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Independence Mall’s chicken coops

libertybellWhizzing by the newest addition going up near Independence Hall–the Liberty Bell pavilion (shown right)–I was saddened to notice that its shape reminded me of nothing other than a chicken coop.

I suppose the argument is that it matches the Visitors Center–which also looks like a chicken coop to me. Take a look here yourself (eastern side

shown, left). chickencoop

Now the Visitors Center doesn’t look like a chicken coop from the entrance way on Market Street. But all other views are, well, depressing, long, low, with a barely peaked roof. The cupola on top looks just plain silly.

visitorscenterAnd the endless western wall, with its lack of entrances and lack of variety, is depressing, unfriendly, even fortress-like, turning that block into a no-man’s land. (see view of western wall, right.) It reminds me of the buildings Penn used to build to shut out West Philadelphia.

The Visitors Center feels like a rejection of Philadelphia’s street traffic and hurly-burly, an attempt to isolate for the tourists–a la Williamsburg themepark–what has alway been and should remain part and parcel of a busy urban center.

It is the same mentality that tried to block off Chestnut Street in front of Independence Hall and keep the real people away. They might as well put up a sign that says, Only pastel-attired tourists with cameras and caps are welcome.

Yo, park planners and rangers. You’re not telling the story of our history if you cut it off from the real life of the city, because those buildings were part of the city and the nation from the beginning–during rough times, too.