Honoring the Past, Experiencing the Future

While browsing the blogosphere related to Philadelphia, one will find that both the breadth and depth of content is simply incredible.  With topics from planned architecture to sports history and tones ranging from professional to irreverent, there is a wealth of content constantly being created to satiate the curious Philadelphian.  After all of the digging, reading, and link-following, it became exceedingly obvious however that Germantown was very underrepresented despite its deep past, considerable size, and undeniable future.  Thus, the purpose of this site is to help fill that void.

Topics that will be covered on this site can be grouped into the following simple categories: architecture and planning, culture, and history.  Perhaps categories can be expanded in the future, but these are good areas to start.  Frequency of posting hopes to be regular, but I won’t make any promises on that.  Additionally, if one wishes to contribute to the site, they are more than welcome.

I wrote an article a few years ago that was submitted to the Germantown Chronicle.  The article was about the recent renovation of Germantown Avenue and its implications on the neighborhood.  I’ll repost that here as it still holds true.  The article is as follows:

It’s no secret that Germantown and Mt. Airy have faced their share of adversity over the years. Deindustrialization. Suburbanization. Impoverishment. Bigotry. Crime. Overall neglect. All are major factors that have tested the resolve of our neighborhoods. And yet, despite all of these seemingly insurmountable headwinds, we have endured.
While initially this may seem to be cause for relief or even the most mild celebration, we should not be satisfied with what has been done. There are much greater things to be accomplished.

With the renewal of Germantown Avenue, we are afforded an unique opportunity to understand the potential of our redevelopment efforts. Rebuilding the Avenue is meaningful for us in a number of important ways.

First and most obviously, the Avenue reflects on the areas it serves. The work completed in Germantown and Mt. Airy is absolutely magnificent. By doing the job in such a good way, the positive image of our communities has been greatly helped.

Similarly, the Avenue’s restoration marks a continued emphasis on the importance of maintaining the historical integrity of the area. It would have been easy to roll in the dumptrucks loaded with asphalt. Thanks to the efforts of those who recognize the importance of our assets, this was not done. Instead, a rewarding compromise was made. Pairing cobblestones with tastefully poured concrete impressively achieved the goal of preservation while also affording a pleasant driving experience.

In addition to our Colonial heritage being honored so elegantly, our Victorian heritage has similarly been honored by the green streetlights that were installed. Both of these solutions contribute to the character of our neighborhoods that so many find attractive, which is one of the main draws of our neighborhoods and city.

Another important point is that the Avenue construction project shows that we have strong support from a variety of people. Community leaders and preservationists stood up for the rest of us when we needed them to do so. Elected and appointed officials recognized the unique place that the Avenue has in the city. Those who gave the project’s final sign-off ultimately made things happen.

Looking forward to our future, there is indeed much to be excited about. One of the most important sources of inspiration that one must look to today is continued urban renewal. Perhaps “renaissance” is amore fitting term.

It was not too long ago that cities were declared obsolete. Fortunately for society, we have not been condemned to such a fate. Recent developments have proven that cities are key to a viable future. As society continues to focus more on community, culture and responsible use of energy, the advantages of urban living are all too obvious.

Ultimately, we are the masters of our fate. While necessary, public and private leaders are not solely responsible for our community. If we are to desire the rightful renaissance of our community, we must be our own advocates.

The easiest way anyone can be an advocate is by helping make our neighborhoods beautiful. Given the tremendous architecture of our areas, the hard work has been done. Cleanup of litter costs next to nothing. Graffiti removal mainly requires one’s time. Keeping one’s dwelling looking great is its own reward. When a community shows that it cares, it will attract even more leaders than it already has to take on the bigger projects.

Germantown and Mt. Airy are poised for greatness. Through the strengthening and solidarity of our communities, we are able to realize our potential. We have the roadmap to success. It is up to us to benefit as much as we can.

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