Historic Properties Decay in Philadelphia’s Old City

Old City in Philadelphia presents a troubling dichotomy—while the neighborhood is a busy location for redevelopment investment, many of its historic buildings are succumbing to neglect.

April 16, 2014, 6:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


Inga Saffron describes the unique situation of Old City in Philadelphia, where fire and a building collapse claimed the famous Suit Corner and Shirt Corner, respectively, buildings.

By one estimate, “nearly 15 percent of Old City's buildings are not properly maintained. Few have sprinklers or other effective means of fire suppression.” Yet at the same time a Historical Commission official tells Saffron that the agency is now reviewing one or two renovation projects every month. "Old City is getting developed like crazy," says the unnamed official.

“The Old City neighborhood is also one of 15 historic districts under special protection of the city. Since receiving that honor in 2004, it has lost at least four other significant structures, two to fire, two to neglect. One of the fire victims, Friedman's Umbrella, sat next door to Suit Corner. Another, the Five Spot dance club, was around the corner on Bank Street.”

The question raised by the article is how a city can continue to designate neighborhoods as historic, yet remain seemingly powerless to preserve the buildings that comprise the urban fabric. 

Sunday, April 13, 2014 in Philadelphia Inquirer

The New York Public Library's stone lions Patience and Fortitude have donned face masks to remind New Yorkers to wear face coverings during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Top Urban Planning Books of 2021

Planetizen's annual list of the top urban planning books of the year is here—maintaining a tradition that dates back to 2002.

November 26, 2021 - James Brasuell

Empty Road

The Roadway Expansion Paradox

Motorists want expensive roadway expansions provided that somebody else foots the bill, but when required to pay directly through tolls, the need for more capacity often disappears. What should planners do?

November 28, 2021 - Todd Litman

Moving

Urban Exodus: Data Don't Support the Popular Pandemic Narrative

Americans fled cities in waves during the pandemic, right? Not to so fast.

November 30, 2021 - Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University

A sign on a door says proof of vaccine is required to enter.

Compulsory Vaccination in the Birthplace of Democracy

Unlike the Biden administration's COVID-19 vaccination strategy that has largely been paused by federal judges, compulsory vaccinations have been approved by Greece's highest court. Mandates are passed by Parliament rather than by executive order.

30 minutes ago - Deutsche Welle

Airplane aisle with seated passengers

Flight-Free Movement Grows in Europe

A burgeoning movement known as 'flight shame' calls on travelers to avoid air travel when possible as a method of fighting climate change.

2 hours ago - The Conversation

Bentonville, AR Central Avenue at night

Opinion: Northwest Arkansas Could Be the 'Next Austin'

The home of Walmart and the University of Arkansas could be poised to see growth as cities like Austin and Boise become less affordable.

December 5 - Bloomberg Opinion

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Hand Drawing Master Plans

This course aims to provide an introduction into Urban Design Sketching focused on how to hand draw master plans using a mix of colored markers.