"Dilapidated, debris-laden, vandalized and vacant—a corpse of crumbling plaster, broken floors, sagging ceilings and shattered glass. That was 2012 Diamond Street, North Philadelphia, in the late fall of 1966." And that was the way The American City magazine described the property—the answer to last week's Cornerspotter contest—in its July 1967 edition. We also asked for the neighborhood and the intersection, and our hint was that the neighborhood—in broad strokes, at any rate—would be the easy part.
That neighborhood was "North Philadelphia," according to the magazine, though there's certainly more than one North Philadelphia in this city, and it always seems to diminish the character of individual hoods when they're all lumped together. In this case, it's especially unfair since there are actually three different right answers to the Cornerspotter quiz.
Philadelphia has at least three locations that could be called "2012 Diamond Street," cparticularly if we're assuming The American City authors were somewhat imprecise with their terminology.
The first Diamond Street most people think of is the one that runs closest to Temple University, and if the address were 2012 West Diamond, the house would be at the intersection that most call 20th and Diamond.
The current home at 2012 W. Diamond is a newer building that's part of a public housing development. It's possible that our 2012 Diamond was at this spot in 1967—some of the architectural features of rowhouses on the street do match up. However, the Raymond Rosen Projects were in this area then, and the article makes no mention of that. Why tout a solution for urban distress right in the middle of a housing project that claims to have the same aim? (Here's an image of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. speaking to crowds at Raymond Rosen in 1965, just as historical interest.)
Commenter Danielle Miller-Coe has another suggestion: that the 2012 Diamond house in the article was on Diamond Street where it intersects with Front under the El. There is no home with that address at that corner today, but rickety old vacants (like one seen here in a Google Street View image) suggest what housing stock might have looked like, and again, there are some suitable parallels. But the property was a rowhouse purchased by PHA and there isn't a PHA property at that address now.
Finally, there is technically a 2012 Diamond off of 33rd and Diamond—which is home to Parkview Apartments, a different PHA development. Photo of that intersection, above, by Laura Kicey.
If this were poker, we'd be doing quite well!
· Hint: This Intersection's Neighborhood Is the Easy Part [CPHI]
· Cornerspotter Archives [CPHI]