The Sad Demise of the Bill Cosby Legacy


Philadelphia sounded like such a wonderful place. It was the 1960s, and I was a young black kid, growing up on the side of Kansas City where kids like me grew up while attending school on the other side. I took crosstown buses to get there once I was old enough to travel alone.

I’d been places already: They had names like Savannah, Lufkin and Los Angeles, places where I had family. One of those places went up in flames in 1965, the year before I visited: The rioters torched the building next door but spared my uncle’s package store. Three years later, on the night after Martin Luther King was killed, two business districts near my home also went up in flames while I remained indoors, watching the conflagration on TV.

But I had no relatives in the Northeast. I knew nothing about Columbia Avenue, and they didn’t show that one on TV. I did, however, know about the Ninth Street Bridge, and racing go-karts down a street that “went straight down for a quarter mile and emptied out — onto a freeway.”

And that was Bill Cosby’s doing. Read more »

Coming to the Marketplace Design Center: The “Family Apartment”

An interior shot of the Marketplace Design Center by MikeWebkist via Flickr.

An interior shot of the Marketplace Design Center by MikeWebkist via Flickr.

Apartments in Philadelphia generally come in three sizes: small (studio), medium (one bedroom), and large (two-bedroom), with small and medium dominating.

A new development that will transform a Schuylkill riverside landmark is about to rewrite that formula in response to changing demographics and trends. Instead of small, medium and large, the apartments in this new project will come in medium, large and extra large.

Next year, PMC Property Group will begin work on a project that will turn the Marketplace Design Center at 2401 Market St. into a mixed-use building that will include office space, street-level retail, a hotel and apartments in addition to a reconfigured showcase for interior designers. Read more »

MAP: This Is What Philly Would Look Like With Full 24-Hour SEPTA Service

Owl Service Map

We gave SEPTA some suggestions for all-night bus routes. They showed us what that might look like.

If you read my first commentary on all-night SEPTA subway service — in which I asked if SEPTA might better spend its money providing 24-hour bus service to all corners of the city — you may be surprised to hear that I was quite pleased when the agency decided to make its experiment with all-night rapid transit on weekends permanent.

And it’s not just because it means I can now take a train rather than a bus home on those occasional weekend nights that I stay out way late. Rather, it’s because it shows the agency responded to its riders. A bunch of them recommended this change, SEPTA tried it, and the riders responded enthusiastically.

And the agency is providing this service, which is carrying anywhere from 66 to 100 percent more riders than took the Nite Owl buses, for a mere $34,000 more per weekend than it spent on the buses.

That’s $1.768 million for a year’s worth of overnight subway-elevated service on the weekends.


There’s still this nagging feeling in the back of my head that this $1.8 million or so would still be better spent providing overnight service to parts of the city that don’t have any — or are too far from the nearest — 24-hour bus line.

Read more »

Jeff Reinhold’s Renovation Fitness Regimen


Tenants in Reinhold Reisdential apartment buildings—all of them—just got a splendid new amenity they can take advantage of.

And it’s the result of a restoration project worthy of the company that once owned several of them, Historic Landmarks for Living.

But the reconstruction of the former YMCA Naval Annex gymnasium, part of the creation of the new MetroFit fitness center at Reinhold’s Metropolitan apartment building at 117 N. 15th St., is just one of the last acts in a project that has spanned the last two years, namely, updating the old Historic Landmarks portfolio for modern tastes and demands.

“These buildings were converted in the 1980s,” Reinhold CEO Jeff Reinhold said. “It was time to bring them into the 21st century.”

This meant updating kitchens, redoing bathrooms, putting in new climate-control systems, and putting in more and bigger closets, a Reinhold specialty.

And, in the case of the Metropolitan, returning to active use a facility that Historic Landmarks, the firm that brought Carl Dranoff to prominence in Philadelphia’s development community, left alone when it converted the former lodging and recreational facility for military personnel into high-end apartments in 1984.

Read more »

Confession: I’m Black, and I Used to Be Afraid to Walk Around Fishtown


This September marked the start of my 32nd year of residence in this city. And for all of those previous 31 years, I’ve treated this place as my oyster. It’s part of my nature: No matter what city I’m in, I want to take it all in, or as much of it as time will allow. Thirty-one years is a lot of time, and in that time, I’d set foot in every neighborhood in this city.

