A fundraiser to get behind – Web 2.0 takes a hit – and Philadelphia loses one of its greats

Project H.O.M.E.’s Inaugural Young Friends Event is October 27th, 2005 from 5:30-8pm. In order to raise awareness of Project H.O.M.E.’s efforts I decide to lay it on the line and share more of my personal history then ever before to express the homeless aren’t who you think they are.

While Nick Bradbury shares some thoughts about what Web 2.01 should entail (good post btw), something occured on Friday that is not being discussed in the corners of the web I would exepect it to: Craigslist has asked Oodle to stop using its classifieds. See here and here. Neither post has outlined the reasons for the request. I’m very sure that Craigslist is within its rights to do so – lets not argue that – publishers must maintain their rights – but can Web 2.0 work in what Lawrence Lessig calls a permission culture? Was Oodle properly giving credit for the classifieds? Since I run an aggregator at Philly Future, this discussion is a good one to have. Where will it lead?

In a related conversation Dave Winer, commenting on the recent massive growth of splogs, says that “Links are now devalued”. Think about it. He’s right. PageRank is under attack. Those who have most to lose might be the ones speaking up right now – but in the end – like Dan Gillmor sayswe will all will lose if sploggers win this fight. Chris Pirillo really jump-started this conversation yesterday. I just hope that in the effort against splogs – aggregators like ours don’t get mistakenly included. The aggregator is part of Philly Future – an important part – but not the only part.

Ed Bacon (yes Kevin Bacon’s father) – Philadelphia planning directory for 21 years – 95 – passed away this Friday. He left an indellable mark on this city and helped Philadelphia avoid the fate of Detroit and others.


Edmund Bacon was the father of modern-day Philadelphia. As the city’s chief planning director for 21 years, he left his mark on this city like no politician or captain of industry ever could.

He took a city that, through its haphazard growth, was betraying William Penn’s plan for a town in harmony with nature and with the nature of man. Bacon dragged Philadelphia kicking and screaming into the 20th century, rescuing it from its own worst instincts.

Just take a walking tour of the city and behold his works.

From the office high-rises of Penn Center, to the retail magnet that is Market East and the Gallery, to the charm of Society Hill that brought a vibrant middle- and upper-class to Center City, to the vastness of Independence Mall, Bacon had a hand in creating all the modern spaces that now define Philadelphia – for good and for ill.

Inquirer: Inga Saffron Inquirer Architecture Critic: Flaws and all, Edmund N. Bacon molded a modern Philadelphia:

It is not too much to say he invented planning in Philadelphia. After World War II, he returned home from several years of traveling and working elsewhere and helped draft the bill creating the city’s first Planning Commission. With his appointment as executive director in 1949, he dominated all discussions about the city’s form and function until his retirement in 1970. No planning director since Bacon has been so influential, and today Philadelphia suffers from too little planning.

Bacon’s single-minded vision played a giant role in saving Philadelphia from the fate of other old cities, such as Detroit or Cincinnati.

For Philadelphia to compete in the modern world, he understood that it would need to upgrade its urban infrastructure. During his 21 years as the city’s chief planner, he forced Philadelphia to create a modern, high-rise office district (Penn Center), a modern retail center (the Gallery), and a modern downtown neighborhood (Society Hill).

Too often, Bacon’s grand visions didn’t turn out as well as he hoped. The Gallery was never meant to be a blank-walled, suburban-style shopping box. The Market Street office corridor was never intended to be devoid of shops. According to Gregory Heller, who runs the Ed Bacon Foundation, Bacon focused more on the big picture than the details.

Sometimes, Bacon’s conflicting visions undercut one another. He was way ahead of his time when he proposed converting Philadelphia’s dying industrial waterfront to a leisure area called Penn’s Landing. Then, just as it was being completed, he allowed I-95 to cut off the new waterfront playground from the city. He was similarly prepared to strangle Center City with the South Street Expressway, which thankfully was never built.

Society Hill is generally considered Bacon’s greatest and most influential achievement. During the ’60s, when other cities were using federal money to level their historic cores, Bacon rejected wholesale clearance. He adopted a more sensitive plan to prune the Victorian structures and leave most of the Colonial ones. The city used various strategies to encourage urban homesteaders to renovate the surviving structures. Today, Bacon might be faulted for creating a fiction that the area was entirely colonial.

It is ironic that Bacon’s greatest projects – Society Hill, Penn Center, the Gallery – are flawed. It’s one of the things that makes it so infuriatingly hard to evaluate his historic legacy. He was imperfect, but it is hard to imagine what Philadelphia would be like without those imperfections.

Inquirer: Edmund Bacon:

“Great cities are not great because of individual buildings. They’re great because of the way things fit together,” he said.

When he first proposed the concept of Penn Center, he said, “I was chastised by the Philadelphia chapter of the American Institute of Architects because I presumed to make a plan where there was no client and no program. You’re not supposed to do a design for a building unless someone engages you to do it. Everything I did was unconventional.”