On Philly’s North Broad Street, traffic of the good kind — for a few hours anyway
The third annual Philly Free Streets has given North Broad Street, from City Hall to Erie Avenue, over to the people — and their pets. No cars and buses allowed. There is even a beach!
Ah, the sweet sound of no cars and buses.
Philly Free Streets returned for a third year, this time with North Broad Street playing host to all those who wanted to walk, run, or bike in the middle of the city's spine, without fear of being taken out by something powered by a motor.
Alas, such carefree living — inspired by the security-related street closings when Pope Francis visited Philadelphia in 2015 — was only temporary, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
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And even though the city shut down the New Beach Club in North Philly just after it opened, a beach on Broad Street was legal last weekend and will be open for enjoyment this weekend — at the Leon H. Sullivan Human Services Center at 1415 N. Broad St. Hours are noon to 11 p.m. Saturday, including a movie at 8 p.m., and 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.
Contacted in the morning, Mayor Kenney said he planned to walk the entire route, from City Hall to just north of Erie Avenue, inspired by one particular goal.
"I want a cheesesteak at Max's," he said.
School Superintendent William R. Hite sat on a mountain bike outside the district offices listening to a student jazz band.
"Yeah, I'm getting some miles in," he said. "And I get to see some of this great talent."
Bicycles of all varieties were the favorite mode of transportation besides feet, but scooters, inline skates, and skateboards filled the streets, too. Dogs sniffed uncharted territory, like center medians, and some people just pulled up a chair to people watch, like a man who went by the name "Dr. Thunder."
The only complaint anyone had about the open street initiative was that it doesn't happen more often. Many cited how it brought the community out and together, mixing people into neighborhoods in ways cars rarely can.
"It's such a good way to connect with the community. If we could do this once a week, we would," said Deacon Kenneth Fullenwellen, of Zion Baptist Church at Broad and Venango.
This article has been modified to include more information about the days the Beach on North Broad will be open.