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 Letter to Mayor Nutter re: Philip Street and the Historic Streets Restoration Program


From: Lynn's mail []
Sent: Friday, June 05, 2015 8:03 AM
To: ''
Cc: ''; ''; ''

Subject: City's Historic Restoration Program fails Philip Street - dangerously collapsing in Society Hill


Dear Mayor Nutter We are writing to you on behalf of the residents of historic, but collapsing, Philip Street in Society Hill.  We would like to meet with a member of your staff at the corner of Philip and Spruce Streets at their earliest convenience to show them the situation. The residents on Philip Street are living with a dangerous situation. Their street has sunk a couple of feet down, taking half of the sidewalk with it.  But, in addition, Philip is a street in the heart of the most important historic and tourist area in Philadelphia. How can this happen when the city has a program, which you helped to start back in 1999, to fix streets just like Philip?  Please allow us explain who we are and how this situation developed.


The Philadelphia Society of Small Streets (PSSS / is dedicated to the preservation and restoration of our historic small streets.  Since 2011, we have advised Councilman Mark Squilla, the Streets Department, and the Historical Commission on the condition of our historic streets and advocated for their repair.  We have particularly sought to have those historic streets that are lined with historic houses given priority. 


However, last year the Streets Department hired a firm that used a computer program to collect data and prioritize the historic streets to be repaired.  The result was devastating.  The #1 street on the list is an obscure street in Manayunk, far from any shops or tourist areas, that features 25% houses and 75% garages and backyards.  With the exception of the 300 block of American Street, the rest of the Top Ten list is very disappointing as well, all but ignoring historic streets in Society Hill, Wash West, and South Philly, that feature historic houses and active neighborhoods with lots of foot traffic.  We protested the list and sent our own list to the Streets Department and the Historical Commission, which can be found on our website at


Yesterday, we were informed that the final decision as to which streets were to be repaired had been made.  Although American Street made the list, Philip Street, which is one street over from American, was not on the list.  This makes no sense.  In the past, the Streets Department preferred to restore the streets in clusters, which logistically saves the contractor time, money, and effort.  This year, with Philip Street right next door to American Street and in a state of dangerous collapse (including their sidewalk), Streets is ignoring it.  Instead, money for the historic streets repair will go to Waverly Street (between 15th and Carlisle, lined with apartment buildings, and in fair shape), plus money will be spent on design plans to restore Maiden Street in Manayunk.  Again, this makes no sense. 


Is the Streets Department to abandon common sense in favor of a computer program?  We are asking for your intervention.  Below are Google Street views of the streets that we have mentioned in this email.  Thank you for your attention and we hope that we can have the requested meeting with a member of your staff as soon as possible.


Lynn and Cliff Landes, founders

The Philadelphia Society of Small Streets



S. Phillip Street, 300 block (Society Hill) In a historic/tourist district, lined by historic houses, may also need a total reset due to street and sidewalk that are dangerously collapsing

o   MAP:,+Philadelphia,+PA+19106/@39.9445913,-75.1457078,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m2!3m1!1s0x89c6c89bab2b89ed:0xba158be370145944

o   STREET VIEW:,+Philadelphia,+PA+19106/@39.9446,-75.145705,3a,15y,191.36h,86.73t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1sKX0dVz0CidmR2ph397wqRA!2e0!4m2!3m1!1s0x89c6c89bab2b89ed:0xba158be370145944!6m1!1e1

American Street, S. 300 block, between Spruce and Delancey Streets (SOCIETY HILL) good selection, several historic houses face this street the entire length

o   MAP:,+Philadelphia,+PA+19106/@39.9446357,-75.1460687,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m2!3m1!1s0x89c6c89ba97dcd15:0x7dfcd71b0c8b9d56

o   STREET VIEW:,-75.146088,3a,75y,189.47h,90t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1szycXsyGJJTo_k5o9US80JA!2e0!6m1!1e1



Waverly Street, 1400 block, between 15th and Carlisle Streets (KIMMEL CENTER area) - appears to be used as an alley, apartment buildings, no or few entrances face street, in fair condition

o   MAP:,+Philadelphia,+PA+19146/@39.9452672,-75.1665062,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m2!3m1!1s0x89c6c63b4e4398fb:0x4c35d90d0b977697

o   STREET VIEW:,+Philadelphia,+PA+19146/@39.94529,-75.166681,3a,90y,102.86h,90.77t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1sCu5SCHbGySCx3G94szOIjQ!2e0!4m2!3m1!1s0x89c6c63b4e4398fb:0x4c35d90d0b977697!6m1!1e1


Maiden Street, 100 block, between Mansion and Silverwood Streets (MANAYUNK) - 7.7 miles from City Hall, appears to be used mainly as a back alley to adjacent properties

o   MAP:,+Philadelphia,+PA+19127/@40.019863,-75.2187844,14z/data=!4m2!3m1!1s0x89c6b8eacdb537ef:0xc30ecd9ee4f57cd

o   STREET VIEW:,+Philadelphia,+PA+19127/@40.027167,-75.222915,3a,75y,65.92h,67.64t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1sy8BoaBfltRq1UPjAk02Xqg!2e0!4m2!3m1!1s0x89c6b8eacdb537ef:0xc30ecd9ee4f57cd!6m1!1e1