Monday, December 31, 2012

The North Broad Education Campus: You're Doing It Wrong

Philadelphia, PA

                What a great time for development in this city. If you check out the Philly Skinny, you'll see that there's roughly 130 projects at some stage of development and plenty that are still not on that list. Nonetheless, some of these projects are just plain old bad ideas. Worst of the worst? This:

                 This is the over-reported plan by Eric Blumenfeld's EB Realty to parlay the redevelopment of Willis G. "Aint nuthin' to fuck with" Hale's Lorraine Hotel into a campus for multiple school district high schools covering blocks and blocks of properties along North Broad and 13th Street. Don't get me wrong... I LOVE all the things Eric has done for North Broad and this city. I used to live at Lofts 640, for fuck's sake. The idea seems pretty noble... a modern facility for high school students to explore career-making educational opportunities all at one place. Along with the schools, there will also be an arts center, a 76ers training facility, a daycare center, and some culinary shit.
                 Despite all that, I see so many problems with getting this done. This proposal is dependent on the takeover of MANY private properties-- some of which have been recently renovated. So here's some questions I have for Eric and EB Realty:

1) How the fuck are you going to get the Salvation Army Divisional Headquarters at 701 North Broad to move? That place is an essential community center for the local neighborhood and serves as gymnasium space for People for People Charter School, among others. There's also the Salvation Army Red Shield Family Residence on the property. The Army has been at that location since 1918, when John Wanamaker donated the Park Theater to them. Will they be moved into the new campus? How much $$$$ would it take for you to convince them to give it all up?

2) The Calderwood Gallery at 631 North Broad. How will you get the Calderwood Family to give up this space, so old that no one knows its fucking origin date (definitely pre-1875)? The Calderwoods just finished renovating this place about a year ago. Again, how much $$$$ would it take for you to convince them to give it all up?

3) Congregation Rodeph Shalom. I see the plan calls for a parking garage with Daycare Center and roof-top athletic area. You are aware of Rodeph Shalom's own plan for the space, aren't you? This may not be too much of a conflict, since their expansion plan looks like it only takes up the western end of the lot.

4) My count may be off, but I can see at least 14 private homes, an apartment building, one church, and a bunch of underused/abandoned buildings that would have to be eliminated in order to get this done. Three of them are BRAND NEW CONSTRUCTION and many others have been recently renovated. I didn't even mention that Meineke, which has to have the best customer service at any car repair joint I've ever encountered (Wassup Big Ed!?! "Hey Boss!"). Too bad I don't have a car anymore. Are you going to drive a dump truck full of money through the neighborhood or something? How will you convince all these people to sell?

5) Worse yet, many of those empty lots that need to be taken over to get this complete are owned by many many different groups of people. Purchasing and consolidating all those lots will take large amounts of time and money.

               And now for my biggest question, one so big that it can't be enumerated with the ones above:

Pic from Google Earth
              Less than half a mile up North Broad Street from the Divine Lorraine sits a mostly-empty behemoth of a structure, the old William Penn High School-- specifically designed for the EXACT PLAN YOU ALREADY HAVE. This facility was built to hold more students than your plan proposes and includes all that open space around it. More than that, this piece of shit has already become a major piece of blight in the area and is in desperate need of re-use or destruction. Even if you acquired this place, knocked it down, and built your proposed plan, it would be MUCH easier than taking over a shitload of occupied properties and combining them into almost the exact same cause. I would think that buying this property from the cash-strapped School District would be easier than negotiating for the scores of private properties your plan would need. There. I just saved you millions of $$$ and a huge cheap of trouble. Your welcome.
            I know this would leave the Divine Lorraine in the lurch, but any number of Lorraine redevelopment plans can work, while your schools plan, in my opinion, can ONLY WORK if you use the old William Penn High School (or at least its property). C'mon, Eric. I love you, man. Do you need me to work for you or something? I appreciate that you have plans for the NE Corner of Broad and Spring Garden, the old Thaddeus Stevens School, and the Metropolitan Opera House... but sorry, your schools plan just doesn't do it for me.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Fast Times at... The Arts Tower

