Too Much Programming, Not Enough Protesting at Philadelphia's Dilworth Park

The Pulitzer Prize-winning architecture critic for the Philadelphia Inquirer raises pointed questions about the purpose of public space such as Dilworth Park, which has been absent of protests since it was remodeled two years ago.
July 23, 2016, 11am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Ritu Manoj Jethani

"You only have to spend a few minutes in Dilworth Park to see what a people magnet it has become since the Center City District completed a dramatic, $55 million makeover two years ago," writes Philadelphia Inquirer Architecture Critic Inga Saffron.

The problem, however, is that despite the near constant activity and programming, the park is now devoid of demonstrations:

In response to a formal request I submitted to the Kenney administration, a spokesperson confirmed that the city's Office of Special Events has not issued a single protest permit in the 22 months since Philadelphia's great public living room reopened under CCD management - a period of extraordinary public discontent that brought the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, terrorist attacks, and police killings.

Even the Democratic National Convention will lack any legal demonstrations, according to Saffron. The park has been booked for months, leaving no time for permitted demonstrations. Saffron contrasts that anodyne state of affairs with the lively civic debates that took place at Cleveland's newly remodeled Public Square during the Republican National Convention. 

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Published on Friday, July 22, 2016 in The Philadelphia Inquirer
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