By: Joseph G. Brin
This article originally ran on Metropolis' POV on January 19, 2015.
You don't have to wrack your brains when a completed puzzle box image is your guide. No one has any idea what the newly assembled urban puzzle of Philadelphia's Chinatown will look like, yet three big pieces, seemingly mismatched in size, shape, and purpose, have emerged. Walking the city from one puzzle piece to the next, you begin to grasp the challenge. Connections between these geographically separate pieces are genuine and promising, yet more conceptual than physical. Their power to catalyze and unify must be born out in time. In October, DesignPhiladelphia 2014 revealed in a public forum that, starting this year, a puzzle comprised of a community center with housing (The Tower), a derelict alleyway (The Alley/Pearl St.), and an old railway viaduct (The Rail Park) will begin to dramatically transform and, in ways preserve, an ethnic neighborhood dating back to 1870.