The Arts Condominium 

1324 Locust Street

Holy, shit... its SOLD OUT!?!?
                  This recent Naked Philly article got me reminiscing about the ol' Arts Tower... not the Sylvania Hotel or the Arts Condominium like they call it today, but the piece-of-shit Arts Tower back when the place was an Art Student and Assorted Miscreant-filled shithole.
                This was the first place I lived in Philadelphia. The Locust Street-facing window on the fourth floor with the AC unit sticking out of it was mine. The apartments made out of old hotel rooms. Cockroaches everywhere, still had the doors in between the rooms, all of it. I had the smallest possible domicle, a single hotel room-turned apartment about 320-340 square feet. Nowadays, as condos, they call this type of unit the Uffizi. Plfft.
               I loved that little apartment. Just the shit going on outside the window was worth all the problems.  Worth the constantly-flooding bike room, worth the frequent fire alarms, worth the heat breaking on the coldest day of the year (and noise from the radiators once it was fixed), worth being able to smell whatever your neighbor was cooking (or burning).
              The third week I lived in Philly, I was looking out that window and saw a dude get shot in the chest at point-blank range. It was 2am and there were like 100 people outside since Key West was just closing for the night. A couple of paddy wagons showed up and like 40 cops came piling out. They all stood in a line and waved their batons while walking toward the crowd. The crowd scattered except for a few people who were so drunk that they thought that they could beat up the 40 cops. They got their asses kicked.
                After that, there were like 5 ambulances around and some paramedics moved the dude who got shot into the crappy parking garage across the street, presumably to get more light on him. I'm pretty sure the guy survived. I thought the incident might make the news, but it never did. I still kick myself for not taking pictures.
                For a few weeks that winter, some big show was happening down at the Academy of Music and there was a shitload of traffic due to so many people showing up. Two different street vendors were selling t-shirts of the show. They started arguing out in front of Mama Angelina's pizza and had a huge brawl while there was gridlock traffic all around them on Locust, Broad, Juniper, and in and out of the crappy parking garage. The traffic kept recurring every Friday and Saturday while that show ran... there was constant honking outside the whole time, so I started to call the incidents "Honk Wars". I made up a theme song for it but I forgot most of it. Good times.
                  There's more than just window stories. Remember the blind lady who used to play the recorder in the Walnut Street fancy-ass Shopping District? She lived on my floor. When I first moved there, it freaked me the fuck out because she would feel along the hallway while going to her apartment. You'd hear this "thunk" on your door every once-in-awhile that would scare the shit out of you. She would often stand out in front of the Arts Tower and ask people to guide her to the bus she would take to get over to her recorder-playing spot. People would just walk right by her. I helped her get there twice.. she was really nice. It is because of her that I learned the word "curb-cut". I always wondered what happened to her after the place turned to condos. Here's an old City Paper article about her from 1996.
               One of the best things about the Arts Tower were the garbage rooms. There was a huge one on each floor, and at the end of every month, were chock full of free furniture/kitchen supplies/electronics being left behind by people who had moved out. It was like a Sears of free shit every month. I dragged a futon frame down 5 flights of stairs and kept that motherfucker until I lived at Lofts 640 many years later. I had kitchen stuff from those rooms until I got married.
                  I was in the Arts Tower recently, up in one of the larger units toward the top of the tower. The place is a ghost of its former self now, but plenty of the details from the old days are still there. The smell in the hallway, for example. I'm glad to see that all the condo units sold... from what I understand, most of the owners just rent the spaces out to UArts kids. Every so often I meet someone who had lived there in the Arts Tower days and a sudden kinship forms. It's pretty cool. All the people who live there have at least 5 awesome stories to tell.
                  That fucking place. I lived there for only a year but I still think about that time.. there would probably be no Philaphilia had I not lived at the Arts Tower. People often ask me why I've never written about the Sylvania Hotel/Arts Tower/Arts Condo for Hidden City. The primary reason is that I have tried to before but found it too incestuous. Its the same reason I've never written about Philaphilia's Fabulous Secret Headquarters, which turns 200 in 2013, or my workplace, which will be turning 108. So, thanks to David Tomar for writing the history of the Arts Tower for me.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Empty Lot of the Week- December 26th

The Long Bastard

North of the entire 3000 and 3100 blocks of John F. Kennedy Boulevard

It just keeps on going!!
               This lot sure is a bastard. A Long Bastard. West Philly's East-West blocks are already longer than Center City's, and this lot is as long as two West Philly blocks. That's long!! For 59 years, this parking lot has dirtied-up an already dirty spot that was empty before it was even a parking lot. What a piece of dung.         
               Read more at the Philadelphia City Paper's Naked City Blog!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Dead Ass Proposal of the Week--- December 18th

