PlanPhilly

Treepocalpyse takes its victims

The sky came falling down Friday, with nor’easter winds taking tree victims left and right. No deaths were reported in Philadelphia proper, Billy Penn’s Danya Henninger writes, “but the treepocalpyse was apparent everywhere.” Billy Penn shares pictures of 25 felled trees across the city in the aftermath, from the 50-foot linden that collapsed in Rittenhouse Square, uprooted trees that took the sidewalk with them in Fitler Square, and the colossal tree that crushed three cars on Spruce Street in West Philadelphia. Even a SEPTA bus was hit Friday, by a falling tree on the Schuylkill Expressway, 6ABC reports.

A diaphanous glass jewel box on Chestnut

The Mercantile Library at 1021 Chestnut Street, now shuttered in heavily graffitied plywood and gutted on the inside, was once a sensationally designed building with glass façades that the world had not yet seen before in a commercial building. What was so landmark, you ask? Inga Saffron praises the “diaphanous glass jewel box,”commissioned for the Free Library in 1953, that embodied modernist design principles of candor, clean and simple lines, and a welcoming, transparent façade. Saffron is hopeful for the future of the Mercantile Library. “Despite its horrendous condition,” Saffrong writes, “the former Mercantile Library is too important to write off.” The building is now owned by Brickstone Realty, a developer with a good track record for restoring historic buildings, such as the Hale Building on Chestnut Street and the Horn & Hardart on 11th Street. The building got a spot on the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places in 1990, according to  Hidden City.


The Old Man and the Delaware

Experimental theater group the Renegade Company and River Wards residents have been steadily collecting stories from the neighborhoods to turn into an interactive play that takes the audience on a free community-created walking tour, Generocity’s Tony Abraham reports. renegade  began hosting the workshops at the Kensington Storefront in 2017, and, as part of the discovery and creative production process will continue to capture oral histories leading up to the culmination the interactive play (in this case, walking tour) that takes the audience from Allegheny to the river,  set for September 2018 for the Fringe Arts Festival. Abraham reports that Renegade hopes to pick twelve River Wards residents for the production and currently have four signed up. Are you a River Wards resident? Email therenegadecompany@gmail.com or text 570-236-5436 to participate.

High-Risers

Ben Austen’s new book High-Risers: Cabrini-Green and the Fate of American Public Housing offers a tenant’s-eye view of life in one of the most infamous public housing projects, Cabrini-Green Homes in Chicago, and paints the broader story of the sad irony of public housing, writes Jake Blumgart, contributing to CityLab. Blumgart interviews Austen on his ‘nuanced story of public housing,’ in which the author “recounts the hopes, travails, and vilification of Chicago’s Cabrini-Green. Looking at decline and fall of public housing, Austen hopes his book tells a broader story of the “sad irony that the same reason we tore down public housing was the reason to build it in the first place.”

Austen and Blumgart also discuss blame. Who is to blame? Bad architecture? Building housing projects in neighborhoods that were already racially segregated? They are all factors, Austen says, and, pointing to himself, admits that “one thing I wrestle with, that I don’t think people on the left wrestle with enough, is that public housing is the story of the public sector doing a bad job of delivering goods and services.”

About the author

Diana Lu, Community Engagement Editor

Diana runs PlanPhilly’s community outreach and engagement online and in real life. She has spent more than ten years in the non-profit and public sectors working on urban development issues including environmental justice, design-based manufacturing, and community and economic development.  Prior to joining PlanPhilly, Diana worked as the Director of Partnerships and Outreach for 10,000 Small Businesses, a public-private initiative focused strengthening local businesses through revenue generation and local job creation.  Follow Diana on instagram @dianaluwho and email her at dlu@whyy.org.



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    Photo Credit: Romana Lee-Akiyama

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