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Let's Do Something Amazing and Slap a Canal On Broad Street

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Dave Munson is at it again. Yesterday, we featured his mathy maps of walkable yet affordable 'hoods in America (Hint: Philly did well). Today, he's back with something for the dreamers. What would Broad Street look and function like with a canal running through the center. Forget for a minute that there's a large subway corridor running underneath Broad Street and just dream. Gone are the depressing medians and confusing cobblestone turning areas, replaced by (eventually) glistening waters and lovely boats or floating shops/retaurants — woah.

Munson loves the idea of canals and mentions in his piece that he's "tried to shoehorn them into [other] urban design projects" he's worked on in Boston and Rio de Janiero. Although Philly is rapidly developing the two big rivers to create greater access to water, Munson thinks canals provide an even greater opportunity to get closer to and appreciate the wonders of water — especially for alternative modes of transportation and recreation. You think biking to work is cool? Psh, try taking a kayak next time, pal.

So why Broad Street? Well, Munson used to live in Philly, and aside from creating something beautiful on our main stretch, he sees an opportunity to clean up the joint as well.

For example, I love Philadelphia, but it is the dirtiest place I've ever lived, mostly because the citizens just don't take care of it. A new canal system in Philly would initially require constant cleaning just to keep it unencumbered. But hopefully over time people would want to keep them clean and would want to make better use of them, and maybe we could become like Stockholm, where people have a strong connection to their water and where they keep it clean enough to swim in.
It's true. The Avenue of The Arts is in a state of flux right now and the central median isn't doing it any favors (Avenue of the Farts, anyone?). While Diner en Blanc may have jazzed up the place for a brief moment, the SLS International Hotel and Residences are on the way as well as other high-profile projects. Could a canal be the future of Broad Street? We don't know, but it's certainly fun to dream.
· Canals, Houseboats, and Urban Design on the Water [Munson's City]

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