Saturday, October 15, 2011

What Could Have Been...

While West Market Street and JFK Boulevard give Philadelphia its impressive skyline, one of many master plans proposed following the removal of the Chinese Wall was never implemented.

It's hard to say if our central business district would serve more than the 9 to 5 crowd it does today had it met with a cohesive design, and one can even argue that its organic development serves Philadelphia's diverse architectural history better than it would have had it been immediately developed in a continuous singular style.

More than a half century later the district is only now filling the voids left by Broad Street Station's move to 30th. Graham, Anderson, Probst, and White proposed the district's redevelopment as a grand Art Deco promenade leading travelers and pedestrians from City Hall to 30th Street Station.

Whether or not this approach would remain as impressive as its rendering today, it's still fun to imagine what could have been. Capping the remaining regional rail line that keeps people off the sidewalks behind the Murano would certainly bring pedestrians closer to the river.

Our most recent attempt to do so was in the less than inspired proposal of Philadelphia River City that would have towered over the Schuylkill like an 80s power suit. Where has all the panache gone?

Philadelphia River City

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