This is the last planned part of recounting my return to Logan at the invitation of The Pew Charitable Trust. Although the morning began simply as a commitment to have some photos of me taken outside the home where I was born and raised in the ’50s and ’60s, it morphed into something much more as I was prompted to take my own personal tour of many of the areas I walked or biked around as a child. Our old house is the last one standing above what is now known as the Logan Triangle, representing the homes that were demolished and cleared due to settling in the marsh.
My good friend Dr. Daniel Wohlgelernter, whose father was the Rabbi of Congregation Beth Judah on 11th St. between Louden and Rockland, posted the following comment with a very good question: “These Logan posts are remarkable. The photos are amazing. I envisioned Logan looking like bombed out Berlin. How has it avoided the inexorable urban decay of the inner city?”
Take a look at all the photos I’ve posted, and you’ll notice something incredible. There isn’t a hint of graffiti anywhere. In fact, take a look at the western intersection of 11th and Louden, and you’ll note another example of a very clean look that seems at odds with what you’d expect to see based on prior reports of Logan’s appearance.
I believe the answer to Dr. Dan’s question is in this blight and redevelopment report from the Philadelphia City Planning Commission in 2003. In addition to finishing the demolition of the houses in the Logan Triangle in the heart of the marsh, the report recognized that the remainder of Logan had fallen prey to, in Dr. Dan’s words, inexorable urban decay. Its principal concerns revolved around the loss of tax revenue to the city due to the plummeting property values and abandonment. On May 20, 2003 (my 51st birthday, by the way) the City Planning Commission adopted a resolution to designate the area bounded by Broad St. on the west, both sides of Ruscomb St. on the north, the RR right of way on the east, and Loudon St., 11th St., Roosevelt Blvd., and Wingohocking St. to the south as blighted areas designated for redevelopment funds. This was the beginning of the cleanup that so pleasantly surprised me on my personal driving/walking tour.
I’ve seen pictures posted by people driving through in the rain, but the transient engagement isn’t quite the same as getting out of your car and walking around. In doing so you’ll feel both the ghosts of Logan past and the dream of urban redevelopment for a Logan of the future. Here are some final unlabeled views of the new old neighborhood beginning with Bennett Hall at Lindley and Camac where Miriam and I began life together in 1973.