The People’s Square


A view of 1724 Walnut Street (standing from c.1850-1929), looking west towards Rittenhouse Square

A view of 1724 Walnut Street (standing from c.1850-1929), looking west towards Rittenhouse Square | Photo: Free Library of Philadlephia

  • Ken Finkel, of the Philly History Blog, offers “a more balanced history of Rittenhouse Square,” with a populistic reframing of that air of Gilded Age ostentation still appreciable today. Such an ethos, we should be remind ourselves, required the drudgery and existential contrast of the Irish servants and day laborers that were packed in Ramcat, the working class neighborhood centered just to the Square’s southwest.
  • Philadelinquency takes notes of the Fishtown Neighbors Association’s preparations to rezone the Philadelphia Electric Company’s Delaware Generating Station, the behemoth of a Classical Revival just north of Penn Treaty Park in Fishtown. Secured in May 2015 by Joe Volpe and his Cescaphe Event Group, plans for the 95-year-old structure includes an events hall, “with 3 ballrooms, corporate headquarters, floral services, (2) restaurants, 80 hotel rooms, 430 parking spaces, and a riverfront trail,” says the FNA. See Chandra Lampreich’s October 2014 photo essay of the station HERE.
  • Next to Head House Square, much of the ground floor retail of the Abbotts Square Condominiums remains frustratingly vacant. Work on a planned 20,000 square foot gourmet grocery market from Brookyn-based Garden of Eden has not yet materialized, and Naked Philly now wonders if it ever will. Some conciliation can be had in the Window Mural Project, which had artists Buck & Eagle paint “wintery images onto the windows of the empty commercial spaces, distracting passersby from the fact that almost all the active retail on the block is happening on the south side of the street.”
  • The 32-story 1700 Market Street building has been purchased by the San Francisco real estate investor Shorenstein Properties for just under $200 million, reports the Philadelphia Business Journals Natalie Kostelni. The fact that this trade is the second in five years “underscores how healthy the Center City investment market has become,” she observes.
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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