Joe Urban | Sam Newberg, Urbanist

The (Very Nice) Streets of Philadelphia

Dateline: 12:29 pm July 2, 2008 Filed under:

I recently visited Philadelphia as part of a trip to Washington DC. I flew in to Philly and took Amtrak to DC, which saved quite a bit on airfare despite the train fare. The bonus was getting to explore Philadelphia some more, including their gorgeous 30th Street train station, Rittenhouse Square on a summer’s evening, the Reading Terminal Market, and the efforts to keep downtown tidy.

Center City Philadelphia is a business-led organization whose mission is to keep downtown Philadelphia clean, safe, beautiful and fun. They achieve this through a Business Improvement District (BID) that encompasses a 120-block area in the core. The BID provides cleaning, security and promotional services that enhance but don’t replace those already existing with the city.

I am impressed by the results. I liked the banners and landscaping, as well as the street cleaning machines that keep things looking well-tended. Most of all, I like the hired staff of personnel that roam the sidewalks at all hours, helping visitors find their way, reporting crime or vandalism, and generally being a happy face for the downtown. These “eyes on the street” help deter crime and improve the entire experience for locals and visitors alike, something Minneapolis and other cities could learn from. Kudos to Center City Philadelphia for making the streets of Philadelphia a better place.

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