The darkened industrial area of the so-called "Eraserhood" just north of Chinatown - where the cult film Eraserhead's director lived while studying at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts - is getting brighter every day.
With talk of turning the Reading Viaduct's weed-cloaked tracks into a tony park not unlike New York's High Line, bars, restaurants and arts enterprises have opened in the once-bleak region, known as the Loft District, between Eighth Street and Broad, Spring Garden and Vine.
The former Spaghetti Warehouse at 10th and Spring Garden is now the Union Transfer music venue. Vox Populi Gallery moved into the 300 block of North 11th Street. The once-shuttered tombstone showroom on North 12th first became Philly producer Diplo's offices, then the Philadelphia Mausoleum of Contemporary Art (PhilaMOCA). Nearby, Prohibition Taproom on North 13th is a snazzy neighborhood watering hole.
"You can feel the history here - what it must have been like before the [Vine] Expressway, and 100 years before that, when the area was a vibrant, rough-and-tumble working-class area known for manufacturing," says Ian Cross. "There used to be a circus and a brewery yards away. I love neighborhoods that don't quite make sense."