Looking back through this year’s 700+ Eyes on the Street posts it’s clear that we’ve covered a lot of ground: from the Lower Schuylkill to Tacony,Point Breeze to Hartranft. If you’re wondering where on earth 2012 disappeared to, here’s a run through the most read posts on Eyes on the Street broken down by month to help jog your memory.
Early this year we heard a lot of talk about an upsurge of runners using bike lanes as a track. So to help clarify the rules of the road (which frankly don’t clarify much) we wrote this reminder in an effort to cool tempers and encourage everyone to share the road responsibly. It may be legal to run in bike lanes, but it isn’t necessarily safe for all involved. Give respect, get respect may be the most important rule of the road we can all follow – as drivers, cyclists, pedestrians, and runners.
February: The Imperative Divine Lorraine
Early this year, the Nutter administration put progress on the Divine Lorraine on its agenda and kept hinting that some behind-the-scenes negotiating could turn the tide of the blighted beauty of North Broad Street. The administration sees the redevelopment of the Divine Lorraine as the one project that’s critical to tipping the scales toward the revitalization of North Broad Street from City Hall to Temple. What we later learned, of course, is that North Broad’s Wunderkind developer, Eric Blumenfeld, wanted to (re)acquire the hulking behemoth, which he successfully accomplished this fall. We hope 2013 holds lots of good news for the Divine Lorraine.
March: Scrapping and clearing the Reading Viaduct landscape and Provident Mutual Life Insurance Building to be reused as Police Command Center (an almost-tie)
By far the most read posts (in a near-tie) for the month of March were about two once-forgotten places on the verge of reuse: the Reading Viaduct‘s elevated segment and the Provident Mutual Life Insurance Building at 46th and Market. At the time there was action clearing part of the Reading Viaduct landscape of its rails and ties. This work largely took place at the southernmost end of the Viaduct’s elevated portion, but seems to have stopped short of scraping the entire viaduct clear. [View the Viaduct slideshow.]
In his March budget address, Mayor Nutter announced plans to redevelop the former Provident Mutual Life Insurance Building at 4601 Market into a new police command center. EOTS took a look at the Provident Mutual Life Insurance Building’s history – including its recent past as an endangered building – and brought you inside the fabulous historic building on a photo tour.
EOTS followed along as artists Miriam Singer and Emilie Ledieu created Under the Clothespin, a bright mosaic mashup of Philadelphia’s cityscape, in Centre Square’s subway concourse. After months of work, the construction fence came down and Under the Clothespin instantly brightened the once-dreary space.
In May we spent time cruising the Parkway, looking at the city’s great civic boulevard’s past present and future. We watched Sister Cities Park take shape over the last year, transforming one of the outlying wedges of Logan Square into a heavily programmed, beautiful new park space complete with a cafe, Wissahickon-inspired pond and woodland play area, and Sister City fountain. I was able to hop on a tour of Sister Cities before it opened and captured this preview.
David Guinn’s mural Autumn (Your House in the Forest) at 9th and Bainbridge was lost to development at the end of 2011. But that wasn’t the end of Autumn in Bella Vista. We broke the happy news that Guinn was tapped to create a new fall-themed mural on the side of Fleisher Art Memorial nearby on Catharine Street, overlooking Palumbo Park, this year. (More on that very soon.)
This summer Penn started building a new green gateway to its medical campus out of a triangular surface parking lot at Spruce between 33rd and 34th. This month the once-bland lot reopened, transformed into a welcome green space with new benches and native plantings, arranged around a central planter.
New development proposals are bubbling up on the Delaware waterfront, and Ensemble Real Estate is behind several. We shared Cope Linder’s renderings of the L-shaped waterfront development at Piers 34 and 35 on Columbus Boulevard, just south of the Dockside condos. This development sparked a lively debate for its proposed scale, which far exceeds the 100-foot height limit set forth in the Master Plan for the Central Delaware, and the lack of ground-floor commercial space. In September the Planning Commission voted in favor of this plan, but only after concessions were made to create ground-floor retail and a more generous public walkway to access the river.
This year parklets and pedestrian plazas got a boost in West Philly, but this fall Logan CDC gets the honors for adding the first parklet beyond University City District. Our Christine Fisher attended the opening of the new parklet outside of the Free Library’s Logan Branch. The Logan parklet was created through a pilot program by the Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities, which provided a grant of $5000 that was matched through a kickstarter campaign.
October: Storefront Challenge winners
We love a great storefront, and during DesignPhiladelphia we had the pleasure of showing off the winners of this year’s Storefront Challenge, a design competition held by the Commerce Department and Community Design Collaborative to celebrate the best storefront remodels over the last year and a half. Out of 60 entrants, 14 were honored in a variety of categories, with Frankford Hall taking home the prize for Best Overall.
This fall has been marked by several proposals by City Council members to dismember tenets of the city’s brand new new zoning code, from 50-foot riparian buffers to stricter commercial corridor zoning. Councilman Brian O’Neill introduced a bill for Council President Darrell Clarke that would have set a minimum number of parking spots for developments in certain residential and mixed-use districts citywide. Planners and design advocates cried foul, and I laid out five wonky, but important, reasons why setting parking minimums was a ham-fisted solution to the idea that certain neighborhoods have parking problems. In the end Clarke got his wish when Council passed parking minimums for the area surrounding Temple University.
This year we once again shared selections from the 1800+ photo submissions for this year’s Philly Photo Day, held on October 26, in two installments. These photos showcase a day in the life of our amazing city. You can revisit these images here and here.
Next up in our 2012 Rewind, we’ll show off the year in photos with selections from the ever-growing Eyes on the Street Flickr Group Pool.