Naked Philly: ANOTHER PEDESTRIAN PLAZA ON THE WAY FOR WEST PHILLY

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Link to original article with photos

Baltimore Crossing is a new pedestrian plaza now being constructed by the University City District (UCD) in West Philly, this time at 48th & Baltimore in front of the Gold Standard Café along the Baltimore Avenue Commercial Corridor. At a large five point intersection, the new plaza will be fabricated at the three corners on the south side of the street, at Baltimore Ave., 48th St. and Florence Avenue.

“I think anyone who knows that intersection agrees it’s over-scaled for its functionality,” said Seth Budick, UCD’s policy and research manager for planning and economic development.

The plaza is designed in the form of three painted bumpouts at the aforementioned corners, which will not change the grade of the corners, but rather reclaim a small section of asphalt for pedestrians. The plaza features Pennsylvania blue stone reclaimed from a construction site and terra cotta planters that have been approved by the New York City Department of Transportation, according to Budick. They are designed so that if a car hits them, it will bounce back, protecting the pedestrian. The stone and planters were installed at the site the last week in May. Flowers were being planted when we stopped by earlier this week. UCD is hosting a sort of Baltimore Crossing grand opening June 13th in conjunction with the next Baltimore Avenue Dollar Stroll.

The idea for a plaza at 48th Street was born a few years ago one winter when during one snowy day a UCD staffer snapped a photograph that illustrated the turning movements of cars at the intersection. The picture revealed how much extra space there was. When the City announced its Pedestrian Plaza campaign last year, UCD staff envisioned 48th and Baltimore as a strong location for such a site. It received two grants, each for $30K for two separate plaza projects, Woodland Green at 42nd & Woodland, finished last year, and 48th Street.

“This one was just a little trickier to work out,” said Budick.

The pedestrian plazas are temporary experimental concepts, according to Budick. After the summer UCD staff will review how the plaza was used. With parklets at 43rd and 47th and Baltimore, also installed via UCD, the Baltimore Avenue Commercial Corridor is becoming something of a model civic space.

–Lou Mancinelli

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