With — until pretty recently — one big exception.

Like most black Philadelphians, I had heard stories about Fishtown. It seemed that we weren’t welcome there. I’d read stories about blacks getting harrassed, and worse, when they moved into the neighborhood.

And I wasn’t alone.

Read more »

SEPTA Preparing for More Frequent Regional Rail Trains


On the same day that SEPTA officially rebadged Market East as Jefferson Station, as Center City District and city officials were cutting the ribbon on Dilworth Park upstairs, SEPTA general manager Joe Casey and other SEPTA dignitaries were showing off the spiffy new subway station entrance down below.

One of those dignitaries, deputy general manager Jeff Knueppel, had another bit of news that wasn’t on today’s agenda, but will be welcomed by Regional Rail riders: More frequent service off-peak.

“We are moving in the direction of increasing frequency on Regional Rail lines in the near future,” he said in response to a question from this reporter.

Read more »

The One Big Problem With Bringing Amtrak to City Hall


“Ladies and gentlemen, the next station stop for this train is City Hall station in Philadelphia. Please check your seat and make sure you have all personal belongings with you as you leave the train. Thank you for riding Amtrak.”

At least one Philadelphian would love to hear this announcement. In an essay in the Philadelphia Business Journal yesterday, Bob Previdi, former spokesperson for City Council member Anna Verna, noted that running Amtrak trains through the heart of the city, stopping at a renamed Suburban Station on the way to New York, would offer all sorts of benefits: increased convenience for Amtrak travelers, increased property values for homes and offices now closer to intercity rail service, and even luring New Yorkers to Philly to live, as their commutes and their tax bills would both shrink.

There’s a lot that’s appealing about this idea. 30th Street Station, grand though it is, is across the river from the heart of the city, and Previdi is far from the only person who would love to see restored the city center access that was lost when Broad Street Station was closed in 1952. And he is right to note that this city, like London, has already made a major investment in easy rail access in the form of the Commuter Tunnel.

But in saying that the only thing standing in the way of operating Amtrak service through the Commuter Tunnel is the political will to bring the passenger and freight railroads together to implement the through-tunnel service, he is ignoring one big fact on the ground.

Read more »

Postgreen Offers Peek At Its Next Project


Trenton Avenue, which begins in the triangle where Fishtown, East Kensington and Port Richmond overlap, is a broad thoroughfare that once was a bustling industrial corridor. Now, save for one day a year, it’s mostly a quiet residential street.

Chad Luderman, CEO of Postgreen Homes, believes this transformation was a mistake. Not that he wants to bring back industry, but rather, it’s that a street this wide makes for a natural commercial corridor. (It certainly makes a great setting for an arts festival and kinetic sculpture race.)

It may be too late to add commerce to the rest of the street, but Luderman’s going to at least try to salvage a little stretch of it.

Read more »

Everyone in Journalism Has an Agenda


You read here every day a wide variety of stories. Some offer advice. Some offer amusement. Some may make you jump for joy, while others may make your blood boil. All of them fall into that broad category we call journalism, and most of them are produced by people who, like me, call themselves professional journalists.

Why do we scribblers and talkers and picture-takers take up this craft? The answers are probably as varied as the people who practice it, but I think the best among us do it for one reason: we think this world can be a little better for our efforts.

That was certainly what motivated John Siegenthaler, who as editor of The Tennessean in Nashville put his paper solidly behind the Civil Rights Movement at a time when many Southern newspapers ignored it or worse. Siegenthaler, who died July 11th, also championed freedom of speech and the press and called journalism “the most important thing I could have done with my life.”

Read more »

What’s With Those Gap-Toothed Developments in Francisville?

Gap-toothed townhomes on North 16th Street in Francisville

Francisville residents have gotten used to hearing the sound of hammers and saws around them — the neighborhood has become something of a builder’s paradise, thanks in no small part to the neighborhood’s community development corporation. Francisville Neighborhood Development Corporation head Penelope Giles, in contrast to some of her peers in other low-income neighborhoods and with the support of many of her neighbors, has chosen to get out in front of gentrification rather than fight it. Letting the community guide the process, she argues, will benefit everyone.

It seems that some property owners in the neighborhood, however, don’t share her enthusiasm.

Read more »

« Older Posts