WIN: Grays Ferry Triangle at 23rd & South Will Be Philly's Next Pedestrian Plaza


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You may remember that a few days after Jon wrote his epic sneckdown post that got 40,000 facebook likes and renewed a buzz for snow as a tool for placemaking, that I wrote a post about Philly's pedestrian plaza initiative. To briefly summarize my post, proposed legislation formalizing the city's pedestrian plaza program originally created by MOTU would mean a street could be converted to a pedestrian plaza if they apply through the Streets Department. This legislation has not yet passed but a 100% rule was originally put in place during the first round of pedestrian plaza applications spearheaded by MOTU. It was put there for a variety of reasons (i.e. legal, political), but has effectively prevented some great projects like the Grays Ferry Triangle at 23rd & South and the 5th, South & Passyunk Plaza from ever making it past the drawing board. Getting 100% of anyone to agree on anything in the NIMBY world of planning is nearly impossible.

Good news: the existing 100% requirement can be relaxed when a councilperson steps in to support the project. Well, that's just what happened for the Grays Ferry Triangles. After the Grays Ferry Triangle Committee received support from 98% of surveyed near neighbors (see graphic below) Councilman Kenyatta Johnson lent his support for a 6 month pilot pedestrian plaza. The plaza is scheduled to be installed beginning May 3rd when Plazapalooza, an annual event the Grays Ferry Triangles Committee and SOSNA have hosted for a number of years, kicks off.

Plans for the space are impactful, thoughtful, and parking neutral. Below you'll find the current plan of the space next to the future plan. Many years of legwork from The Grays Ferry Triangle Committee including garnering support for the project from property owners, organizing regular maintenance of the space, designing and reworking countless proposals, and direct engagement with elected and non-elected officials have meant this project will finally be coming to fruition. MOTU and Streets Department have also been shepherding this particular effort and should be commended for their vision in repurposing streets for other active uses and working with the Grays Ferry Triangle Committee to finalize an approved design.

Designs by Chau Winn

We have every confidence that the project will be an economic boon to the many businesses flanking the triangle. Pedestrian amenities like planters, greenspace, seating, lighting, aesthetic improvements and programatic events (outdoor fitness, jazz, kids activities etc.) are all planned for this important gateway to Graduate Hospital and the South Street West businesses. We'll follow up with additional details/plans as May approaches. Every space we reclaim for people and greenery is a win for public space and our city.

For more information and to donate to the Grays Ferry Triangles Committee click here for their webpage. You can also follow them on facebook.

98% of near neighbors supporting the project.


Last Updated: Thursday, 27 March 2014 @ 09.02
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geoff's picture Geoff Kees Thompson Founder + Urban Planner Website: About the Author:

Other than time away from Philly studying his masters in Urban Planning in the Netherlands, Geoff has lived here since 2005. He founded This Old City to advocate for better public space as a means to economic development, improved public health, lower crime and a more environmentally sustainable future. He currently sits on the Executive Board of SOSNA and is the head volunteer gardener for Saint Mark's Church at 1625 Locust Street.


He is also Chair of The 5th Square PAC, an organization committed to voter education and the funding of progressive urbanist candidates for Philadelphia's future. 


Follow This Old City on Twitter @thisoldcity and Facebook or Geoff individually @geoffkees

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