Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant told one story about this great city. But, to most Americans, whether they have set foot on Philadelphia soil or came to know it only through their history lessons, few cities are as familiar. One of the nation’s original cities, Philadelphia was the site of the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution, was where the first Continental Congress convened, and was even a temporary capital of the United States back when the nation was new and Washington, D.C., was being built. Those less inclined to pay attention to American history may still remember the city for the vista from atop the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, which the underdog boxer Rocky Balboa scaled in the film that launched Sylvester Stallone’s Hollywood career.
The city welcomes ULI members to the Institute’s Spring Meeting in April, and amid all that history, they will find a city still looking forward. The redevelopment of Philadelphia’s Navy Yard, underway for 15 years so far and with plans to double the amount of space available to the market over the next 12 years, is a story nearly as massive as the retired USS John F. Kennedy aircraft carrier still at dock there. Already home to pharmaceutical companies and the headquarters of various retailers—and buildings designed by internationally acclaimed architecture firms—the Navy Yard project is a must-see in Philadelphia. Our coverage begins on page 74.
Perhaps nothing reflects the city’s claim on the future as dramatically as the new Comcast Innovation and Technology Center under construction in Center City. Though best known for the cable television service that bears its name, Comcast Corporation is a multifaceted media and technology business that owns, among other things, the broadcast and film company NBCUniversal, as well as major theme parks and resorts. The company intends for this new tower to become a “vertical Silicon Valley” in the heart of the city. Topping off the Foster + Partners–designed 59-story skyscraper will be a Four Seasons hotel, occupying 12 stories that can’t help but offer commanding views. The article begins on page 81.
Also in this issue, we present a chapter excerpted from the new book Streetfight: Handbook for an Urban Revolution by former New York City Transportation Commissioner Janet Sadik-Khan and media strategist Seth Solomonow. In “Battle for a New Times Square,” Sadik-Khan tells the story of how one of the busiest intersections in the world was opened up to make room for pedestrian-friendly plazas—and how closing streets actually improved traffic flow. The excerpt begins on page 129.
Richard Smart, reporting from Tokyo, writes about the growing pains being experienced in some Tokyo neighborhoods as rising prices spur redevelopment of buildings built in haste when the city raced to recover from the effects of World War II. “Evolving Tokyo” begins on page 110.
I look forward to seeing you in Philadelphia. And in the next issue of Urban Land, I look forward to bringing you the best content from Philadelphia, along with articles on resorts, sustainability, and the many delightful (and sometimes damaging) issues related to water.
Editor in Chief