Philly: The Piazza in Northern Liberties

January 12th, 2010
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Tammi and I are heading down to Philadelphia this weekend, so I’m finally taking the opportunity to post some of the observations and such from our last trip in August.
On our last day, we headed up to Northern Liberties, the arts community I’ve mentioned more than a few times.
When we first came across the neighborhood, it was a surreal point of mid-gentrification. Empty lots alternated with construction sites and vacant shopping plazas on nearly every block. Cute little boutiques stood surrounded by wilderness. Every visit since then, I’ve noted the progress of development along the way. This was our first time in town for two years, so a lot of progress had been made.
Most notably was The Piazza, the courtyard at the large Schmidt’s apartment complex. Modeled after an Italian Piazza, the big open space serves as something of a community center.
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Shops, cafes and restaurants line the perimeter of the plaza. During the summer at least, they all spilled out with signs, displays and outdoor seating. Weekends see an outdoor market where local artisans sell their wares and a DJ spins soulful house.
I’m going to guess that there will be less of all that this weekend. Even If this coldsnap finally breaks, as forecast, it’s doubtful to be quite that warm.
What is going to be there is a Farmers Market Saturday afternoon that I’m looking forward to checking out.
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As a New Yorker, a place so blatantly constructed by developers gives me pause. But the glimpse I’ve seen of how the area has developed actually seems pretty cool. Of course, the perspective of an an occasional visitor is limited. I’m sure there are tourists that enjoy Times Square too. That said, I’m looking forward to spending more time window-shopping and bar-hopping around the neighborhood.

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