The Phaserl



from The Burning Platform:

I got frustrated Monday morning on the Schuylkill Expressway when traffic ground to a halt just before City Line Avenue. I impulsively got off at City Line Avenue and traveled up to Belmont Ave. I took Belmont through Fairmount Park (where dead bodies are found on a regular basis) to Girard Avenue. After making the left on Girard, you enter a land time forgot, along with hammers, brooms, paint brushes, trash cans, marriage licenses, school books or condoms. This stretch of West Philly makes the area around the zoo seem like paradise.

The vacant, trash strewn, weed infested lots along this decaying stretch of squalor are the highlight of the trip. There are a couple bars, nail salons, and daycare centers (can you imagine the “care” the children receive).

But for the most part it’s unadulterated ghetto, with garbage blowing along the ancient trolley tracks like sage brush in the old west.


As I carefully maneuvered along this corridor of collapse I had plenty of time to observe the surroundings, as the school bus ahead of me and the miss-timed stop lights had me stopping every few hundred yards. What I saw was depressing, sad, and infuriating. I’ve now come to the conclusion, the more murals per square mile, the worse off economically the neighborhood in Philly. This section of Girard Avenue is blooming with murals of black people doing great things, so it is in really bad shape.

The row homes along this section of squalor were built in the 1920s. You can see from the architecture they were fine, well built, beautiful homes at one time. Now, fifty percent of them have broken and boarded up windows. The front porches are in a state of collapse. No one has put a drop of paint on the outside in decades. Orange eviction notices are plentiful. The cement steps are crumbling. The front yards are filled with debris, garbage, weeds, and drug paraphernalia. I can only imagine what these hovels look like on the inside.

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