UPenn Revlon Center

3601 Walnut Street

                   The University of Pennsylvania is responsible for so many Dead-Ass Proposals that they could probably publish a series of books about them and not be able to cover them all. Some were just visionary, like Fuckminster Fuller's design for the Institute of Contemporary Art, while others, like this one, were planned down to the last detail before going to shit.
                   Read more at the Philadelphia City Paper's Naked City Blog!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Empty Lot of the Week-- December 11th

Schuylkill Sea South

120-140 South 24th Street

                    Its pretty pitiful when a lot was more occupied in 1855 than it is now. This 33,600 square foot piece of shit is one such lot. For 49 years, this crappy surface lot has graced the Schuylkill River with a sunken empty void that should have been filled a long-ass time ago. Can we get a building here already?!?!
                   Read more at the Philadelphia City Paper's Naked City Blog!!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Old-Ass Building of the Week-- December 10th

Mulberry Atrium

2133 Arch Street

                Check this old bastard out. Could you believe that it used to be a Child Prison? That's right, before the Youth "Study" Center came and went on the Ben Franklin Parkway, this building held peewee offenders for trial.
                Read more at the Hidden City Daily!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Dead-Ass Proposal of the Week-- December 4th

1777 JFK

1777 John F. Kennedy Boulevard

Conjectural rendering inserted into an aerial photo from its time period. Original image from Google.
                 This bitch-bastard's downfall caused a 20-year empty lot. 1777 JFK was a bold skyscraper proposal that attempted to work off the momentum of the late 80's early 90's West Market building boom, but failed... miserably. Though the site of this proposal is now home to the plaza in front of the city's (and state's) tallest building, the addition of 1777 JFK would have solidified the immediate area much earlier.
                  Read more at the Philadelphia City Paper's Naked City Blog!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Empty Lot of the Week-- November 27th

Unwashed Lot of Wash West

205-209 S. 12th Street

What a sad-looking piece of fuck.
                 This is one of those empty lots that doesn't seem like that big of a deal... its small, its mid-block. Nonetheless, after walking/biking/driving/canoeing past this lot day after day, it grates at your nerves. This is a high-density area-- why should there be such a shitty surface parking lot here? Worst yet, why should there be a shitty surface parking lot here for SEVENTY-FOUR YEARS!?!?!
                Read more at the Philadelphia City Paper's Naked City Blog!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Old-Ass Building of the Week-- November 26th

Charlton Yarnall House

235 South 17th Street

                   At the northeast corner of 17th and Locust sits and office building like no other, tucked behind a canopy of trees. This is one of those beasts that gets overshadowed by its neighbors and goes unnoticed despite being an incredibly beautiful structure. The stonework... the stained-glass... the facade. Once you discover this one, you can't look away.
                 Read more at the Hidden City Daily!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Dead-Ass Proposal of the Week-- November 20th

Corestates Financial Center

800 Market Street

This low-res corner of a picture from an unrelated dead-ass proposal is the only surviving picture of this one.
                    You know what? Fuck Market East! Especially between 7th and 11th Streets. This area seems to be some kind of development vacuum-- even when an experienced developer comes along to blast the hell out of it and bring it back to life, this cursed location finds some kind of way to bring them down. After spending over a century as one of the most premiere shopping streets in America, Market East is now a big sopping pile of dogshit.
                   Read more at the Philadelphia City Paper's Naked City Blog!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Empty Lot of the Week-- November 13th

Benezet Raspberry Lot

Southeast Corner of Locust and Hutchinson Streets

                 This spot looks pretty innocent but it hasn't seen a building in over 70 years-- and probably will last another 70. This pile of shit snuck its way into existence and has managed to keep itself flat as fuck for a long goddamn time. Could there ever be a future for this lot? All signs point to FUCK NO, except for a historical marker, MAYBE.
                  Read more later today on the Philadelphia Citypaper's Naked City Blog!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Old-Ass Building of the Week-- November 12

223-227 Chestnut

                 What's the deal with this? Though they appear to be two separate buildings, this once-beautiful set of facades have been one combined building for the vast majority of their history. While literally everything within sight of 223-227 Chestnut has been renovated, updated, or upgraded, this building sits boarded up and unused in one of the city's most tourist-exposed areas. On top of that, the origin of the two original buildings is spotty at best.
               Read more at the Hidden City Daily!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Show Hidden City Some Support!!

