How Long Before Center City Is as Dense as Manhattan?

One of the compliments I typically hear about Philadelphia is that “it’s manageable” — less crowded, moving at a slower place, wholly un-claustrophobic. When people say that, they’re typically comparing Philly to New York. Take the Amtrak up to Penn Station and you’ll be hard-pressed for personal space.

No city in the U.S. comes close to Manhattan’s density: 70,000 people per square mile. Not even New York City as a whole comes close to Manhattan: the whole of NYC only has 27,000 people per square mile. And yet, the threat of “Manhattanization” is a frequent topic on real-estate blogs across the country.  Curbed Miami even has a search tag called “Manhattanization of Miami.” Some people who cringe at rapid development are using the M-word in much the same way the G-word (gentrification) is used. Both have become catch-all terms for the fear and uncertainty a lot of people have about how quickly some cities are changing. It’s the topic of a compelling interactive post by Shane Phillips at Urban One: Read more »

It’s the End of The Gallery as We Know It (and That’s a Shame)

Bob Laramie/Special Collections Research Center, Temple University Libraries, Philadelphia, PA.

Easter Bunny rides the escalator between events during the Easter parade at The Gallery in 1985. | Bob Laramie/Special Collections Research Center, Temple University Libraries, Philadelphia, PA.

THE GALLERY DIDN’T have a Santa this year. It didn’t decorate for Christmas, either. I felt an odd sadness.

When I was a kid, my mom took me downtown every year on Black Friday. We’d stop at her offices at ARA Services, now Aramark, and then explore downtown. We went to the light show at Wanamaker’s, A Christmas Carol at Strawbridge’s and the Enchanted Village at the old Lit Brothers.

But the main attraction for me was The Gallery. I loved it — and not just because I’d usually come home with a new Lego set that day. Read more »

Map Shows Where Long-Demolished Furness Works Once Stood in Center City

Broad Street Station was demolished in 1953 | Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Broad Street Station was demolished in 1953 | Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Sure there are Furness and Furness-influenced buildings scattered throughout the Greater Philadelphia Area (one is for sale; the other, formerly listed for $995,000, is now for rent right here in Philly), but a good chunk of his Center City oeuvres (some of which were touted as one of his best) were torn down long ago.

Fortunately, Curbed Philly has put together a map of ten Furness works that once stood in the area, as well as images and informational tidbits on the constructions. Check it out, and let us know if there’s one you would have kept up (No. 4 and 8 would have definitely been preserved under our watch).

The Frank Furness You’ll Never See in Center City [Curbed Philly]

Council Committee Approves Digital Ads

A rendering of a digital display on South Broad Street

A rendering of a digital display on South Broad Street

Center City is one step closer to looking like Times Square.

A City Council Committee on Tuesday unanimously approved a bill that will allow “urban experiential displays” — 3D digital billboards — to be built at a few select locations in Philadelphia’s downtown district.

KYW reports that the bill was supported by Thadeus Bartkowski, founder of Catalyst Outdoors, which wants to build three of the digital displays — 30 to 50 feet in height — at three locations in Center City.

Bartkowski says, “It’s about creating a multi-faceted communication platform, that’s able to add vibrancy in unique commercial corridors.”

Bartkowski proposes three locations — outside the Convention Center, across from the Reading Terminal Market, and on the facade of the Bellevue Hotel garage on South Broad Street.

He says 70-percent of the content displayed would be ads, the rest would be PSAs and other material — including promotions for local non-profits: “What’s trying to be created here is a pedestrian-viewer experience, not just a simple single form of technology.”

Read more »

SEPTA’s Got Big Plans for Underground Concourse

South Broad Concourse, Under Construction

South Broad concourse, under construction. Photo | Dan McQuade


Three and a half miles of concourses run under the streets of Center City Philadelphia. One can walk from 8th and Market all the way to the Comcast Center. One can then go from there to 12th and Locust. Walking underground can actually save time in many instances: There are no distractions, as swaths of the concourse are devoid of anyone but people rushing through, maintenance workers, loiterers and the occasional skateboarder and/or pot smoker.

