If you’ve had the chance to walk or drive along North Broad Street at night in recent weeks, you might have noticed that those soaring light poles now actually, well, light up.
The “North Poles,” as they’re called, have spent the past few months undergoing some tweaks and enhancements, long after the city first installed the 55-feet-tall masts in late 2016. The newly-formed community and economic development group North Broad Renaissance was tasked with hiring a contractor to install upgraded LED lights for the poles—the initial lights were too faint for the naked eye—and maintain general upkeep of the 2.5-mile art installation between Wood Street and Glenwood Avenue.
The $57,000 improvements have been noticed. The North Broad Lighting and Streetscape project was just awarded Project of the Year by Mid-Atlantic chapter of the Construction Management Association of America. Urban Engineers led the construction management.
Designed by Bohlin Cywinski Jackson and James Carpenter Design Associations, the poles were installed in the fall of 2016, and meant to be appreciated from above via airplane.
But the modern installation was met with much objection due to the lack of community input on the art installation and impressive price tag of just over $13 million.
Shalimar Thomas, executive director of the North Broad Renaissance has been vocal about the pros and cons of the poles and made it a core mission of the organization to transform them from eyesores to local attractions for the neighborhoods that line North Broad.
During a May bus tour of the corridor with community stakeholders, Thomas expressed her excitement and relief with the improved light poles, saying that seeing them turn on at sunset was at impressive sight. “You just have to see them at dusk,” she said.
You can find some of the light-enhanced poles in front of the Liacourus Center on Temple’s campus, at Broad and Spring Garden, and at Broad and Wallace Streets.
- The North Broad Poles in search of new contractor [Curbed Philly]