Open Streets, 1971

 

Walk on Walnut, 1971 | Credit: Joshua Berstein, Special Collections Research Center, Temple University Libraries, Philadelphia, PA. Walk on Walnut, 1971 | Credit: Don Camp, Special Collections Research Center, Temple University Libraries, Philadelphia, PA.

Walk on Walnut, 1971 | Credit: Joshua Berstein, Special Collections Research Center, Temple University Libraries, Philadelphia, PA.

  • As Eyes on the Street was surprised to discover, Philly urbanists’ recent fascination with Open Streets is nothing new; we’ve been intermittently usurping the car’s space since 1971. On May 21 of that year (a Wednesday), from 6-9PM, Walnut Street was closed from Broad to 20th. Shopkeepers’ fears that no one would show up were unfounded. By the time 9 rolled around, Walnut was still full of saunterers. Organizers approached Frank Rizzo—then in his last (official) days as the head of the Police Department—to extend to event. He said no and immediately ordered officers to shut the party down.
  • A community meeting will be held this evening at St. Maron’s Church Hall at 10th & Ellsworth Streets that the Passyunk Post says will see the presentation of a study of the neighborhood and the initial formal proposal for a Business Improvement District for the 9th Street commercial corridor near Washington Avenue. Area stakeholders will be asked to contribute an additional .02% of their assessed property values to allow for the BID’s first-year budget of $244,000 budget, which in part will include $80,000 for cleaning and $20,000 for business promotion.
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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3 Comments


  1. Open Streets on one street from 6-9PM on one day in a year is a far cry from what is being proposed in some quarters. When you talk about shutting down entire neighborhoods for days on a regular basis you better believe that merchants won’t be so sanguine.

  2. “shutting down entire neighborhoods for days on a regular basis”

    [citation needed]

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