SEPTA wants to change that eventually. Now that it has control of maintenance and capital improvement of the underground concourses, SEPTA has begun improvements and repairs. The two escalators at 15th Street — across from City Hall — will be replaced. SEPTA is also replacing the escalator at the 8th Street Station and renovating the elevator there. Read more »

Six Pack: Ramen In Philadelphia


This weekend’s frigid winter weather has us all longing to hibernate until warmer days. But don’t let the cold stop you from going out. Just use it as an excuse to indulge in some heartwarming comfort food that will bring feeling back into your fingertips.

Back in December, we did a round-up of the best soups in Center City and now we’re coming back with the best ramen in town–for those of you who want all the comforts of Japanese food thrown into one large, steaming bowl.

Read more »

Morning Headlines: American Bible Society to Move Its HQ to Center City

Screenshot via Google Street View

Screenshot via Google Street View

Well, it looks like Pope Francis will receive an extra warm welcome when he makes his way to Philadelphia this September: The Inquirer’s Claudia Vargas reports the American Bible Society has decided to move their base to Center City this summer.

According to Vargas, the long-New York-quartered organization will lease “nearly 100,000 square feet on the eight and ninth floors” of 401 Market, the office building at Fifth and Market with the prominent “Wells Fargo” logo on its western roof line. (Wells Fargo occupies the majority of the building.) The lease, she writes, is for 25 years.

Plans for ABS has in mind for their new HQ building include a proposed “Bible Discovery Center” on the first level, conference center, rare Scriptures storeroom, and a concourse-level library, Vargas adds.

So, what prompted the change in HQ?

3-D Billboards in Center City? Company Presents their Vision to the Planning Commission

Screenshot of Outdoor Catalyst's Philadelphia UEDs  video.

Screenshot of Outdoor Catalyst’s Philadelphia UEDs video.

Nothing is set in stone yet, but if things go according to one advertising company’s plans, Center City could get closer to taking on a “digital district” look not unlike a mini-Times Square (We have digital displays on the Lit. Brothers building now, after all).

PlanPhilly’s Jared Brey reports Catalyst Outdoor had an informational presentation before the Planning Commission on Tuesday regarding their proposal to build “three-dimensional digital billboards in a few corners of Center City.” In addition to featuring regular ads, these “Urban Experiential Displays” would “promote local nonprofit organizations, share news and ‘infotainment,’ and carry police and municipal alerts.” (You can see a video of their vision here.)

Read more »

UPDATE: Woman Falls From Building, Hits Pedestrian

woman fell building hit pedestrian

[Update] Fox 29 reports that the falling woman was killed in the incident, but the pedestrian survived and is hospitalized with her injuries.

Authorities say a 20-year-old female Temple student was killed after falling from a building and landing on a pedestrian. Investigators believe the girl was sitting on the ledge, possibly leaning out of the 8th floor window taking a picture when she fell.

Police say the Temple student was visiting two male friends who live in the Art Institute of Philadelphia dorms when she fell from the 8th story of the building and landed on a 44-year-old female pedestrian. The 20-year-old female was transported to Jefferson Hospital where she was pronounced dead after suffering severe head injuries. Police say the female pedestrian was transported to Hahnemann Hospital where she’s listed in stable condition. She suffered a fractured neck vertebrae and lost several teeth.

Police are still investigating the circumstances of the fall.

NBC 10 adds:

Shoppers and pedestrians watched in horror as an 18-year-old Temple University student, identified by sources as Rebecca Kim, slipped and fell off the window ledge of an apartment building and landed on top of another woman, 44, who happened to be walking below at the time.

Temple University released this statement following Kim’s death:

“Temple University is deeply saddened to learn of the death of one of our students in Center City Philadelphia. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family and friends.”

[Original] On Thursday evening during rush hour, a young woman fell from an apartment building near the corner of 16th and Chestnut streets, landing on a female pedestrian outside the H&M, according to police. The circumstances of the fall are unclear.

Read more »

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