Lower North Philadelphia Views, 26-50

This post is the second of four presenting 25 pictures (mostly) captured in North Philadelphia while walking my dog. Diverging from the first set – http://bit.ly/2nHpOC0 – these are mostly black and white.


Plenty of cyclists in lower north but not so many protected lanes. Here, in Northern Liberties, efforts to protect cyclists more common.

Afternoon light

Broad Street is wide and bright on sunny days. A few remaining 19th century buildings, like this one with its wrought iron railing.


This backside view of a popular newer constructions design that is prevalent in the area between Fairmont and Girard avenues. This one visible between two Girard Ave brownstones.


Established in the 1970s, Charlie’s Tire Service is one of the only functional neighborhood businesses besides bodegas. He is intermittently busy, fixing flats.


More layers, window coverings, windows, stickers, and tags. As deserving of a glance as pieces in the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Urban triptych

Disappointed to have missed Raphstravaganza but delighted to catch its promotional art pasted onto Licenses and Inspections paperwork at a Broad Street construction site. A “kinetic cirque experience” http://bit.ly/2mEJFRr. Art work by http://bit.ly/2mEV4k4.

Urban rehabilitation

Upgrades underway, the Terminal Commerce Building is a stellar Art Deco building and adaptive reuse project – now a 1.3M ft2 telecom carrier hotel.http://bit.ly/2mUOqJ8.

New construction

More than 60 new buildings in one two-block radius along Ridge Street, which may soon have more new buildings than old along the Broad to Girard stretch. Some people are making a lot of money in this section of town –http://bit.ly/2mUPz3u.


While some views are less than inspiring, they are integral to the neighborhood aesthetic, and offer a canvas for taggers and other artists – old but relevant post – http://bit.ly/2nayAqS.

Soon to be demolished

Vacant lots, tags, and opportunistic trees, change is constant on multiple timescales. Like many of these pictures, this place no longer exists.


A reflection of demographic change. That there are nets is remarkable. 25% of the Philadelphia population was 18 and younger in 1980 and dropped to 21% in 2015 (US Census).

Row homes

Few things are more Philadelphia than its classic row houses. A visual aesthetic that draws the gaze toward infinity http://bit.ly/2mEAHnr.

Pocket park

A small retreat from overgrown and garbage-filled lots. Someone cleared out over 50 large garbage bags of brush to make it as inviting as seen here. There are a handful of programs in place to clean vacant lots – http://bit.ly/2naRFJf.

Corner store

Bodegas are ubiquitous across the lower north. An enterprising company must have sold signage to almost all of them all at the same time; the signage does not vary much from one store to the next.

Morning transit

A route begun in 1859, paused between 1992 and 2005, Septa route 15 runs cross-town on Girard Avenue. Transporting 3.4M riders annually in 2016, expenses exceed revenue by 66% (Septa).

Sidewalk art

This stencil appeared one day; it frames a view of a vacant lot, Broad Street, and the famous Progress Plaza http://bit.ly/2mENwOA.

Awnings, color

The row house aesthetic with units individualized by improvements like these acrylic awnings. Not surprisingly, there is a plethora of businesses installing and repairing these cherished solar shades.


Q: What would a lower north neighborhood be without a cafe?
A: Not predominantly white.
Boundary neighborhoods have several edgy little cafes catering to more recent arrivals. Very interesting quant work done by Jonathan Tannen – http://bit.ly/2naOCkw. This phenomenon is as old as human settlement – see “cultural border” concept in David Anthony’s The Horse, the Wheel and Language.


The volume and substance of trash left on the streets is disturbing – everything from the oversized cathode ray tube televisions and other electronics to cafeteria sized food trays and soda bottles, to baby seat and toys. It is no wonder Philly takes top honors for rat issues –http://cbsloc.al/2iBuKtc!

Coffee shop

Right in the thick of new development on Ridge, this place puts out a great crepe or bagel breakfast and sells lot of coffee to students and the construction crews rebuilding the neighborhood.


On Girard Ave, a stretch of under-utilized mixed-use buildings, many with wrought iron security pieces, grand doorways, and other unique features.

Skinny new house

Filling in the built landscape, some new constructions are an old standard, 15′ wide.



Sunday church

You cannot spit without hitting a church. They take every shape and form from warehouse, like this one, to the Greek revival and more traditional. Many are simply houses, dilapidated and indistinguishable from any other building aside from a cross in the doorway or side mounted signs.

Below grade tag

Another site that no longer exists, the artist’s work is all over the north side. In the background a Robert Indiana inspired LOVE painting on an adaptive reuse project – apartments in what was formerly a trolley repair station – http://bit.ly/2naOgu9.

Civic duty

On Election Day, I voted across the street at a church. It was not a busy location. In more mixed neighborhoods, just south, lines were long.

Vacant lot

That there is open space in a city is not at all a bad thing. There is a varied aesthetic and the play of light – color, shadow, etc – at dawn and dusk is entrancing.

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