"imagination and memory are but one thing, which for diverse considerations hath diverse names" - Thomas Hobbes
And just to be clear, b/c something is not used often enough in your opinion, it should just be left to rot and never improved? That point seems to belie your previous point which was "it'll just get trashed again." How can something get trashed if no one "ever goes down there on a regular basis." Wouldn't that lead you to think that if they spruced things up a bit, it would last--quite a while?
That Bleeper pic of the DART lines in downtown Dallas is laughable. If he's ever been to Dallas downtown or ridden those light rail lines, he would not post that as an example of what Philly should do...
Also, the more I spend time around FDR Park and places around the sports complex, the more I feel that it is how it is because it's an island away from lived-in neighborhoods. I would venture a guess and say that any city that has major sports stadiums away from central city or build-up and mixed-use space, will have an area that looks about the same as our sports complex does.
Anyhow, I like the idea of S. Broad St having flower beds in the median-- can't be too expensive. But alas, The Count has valid points I'm afraid-- about all those forlorn looking buildings fronting S. Broad. Those used to house important businesses and law firms in their heyday. Now, most of them are apartments, student housing, institution buildings, half empty monoliths. You don't simply spruce up the street-- it is a 3-dimensional project: the below-grade (subway, and the long concourse walkway) has to be livelier, the street scene has to be animated, and the buildings on the street have to be brimming with activity and mixed uses. S. Broad looks amazingly lively... when a big theater empties out after a show. Not much otherwise. Because there should be other uses intermixed... and the subway entrances shouldn't be stinking of human waste and grimy as hell... but, all that takes funding (private and public), which we don't have.
"The only difference between the Republican and Democratic parties is the velocities with which their knees hit the floor when corporations knock on their door. That's the only difference."
- Ralph Nader
Keeping LOVE Park clean is a lonely battle
It's a tough battle with so many people who just walk around, visiting and touring, or the homeless. Although the homeless don't think they're as much of a problem since they have to live in it and want to keep it a bit tidier.
LOVE Park could use a lot more love.
Or at least a little common courtesy.
Every morning at 7, Parks and Recreation Department employee Albert Figlestahler arrives at the picturesque John F. Kennedy Plaza to give it both, but he's fighting an army of visitors and inhabitants who strew trash across its granite surface, scribble profanity on its walls, and use it as an open-air bathroom.
Keeping LOVE Park clean has never been easy, but the problem has grown worse since the city fenced off Dilworth Plaza late last year to begin a $50 million renovation. Many of the homeless people who lived at Dilworth moved across the intersection to LOVE Park.
They sleep there, often leaving behind them the cardboard boxes and newspapers they use as bedding and other odds-and-ends. That trash joins the soda bottles, fast-food containers, and other detritus that visitors don't bother to throw in one of the area's many trash cans.
Skateboarders defy a ban on practicing at LOVE Park, leaving trails of black wax on the edges of walls and destroying the granite plaza stones, which are expensive to replace.
It's almost as if there are two parks. At night, skateboarders thunder across the granite, and the homeless congregate for meals and move in for the night. On a recent night, a teenager drew on a wall with a black Sharpie without apparent fear of prosecution.
By the time Figlestahler finishes sprucing up in the morning, the park is ready for the crowds who swarm there to buy food from lunch trucks, lounge around the fountain, and listen to bands that perform in warm weather.
"At times it can't present itself in the best way. At times it looks beautiful," said Mark Focht, first deputy commissioner for Parks and Recreation.
The park's appearance is crucial to the city's image; tourists flock there to pose in front of Robert Indiana's celebrated LOVE sculpture, with the view it offers of the elegant Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
Empty potato-chip bags are not supposed to be part of the picture.
Figlestahler, a trim 50-year old who has worked for Philadelphia's parks for 22 years, doesn't dwell on the bad behavior.
"I don't know what it is with people's attitude here," he said. "It's everybody's backyard. It's everybody's job to keep it clean and nice."
When he arrived at work early Tuesday, three men were sleeping under the park's saucer-shape visitor center, and two people, their faces covered in blankets, snoozed on grates on the side that borders 15th Street.
