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.


  1. I know maintaining the "z-brick" crosswalks has been complicated by the fact that Broad Street is a state highway. About 10 years ago, there was some brouhaha because the city paid for all these fancy bricks but the state didn't want to pay to replace them. It's a small piece of the puzzle that is Broad Street, but it just shows how everything in this town get tied up in political BS.

  2. There are few things I hate more in the streetscape of this city than barren, empty concrete medians, like here or on Spring Garden east of Broad. They look horrible and are a goddamn embarrassment.

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  4. THe huge lamp posts on the south side of City Hall at Broad Street are a disgrace too - people have broken the globes and rather than replace them the city has installed fluorescent light bulbs in the empty slots! Make me want to cry.

  5. 311 looks like a theater but I don't think it was.

  6. Really? I always thought it was a dinner theatre-type place on the first floor and industrial on the second and third.

    1. I don't know about dinnter theatre venues. I don't think it was a real theater (legit or cinema, etc).

  7. It would be nice to see you mention the illegal demo that UArts did at 313 S. Broad St., and how that's not the best way to get your neighbors to support your proposed variance for a highrise south of Spruce St. Care to mention how the UARts President lost his job over this illegal demo, and how it was a giant hole in the ground for several years? They pay zero dollars in real estate taxes, unlike 311 S. Broad St., and they could make the place look a lot nicer easily. For instance, there is no sidewalk at the rear of the lot. Also, how about the homeless shelter - oops I mean homeless cafe - that the City pays for at the also non-tax paying 315 S. Broad St.?

  8. as disgraceful as BS is, the Chestnut STreet makeover was even worse about maybe 13 years back. cheap ass materials out the wazzoo. looked 20 years old after 1 year. Pennoni designed IIRC

  9. "Maybe I'm overreacting here... " /// You're not. The critique is spot on. More please.