The City Of Firsts, The City Of Homes


William Birch’s engraving of “an unfinished house, in Chestnut Street,” 1800 | via Curbed Philly

William Birch’s engraving of “an unfinished house, in Chestnut Street,” 1800 | Image: Athenaeum of Philadelphia

  • Curbed Philly’s Melissa Romero traces the land-use history of the endangered Jewelers Row, the nation’s first set of rowhomes. For a century what is now the 700 block of Sansom served as pastureland on the city’s western frontier, finally being developed, for a time, in the 1790s by Revolutionary War financier Robert Morris for his capital city mansion. Yet, with architectural flourishes deemed too opulent for even his Federalist elite neighbors, in the midst of a restructuring of the national economy not unlike the postindustrial years of the mid-twentieth century, “Morris’ folly” was never completed, and its land sold to William Sansom, who would construct there the first speculative housing development in the nation.
  • The Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority will introduce a social-impact requirement to its formal request-for-proposal process next week, reports Jared Brey of Philadelphia magazine, when it releases an RFP for the 80,000-square-foot surfacing parking lot on the northwest corner of 8th and Race Streets. Brey explains that the additional category will be taken broadly, perhaps: “affordable housing and minority-business participation to healthy food access, job creation, or even simple cash donations to nonprofits or community groups.”
  • Samantha Maldonado speaks with the graphic designer behind the Fairmount Park Conservancy’s new user-friendly guide to the eponymous West and East sections of that park, mapping out an itinerary of 50 “unique experiences” to enjoy. “I had the space to reveal the park’s topography, and that’s a crucial layer to see if you want to understand the park’s heritage as a working landscape, and why the landmarks are connected,” said Andee Mazzocco of Whole-Brained Design.
  • Conrad Benner showcases the newly installed work of Brooklyn-based artist Patrick Jacobs on his Streets Dept blog. In collaboration with The West Collection, Jacobs has wrapped an entire 4-story building at the corner property of 16th & Chancellor Streets in a close-up shot of a daffodil-and dandelion-covered field, providing an massive background for a miniature landscape of the same subject matter.
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.

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