The Stop That Never Happened. Tucked away at 52nd St. and Lancaster, it rises up out of the gravel and concrete along the rails of the R5 like the iron skeleton of some prehistoric beast. Unused. Rusting. Obsolete. And the source of resentment for at least one resident I know in West Philadelphia.
The R5, which originates in Thorndale and services some of the richest suburbs of the city, does not stop between Overbrook and 30th St. station, barreling along for 7 miles above the streets where some of the poorest residents of Philadelphia live.
Access denied. Take a bus if you want to get downtown.
My neighborhood barbershop informants tell me that for the first time in 30 years, the stop may actually be opening up. The neighborhood, deemed “Parkside,” is slated for development, and construction has begun on the long-overdue Lowe’s/Industrial Park project. However, it seems a little late for this posturing.
Being fairly new to the climate of Philadelphia, I don’t know for sure whether this is a political game, and I can’t identify the major players involved. However, considering the construction that’s held the Market El in its grip for the past five years, and the erratic trolley service, it’s safe to say that the residents of West Philadelphia have been, and continue to be, denied access to proper public transportation in their city. With expected results.
On another, but somehow related note, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the March to End Violence in Philadelphia that took place this weekend. 10,000-plus men took to the streets to stand in solidarity, and it was by all accounts, a resounding success. Dubbed, “A Call to Action,” the ongoing initiative will be sponsoring community-organized sessions to teach men how to be peacemakers in their community. Read more about the march, or watch a video here.
However, this is not the first time that Philadelphia has played host to such an event. In fact, a similar march took place last year. My question is, will this be a publicity stunt, or the beginning of an ongoing conversation? Will the action transcend the symbolism?
And it really possible to approach this problem without involving the business community, and increasing economic opportunities in West, North, and South Philadelphia?