Independence Mall in 2011. The mall’s redesign brought people back to it and has stimulated a wave of redevelopment that has given new life to the buildings that surround it. | Photo: Courtesy National Park Service
Even as the Center City District (CCD) and its parent, the Central Philadelphia Development Corporation (CPDC), sound warnings every now and then that Center City’s current good fortune remains vulnerable to economic shifts, the organizations still find plenty of cause for celebration, or at least tub-thumping, in the space between the rivers from Vine to Pine.
At the most recent CPDC meeting at the Union League on June 27th, the tub-thumping concerned the subject of reattaching Independence Mall to the city that surrounds it.
Center City District Executive Director Paul Levy opened the meeting by describing the wound opened by the mall. “The mall was the creation of the urban renewal movement of the 1950s,” he said. At the time, the area around the mall was the center of the city’s garment industry: “Today we call it the maker community, but back then we called it sweatshops,” he added. Many of the 500 buildings that were razed to create the mall housed garment-industry firms, some of which were moved to the Callowhill Street area by the brand-new Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation starting in 1958.
What took their place, Levy continued, was a space that was “symmetrical but not well used.” Part of the reason for the lack of use was the mall itself, but another main contributor was the government, corporate and institutional offices that rose on its edges. Read more »
It’s that time of year again.
On this blessed day, Philly will see what is quite possibly the most anticipated part of the six-day, fireworks-filled festival that is Wawa Welcome America: the 25th annual Wawa Hoagie Day. Read more »
I’ve fallen off a bit recently, but I do like to run. And one of my favorite runs is the Ben Franklin Bridge. It’s challenging. It’s pretty. And I get a hell of a thrill every time I run to Camden and back.
However, it’s also long. Running from my place to Camden and back takes me a while, especially as I get older and my running turns more into plodding. And sometimes I have to use the bathroom by the end of my run.
Fortunately, this wasn’t a big deal. There was an excellent bathroom open, year-round, at the corner of 5th and Chestnut streets. The Independence Mall bathroom was generally pretty clean, too (uh, not that I really care). And in the summer months there was a water fountain right outside, too, which was also helpful after a long run.
Anyway, now that bathroom is gone — thanks to Donald Trump. Read more »
President Donald Trump’s hiring freeze on most federal jobs has led to the closure of several notable historical sites in Philadelphia. Read more »
Bruce Springsteen came to Philadelphia last night for a free outdoor show at Independence Mall. Oh, yeah, and tell people to vote for Hillary Clinton. We can only imagine New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Springsteen super-fan and Donald Trump ally, was in the crowd in a fake nose and glasses.
Springsteen played three songs at the rally: “Thunder Road” (from Born to Run), “Long Walk Home” (from Magic), and “Dancing in the Dark” (from Born in the U.S.A.). He also gave a long, rambling speech on why you should vote for Hillary Clinton while strumming his guitar. Basically, it was just like a mini-Bruce show! Read more »
A crowd fills the Independence Mall as Pope Francis speaks in front of Independence Hall, Saturday, Sept. 26, 2015 in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Follow Philadelphia magazine’s live coverage of Pope Francis’s historic visit all weekend long.
Independence Mall was a chaotic, bizarre, beautiful place on Saturday. Pope Francis delivered a rousing speech on immigration and religious freedom there in the afternoon, but that was far from the only memorable thing that happened. Here are five takeaways from a day at the historic site:
1. Philadelphia is truly an international city right now.
Before the pope showed up to deliver his speech, Chinese dancers, African drummers and salsa musicians entertained the crowd for hours. Walking around, I heard more non-English languages than I heard English, and officials who took to the stage always got a bigger applause when they spoke in Spanish. People were waving flags from loads of different countries. Seeing this all near Independence Hall, where our country got its start, was pretty special. Read more »
Public Ledger building, Photo by Beyond My Ken via Wikipedia
Whether now or later, the Independence Mall area seems destined for “hot neighborhood” status. What with new constructions and building redevelopments germinating in the quarter, the latest area real estate purchase drives our hopes even further: Carlyle Development Group has bought the Public Ledger building at 6th and Chestnut for $58 million.
According to the Inquirer’s Jacob Adelman, the New York-based investor acquired the ole’ P.B., listed for sale last year, this past Thursday and plans to revamp it with “open floor plans and other contemporary touches.” Adelman also provides this gem of a quote from Carlyle CEO Abdi Mahamedi that pretty much anticipates our hopes coming true if executed properly:
“We want to make it an environment with cool tenants,” Mahamedi said. “You cannot have cool tenants if you do not have cool retail.”
Read more »
The Independence Beer Garden was a gamble that paid off on Independence Mall
In just a few short days, droves of people will descend on Independence Mall to celebrate the birthplace of America. But what if that shot of life to an otherwise sleepy tourist center were to stick around all year round?
Thanks in large part to a few people who saw some serious potential in the massive buildings surrounding America’s “most historic square mile,” it’s actually starting to happen. According to The Inquirer, it kicked off with the purchase of the Dow Building in 2013.
Read more »
For many, it was the close to a long, momentous day: This evening’s Decision Day Rally at Independence Mall celebrated the Supreme Court’s decision to legalize gay marriage across the country. Hundreds showed up on the lawn across from the National Constitution Center to join in fellowship and hear remarks from William Way Community Center Executive Director Chris Bartlett, GALAEI Executive Director Elicia Gonzales, Mayor Michael Nutter, Mayoral candidate Jim Kenney, Executive Director of the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations Rue Landau, and many, many more. We were on hand to capture some of the gorgeous moments from the early evening gathering.
La Colombe at the Dow Building | Rendering: La Colombe
La Colombe is set to open a new space in Independence Mall July 1st. The cafe, situated next to the Independence Beer Garden, will open just in time for summer. It promises to be a mid-century modern space with outdoor seating. The architects responsible also designed La Colombe’s flagship cafe in Fishtown.
This La Colombe will be the fourth Philadelphia location, and will be located on the first floor of the Rohm and Haas building at 6th and Market. For more on the architecture and design, check out our sister blog Property.
La Colombe [Official]