Saturday, August 2, 2014

William H. Gray III Station

As Philadelphia inches towards regaining its reputation as a world class city, local politicians have taken the city's recently publicized success stories as an opportunity to remind us that they had nothing to do with it. 

Continuing to do what they do best, politicians have opted to couple our improving corporate environment with governmental tokenism. U.S. Rep Chaka Fattah has proposed renaming 30th Street Station after his predecessor, William H. Gray III. 

Despite the silliness of renaming a station that's been known to the Northeast Corridor by one name for eight decades, it's a costly move that will require the city, state, and Amtrak millions of dollars rebranding every sign and map in the country. Money that could otherwise be spent renovating and restoring a train station that is beginning to show its age, particularly next to the recently renovated IRS Building across the street.

An online poll showed just 10% in favor of renaming the station and a petition to keep it as is has emerged.

A few years ago an idea to rename the station, Ben Station was floated until someone pointed out that Ben Franklin had nothing to do with the invention of railroads which wouldn't appear until long after his death. 

Blind spending is an unfortunate side effect of a successful city. When Washington, D.C. was trading its reputation as Murder Capital to simply be our capital city, Virginia renamed the liberal city's closest airport, National Airport, after the conservative Ronald Reagan in a similarly shallow political gesture.

On the corporate side, Verizon has been campaigning to rename Suburban Station, Verizon Station, likely trying to air a presence within Comcast's domain. As absurd as that may seem, corporate branding brings with it maintenance and renovations. The William H. Gray III Station brings nothing to Philadelphia but more debt to the city and region.

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