Old City is showing its age. A fire and a collapse, separated only by a few weeks and the width of an intersection, have drawn renewed attention to the ascendant neighborhood's rich inventory of rotting buildings, which seem to defy the rules of real estate and economics.

History, politics, and other idiosyncrasies contribute to the persistence of blight amid the renewed bustle of one of Philadelphia's oldest neighborhoods. But a common denominator is the apparent absence of government pressure on those determined to let their properties decay over the course of decades.

Last month, after a developer began work on the famously garish Shirt Corner building on Third and Market Streets, it was found to be in such bad shape that it had to be demolished. Then it promptly collapsed before the job could be finished. Last week saw the fiery demise of its cousin across the intersection, the Suit Corner, shortly after city officials had cited the owner for the condition of its exterior.

Unless the consequences of neglect become greater than a minor bureaucratic hassle, these calamities won't be the last to threaten Old City's successes.