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As I do every year, I took off my birthday yesterday (38 Special!).  This year I drove up to Philadelphia’s Northern Liberties and Fishtown neighborhoods to check out some architecture.  A developer called “Onion Flats” has been putting up some cool contemporary constructions, and I went to investigate.  What I found was that MANY developers are working on smaller and larger sections of these older residential communities, where the module is overwhelmingly the brick rowhouse, and every other block seemed to feature a new intervention.

Enter Liberties Walk, Tower Investment‘s mixed-use development designed by local architect Erdy McHenry, features a pedestrian-only walkway that runs for 3+ blocks.  According to Plan Philly, the 4-acre site accommodates 25 galleries, restaurants, and shops on the ground floor and 70 loft apartments above.

The main entrance to the passage features art panels advertising local arts events.  The colorful banners are art in themselves and suggest that art/music/food events here must be really cool.

The architecture, while very contemporary in style, maintains the height and scale of the surrounding residential development.  The approximately 20′-wide path accommodates through-traffic, outdoor seating, signage, and bike storage.

I was there on a Thursday afternoon, so it was difficult to tell how well the place is used, but several of the restaurants were highlighted in the NFT Guidebook as being both popular and tasty.  A weekend trip would seem in order.  The Walk begins on 2nd Street, between George and Wildey.

STAY TUNED: More from the trip soon.

3 Responses to “Walking the Walk: Philly’s Northern Liberties Taken”

  1. dan reed

    I went to Philly last summer to see Onion Flats’ work along with Liberties Walk and the Piazza at Schmidt’s. These photos don’t do them justice – when it’s warm out, these places are all vibrant and buzzing with activity. Meanwhile, I found the food here kind of overpriced and middling. There is a very nice little coffeeshop in Liberties Walk – the kind of quirky, grungy, we-play-our-iPods-over-the-speakers place that every neighborhood should have.

    I’m curious to hear what you think of the Piazza. A project on that scale, and in a neighborhood with as much history as Northern Liberties, gives us a lot to compare and contrast with local redevelopment projects like Downtown Silver Spring, Bethesda Row or Rockville Town Square.

  2. elza hisel-mccoy

    I was somewhat stuck for the weather. I also have pix of the Piazza. A bit surreal. I ate at the diner in the roundish building across the street. The food was tasty and reasonably priced.

  3. Thayer-D

    These are great! I love Philly, just another reason to go. Thanks for the tip.