Inside Brewerytown’s Abandoned Pyramid Electric Building
Built in 1922, Brewerytown’s Pyramid Electric Building, located at 31st and Oxford streets, has been left abandoned for over 16 years. And, like most vacant spaces in Philly, it’s become an AMAZING spot for graffiti and those who like to explore! This six-story building, however, will soon no longer be abandoned as it’s recently been purchased by MMPartners. A group who’s on a mission to “revitalize and effectuate positive change within Philadelphia’s historic Brewerytown neighborhood,” according to the mission statement on their website.
Last week, MMPartners, working with local photographer and Instagrammer Max Grudzinski (he’s amazing by the way, y’all should follow him), organized a little InstaMeet, which I happily joined! As someone who’s been exploring Philly’s abandoned spaces since I was (literally) a kid, I can tell you that it’s really nice when you can get permission.
Exploring one of these vestiges of our city’s industrial past is always complicated for me (and I’m sure all/most who do it). My family, like a lot of families, have strong connections to buildings like this. I come from a largely blue collar family. And the effects spaces like this have on the communities surrounding it is profound. From being an economic hub, to being abandoned, to being renovated. Each phase of the building’s life creates waves throughout its neighborhood.
I know posts and conversations like this leave a lot of people worried about gentrification. That developments like this do more harm to long-time residents than good. And while I am sensitive to those sorts of concerns, I do think that gentrification and the effects of developments like this are largely misunderstood. In fact, I recommend everyone take a few minutes to read THIS insightful post regarding the topic on the City Observatory’s blog. Here are some key points:
- “Though it gets a lot of press attention and generates controversy, gentrification in Philadelphia has been rare, and is concentrated in just a few neighborhoods. By Pew’s reckoning, just 15 of the region’s 371 Census tracts (or about four percent) experienced gentrification.”
- “For low-income neighborhoods, a continuing decline in income was a far more common outcome. In Philadelphia, ten times as many poor neighborhoods (164) experienced real declines in income as experienced gentrification since 2000.”
- “Much of the controversy surrounding gentrification stems from the widespread belief that gentrification automatically results in the displacement of long-time neighborhood residents. Implicitly, many people seem to visualize neighborhood change as a kind of zero-sum game: each new resident moving in must mean that one previous resident moved out. The published academic literature, however, mostly fails to find widespread displacement.”
More photos below…