Thursday, February 23, 2006

First New Market-Frankford El Station Set to Open on Monday at 56th Street

SEPTA's five-year-long reconstruction of the Market-Frankford El is beginning to show progress. On Monday, the transit agency is set to open the first of five new West Philadelphia headhouses, this one at 56th Street. The neo-Victorian building, by architect Ignatius Wang, is surprisingly airy and grand. It has a solid presence in a neighborhood where few buildings seem plumb. If you take a ride on the El to inspect, be sure to check out the new Fresh Grocer next door. The supermarket is also a surprise: sprawling, suburban and, get this,upmarket. There's even a cafe. I hate to see these vast seas of asphalt and inward-turned buildings invading Philly's tightly-packed rowhouse neighborhoods. On the other hand, you can't deny that it's a sure sign the neighborhood is coming up. How many places in Philadelphia can you order soul food take-out and an espresso? If only we could get city leaders to make these chains fit their wares in a more urban package, as the likes of Home Depot is doing in New York.

At the same time, the steel structure supporting the station and the tracks seems a little too solid - and a little too close to the Market Street buildings for comfort. How is it that the redesigned El, which started out with European-style grace and lightness, has ended as a clunky bigfoot? See the Inquirer tomorrow for my review of the project.


Post a Comment

<< Home