Winter is water-main break season, and January has been a doozy.
On Jan. 12 alone, there were 25 main breaks across the city of Philadelphia,including a couple in Mt. Airy. For the most part they were breaks in small pipes, which are most susceptible to the cold weather.
In East Falls, it was a different story.
At Bakers Centre, the shopping plaza on 3400 Fox Street that opened last summer and takes its name from the old Tastykake bakery and warehouse, a 48-inch main ruptured at 4:30 a.m. Saturday Jan. 11. The pipe was turned off at 6:20 a.m., but not before spurting out 13 million gallons of water and resulting in a crater that was 80 feet long by 60 feet wide in the center's parking lot.
The adjacent Ross and ShopRite stores were evacuated, and the water damaged the market's walls, ductwork and electrical system. Both stores reopened by Sunday afternoon. But the neighboring Hair Buzz and Dollar Plus remained closed at mid-week. The center's developer, Michael Grasso of Metro Development Co., estimated the damage to the parking lot alone at $3 million.
Alan Jaffe has been a contributing writer for PlanPhilly since 2008, focusing on overlooked buidlings and historic preservation issues. He was a writer and editor in the newspaper industry for nearly 30 years, including eight at the Philadelphia Inquirer and nine at the South Jersey Courier-Post. He is currently the director of communications for the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society. He is also an antiques writer and collector and the author of “J. Chein & Co.: A Collector’s Guide to an American Toymaker.”