Architecture critic @Phillyinquirer, full-time city person, militant pedestrian, slow-moving cyclist. Did I really win 2014 Pulitzer? ingasaffron@gmail.comArchitecture critic @Phillyinquirer, full-time city person, militant pedestrian, slow-moving cyclist

Changing Skyline: The public cost of privatizing Philadelphia's parks — Want to visit a public park in China? It'll cost you. Many parks in China charge admission, usually a fraction of a yuan. That's small change if you happen to be a tourist, as I was two years ago.

Good Eye: A grand piano store endures on Chestnut Street — Before middle-class Americans started dropping wads of money on cars, they used their disposable income to buy pianos. A sign of status and culture, a piano was often a family's most expensive and prized possession. By 1890, the United States was the world's largest manufacturer of the instruments, exporting them far and wide.

When sun emerged, so did the crowds at Philly street fair — South Broad Street was turned into a Jersey Shore-style boardwalk, complete with funnel cakes, games of chance, and carnival rides, for Saturday's finale of the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts. The event, organized by the Kimmel Center, got off to a slow start because of the morning rain, but once the sun emerged, crowds packed the street, which was closed to cars from City Hall to Pine Street.

Changing Skyline: Rethinking Market Street as Main Street — When Jonas Maciunas and Mark Keener were collecting data for the Old City District's new plan, they stumbled across an astonishing statistic. Since 2000, the amount of automobile traffic on Old City's stretch of Market Street has plunged by a third, even as the neighborhood's old cast-iron warehouses were filling up with thousands of new residents.

Changing Skyline: Green light likely for Blatstein's hated Broad Street high-rise — When a Broadway production gets slammed by the critics, it closes. When a Philadelphia megaproject is rejected by city planners and residents, the developer simply moves on to the Zoning Board. So far, every group that has examined Bart Blatstein's proposal for a gargantuan, mixed-use development at Broad and Washington has concluded the design is a disaster in the making.

Fairhill community center makes Badlands a lot less bad — Mention the Fairhill neighborhood in Philadelphia and the conversation almost always turns to crime and drugs. The dense North Philadelphia community was branded the Badlands two decades ago, and it remains, according to police statistics, the most violent section of the city, a place where bullets whiz past the schoolyard and drug dens line the railroad tracks.

Good Eye: Opening the big doors at Girard College — At the north end of Corinthian Avenue stands the most Parthenonlike of Philadelphia's many Parthenon-inspired buildings: Girard College's Founder's Hall. The Greek Revival temple, designed by Thomas U. Walter, is actually bigger than the Athens original, with massive fluted columns that rise 65 feet and that are topped with tiers of vines and flowers that form the architectural capitals (Corinthian, of course).

Changing Skyline: In Philadelphia, a historic building is not forever — Winning landmark protection for historic buildings in Philadelphia is no easy thing. But keeping them protected has become even more of an ordeal. It used to be that safeguarding the city's most cherished works of architecture was a cut-and-dried process.

Good Eye: Crozer Building's crowning glory — You don't need to visit France to enjoy a good château. Just wander over to Chestnut Street, where the nine-story Crozer Building lords over the 1400 block. Unlike the aristocratic French homes, this is a vertical château, and it was created for a burgeoning American commercial district.

Changing Skyline: Creating asphalt wastelands in the name of fighting food deserts — We keep hearing that Philadelphia needs to eliminate its food deserts so everyone has easy access to fresh meat and produce. It's an important step in fighting poverty. But what exactly should a healthy neighborhood look like? That was the question posed by this year's Better Philadelphia Challenge, the student competition organized by the local chapter of the American Institute of Architects.
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Apr 29, 2016

@Saksappeal Not sure which one you mean but there is a good book on Rittenhouse Square by Bobbye Burke & Trina Vaux.

Apr 29, 2016

RT @AlanGBrake: Excellent, fiery, funny: @IngaSaffron: Outsourcing our public parks to private managers has just jumped the shark.

Apr 29, 2016

What would William Penn say about charging to use one of his squares? My column:

Apr 29, 2016

Outsourcing our public parks to private managers has just jumped the shark. My column:

Apr 28, 2016

Would Philly be better off if the Phillies built their stadium at Broad & Spring Garden?

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