From big repaving projects, to small design flourishes, Old City has been getting a makeover of late.
Along North 3rd Street, on the long blocks between Market and Race, brand new streetlamps were recently installed to illuminate the once-dark blocks, creating a more welcoming pedestrian environment.
The 33 new lights were paid for through about $625,000 in Neighborhood Transformation Initiative funding, secured through City Council at the end of former 1st District Councilman Frank DiCicco’s reign.
“We had a walking tour with the mayor and DiCicco on a dark, rainy fall evening and it was apparent that this was a very dark area,” Old City District Executive Director Graham Copeland explained. The project has been on OCD’s wishlist for years, and finally the new lights were ceremoniously lit during First Friday last week.
“I think that the new lighting is great and I’ve had customers come in and talk about it,” said Liz Pizzo of Third Street Habit, a women’s clothing boutique on 3rd near Race Street. “It’s perfect for Old City.”
“It’s definitely prettier, but I don’t know that its any better,” said Jenny Martin co-owner of Lost + Found, a shop at 3rd and Cherry. Martin said that she thinks the quality of the new lighting is softer, and makes the area in front of her shop – where there used to be a cobra head light – a bit darker. “I don’t know if that’s something they can adjust.”
From Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction‘s storefront, manager Kirsten Lett said she and her staff hadn’t noticed much of a difference, but thinks that has partly to do with their brightly lit shop windows. She added, “I bet as soon as we get those dark at 4:30 days, we’ll really appreciate it more.”
If you’ve been through Old City this week, you may have also noticed brand new colorful banners hanging over the street. Graham Copeland said that the banners are part of a new coordinated branding campaign meant to reinforce Old City District’s identity.
In addition to the light pole banners, OCD has new promotional materials, shop window clings, and a redesigned website should follow soon.
The branding campaign, appropriately enough, was developed by Mighty Engine, an Old City based marketing and creative agency that Copeland said was just right to tell OCD’s story. The challenge for Mighty Engine was to fold all of Old City’s attributes – as a neighborhood known for fashion, design, art, history, dining, technology – into the new graphic identity for the district.
The slogan? Independent by Design.