The Hidden Houses Of The Philadelphia Navy Yard


Photo: K. Scott Kreider

During World War II, the waterfront zones of many American cities were mobilized by the American Naval Fleet for shipbuilding.  The demand was high, as were investments in the infrastructure needed to manufacture ships.  After World War II, demand dropped drastically as the Navy shrunk its fleet. These one-time centers of wartime industry floundered, unequipped to accommodate new ship building technologies. What little demand remained was for nuclear-powered vessels, which had to be built far from metropolitan areas due to the risk of accident. Consequently, many cities were left with vacant and unused commercial properties, typically located in otherwise dense urban fabrics.


Photo: K. Scott Kreider

The prototypical waterfront redevelopment is Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, which experienced major infrastructural investment followed by a quick drop in demand and eventual abandonment. Baltimore’s story is notable, because the city was the very first to institute a waterfront redevelopment plan, starting in 1959. Fifty years later, the redevelopment of Baltimore’s waterfront is still the standard for successful revitalization of abandoned commercial water front areas. Throughout the United States and Europe, blighted post-industrial urban neighborhoods are being eyed with new interest by developers and politicians. A cornerstone of Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s mayorship, for example, was the institution of Vision 2020, a plan to revitalize 500 miles of New York City waterfront. Yet urban redevelopment is a complicated business, and behind each politician’s “vision plan,” there’s a more complicated narrative about the socio-economic development of a city.

Read the full article at Architizer here.


Photo: K. Scott Kreider.


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