No one is supposed to be in the park between 1 and 6 a.m., but enforcing that rule would require keeping everyone out, even those strolling through on their way home, Focht said.
James Foster and John Brown, two homeless men who live in the park, said they clean up after themselves. As they played cards with a deck from Harrah's, they pointed to a broom they keep nearby. Figlestahler confirmed that they help.
Foster and Brown said they think younger people are more responsible for dirtying the park than homeless people are.
"The kids see the trash cans and throw stuff on the ground anyway and keep moving," Foster said.
The collection of litter contributes to the odd carnival. On Tuesday, a naked Barbie doll lay face down on a grate on the south side of the park, while on the west side, someone had plastered a sticker that read "Krack Killz" on a sign in one of the planting beds.
LOVE Park's design contributes to the challenges of maintaining it. Its flat surfaces and ledges lure skateboarders, who even pulled a granite block halfway out of its lodgings to create a small jumping ramp. The park's high walls and multiple levels and corners create havens for litter.
"There are a lot of hiding places," Figlestahler said.
A renovation of the park is finally in the pipeline, with completion scheduled by 2015. The project was originally budgeted at $20 million but was recently scaled back to $15 million by City Council.
To comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act, the new design must be flatter and more accessible from the street, which should make it easier to maintain, Focht said.
Until that happens, Figlestahler is the park's Sisyphus, tidying up, going home, and arriving the next day to sweep up again....
I am not the Jackass Whisperer.
Cleaning the streets and sidewalks is one thing but having semi vacant and boarded up properties in the middle of the Avenue of the Arts is an all together different thing. These two buildings look like crap and L&I violation notices seems to be ignored. The art store is fine but the upper floors and the building next door pull the area down. It must be nice to have clout. The picture was taken this morning.
The city FINALLY mowed the lot at Broad and Washington.
Everyone knows Gamble is above the law in this city. Besides, Kenny is too busy for his buildings on Broad Street while he builds his mansion in SWCC. You know, and he's not even putting a wall up around it anymore so that we can take pictures! See, Kenny is always looking out for us mortals.
"imagination and memory are but one thing, which for diverse considerations hath diverse names" - Thomas Hobbes
[QUOTE=londoner;521122]I don't know about Beverly Hills...but this area is the front door to the city for about 8million annual visitors. So maybe it shouldn't look like this (from this past friday night):
Last paved: 1963
Are these trees alive, or are they future props in a Tim Burton film?
It just screams: shabby. How about spending a $million--plants some new trees, add some BRICK pavers?[/QUOTE Are these trees alive, or are they future props in a Tim Burton film?
Well, the trees look fine. But I see your point. The problem is if you ask the city to put money into this gateway you'll have twi dozen NIMBYs asking why the Fishtown sidewalks aren't paved with vegan friendly gold. If you let a private company like Citizens or Lincoln financial do the job themselves, you'll have one million laptop politicos asking why Big Business is paving our sidewalks and where the union labor is. The one thing we aren't allowed to have in Philadelphia is nice things...unless we feel really, really guilty about it.
Turn on the Lights at Market East!
@mrwrightnow1: Mayor we need to get a campaign on littering in this city?
@Michael_Nutter: We have one...Unlitter Us spoken word artists
Obviously it isn't working.
Hey at least Market Chestnut and Walnut are being nicely repaved....
Graphic Designer, Social Media Consultant. Twitter: @Sdlaugh
Philly, like the District of Columbia, is a relative latecomer to a trend that has been building since 1990.
New York and Chicago both ceased bleeding residents in that Census and their populations have either remained stable or grown since. Seattle and Portland (you said "non-Sunbelt") both continue to gain residents. Even my hometown of Kansas City has rebounded in this Census after losing a good chunk of its peak 1970 population (that city could annex land and captured much of its suburban growth on the Missouri side) in the decades that followed.
If you said "Rust Belt" instead of "non-Sunbelt" I might have agreed with you, for although Philly is not in the Rust Belt, it does have many of the characteristics of a Rust Belt city. "Bostroit," people, "Bostroit."
