Monday, May 21, 2007

Welcome to Bostroit

Now that the New Urbanists have decamped, Philadelphia is safe again for the Old Urbanists. The New Urbanists didn't lack for witty observations. After a trolley ride along Girard Avenue, and back to Center City, one visitor observed that Philadelphia manages to combine the well-groomed authenticity of Boston and the crumbling squalor of Detroit, thus dubbing the city "Bostroit." Not quite "The Next Great City," but it does capture a more nuanced essence of the old place.


Blogger Paul said...

Sad but true, unfortunately for Philly, Boston's name had to be invoked. The good news, a lot of the squalor is being torn down and the land banked for future development. Boston is 1/3 the population of Philly, it is smaller and has had less to contend with as far as de-industrialization is concerned. We are housing in our oldest industrial neighborhoods the people but not the industries that required them to live within walking distance to factory jobs. That housing stock is obsolete and will be torn down and the population will continue to shrink as the aged depart and their kids move onto the Northeast, the suburbs or out of state. Philadelphia will learn how to do something all the great cities of civilization do, reinvent themselves over the centuries and millenia. We are begining to do something Americans will have to get used to, being around hundreds and thousands of years, not just the next fiscal quarter.

2:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yuck, don't need any comparisions to Detroit.

6:40 PM  
Anonymous Vince Dean said...

Why is Boston always viewed as superior ? Is it because it is Lily-White and elitist ? Personally I don't like cities without GRIT !

8:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

seriously, boston? the city's aparthied has outlasted south africa's. rich folk visit boston and they love it much like they loved sun city. get out of here with that noise. the real story of philadelphia is how the whole thing was about to be detroit about fifteen years ago, but we got it together and have started righting the ship.

12:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why is the worst of the squalor located along the endless Amtrak corridor through North Philadelphia, where all rail visitors are subject to this visual treat? What's wrong with the city that they don't clean this up? It should be a no-brainer.

10:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Philadelphia's "crumbling squalor" really is nothing compared to Detroit's. One area that the two cities (sadly) do compare is on the casino front. Casinos are something a truly dying city like Detroit tried in an attempt to revitalize an empty downtown. I don't necessarily agree with the decision but you can at least see a certain kind of logic at work.

Philadelphia, on the other hand, is getting casinos because of corrupt and/or spineless politicians more concerned with short term revenue gains and no concern at all for the long term public good.

10:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a former Philadelphian living in Boston, I'll say this much-I'll take Philly any day of the week. Sure- Boston has a much lower crime rate and what many call a "higher quality of life". But unless you are a Harvard educated surgeon or lawyer- good luck affording it. It is by far the most overpriced American city I have ever been to. Running from the posh elitist neighborhoods, I live in South Boston- but after a few year, the posh elitist yuppies seem to find you... pretty soon the Irish pubs will be martini bars and we'll all be priced out or have to deal with condo associations who fine you if your dog barks (if you are allowed to have one) or fine you if you put up unapproved "holiday" lights. Since Christmas is so un-PC here. One the upside- they are working on building some killer skyscrapers here.

I love Philadelphia and it's hard-edged grit. For every neighborhood in "squalor", there is one that I would be proud to raise my kids in someday. I can't understand how gentrification and homogenizing the population can represent progress in any way. Every city needs to reinvent itself- but if Philly wants to become Boston, it won't be Philly anymore now will it? Yuengling and cheesesteaks forever, forget Sam Adams and the lobsta...

9:54 AM  

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