Howard Gillette | Camden After the Fall

Three design firms are competing for the future Mesa City Center design. The team of Otak and Mayer/Reed (image) propose preserving mature downtown trees on islands in a water setting emulating Mesa's history of canals.Next month some 400 historians from around the country will converge on Philadelphia for the biannual meeting of the Urban History Association, Oct 9-12. The topics of their discussion will range widely, but framing the four days of exchange will be opportunities for participants to explore directly signs of new life in the region in the aftermath of post-industrial decline.

An opening tour on Thursday, Oct 9 will start at The Navy Yard, a 1,200 acre site well into the process of creating a mixed-use campus based on historic preservation, sustainability, and smart growth. After visiting Urban Outfitters, a home-grown business success story, the caravan will travel to North Philadelphia to examine the effects of new transit-oriented development before moving on to review sites of revitalization in Northern Liberties.

On the last day of the conference, participants will be able to tour Camden, still the nation’s poorest city. They will encounter signs of decay, no doubt. But the emphasis that day, as Mayor Dana Redd and Camden Redevelopment Agency director Saundra Ross Johnson will point out, is new investment: in the neighborhood around Cooper Hospital, at the Kroc recreational center in East Camden, due to open officially October 14th, and at Campbell Soup, where a revised master plan promises to connect the Fortune 500 company’s campus to the rest of the city. Read more