Thursday, June 2, 2011

Empty Lot of the Week-- June 2nd

Uncle Rusty's Reading Railroad Riverlot

Bounded by Vine Street and Callowhill Street, Columbus Boulevard to Water Street

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                     This crappy surface parking lot hasn't had a real building on it in over 100 years. That has to be a record or something. There's no excuse for this shit. This is only a block north of the Ben Franklin Bridge, has easy access to 95, is right across the street from Dave and Busters and a boat dock, and has a perfect view of the river.
                      What was it before it was a surface parking lot? Well, to explain that you'd have to understand that there was once a time in our great city when it wouldn't be terribly unusual to see a freight train pass your house. Train tracks used to criss-cross all over the city at street level. One major terminus for these city-crossing freight trains was a few blocks north of this Desert of Dirty Dogshit.
                    Having train lines everywhere meant that the railroad tycoons needed space where they could store freight cars when not in motion. The city was pockmarked with ugly traincar storage lots, predecessors to our own crappy surface parking lots. This Emptylotosaurus was one such lot. Even after years and years, after all those other traincar lots disappeared and the freight tracks were removed, buried, or causewayed, this Ocean of Foot Fungus stayed a piece of crud:
From the corner of Columbus and Callowhill in 1955. Shit then and ass now!
                 Now you would think SOMETHING would make it's way on to this highly convenient location. NOPE. Nothing. The empty lots to the south and the north have had tall building proposals that have fallen through like a rat through a thin pie crust. This butthole of a lot hasn't even had one of those. It just has cameos in those other projects' renderings:

There it is on the right of this dead-ass proposal's rendering. Try not to wonder why there's lasers in sets of two firing down the street.
Remember this thing? There's Uncle Rusty in the lower left.
                      Enough of this. This lot needs a makeover. A skyscraper. A Museum of Keytars. I'd rather see a 2,000 foot parking garage. A building shaped like a giant hamburger. Pretty much all the absurd-ass things you could think of are viable candidates for this lot. Anything is better than an asphalt wading pool. What a piece of shit. This fucker is going to be an empty lot until the year 5000.   


  1. This post is by far my favorite empty lot 'o the week.

  2. Actually this parking lot saved what is actually underneath. Philadelphia's old piers dating back before William Penn still are buried underneath most of these empty lots. After speaking with many residents, Temple has major interest in planning a dig to unearth much of what is hopefully intact. I know Front and Water streets in this neighborhood still have many of the tunnels originally used by the residents to keep warm in the winter, even most of the foundations were reused after the great fire of 1850. Most of the lots now have zoning restrictions that will not allow high rise structures over a particular height. This is fantastic news for the neighborhood, where plans after the digs are slated for parks and recreation facilities. So there's hope yet!!

    About the digs:
    History of the fire:

  3. See also chapter 7 of "Philadelphia's Lost Waterfront."