Philadelphia, PA

Photo from Hidden City, obviously.
                       Hidden City Philadelphia is pretty much the highest quality Philadelphia-related site there is. All other Philacentric sites wish they had the level of good shit Hidden City whips out on a daily basis. Hidden City represents the future of publication--- newspapers and magazines as you know them are dying a sad and painful death. Sites like Hidden City are pioneering a new form of media... a media built by small groups of individuals instead of big-ass newspaper/magazine conglomerates busting out crappy rags people subscribe to out of Publisher's Clearing House. Hidden City is a FUBU for Philaphiles.
                 The thing is this-- all that high-quality crap that Hidden City does costs lots and lots of $$$$$. Show your support for these folks by throwing some scrilla to their cause. Get over to this site and make a nice contribution. If you want to throw down some REAL money, there are special rewards being offered, like a personal tour of small streets by Deputy Motherfucker for Planning and Economic Development and Director of Commerce, Alan Greenberger. That tour has the bonus feature of passing by Philaphilia's Fabulous Secret Headquarters!!! It won't be labeled or anything, but the one-of-a-kind flag from Philadelphia history flying out front gives the PFSH away.
                On another note, a few weeks back I asked for ideas for a PSFS Building mural. I've only received two entries, so here they are:

                     This first one is by Mike Izzo from the JKR Partners firm, headquartered in the old S.S. White Office Building on 12th Street. This multi-colored idea takes advantage of the "With Love" tourist campaign. Pretty cool. That building they're in is pretty cool too... it was constructed as a shorter building and then got an addition of a few floors afterward... not that unusual, except that the entire cornice and shit was moved up with it. Here's the other one:

                 This one is from some dude named Daniel Toms. He describes it like this:

It should have a constant audio loop. It starts with "LADIES AND GENTLEMAN, I HAVE JUST BEEN SHOT - BUT IT TAKES MORE THAN A BULLET TO KILL A BULL MOOSE!" Then an air raid siren followed with the first 1:02 of audio from this scene: "

                 Haha, that's awesome. I guess he's referring to the time Theodore Roosevelt, one of history's greatest badasses, got shot in the gut and made a speech afterward like it was nothing. Send me some more submissions! I'll be happy to put them up. Also, if you want to support history's greatest LIVING badasses, support Hidden City Philadelphia!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Dead-Ass Proposal of the Week-- November 6th

Parkway Plaza

1501 Arch Street

This piece of shit scan from a copy of the Inquirer is the only surviving image of this proposal.
                    As anyone who reads my little blog knows, I hate surface parking lots with a passion. What REALLY irks me, however, is when a surface lot stays barren for years on end because of a Dead-Ass Proposal. This is one of those proposals. One that contributed to the emptiness of a high-visibility lot for at least 7 years.
                 Read more at the Philadelphia Citypaper's Naked City Blog!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Vote, You Bastard!!!

United States of America, Earth

            Well, well, well... it's that time again!! Today's the day that we exercise our right to push some buttons on a machine in order to suggest which particular megalomaniac the Electoral College should choose for us. Whether you're suggesting Barack Jong-il, Pol Potney, Gary (Huge) Johnson, or Jill (Who?) Stein, its still important that you get out there and vote. Not only are we voting for American CEO today, there's also a whole shitload of other positions up for grabs, including those of some of our more corrupt regional proconsuls and aediles. Suggest carefully and maintain the illusion of democracy at all times.
             The most positive outcome of this day is not America's peaceful process of regime change, but the end all that stupid-ass shitslinging campaigning that barely mentioned any real solutions and conflated a bunch of non-important shit issues. What a relief.

                   Oh yeah, FUCK THE MEDIA for turning something serious like American Politics into a RAH RAH GO TEAM discussion no better than an argument between rival sports teams. On a completely unrelated note, Naked City Blog is going to be busy today (obviously) so this week's Dead-Ass Proposal will come out on Thursday.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Old-Ass Building(s) of the Week-- November 5th

Rice/Warren Double House

2106 Walnut Street


Philadelphia Suburban Electric and Gas

222 Washington Square/712 Locust Street

                           Here we have two seemingly unrelated buildings... one from 1869 and one from 1909. What could they possibly have in common? Its not their styles, its not their uses, its not their builders, nor is it their occupants. These two buildings, 4 decades apart, are connected through their architect: the Bunker-Busting Roarchitect of Philadelphia, Frank Furness. These structures illustrate two extremes-- 2106-08 Walnut is the earliest surviving Furness building in the city, while 222 Washington Square (aka 712 Locust) is the latest.
                         Read more at the Hidden City Daily!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Empty Lot of the Week-- October 30th

Old City Tri-Cornered Lot

The Northwest, Southwest, and Southeast corners of 4th and Vine Streets.

