The last time I took pictures in Center City I was in Old City which is everything east of 6th St. I decided this time to concentrate on the chunk of city between 7th and Broad and from Vine St. to Market. I’m in the area on a daily basis but it’s never seemed so uninspiring so I found myself snapping more pictures of the things that really turned me off about the “neighborhood”. Of course, the blocks of Chinatown are a little rough around the edges but very intimate at street level. Unfortunately the scene at street level is hard to photograph on such narrow streets with a lens like mine. This first post is from 7th to 11th Streets – Chinatown and Market St. The follow up will be from 11th to 14th – The Convention Center.
I got off the bus in front of the Wawa . . .with the cop parked in the bus stop (he was eating lunch). The monstrosity covering the street is the parking garage for the attached Hilton hotel. Note the trolley wire worked into the construction. This line has been “temporarily suspended" since 1992. Awesome.
The “front” of the Hilton as seen from Filbert St. The brown building spanning this street is the former Reading Terminal Station. That train station is now called Market East and is below street level. The street level part of the old Reading Terminal is now the Reading Terminal Market and the upper levels are now part of the Pennsylvania Convention Center. Got that?
Chinatown as a community often complains that they’re boxed in and have no room to expand yet the neighborhood has a few such empty buildings and more than its fair share of parking lots.
The Trocadero Theatre. It’s just as nice on the inside as it is out. It used to be burlesque back in the day when Chinatown, populated by mostly Chinese men, served as the de facto red light district for the rest of the city. Now it’s rock 6 nights a week. Monday night they show a movie. Admission price on mondays is a $3 drink voucher J
Bell built some really nice buildings back in its day but unfortunately they all house a lot of switches and not a lot of employees. It doesn’t make much sense to me that you’d use what’s obviously incredibly valuable real estate for what could easily be done in an inudstrial area.
Cherry St. from 10th St. looking west towards 11th. The wall of the convention center serves as a lovely terminus.
When I went back for a few follow up pictures this banner had been hung.
The only independent hotel in Chinatown.
Next to the fortune cookie factory a new house with ground floor retail goes up. I guess it’s what you do if you don’t have much space to work with but the design struck me as very odd given the context.
1010 Arch. A recent loft conversion. Needless to say it wasn't targeting the immigrants in the neighborhood. Tensions are already high but as developers beat the chinese community to the punch over and over again they'll only get worse.
Looking east down Race St. with the Ben Franklin Bridge in the distance. The loading docks of the Convention Center stretch for two blocks.
There’s no room to build in Chinatown. Of course not. On the edge of the lot is what used to be Hawthorne Suites. The hospitality market was a little too soft for another hotel on the fringes of the convention center so it was quickly converted to lofts.
Suburban design. Cut & Paste.
Across the street something a bit more inviting. The French and their lasting impression on many things Vietnamese.
The Chinatown stop on the Ridge Ave. Subway. Surrounded by parking. Awesome.
Across the street an old hospital to loft conversion.
Behind the lofts, Franklin Square, the most abused of Penn’s 5 original squares. First the Ben Franklin Bridge turned it into an inconvenience. Then 676 took a chunk and now roars behind the retaining wall that serves as the park’s northern boundary.
PATCO closed and sealed its Franklin Square Station because of low ridership and subsequent safety concerns. That was 40 years ago.
Across the street from his park is Ben Franklin’s key being hit by lightning. Behind it the west pier of his Bridge.
Indeed the park isn’t much more than the center of a big traffic circle – even the National Constitution Center turns its back on Franklin Square.
The park lost the rest of its neighborhood to urban renewal and was surrounded by hospitals and office buildings. This is a much more common site nowadays.
Two weeks ago my friend drove into the city from Merchantville (next to Camden) to pick up some art supplies. On her way back to the bridge her car broke down on the south side of the park. A man with a knife wrapped in a newspaper approached her. As he pulled out the knife she bolted running right past the police HQ two more blocks towards some smokin’ & jokin’ Temple Med students outside of their Chinatown campus. He chased her the whole way. A smart-ass cop arrived on the scene 15 minutes later and asked “are you familiar with the area?” She said, “yeah” (she’s lived in the area her whole life). The cop said, “ . . . but you didn’t know the police department (pointing)was right there?” . . .
. . . anyone who is intimately familiar with the area knows that the entrance to the PD is always closed and the only way in is through a fenced in and locked parking lot then through a locked door.
Moving along, next to a lovely cast iron building sits the local branch of the Federal Prison. Most people don’t realize that it’s a jail thinking that the narrow windows were some architects twisted way of torturing office workers
Filbert St. that runs between Market and Arch is an abomination. Why in the world is the bus terminal still here? It takes up a full city block and belches diesel fumes 24/7. Move it out to 30th St. already.
The Gallery. Rouses mistake on Market. Sure it did well financially but it ruined the street and to this day the area is still struggling
As eastern Walnut and even Chestnut St. stage a strong comeback what is now known as the Disney Hole plagues ¾ of this block between Market and Chestnut & 8th and 9th.
The city was in negotiations with Disney to build Disney Quest here. They condemened buildings and demolished them leaving a 30 ft. deep hole in the ground. Disney pulled out. It sat for 2 years before they gave up, filled in the hole, and leased it to a parking company.
ohh! ohh! let’s park here - they have grass!
Across the street, on the corner of 8th & Market, the Market-Frankford El, the Ridge Ave. Subway, and PATCO all converge.
The best we can do is friggin’ Rite Aid and a Burger King. But hey, at least that BK is two floors . . . and they did have a concourse level entrance but I guess it became too much of a concourse level urinal so they closed it.
It’s not like we don’t have good examples to learn from.
This was Rouse Co.’s idea of a good time.
Hey, I have an idea, let’s build crap with no windows 4 stories high on the A+ prime street in the city.
. . . and let’s run with it
for 3 blocks.