017  |  Vantage

Nearly 70 years after Benjamin Franklin’s death, public outcry demanding honor for the Founding Father transformed a battered, overgrown gravesite into a popular tourist destination. But the real story isn't at all what we've been told. Join Mark Dixon as he uncovers truth and public deception behind the hole in the wall at Benjamin Franklin's grave > more

A Powerhouse Of Footwork And Fitness On Delaware Ave

A Powerhouse Of Footwork And Fitness On Delaware Ave

April 18, 2017  |  The Shadow Knows

On the outskirts of Fishtown, a dance club and rock climbing gym keep spirits high inside an old 19th century trolley car power station > more

Engineering & Architecture Ride The Rails At Athenaeum

Engineering & Architecture Ride The Rails At Athenaeum

April 15, 2017  |  Vantage

An exhibition at the Athenaeum of Philadelphia illuminates the history of railroad architecture through drawings, photographs, and more. Michael Bixler has the review > more

Ghost Station At Art Museum Rises From The Dead

Ghost Station At Art Museum Rises From The Dead

April 13, 2017  |  Harry K's Encyclopedia

Harry K. walks us through the origins of the mothballed "Art Museum Station," now being renovated at the PMA, and one man's visionary plan for mass transit in Philly that never came to be > more