While Philadelphia is synonomous with Independence Hall and the Betsy Ross House, to many Philadelphians, the Divine Lorraine is perhaps our most iconic representation of what defines Philadelphia. It's macabre arches and balconies are representative of our eclectic architectural portfolio. Its mysterious history could not be a more perfect metaphor for Philadelphia's post-Colonial past. And unfortunately, its neglected state is harshly representative of City Hall's patented bureaucracy and neglect.
Ten years ago this building stood perfectly preserved. Even after being abandoned by the Peace Mission, it was home to a lone caretaker, its upper levels empty yet respected. In a city covered in graffiti and broken windows, a silent respect left this neighborhood landmark completely untouched.
Today it still sits vacant, but after a developer ripped out its soul and walked away, he took with him a sole source of pride for a struggling neighborhood and city. Concrete blocks seal the ground floor. Upper floors remain completely devoid of windows, open to the elements. Like a desanctified church, God is gone and the vandals have moved in.
Our proud history has taught even the youngest and most civilian of history buffs where Broad Street Station stood, where the Chinese Wall ran, and what Dock Street once looked like. Why aren't those who love Philadelphia for its gritty corners and speckled past running this town? And why are we allowing the institution that behaves as though they despise our beloved city to run it into the ground?