Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Parking Garage of the Week-- March 14th

                      That's right, this is the disgusting new subject that will be gracing Philaphilia every other Wednesday. Parking Garages are a necessary evil in every large city. Though ideally underground, most can be found above, uglying-up even the finest of streets. This, then, will be the stories of these horrible parking behemoths... because fuck 'em!

                                                 -GroJLart, King of Philadelphia and France

Philadelphia Parking Authority Eighth Street Parking Plaza

Straddling Eighth Street between Arch and Filbert

                     For 48 years, this monstrous 1,000+ car parking dragoon has butt-fuglied two blocks of Arch Street. Even though almost everything around it managed to get demolished over the years, this ugly bastard has stuck around to ruin the hopes and dreams of everyone who sees it. The Eighth Street Parking Plaza represents pretty much everything that's wrong with parking garages.
                    In the 1950's, parking in the city was a pain in the ass. The suburban shopping mall hadn't really caught on quite yet so people from out in the boonies would come to the city to shop at its kick-ass department stores on Market East. Once the suburbanites arrived, there'd be nowhere for them to park. To add insult to injury, City Council was passing all kinds of wacky restrictions on street parking that would get passed and repealed every five minutes. This made the multitude of surface parking lots want to expand upward.
                   In early 1962, a proposal was announced whereby the city would appropriated and destroy a shitload of ancient residential and commercial buildings and replace them with a super-gigantic street-straddling parking garage that would be connected to Strawbridge & Clothier and Lit Brothers.

It looks so innocent in this drawing.
                     The garage would have retail facing both Arch and Eighth Street. The plan went gangbusters and a groundbreaking ceremony was held by the end of that year. People were actually celebrating the creation of this monster.

It was more of a Awesome Building Destruction Ceremony.
                      Two years later, the mega-garage was complete. The opening day was February 22nd, 1964. Was there another ceremony? Of course!!

Hey! That's not a PARK!
                    Ever since, this humongous pile of ass-shit (what other kind is there?) has been darkening North Eighth Street and disfiguring Arch Street with its crappy retail and tarnished facade. From what I can tell, this thing's Arch Street facade has never been cleaned, painted, or updated... at least not recently. Some of the Eighth Street death tunnel's crappy stores still have ancient signage that's getting so old that they've reached kitsch status.
                     One of the worst things about this place is that it is seen by many an out-of-towner that attend conventions at the Great Wall of Pennsylvania aka PA Convention Center. Guide books to the city tell suburbanites to park there when conventioneering. This instantly gives a horrible impression of Philly to anyone from outside the city. It's bad enough that one of the city's worst empty lots is across the street!
                     This thing is one of Philly' longest-lasting disgraces. The place probably makes a shitload of money from all the out-of-town parking action it gets, so don't expect it to go anywhere anytime soon. The only thing we can hope for is a new facade and maybe a building on top. Oh, did I not mention that this place is zoned C-5? This fucking thing is taking up some goddamn skyscraper-allowed real estate! Destroy it.            


  1. This parking garage is one of my earliest memories of Center City, sad to say. I thought it was scary and unattractive back then...

  2. LOL!! I was walking by this place on my way home from work last week and was wondering when/if you were going to write about it. I didn't realize you'd start a whole new subject, one of which I'm sure will soon include the elevator lot on South Broad.

    1. Already done:

  3. "This instantly gives a horrible impression of Philly to anyone from outside the city."

    Yeah dude. The street under it is a total rape and rob alley.

  4. I had a ancestor, Frederick Knoppel, that owned a confectionary shop at 800 Arch Street for over 40 years. He has been rolling in his grave since 1964. Bring back the victorian story-fronts. :(

  5. Its like they went out of their way to make it ugly. Still, its a thing of beauty compared to the US Mint. Blecch!

  6. I live in Chinatown, and my friends and I refer to the passage as the "tunnel of death." I don't get how all of the retail there has sat empty for so long. Just ridiculous.