Longtime North Philadelphia resident William Smith comments on revitalization efforts aimed at North Broad Street.
Some would say that North Broad Street seems to have been forgotten in the clutter of abandoned buildings and graffiti covered empty lots. What once used to be a vibrant stretch of culture and entertainment is now a center of economic depression. However, North Broad may end up ultimately getting its shine back.
According to Philly.com, “major projects have opened up, and more than $500 million in new development is planned for North Broad.”
A longtime resident of North Philadelphia, William Smith said he would like to see those improvements stretch to Broad and Susquehanna streets.
“I would like to see it rebuilt, from [Susquehanna Street] to Lehigh [Avenue],” Smith said. “The Uptown Theater . . . it’s been closed about 35 years. I went there. It was entertainment.”
Smith said that North Philadelphia used to be “sugar” when he was growing up, but it has since been largely ignored by the City of Philadelphia. He also said that politicians aren’t fulfilling their responsibilities of revitalizing communities.
“It is Philadelphia’s responsibility, not the community [to rebuild it]. It’s the community’s responsibility to keep it up. [The community] needs to [protect it] from vandalism, graffiti and trash.”
Smith also attributes North Broad Street’s decline to the 1964 Philadelphia race riots. From Aug. 28 to 30, rioting stemmed across North Philadelphia. Consequently, businesses suffered and were neglected.
“Now everybody is coming here with money and fixing it, or trying to. But, I’ve seen it like this ever since the 1964 riots. And there hasn’t been any renovations since the riots,” Smith said. “Why would you wait 40-something years and now all of the sudden it’s a big spotlight?”
Smith points out that the sudden interest in revitalizing North Broad is due to the expansion of the Temple community.
“This is where the money is at now,” he said. “Temple is growing.”
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