PlanPhilly

What’s this SEPTA bus stop doing on the roof of 1529 Walnut?

There is a bus stop on top of a building in Center City.

Specifically, there is a bus stop for SEPTA Routes 2, 9, 12, 21, and 42 on top of 1529 Walnut Street.

In terms of odd things stacked on each other, this ranks pretty high. Maybe not goat on a cow high, but still: high. Literally six stories high.

The building’s owner, Pearl Properties, is currently redeveloping it and the neighboring property. As part of the construction, Pearl is doubling the building’s height. When Inga Saffron praised the project’s design in February, the Pulitzer Prize-winning architectural critic did not mention any plans for mid-level terraced transit or a Claes Oldenburg-esque sculpture, leading PlanPhilly to believe that this was a temporary detour for the bus shelter.

    • Bus stop on a roof from 16th and Sansom Streets
      Bus stop on a roof from 16th and Sansom Streets
    • Bus stop on a roof from Moravian Street
      Bus stop on a roof from Moravian Street
    • Bus stop on a roof
      Bus stop on a roof
    • Bus stop on a roof, closer still
      Bus stop on a roof, closer still
    • Bus stop on a roof, zoomed in.
      Bus stop on a roof, zoomed in.
    • alley2
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Determined to get to the bottom of why the stop was on top, PlanPhilly called Pearl Properties, SEPTA, the Philadelphia’s Office of Transportation and Infrastructure Systems, the mayor’s press office, and Intersection (née Titan Outdoor), the billboard advertising company that owns Philly’s bus shelters. But the oddly elevated stop was news to all of them.

    • Rooftop bus stop from neighboring building, courtesy of Sylvia Palms of Locus Partners
      Rooftop bus stop from neighboring building, courtesy of Sylvia Palms of Locus Partners

After a few hours, Mike Dunn, a spokesman for Mayor Jim Kenney, came through with some sensible answers for something that seemed like an absurdist art installation.

“The contractor, Wellcraft Construction, is working at 1529 Walnut Street,” Dunn told PlanPhilly in an email. “The firm tells [Licenses and Inspections] officials that the shelter was in the way of a delivery and they made the decision to move it. The contractor states that it is securely fastened. Nonetheless, L&I has ordered it removed from the roof.”

An Intersection employee said that the company was not notified before the stop slipped its terrestrial shackles for the glory of the heavens. She also said that this was the first time she had ever heard of a bus stop being relocated, temporarily or otherwise, to the roof of a building.

Hat tip to Sylvia Palms of Locus Partners for bringing the soaring shelter to PlanPhilly’s attention via a Facebook post/photo caption contest. Counting the number of likes, the winning entry belongs to Alex Feldman: “This new bus route will connect directly to Bart Blatstein's rooftop French village.


About the author

Jim Saksa, Reporter

Jim Saksa is PlanPhilly's multi-modal transportation reporter. That means he's focused on how Philly gets around as cyclists, pedestrians, trail users, commuters and drivers. 

Jim lives in Point Breeze and has also written for Slate.com, Philadelphia City Paper, The Philadelphia Inquirer and Technical.ly Philly. He tweets @Saksappeal and you can reach him at jsaksa@whyy.org.



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Article Information

    Issues: Design
    Neighborhoods: Central
    Photo Credit: Jim Saksa/PlanPhilly

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