A COLONIAL GRID SUSTAINS PHILADELPHIA’S CHARACTER | The Plan
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A COLONIAL GRID SUSTAINS PHILADELPHIA’S CHARACTER

The Philadelphia Museum of Art is a noble neoclassical building on a remarkable site. It is both a terminus and a beginning, as it connects the urban center to Fairmount Park and the Schuylkill River by way of a grand boulevard that cuts diagonally across the original pattern of city streets. Its position on a ridge conveys the powerful presence of public culture and the Beaux Arts graciousness of its early twentieth century City Beautiful origins. The building exists as a great object in the broad space of the boulevard and the park, in contrast to the most important features of the city - the five squares of public space that have organized the city for over three hundred years. 

Today, the city enjoys some fine new buildings and is awash in developer-grade condominiums and apartments as the attractiveness of the center core grows. However, the most important aspect of contemporary Philadelphia is not a present or future building or any new masterplans that marks its development; instead, it is the grid, conceived in 1683 as one of the first in North America, that defines its essential presence and importance.

Philadelphia is the fifth largest metropolis in the United States, found within the extended urban corridor of the Atlantic Coast termed BosWash, having a population of 44 million, roughly that of Spain. This situation has and continues to be seen as an advantage for the city, as it presents an opportunity for those individuals and organizations priced out of Washington and New York to have the business and lifestyle benefits of the intensely developed region in a sophisticated and accessible city. At times overlooked as in the shadow of New York, the city enjoys a reputation as having a very original character of gritty charm from its history of ethnic neighborhoods in parallel with a traditional character of old money and eastern society. While it suffers from the dysfunction of poverty, troubled public schools, irresponsible...

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#M. L. Abbott  #Sahar Coston-Hardy  #Philadelphia  #United States of America  #North America  #2015  #TheCityPlan  #The Plan 081 

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