This spring, new signs will help both pedestrians and drivers as they pass through the city. The University City District sponsored the plan. Helpful signs designed to direct University City visitors to local attractions will be coming to street corners all over the area beginning this spring. "There's a lot of great institutions here in University City," said Eric Goldstein, the University City District's director of capitol projects. "We wanted this mapping system in place to help people find their way around this great neighborhood." The two types of maps have distinctly different purposes -- Walk Philadelphia is designed to help pedestrians, and Direction Philadelphia is for the drivers navigating West Philadelphia's streets. The Walk Philadelphia signs will be on every intersection from the Schuylkill River westward to 40th Street, north to Market Street and south to Woodland Avenue. The Direction Philadelphia signs will be placed strategically in the middle of every block in the same locations. Included on the Walk Philadelphia signs will be important landmarks such as 30th Street Station, Drexel University, Penn, the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. "A system of directional signage was one of our primary goals," UCD Executive Director Paul Steinke said. "Our plan was to make the neighborhood more accessible and user-friendly to those who come to University City." The initiative is one of the District's latest efforts to both beautify University City and attract residents from throughout the region to the area. The maps aiming to help visitors on foot find their way around University City employ a unique method called "heads-up mapping." Instead of the top of the map always reading "North," these new maps always face the same direction that the pedestrian faces. Although this technique dates back to 1675, Philadelphia designer Joel Katz perfected the system for use in Center City's maps. He stressed that this particular "heads-up" system really helps people navigate their way around an urban setting. "Maps and directions are no good if you don't know where you are," Katz said. "Orientation is just as important as direction." In addition to the maps, there will also be signs that read "University City," welcoming visitors who drive into the neighborhood. The Walk Philadelphia and Direction Philadelphia signs are based on maps that began sprouting up in Center City in 1997, as a way to highlight various tourist districts. And the UCD has eagerly followed the Center City District's example, obtaining funding for the signage system from the Philadelphia Department of Streets. Currently, there are 490 Walk and Direction Philadelphia signs in Center City. According to CCD Public Spaces Manager Darren Fava, the program's extension into West Philadelphia really makes this a one-of-a-kind endeavor. "This is one of the most comprehensive systems of its kind in the country," Fava said. Although the City of Philadelphia is funding the maps' creation, UCD still must appeal to their Board of Executives to grant maintenance funding to keep them graffiti-free. "We're hoping that all the stakeholders will all see the value and support of our maintenance efforts," Goldstein said.Comments powered by Disqus
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