Image from Google.
                        This is fucking pathetic. THREE unrelated surface parking lots on the same corner? That's ridiculous!! How did this happen? Why didn't anyone stop it? Old City is infested with NIMBYs that claim to care oh so much about their precious neighborhood. Why have they allowed a confluence of surface lots to exist for over 4 decades? This place is like a tri-cornered hat, but as an empty lot. A tri-cornered lot. We'll have to look at these three surface lots one-by-one.
                        Read more at the Philadelphia Citypaper's Naked City Blog!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Dead-Ass Proposal of the Week-- October 23rd

Calder Museum

2100 Ben Franklin Parkway

The only known rendering of what could have been.
                This is one of the most disappointing Dead-Ass Proposals ever to hit Philadelphia. This project wasn't killed because of NIMBYs, zoning issues, or crooked developers. This one died an agonizing, ass-achingly painful death. People might have been pissed off about the construction of the Barnes Museum, but at least that got built and is kicking ass all over the place-- despite being in a butt-fugly building. This one didn't even get that far.
                   Read more at the Philadelphia Citypaper's Naked City Blog!!!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Re: PSFS Mural Outrage. Keep Yer Fuckin' Pants On.

PSFS Building

12 South 12th Street

               I've always hated the humongous blank party wall on the PSFS/Lowes Hotel Building. I know its just the back of the elevator bank, but fuck... they couldn't think of something better? When I first moved to Philadelphia in August of 2003, I lived at the Arts Tower (originally the Sylvania Hotel, now called the Arts Condo) at 1234 Locust. I had a great view of the ugly-ass Interpark Parking Garage, the butt-fugly Holiday Inn Midtown, and that shit-ass blank party wall.   
               That big black party wall really fucking irked me... it was the worse thing I saw out my window that year besides that time I saw a guy shot in the chest at point-blank range in the middle of the night. Just recently, the dude at Streets Dept made the SUGGESTION that the huge blank wall on the PSFS should have a mural on it... not just any mural, but the nation's largest. That little 150-word post made the entire Philadelphia blogosphere and media LOSE ITS FUCKING MIND:


                ... and that's just a few of them. To add insult to injury, people who support the idea figured that the shitbird behind those buttsmack Love Letter Murals or this other fuckbag (whose stuff is not that bad) should be the ones that execute this theoretical mural. Some guy named Mike Meulstee then made a mock-up of what it would look like:
               Well, of course people didn't fucking like it... that looks like crap. That mock-up basically confirmed the fears of people that think the PSFS is too sacred for a mural. I agree that this building is iconic and probably doesn't NEED a mural. But that doesn't mean I should jump out of windows and flagellate myself over it... people are going fucking apeshit like they built the building themself. When's the last time you've heard ANYONE. EVER. mention the BACK of the PSFS Building? Half those articles I linked to above don't even show the back of the building.
                So, since everyone has been asking me lately what I thought about it... I'll say this: I don't hate the idea. I think it could be quite good if it was done right. Its not like they want to put it on the front of the building. As far as I'm concerned, the PSFS was ruined in 1947 by the installation of that 300+ foot antenna. No one seems to give a shit about that...
              I think we should all come up with ideas of what could go on the wall. Photoshit your best ideas and send them to me at They can be by known artists, unknown artists, or yourself. I'll post a nice gallery of the ideas to show the possibilities of what could be done here. Here's how it would look if David Choe got a crack at it:
              Or maybe it should be kept simple:
               I guess the point of this post is to tell everyone: Calm the fuck down. It's not that big of a deal.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Surprise!! Yet Another Highly Inaccurate Depiction of Philadelphia

                      So if you've never seen the show Revolution, this is kind of a spoiler, but not really. The program depicts a twisted future that takes place 15 years after electrical power has mysteriously shut down throughout the world. In the show, the bad guys, a paramilitary dictatorship called the Monroe Republic, have their headquarters in Philadelphia. Until this last episode, the only Philly outdoor scenes showed a post-apocalyptic Independence Hall with accurate buildings in the background.... I was proud to see our city portrayed, as most post-apocalyptic cultural depictions ignore Philadelphia completely (except 12 Monkeys, of course).

