Producer: Michael O’Reilly
The stretch of Front Street located directly under the Market Frankford El just north of Girard Avenue has undergone some radical changes in the past 5 years. A street once avoided for its petty crime and decay has become a local and national draw with its well-regarded restaurants and unique businesses and arts.
While there is not a Jane (but there is a Jon (Geeting)) leading this walk, the concept and implementation of a “Jane’s Walk” comes from Jane Jacobs, whose writings championed the voices of local residents in neighborhood planning. Jacobs was not a city planner by training; she was just a concerned citizen who spent a lot of time observing city life around her, first in New York City, then in Toronto. From her observations, she developed some theories about what makes a city a great place to live. After she passed away in 2006, Jane’s Walk was founded in Toronto by a group of her friends and colleagues who wanted to honor her ideas and legacy.
Jane’s Walks can be found at their website and are free, locally organized walks, in which people get together to explore, talk about and celebrate their neighborhoods. Where more traditional tours are a bit like walking lectures, a Jane’s Walk is more of a walking conversation. Leaders share their knowledge, but also encourage discussion and participation among the walkers.
The Friday Arts cameras followed the Front Street tour, where over 30 people turned out on a beautiful day in May. Through this walk, these participants found out about a former public swimming pool turned play area for both adults and children; several well-regarded food service establishments; the art-festooned corporate HQ for honeygrow – a healthy, prepared-food purveyor expanding quickly along the NE corridor; and finally ending at a warehouse turned beer garden – and all of this well-within ear shot of the cars on Front Street and the rumbling elevated subway train passing above.