Online Forum for Community Discussion

Calendar and Archive of Public Meetings

Welcome to 40th Street - University City's vibrant link between people and communities - a reflection of the robust and diverse cultures that contribute to the character of this very public place. It's the place where the University of Pennsylvania and West Philadelphia meet. It's a place where local merchants, residents, University students and visitors participate in the time-honored exchange of commerce and culture - an exchange that is the foundation for the great civic spaces of our times.

40th Street is about history and planning, about a multiplicity of visions, uses and users. It is part of an evolving continuum of time and people and place.

40th Street, South of Walnut, 1964

And it's also about the future - about coming to a common understanding of what makes for a great street in the heart of a neighborhood that holds so many riches - of people, traditions, culture and knowledge.

And so, Praxis of the School of Design of the University of Pennsylvania is hosting a series of community forums about 40th street and its role in the life of our community. These pages offer you the opportunity to be a part of this conversation. Here you will find a wealth of information about this public conversation. The links in the menu above, and particularly the online forum, offer you a place to add your voice to the many who feel passionately about 40th Street. Materials from the community forums are also available for review at several locations in the neighborhood.

Welcome to 40th Street - we hope you come back often.

40th Street, Corner at Chestnut, 1964

Read more about the project:

The Daily Pennsylvanian,
March 17, 2004

The Daily Pennsylvanian,
February 18, 2004

40th Street: Creating unity while maintaining diversity
Draft 40th Street Planning Principles
15 March 2004

The following principles for the evolution of 40th Street in West Philadelphia between Filbert Street and Baltimore Avenue were developed during a month-long community engagement process. The Office of Facilities and Real Estate Services and the Office of Community Relations of the University of Pennsylvania convened the public meetings between February 17 and March 15, 2004. Over 300 people participated in one or more of six sessions. The principles were consolidated from a longer list of ideas and values (Word format available) developed during four facilitated forums. Representatives from each of the four forums developed the final list.

The many faces of 40th Street

Promote and sustain a rich urban blend of culture, class, age, race and gender along 40th Street with shops, services, arts and culture that reflect a vibrant sense of place. Honor the multiple voices and histories that combine to create 40th Street's meaningful urban fabric. Aim for a mix of uses, such as residential living above small-scale retail, that will enhance, not diminish, the innate character of this very public and urban thoroughfare.

Here, there, everywhere

Blur the sharp distinctions between people and cultures that currently line 40th Street. 40th Street is a living, social and cultural corridor. Yes, it serves as a vital transportation hub and amply accommodates people arriving by public transportation, car and on foot. But it is more than a physical connector; it is also a place where many traditions merge and blend, a place where differences are respected and a place for people to feel welcome along its entire length.

To market, to market

Encourage development by balancing a strong sense of social responsibility towards existing and new local businesses and jobs with free market economics. Understand that 40th Street's identity blends indigenous qualities; a sense of continuous evolution and change; its proximity to world-class institutions and its central role in the social fabric of University City. As a market, 40th Street can and should differ from other local retail corridors - Lancaster and Baltimore Avenues. To do this, it must reflect not only daily local needs, but also the larger social and cultural identities of University City.

It's our house

Create and sustain the highest quality public street life on 40th Street from Filbert Street to Baltimore Avenue. Honor resident and visitor alike with a safe, clean, drug-free corridor. Heed the needs of the elderly, the young and the disadvantaged and create a street that welcomes all - from traffic lights timed to safely allow our senior citizens to cross the streets to safe places our teenagers can call their own. Design the street with lighting, paving, benches, accessible stores, traffic and shop fronts, etc., so that street life reflects the vibrancy and values of the community.

Destination 40th Street

Build on the diversity of uses and customers on 40th Street that change throughout the day, week and year. From the young mother using the library with her children to college students debating ideas over coffee to patrons enveloped in the rich strains of jazz to senior citizens shopping - 40th Street is many things to many people. Maintain this variety. Think of 40th Street as both a local street and a unique destination where community meets campus with a rich offering of commerce and culture reflecting the surrounding neighborhood. Invest in amenities that will enhance the unique nature of the street, such as revitalizing the 40th Street trolley, creating a plaza or gathering place and making a family-friendly environment.

Building community

Keep the dialogue going. The health of any relationship is based on on-going and substantive communication. As such, citizens of University City want to enlarge the public conversation about 40th Street and create a community-based process that will ensure continued consultation, communication, dialogue and promotion aimed at sustaining a viable vision for the future.


© 2004, 40th Street Community Forum and Serendip