To the untrained eye, The Porch outside of Philadelphia's 30th Street Station has been an unambiguous success. Two years ago, traffic engineers paved over a lane of roadway in front of the train station, creating a broad sidewalk 50 feet across and 565 feet long. With about a quarter of a million dollars, the University City District organization then put out some tables and chairs, planters and umbrellas, none of it even bolted to the ground.
Since then, the space has become a popular plaza somewhere in between a pop-up park and a permanent icon like nearby Rittenhouse Square. People read books slouching in the bistro chairs. They take their lunch on The Porch. They come for the food trucks.