Eastern State Penitentiary is truly one of Philadelphia’s architectural gems, attracting over a quarter-million tourists annually. After serving as a prison between 1829 and 1970, the structure was mostly abandoned for a couple of decades, and faced the possibility of demolition during Frank Rizzo’s administration. By 1994, the building had reopened for tour groups, and its popularity as an attraction has grown tremendously in the years since.
A notable feature of the building that may go unnoticed by tourists is that it’s surrounded by green space, particularly on the northern and eastern sides. According to Friends of Eastern State Penitentiary Park, these spaces were overgrown, trash-strewn, and extremely unwelcoming in the late 1990s, but have improved tremendously in the years since due to tremendous fundraising and volunteer efforts in the community. Less than ten years ago, a playground was constructed…
One of the most appealing off the main thoroughfare neighborhood parks we’ve encountered in a while, sits in West Philly at the corner of 48th and Chester streets, locked up and largely unused.
Squirrel Hill Falls Park was envisioned by local artist Danielle Rousseau Hunter. It’s a cozy forest-like corner pocket lot with a waterfall mural on its back wall. From the mid-80s until the mid-90s, Rousseau Hunter spearheaded efforts that corralled resources of neighbors and city and state offices, to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars, including donations to design and complete the park. But its use ultimately became a neighborhood saga, according to this 1996 City Paper article.
The article describes Rousseau Hunter as a community activist who was tough against blight and big on transforming properties.…
University City keeps getting greener and greener. Just a couple of weeks after we reported on the groundbreaking of Spruce Street Plaza, the University of Pennsylvania dedicated Shoemaker Green, an $8.5 million makeover of a plot on 33rd Street between Spruce and Walnut, just down the block.
Penn students, faculty and staff flocked to Shoemaker Green, named after one of Penn’s emeritus trustees, on the afternoon of September 20th to a picnic-themed event with chock full of hot dogs, quesadillas, and iced tea. The 2.75-acre space is an expanse of lawns, tree-lined walkways, and sitting areas. Situated between the Palestra and Franklin Field, It connects Penn’s main campus to Penn Park, which was completed last year.
The green, near Franklin Field
Part of Penn’s plan to create…
In the Fall, we gave you the lowdown about an upcoming move for the Pennsylvania Ballet. Their studios are currently in East Falls, but soon they’ll be moving to a brand new space at 321 N. Broad Street. Architects Erdy McHenry have designed this project, which will involve the demolition of one building and the adaptive reuse of another.
At the moment, demolition is ongoing at the southern building, with most of the rear taken down. The front of the building, which still remains, will eventually be replaced by open space with greenery.
Demolition in the rear
Rendering of the future
We’ll keep an eye on this site, and bring you additional updates as the project progresses. Can’t wait to see the finished product in real life!