What you were reading: Top 10 Eyes on the Street posts of 2011

At three months old, Eyes on the Street is still the new blog on the block, and I’m so thankful for the warm reception the blog has received so far.

In such a short time, I’ve posted more than 200 stories, including several great community contributions, and shared some amazing angles of Philly from the ever-growing Eyes on the Street Flickr group pool. We’re just getting warmed up.

Even though it hasn’t been so long, the calendar is about to turn and it feels like as good a time as any to reflect on what Eyes on the Street has been up to so far. These were the top 10 most-read stories from Eyes on the Street this year:

10. Philadelphia, what are you taking for your Jane Jacobs complex? [October 31, 2011]

Many of you read this thoughtful piece by Community Contributor* Paul Aylesworth. He ponders the hinterland between planning driven by professional expertise and community input, and finds a middle way of serious public inclusion in robust planning processes that lead to real outcomes. People need to see returns from planning efforts in order to stay invested.

9. The Porch: a super-sized parklet full of potential [November 7, 2011]

The Porch is 30th Street Station’s new public space along Market Street. I celebrated the small victories here – stealing back parking lanes in order to create the foundation of a public space – but found the parklet too incomplete to really be enjoyable. Yet. Here’s hoping spring brings loads of people to The Porch, and cash that follows to pay for better design interventions. I’d love to see this work.

8. Modernist Hillman Medical Center demolition underway [November 28, 2011]

Philadelphia’s modern architecture is not well understood and preservationists decried pans to demolish the Sidney Hillman Medical Center on Chestnut Street. Demolition started after Thanksgiving to clear the lot for a large, undistinguished residential tower sitting on a base of parking and retail/office floors. Philadelphia has so few high-rises that I wonder if we shouldn’t fight for better design instead of just being thankful someone wants to build here.

7. Urban Portraits from Philly Photo Day [November 4, 2011]

What does Philadelphia look like to hundreds of different people on the same day? The Philadelphia Photo Arts Center had about 900 submissions this year and shared 20 of the best urban portraits that were submitted with Eyes on the Street.

6. Penn begins building Shoemaker Green [October 13, 2011]

Construction started on Shoemaker Green this fall. The little green will link Penn Park with the campus in new ways while testing sustainability benchmarks as part of the Sustainable Sites Initiative.

5. Under the Clothespin [November 9, 2011]

A new Philadelphia cityscape mosaic is being installed at the Centre Square subway entrance under Claes Oldenburg’s Clothespin sculpture. The fantasy cityscape was created by two artists interpreting personal geographies into pieces of our urban fabric, and it promises to enliven the space when it’s finished next year. I’ll be sneaking a peek at the installation soon.

4. Philadelphia’s New Day [December 5, 2011]

Philadelphia has come a long way in a short time when it comes to planning. The city’s planning culture has become more open, professional, and thoughtful, enabled by leaders who takes planning seriously, but also because we Philadelphians want a better city. Keep expecting more, Philly.

3. Emerald City: Philly ranks best in the nation for green infrastructure [November 17, 2011]

The Philadelphia Water Department’s ambitious green infrastructure plan is a national model and the Natural Resources Defense Council ranked our city best in the nation for its efforts. To me, Waters represents the best kind of work government can do: find affordable, attractive, creative solutions to serious public problems. By installing green infrastructure to relieve the strain on our city’s taxed combined-sewer system, the city will save money, improve environmental health, and beautify neighborhoods. This is probably my favorite planning project being implemented here, so rest assured you’ll hear a lot more about it as the plan rolls out through neighborhood projects.

2. Urbanize this Highway: Renewed calls to rethink I-95 and the Vine Street Expressway [November 21, 2011]

The reality: I-95 needs to be rebuilt. The question: why rebuild it in its own image? It’s an incredibly expensive long-term project, and people like Diana Lind are prompting us to rethink the opportunities presented by I-95’s re- or de-construction. This is one idea we’ll be talking more about soon.

1. Defending Autumn in Bella Vista [October 12, 2011]

By far the most popular post for EOTS this year, and was the little story that could. Bella Vista neighbors struggled with the news that David Guinn’s beloved Autumn mural would be obscured by a new rowhouse at the corner of 9th and Bainbridge. Despite attempts to negotiate with the developer and stall the zoning approvals, a permit was issued and construction recently started. Better see Autumn while you can. Maybe we’ll see it reborn elsewhere in 2012?

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*Got any ideas for a Community Contribution? Drop me an email.

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