                   Then came this last episode... *spoiler alert*. In this one, the bad guys re-activate an old-timey train and use it to travel to Philly. When they arrive, there is a brief outdoor scene that shows a disturbing number of inaccuracies:

                 Is that supposed to be South Broad Street? It has to be... the angle of City Hall is unmistakable. Where did this singular outdoor train track come from? What the fuck? So from what we see here, the Monroe Republic, despite having no electrical power, was able to knock down scores of buildings and construct a railroad that crosses Broad Street, along with an open-air sunken parking lot.
                 Next to the railway, there's a huge old building that says "Pennsylvania Railroad" on it, which seems to have an addition that sticks out halfway across Broad Street. I guess that's supposed to be the old Girard Bank/Ritz Carlton in the background, but it looks weird. Then there's this:

                  The skyline shows the Saint James and some other building that's not really there. What the fuck? What is the Saint James doing northeast of City Hall? Are we to believe that this loosely organized paramilitary dictatorship disassembled the Saint James and rebuilt it elsewhere? With no electricity? Why the fuck would they do that? And how?
                 I know i'm probably reading into this shit way more than I need to, but this is worse than 10th and Wolf's Pittsburgh-filmed Philadelphia and Rocky's mysterious EL running through a South Philly that looks like Kensington. If someone really did get an old-timey train working well enough to travel between Indiana and Philadelphia, they would arrive at 30th Street Station, underground. Failing that, they would arrive at Suburban Station, underground. Failing that, they would have arrived at Market East Station, UNDERGROUND!!! Instead, the show-makers took the time to assemble this super-inaccurate post-apocalyptic Philly where a rail line comes right up to Broad. Of course, in a powerless Philadelphia, all of the underground tunnels would be completely flooded. Maybe they (the fictional people) used a freight line. Even so, why would the train arrive from the East like it does in the scene? Did they drive the train backwards?
                Wait a minute... if 15 years have gone by, shouldn't there be vegetation growing every which way out of every street and sidewalk? You see how our streets get after a single summer, where 6-foot-tall weeds pop out of solid asphalt in a matter of months... how is post-apoc Philly so clean? You can see some shit popping up behind that little wall that blocks Broad Street, but the rest is completely weedless. Does the Monroe Republic employ or enslave a fleet of weed-pullers that do a better job than our current city workers who have access to electricity? Fucked up.
                 Look.. I know its just a stupid TV show made in California, where people couldn't give a shit what Philly looks like... but even a slight bit of accuracy would be nice. There's over 1.5 million people in this city, many of which are going to see the program. That's 1.5 million people who know an incorrect Philly when they see one. Fuck, Angie was more accurate than this shit. Shooter had a sniper shooting the front of Independence Hall from Kensington, and even THAT was more believable than this crap. Bunk, I say. Bunk.

Another angle of the concourse above some underground parking lot that's been built under South Broad Street. I guess they park their horses there? What did they do with the subway?

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Empty Lot of the Week-- October 16th

Franklintown Shituation Lot

Bounded by 18th, 19th, Buttonwood Streets and Baldwin Park

                   This right here is a lot with some really shitty luck. Though a surface lot for nearly 40 years, it still hasn't beaten its own record for long-term emptiness. Now that's fucked up. Though there is some hope for the future of this space, its currently mired in a shitty shituation.
                    Read more at the Philadelphia Citypaper's Naked City Blog!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Old-Ass Building of the Week-- October 15th

The Consortium Child and Adolescent Services

26 South 40th Street

                            Adaptive Re-use is usually a good thing, but sometimes it goes horribly wrong. This is one such example. Under that incredibly ugly facade lies a Furness masterpiece. A once-great building stifled by good intentions...and ugly paneling.
                      Read more later today at the Hidden City Daily!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Philaphiliamobile Has Been Stolen!!

