Thursday, May 5, 2011

Empty Lot of the Week-- May 5th

Back of the Criminal Justice Center Lot

13th and Arch

The Criminal Fuck This Center.
           Before the Convention Center Expansion I would have let this lot slide. It's brother lots on Arch at Juniper and at 12th have had construction plans roll through to serve the Center, but this lot is just a crappy city vehicle parking lot. Any retail, residence, or hotel should be able to do fine here now that there isn't a much bigger empty lot across the street like there was before the expansion. Oh, and while we're on this spot, lets talk about what was here before this Sea of Shattered Dreams:
Recognize that statue at the top? It was moved to Fairmount Park
             This was a guy's house. That's right. In 1838, rich-ass War of 1812 veteran railroad tycoon Matthew Newkirk carrier-pigeoned his pal Thomas U. Walter, who just happened to be a famous architect, and wrote:

                       Hey Mr. Fancy-Pants architect...
                       Build me a big fucking house at 
                       13th and Arch. Don't let me 
                       catch you talkin reckless with 
                       your curly mustache and shit. 
                       I was in the War of Eighteen 
                       motherfucking twelve! 

                 Walter built him this bad-ass Neo-Classical Wall of Cock Slaps in response. Newkirk must have been a Bro-fist Full of Finance because it was the first private home in the city with gas service. Today that would be like the first home with video walls. The awesome statue up top didn't get installed until 40 years later, when the building became the chill spot for the Sons of the Society of St. George, which was an organization that supported Englishmen that lived in America. They would have meetings and party and say "pip pip cheerio" and so on.
              It makes sense that the St. Georgio's would want that location.. it's right near the Masonic Temple. The Elks had the same idea... they moved into a mansion down the street that still stands. You can see it in the picture above, covered with that awful flower mural. Hard to believe that the area just west of Reading Terminal Market was once a wealthy residential neighborhood. It all started going downhill when Reading Terminal was built. The Georgists moved out shortly thereafter and the building was knocked down in favor of something called the Frankel Building that stood for 70 some years until it became the lot we're supposed to be talking about.
             Getting back on topic, those greenhorn out-of-towners that come down to the convention center have plenty of dough in their hands ready to be spent on anything you throw in front of them. A continuous stretch of tourist-targeted retail should run on Arch from Broad to 12th. The newfangled garage that will be built at the Arch and Juniper lot will be a good start but there needs to be more.
              Ever since the thought of the Convention Center Expansion, Philaphiles have debated whether or not it will have a positive impact on the surrounding area in the same way the original Convention Center did. It is obvious that the Expansion will improve North Broad but it still remains to be seen what impact it will have on the Arch Street corridor next to it. Don't even talk to me about the Race Street corridor on the other side. Oh yeah, did you ever wonder where they kept all those bike rack barriers that are used for major events?
These bike racks are shit-faced. What's with the garbage bags?


  1. I live in the building directly adjacent to the lot. Not only is it an eyesore, but City employees and police treat it and the surrounding sidewalk like their own personal parking lots. The worst are the dozens of personal morotcycles that the plice park there in the warm months. In addition, the police post temporary "no parking" notices on the east side of Arch whenever they please so that they are able to park there while in court. Before the expansion, we had metered parking but that was not replaced as was promised by our city council respresentative.

  2. I fully understand... I live near a private parking lot and the cops use it to park their cruisers whenever they want and often block people in. Anyone who complains about it basically gets told to fuck off.