Broadly, this represents an effort to read the region’s cultural geography. More narrowly, this is a continuing series in the social history of Philadelphia’s built environment, a study of the forces that cause landscapes and structures to come into and pass out of existence.
We take seriously J.B. Jackson’s liberal definition of a monument, that:
A monument can be nothing more than a rough stone, a fragment of ruined wall as at Jerusalem, a tree, or a cross. Its sanctity is not a matter of beauty or of use or of age; it is venerated not as a work of art or as an antique, but as an echo from the remote past suddenly become present and actual.
Further, we believe that the study of the landscape and its monuments is didactic and invigorating; that geography reveals lost linkages, that there is no present space segmented from its former state of being cared for and honored.
NFR is, in Jackson’s parlance, “the necessity for ruins.”