1000 block of Spruce Street


It looks just like this, but all fucked up.
                     Good ol' Philadelphia... I suppose, in my 9 years of parking on the street, that something like this would happen some time. My piece of shit 1996 Honda Accord LX was stolen over the weekend... I parked it on the 1000 block (or maybe 900 block?) of Spruce between 3:30 and 4 pm on Friday, October 5th. I returned to it this morning to go to work, and it was gone. After calling the police and searching for blocks in case it was moved or towed, it was confirmed that it had been stolen.
                    I've spent all day going around to all the surface parking lots and parking garages I know of in the area (many of which I've written about) and have been unable to locate it. So, in an act of desperation before I go to even more lots and garages, I ask all of you Philaphiles out there across the city to check out your block and see if the elusive thief just happened to park there by some extreme coincidence. In the (extremely small) chance that you see it, please e-mail me at and I will confirm the tag number with you. Then I'll turn it over to the 6th District.
                  While searching, I've learned that about 9 million other people in the neighborhood also drive white '96 Accords that are not mine. However, the Philaphiliamobile has a very distinct patch of paint missing on the left of the rear bumper. Once, while taking a picture of a building, I happen to catch it within the frame. Here it is:

Only known picture of the actual Philaphiliamobile. 

                      Anyway, this is a huge longshot but if you see it, let me know. Here's more angles of the exact same model:

Mine looks much much worse.
Find me!!!

Friday, October 5, 2012

And now... Manowar will sing about the Philly Skinny

Philadelphia, PA

              WOW!!! What a quick and abundant reaction to the new Skinny! As of this writing, there's already 76 entries... with lots of stuff that even I didn't know about. That's awesome!! In honor of this great happening, Manowar will now sing Army of the Immortals with new lyrics... click the youtube video below for the original version. New lyrics are below.

Philaphilia did sound the call.
You came to our side.
You heard true Philly-into glory
C'mon yeah!!

You stood beside us the NIMBYs
Cried.-Your love is judgment.
You gave us life.

You type in the rain-you contribute
Through the snow.We give you
Our buildings.We want you to know.
In our web you are the Skinny-
In our hearts you'll build forever-
In our eyes you are the Skinny-
In our hearts you'll build forever-more.

We have read your submissions-
We have heard you all.
We were brought together-
Cause we've got the balls-
To call out the loudest buildings.
So hard and so wild and mean.-
You'll build forever we were
Born from your steel beams.

Architecture makes us strong
Together we belong forever-
Here's your song we want you to
In our web you are the Skinny-
In our hearts you'll build forever-
In our eyes you are the Skinny-
In our hearts you'll build forever-more.

Metal makes us strong
Together we belong forever-
Here's your song we want you to
Architecture makes us strong
Together we belong forever-
Here's your song we want you to
In our web you are the Skinny-
In our hearts you'll build forever-
In our eyes you are the Skinny-
In our hearts you'll build forever-more.

Manowar in the basement of the Hale Building.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Skinny Returns!!!!

Philadelphia, PA

              Philaphile Michael Burlando has taken on the challenge of creating a new Phillyskyline-style Skinny!!! This Skinny, instead of being the painstaking effort of a single mind, will be crowd-sourced so that everyone can contribute-- keeping the thing as accurate and up-to-date as possible. Since its just started, there's only a few things on there right now-- so its up to all the Philaphiles out there to submit projects and get this thing complete!!

Original skyline photo by Brad Maule

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Empty Lot of the Week-- October 2nd

Archdiocese Lot

Southwest Corner of 17th and Vine Streets

             You can gussy it up with all the trees and statues you want, but its still a shitty surface parking lot. For the last 40 years, this lot, which had a perfectly good historical building on it, has been sitting empty, collecting dust (and cars). This lot needs a future... and fast.
              Read more later today at the Philadelphia Citypaper's Naked City Blog!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Fix the Avenue of the Farts!

South Broad Street, Chestnut to Pine

Typical South Broad lamppost.
                       What the hell is going on with South Broad Street, the so-called Avenue of the Arts? It sure is looking like shit nowadays. Improvements to the streetscape made a little over 20 years ago have gone un-maintained and are falling apart. Abandoned buildings and empty lots are all over the place. I'm not even talking about the pitiful southern portion from Pine to Washington. I'm talking about the northern part, the part that should be the showcase of our city!!!!
                        I was inspired to write about this by a thread on the Philadelphia Speaks forum. It was something I didn't notice until I read that thread... I was so accustomed to the way South Broad looked that I wasn't seeing how the 1990's improvements were coming apart at the seams. Here's a little bit of what I'm talking about:

Crappy mismatched street/sidewalk repairs.
Tire marks all over the place, obviously from trucks and buses jumping the curb.
Assorted fucked-uppedness.
               With our tourism level higher than ever (almost 10% of the U.S. population visited the city last year), the Avenue of the Arts should be looking better than ever... instead it looks worse it has in 20 years. This is crap.
              Part of the problem is that South Broad is having no shortages in visitors/patrons/tourists/residents. On paper, its doing just fine. Therefore, priority for planning and repairs seems to be going to other parts of the city (and other parts of Broad Street). Nonetheless, South Broad is still rife with problems that need to be solved... and fast!! Sure, those sidewalk and street problems are costly to solve.. but what about this?

