7 votes

A dramatic makeover as N. 2nd Street plans for the future of Northern Liberties, Philadelphia

5 comments

  1. [5]
    Atvelonis
    (edited )
    Link
    This article looks into some of Philadelphia's (tentative) plans to redevelop sections of North 2nd Street in the "Northern Liberties" district, just north of the Vine Street Expressway and south...

    This article looks into some of Philadelphia's (tentative) plans to redevelop sections of North 2nd Street in the "Northern Liberties" district, just north of the Vine Street Expressway and south of Girard Ave. To provide some context for non-Philadelphians, the neighborhood is adjacent to:

    • Old City, the easterly and most historic part of Center City
    • Fishtown, a historically working-class district with a growing artistic flair
    • Poplar, a mostly residential (and surprisingly suburban) neighborhood
    • South Kensington, an industrial area in the past with some recent gentrification

    Northern Liberties has a lot of these qualities in it too. Like many parts of Philly, it has a history of immigrants, rowhouses, and heavy industry. The neighborhood has suffered financially from deindustrialization over the last century. However, it's recently become a destination for "young professionals" and artists given its relative affordability, community, and aesthetic.

    "Makeovers" like the one described in this article highlight the attention Northern Liberties is getting from Philadelphians and the world of real estate. They also point to a transition away from the automobile-centric infrastructure of the 20th century, which is a pattern we're thankfully seeing more of across the city. The project plans call for a road diet, greater pedestrian access, and more green spaces along a stretch of 2nd Street that is currently a hodgepodge of car parking and concrete.

    I like Northern Liberties a lot and I'm excited to see work planned on improving it. 2nd Street has a lot of character in Old City, and one of the reasons why is because it's full of restaurants, bars, and other cute shops (as well as a few trees, though it could use more!) and doesn't completely sideline pedestrians. It maintains much of this aesthetic in parts of Northern Liberties; additional infrastructure further centering trees and people—not cars—is very welcome.

    Separately, my eventual hope is that Philadelphia caps the entirety of the Vine Street Expressway to explicitly unify the northern and southern districts. Highways divide communities and have no place in our cities. Along with careful street redesigns, such changes will have a positive impact on the character and economy of Philadelphia.

    3 votes
    1. [4]
      vord
      Link Parent
      I reccomend Cities Skylines: Power, Politics, and Planning for anyone interested in city design. They are based out of Philadelphia, and this video in particular about bus route 56 is great.

      I reccomend Cities Skylines: Power, Politics, and Planning for anyone interested in city design.

      They are based out of Philadelphia, and this video in particular about bus route 56 is great.

      2 votes
      1. [2]
        Atvelonis
        Link Parent
        Thanks for the suggestion, I'll check them out. I can testify that Philadelphia's bus routes need some work, and it's almost completely because of car-induced traffic. If people were on bikes, or...

        Thanks for the suggestion, I'll check them out. I can testify that Philadelphia's bus routes need some work, and it's almost completely because of car-induced traffic. If people were on bikes, or if they were taking public transit, it simply wouldn't be an issue.

        What Philadelphia really needs is a few permanently car-free blocks. A couple weeks ago, the city closed off 2nd Street between Market and Chestnut from traffic for some kind of local festival: street bands, a group salsa dance lesson, a (rather creative) sing-along to some Freddie Mercury, and other charming routines. I've been living in the suburbs for so long that I forgot what it was like to walk outside and actually see people on the street laughing, catching up over drinks, eating stacks of ice cream before it melts. No honking, no exhaust, no fear of getting crushed by a two-ton metal machine. It's nice.

        Residents would inevitably grumble if this single block remained closed to traffic permanently, but I can hardly think of a better way to get people to spend time at the restaurants and bars there. It's already a tourist spot, and not an essential artery. Why not go all the way? Give the city back to the people?

        Just imagine: people would actually… come outside their homes just to "hang out"? Talk to each other? Listen to music and play games? It would be great for the businesses and encourage people to experience life beyond the literal sidelines of the road. Imagine everything you could do with a place like that: farmers markets, pop-up art galleries, flash mobs, chalk drawings in the road, children running free. All the pedestrian opportunities of a park and all the amenities of a city street.

        But that's just a dream.

        3 votes
        1. vord
          Link Parent
          I agree. I think a law along the lines of 'over X population density personal motor vehicles are prohibited within X radius' would do wonders for public health and transportation.

          I agree. I think a law along the lines of 'over X population density personal motor vehicles are prohibited within X radius' would do wonders for public health and transportation.

          2 votes
      2. cfabbro
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        I finally had a chance to watch some of those Cities Skylines vids this morning... and now fully intend to watch all of them. The first two I watched were great, super interesting, and the highway...

        I finally had a chance to watch some of those Cities Skylines vids this morning... and now fully intend to watch all of them. The first two I watched were great, super interesting, and the highway one got surprisingly dark too! Thanks for sharing them.

        2 votes