“The Big Boys Are Showing Up” on North Broad

  • North Broad Street is “the next big corridor” of Philadelphia. The Inquirer reviews some of the many of $500 million worth of plans to transform the stretch now “pockmarked with vacant lots.” Mayor Nutter admits that the endeavor hinges on the Divine Lorraine.
  • FlyingKite stops by the Yorktown neighborhood of North-Central Philadelphia, as modern residents immortalize local gospel and jazz singer Sister Rosetta Tharpe. When her historical marker is unveiled in front of her one-time home on Monday, it will come in the midst of struggles to transform the aging post-war neighborhood.
  • With various projects underway on the Parkway as well—the Barnes Foundation, Sister Cities Park, Aviator Park, and others—PlanPhilly is wondering if the city plans to do anything with the scores of homeless to be found on “our primary cultural boulevard.”
  • Newsworks previews the city’s public access station PhillyCAM’s new digs near Independence Mall. “We’re about creating a space where folks can come together through the production of media,” says director Gretjen Clausing. “It’s a collaborative process.”




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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  1. It’s unfortunate that the PlanPhilly article makes the homeless sound like a nuisance, like an animal, that is getting in the way of the wealthy’s playground on Ben Franklin Parkway. The people quoted in the article sound like they’re more interested in removing the homeless rather than addressing the underlying issues. The parkway designed for the people of the city is seeking to only serve a few in the city.

    • I have two thoughts in response to Jake’s comments. He is certainly right–all the changes on the Parkway will push homeless people out. But in this case there is little designers can do to address the underlying structural political and economic shifts that produce homelessness and social and economic injustice. It’s unfair to expect that they should. Until the federal government shifts the tax burden and indeed spreads the wealth, places like Philadelphia will be caught in a no-win situation. I will argue that the best this city can do is keep trying to make itself nicer, more engaging, more beautiful–and not just in Center City but particularly in neighborhoods. Fixing the built environment is in our control (tho larger more transformative infrastructure investments aren’t really)…in regard to the Parkway particularly, the designers I interviewed about Sister Cities plaza were very aware, concerned, and interested in the issue of homelessness and they made it clear to me again and again that the idea is not to kick out the homeless but to increase overall use of the area. If they could they would try to address the homeless population as well…it’s a complex one, of course, and so we may be best suited by coming up with simple, direct solutions. Pete Woodall, the Hidden City Daily co-editor, suggests installing high quality public bathrooms and hiring people to maintain them (as they do in China), a positive service for the homeless (and everyone), which treats them with respect, and which takes some pressure off of institutions like the Central Library to serve the basic needs of people without shelter.

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