Typical South Broad median.
                Almost every median on the strip has wildlife breaking through. Maybe the street is trying to tell us something? Would it be extremely costly to go out there and pull up those weeds? Maybe I should just do it myself. Better yet, get all that fucked-up concrete out of there and plant low-maintenance plant life that will make the median look nice and keep people from walking down the middle of the street. You only need the part by the crosswalk to be walkable.
              On top of all this shit, you have all the empty lots and abandoned/fucked up buildings... specifically on the eastern section between Spruce and Pine.

Slumlord and NIMBY Walk
                   The two buildings on the left are a goddamn tragedy. You have 311 South Broad, a great old theater that's been empty and falling apart for many years (whose recent L&I warning stickers have mysteriously disappeared), and the building at the corner of Broad and Spruce (to the left of the picture), which can't get itself repaired for some reason. The "developer" that owns these two properties, who shall remain unnamed, also owns a shitload of valuable empty lots and blighted buildings. This particular organization seems to get some kind of special dispensation from the city, continuing to get charged with neighborhood redevelopment projects despite being either unwilling or unable to REPAIR THEIR OWN GODDAMN HEADQUARTERS. For all the good deeds that "company" has done elsewhere, they still haven't made up for this shit.
                Next to these two pieces of embarrassing blight sits and empty lot owned by the University of the Arts, who tried to build an 189-room dorm here, but got completely rebuffed by a group of NIMBYs who lied through their teeth... I wrote about that shitty saga here. UArts isn't completely innocent, though. They're also responsible for a shitty building on this block, Anderson Hall.

Crapperson Hall
                 This has to be the worst facade restoration in the history of facade restorations. This building used to be beautiful... it had a huge cornice and a nice street-level look. For some reason, someone ripped all that shit out and replaced it with some kind of ribbed black paneling. That's crap.
               Maybe I'm overreacting here... maybe there are all kinds of plans for this stretch of Broad that I don't know about... nonetheless... if something isn't done soon, this will be the new Market East. Market East improvements are coming down the pike right now... is it possible that in 20 years, South Broad and Market East's roles will reverse? That would be a horrible. Just horrible.
              How about revisiting and tweaking the Vision for South Broad Street from 1999? It has all kinds of great ideas... especially for the part of South Broad I can't even talk about (Pine to Washington). We need to get the ball rolling right now to get this fucked-up street fixed before it REALLY goes to shit.

Hope all that shitty spray-painting means upcoming repairs. Don't get your hopes up.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Philadelphia is BACK and there's nothing you can do about it. Nothing.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

 Now THAT is a motivated developer.
                   Is there any other point in Philadelphia history when renderings for a new building could be found on a bus? This has to be a record or something. However, as silly as it seems, this is a good thing. This is a sign that Philadelphia big-ass building development is BACK. Motherfucker.
                  A buttload of construction is going on right now... more cranes in the sky at once than we had during the last boom. The new buildings aren't THAT gigantic but they are the kind of infill that the city has needed for years. Besides all the new shit going up, lots of old shit is getting renovated or about to be. Even as this has been going on, I was in denial about new shit being built in Philly--- like this was a blip.
                Well, I'm finally gonna admit to all of you that Philadelphia is BACK in the big-ass construction game and there's a shitload more to come. The newest proposals include a 27-story office building at 19th and Arch (across from apartments about to be built), a 500+ foot W Hotel, some (mediocre) waterfront stuff, and new midrises/renovations for Old City, Chinatown North, and West Philly. Also, older proposals have returned from limbo-- hence the picture above.
                On top of all that, PREIT is soon going to present its plan for the Gallery-- a $300 Million project. You could buy a skyscraper for that, so they'd better make it good... or a skyscraper. This has the potential of saving the shittiest part of Center City. Speaking of shitty parts of Center City, even Chestnut East has been showing improvement.
               Back in 2007 or so, we had so many things in the proposal, site prep, and construction stages that it was difficult to keep up with all of them. Legendary Philaphile Brad Maule organized them into a single spreadsheet called The Skinny to keep us all atitty of the situation. Well, those times are back... except without the spreadsheet. Anyone out there want to take on the task of making it?