Tuesday, March 3, 2009
A Guide To Fishtown, Philadelphia, U.S.A.
I'm gonna try to keep the good and bad alternating here, don't want to get everyone depressed about the Depression 2.0 or our shitty transit funding. I also want to keep up the Philly good vibes, since it is my favorite city on Earth and may once again be my home.
I was sent the link to this post by Nick Schonberger at A Continuous Lean by my lovely fellow Brooklynite, former Philadelphian and friend KM and it immediately blew my mind. Similar surname to me? Check. An in-depth look at one of the Philadelphia's amazing neighborhoods? Check. Great accompanying photos? Check. A profound love and urban perspective? Check. I mean, this one is just made for Street Ballet and provides a real inspiration for future posts here. I cannot recommend A Guide To Fishtown more highly, a great look at a classic urban neighborhood, one that "straddles the fine line between vibrancy and decaying urban America." The photos by Ryan Miller are especially amazing, capturing the beauty of urban decay (additional photos here). That border existence fascinates me, how a place can be simultaneously reaching for a future while surrounded by the relics of its past.
It's interesting to me, as someone who actually lived in the city way before the notion of gentrification came up. If you had told me 15, 20 years ago that Fishtown would be a cool spot where artists and bars and restaurants would make their home, I would have laughed. Hell, if you told me that the neighborhood I grew up in would become a real estate hot spot with nearly million dollar homes being sold, I would have asked you if you had bought your drugs in Fishtown or closer to my house. It amazes me to consider the changes that have occurred in Philly over the years, considering that I grew up during the nadir of the 1980s (crack, MOVE, near-bankruptcy). I always loved the fact that the city, any city really, can contain so much; even during those dark days of the 80s, I still was able to play on my street and play baseball in Fairmount Park and be infinitely happy. There was always hope, in spite of what the news and the suburbs thought. It is that multitude, that ability to hold the past, the present and the future, hope and neglect, good and bad, gentrification and poverty that seems to interest Nick as well. It is kinda the heart of this whole blog, trying to capture those contradictions, to exalt them, to keep them alive for the future, to shut down those who want to turn the cities into nothing more than suburban, tourist playgrounds.
Nick has a blog, Fire Walk With Me (Twins Peaks reference? I'm in love!) and has collaborated on the rad 21st Century Abe project. Definitely someone to look out for. Of course, everyone needs to check out Fishtown and Philly ASAP.