11%? Whoa. Not to mention pricey on-street parking since the city leased its meters to a private firm.Chicago didn't didn't exactly have those tree lined medians in the 1950's? King Richard II spent money when the Chicago was still in the toilet. They have overspent their means there hence the 11% sales tax.
But it is true that we don't really have a good use for that 2000+-seat opera house.
And for the planters in the Broad Street median.
I agree that BRT has plenty of potential, but I note that some of the early adopters (Ottawa, Curitiba) are now building rail networks. Once traffic reaches a certain level, rail has clear advantages. Especially if it's grade separated through dense districts. (Bleeper, please pay attention. Subways are expensive, but they ARE the better solution for moving large numbers of people into, out of and through highly developed, dense urban centers. Elevateds are cheaper, but do you really want to own a shop under one? Chicago's Loop survives only because of its history; the city had intended to replace it with subways back in the 1920s but - does this sound like Philadelphia? - never did find the money to complete the job.)
Maybe he's having money trouble?
General observation that I know I've made before: We as a society - not just Philly - are great at building public things but not that great at maintaining them. I remember when the new lighting went up on City Hall; it was revelatory and made the building sparkle at night. That lighting is now more than a decade old, as is the Avenue of the Arts. The shabbiness you all complain about is largely the result of inadequate maintenance.
Oh, and: One in four residents in poverty, and nearly one in two on public assistance of some sort (is that stat accurate?), is no laughing matter. And it suggests a way to solve two problems at once, if only the municipal unions would agree.
Recall that work programs were one of the things FDR used to combat the Depression: Not just big public projects like subway extensions (South Broad Street subway here, for instance), dams and public buildings, but little things like park shelters, trees and the like, built by the Works Progress Administration (look for "WPA" cornerstones on those little shelters along the Wissahickon) and planted by the Civilian Conservation Corps. This may strike some of you like forced labor, but what about having able-bodied recipients of public assistance devote some time each week to things like trash pickup or park weeding? Lord knows the work needs doing, and for whatever reason, we don't seem to have enough people out there to do it all.
Sandy Smith, Wanderer in Germantown, Philadelphia
Editor-in-Chief, Philadelphia Real Estate Blog - but all opinions expressed here are mine and mine alone.
""Jazz and blogging are both intimate, improvisational, and individual -- but also inherently collective. And the audience talks over both." --Andrew Sullivan, "Why I Blog," The Atlantic, November 2008
As a local, I rarely notice it unless i seek it out. What I think the tourists notice are the weeds protruding from the median strip and sidewalk and the general shabby nature of the whole ambience. The CCD and the City should figure this one out quickly--it's not like the infrastructure is not there to keep it maintained--they just need to reallocate some resources. Of any of the streets in the city, i think everyone can agree that the "Avenue of the Arts" should be in pristine condition. This is a road that should be packed on Saturday and Sundays with residents walking their dogs, going for a leisurely stroll with the family, etc--but it's just deadsville.
In Philly, the CCD thinks beautifying South Broad involves new Septa signage. The city thinks slapping big bellies on 1 out of 4 corners of every intersection w/ the terrible "Unlitter Us" campaign flyers on the side is the way to solve a problem. SCRUB thinks billboards are the root of all ugly evil. Bloggers complain about boarded up 4th floor windows and illegal bandit signs. We all can't seem to get on message about what looks ****ty: our streets are dirty, littered, untidy, and weedy. You have to crawl before you can walk. Fix those issues, and many of the other concerns will either go away or be irrelevant.
There may be some cultural differences, too. Philadelphians might just have a higher tolerance for blight. This is a town that thinks parking spots are more important than regularly scheduled street-sweeping, a service usually considered essential in modern, first-world cities. But I'm an optimist: I think that those problems will sort themselves out if we fix the core issue of this city's economy.
Do you remember how shady the fire was at the building? A drunk guy from South Philly broke in, went to the third floor, lit a fire for no reason, and confessed, even though doesn't remember doing it according to his lawyer. That was the story and he's in jail. Presumably the insurance money came through in the past two years since it happened; instead of fixing up the building, they shut more of it down.