It may have pavement, a sidewalk, curbs and a street sign, but a city official says that Park Mall does not exist.
The privately owned driveway, as Charles Trainor, chief traffic engineer for Philadelphia calls it, is located between Broad and 13th Street and Diamond and Susquehanna Street.
“There is no street there,” he said. “It used to be Park Avenue but when the city of Philadelphia was consolidated in the 1850s the property was sold.”
When the grounds were sold, one of the stipulations was that the owner had to change the physical appearance of the property so it no longer looked like a street, said Trainor. But this has not been done since the property was purchased more than 100 years ago.
Since Park Mall is not acknowledged as a street, students may be wondering why there are signs, which were installed by the city, that prohibit parking on the east side. Students also may be wondering who is getting the money from the $25 parking tickets they receive.
“If it looks like a street, smells like a street and acts like a street, then we assume it is a street,” Trainor said. “If someone calls saying the signs need replacing, we replace them. Once we start checking official records, I have to go through the whole department and that would be very time consuming.
“However, when I looked at the city maps to find Park Avenue, it was non existent, which means according to official records it is not a street.”
Some students park on Park Mall regardless of what the signs say.
“The street is broad enough for two-way traffic even if we park on both sides,” said Pat Smith, a Communications major at Temple University. “Parking is slim to none on campus, and I see no reason why this practically abandoned alleyway should be off limits to us.”
Temple police are also unsure of the reason why students are restricted from parking there.
“The only thing I can think of is that the elementary school is located next to it, but usually parking would just be prohibited during school hours,” said Sgt. Edwards, communications supervisor for Temple University police.
The reason for the signs may be as simple as a group of people getting together and requesting a no-parking ordinance from City Hall, says Trainor.
“The neighbors don’t want you there,” he said, “and sometimes it is just easier to prohibit parking entirely.”
Students will continue to park on Park Mall and pay the tickets but hopefully this restriction will soon be removed, says Smith.
“If Temple doesn’t know why we can’t park there, the city doesn’t own the street and the private owner isn’t doing anything with the property,” Smith said, “then I don’t see why we should be prohibited from parking there.”