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.”



21 thoughts on “objective

  1. Hi Chris,

    I discovered your fascinating website today (by accident while exploring the web). Do you know where I could find out the history, or any info about the abandoned Ridge Ave. Subway stop at 13th Street and Ridge? The stops currently in use for this line are Broad Street, Chinatown, and 8th $ Market. You can see the remains of a fourth closed up station for the Ridge Ave Subway on Ridge Ave. between 13th Street and Spring Garden Street. Judging by the design of this closed subway stop it looks like it was still in use into the 1970s. –Carl

  2. Mr. Dougherty,

    Do you accept requests? I have heard of a colony of parrots living in Philadelphia. They migrate above ground during warmer weather and nest by a transformer in cooler weather. Have you come across any information related to this in your extensive readings?


  3. Great web site!

    I was curious, do you know anything about an underground boulevard in Center City designed only for police and emergency vehicles?

  4. Hi there:

    This is a treasure trove of a blog! I happen to be working on a project about smokestacks in and out of Philadelphia, and was wondering whether you knew any in the city/environs?


  5. Greetings. Thanks for your fine work on this website. It’s quite fascinating!

    I wonder if you have done any looking into the port of Phila. I’m a historian who has written on the radical, interracial longshore union that controlled the port in the 1910-20s, Local 8 of the Industrial Workers of the World.

  6. Hi,
    I’m wondering where you got the photo of the South Philadelphia shanty that you have up here. Could you please advise?

  7. I stumbled onto your blog today from a link, and wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed reading some of your recent posts. I’d be interested to learn more about your research, and wondered if you might be able to offer any advice for a project I’m working on. Thanks!

  8. I have close family living in S. Philly and would love to send info on your site to them – they are all interlopers from Jersey but have called Philly home for many yrs. Always am amazed to find info on towns in NJ that I have never heard of b4! As many others have said this is a COOL site – thanks…

  9. Check out what the Wingohocking Creek did in Germantown on Sept. 8, 2011 – 8′ high at Belfield Ave. and Haines St. one death, several autos, two churches, and about 15 homes.

  10. Hello.

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