Locust Walk is the trademark walkway on Penn’s campus, but it can be a headache as well — Penn is legally responsible for injuries that happen on their sidewalks and pathways.
“In the city of Philadelphia, the sidewalks are the responsibility of the owners to maintain,” Penn Executive Director of Operations and Maintenance Faramarz Vakilizadeh said. “If you trip and fall in front of somebody’s house walking down the street, that house owner is liable.”
Making the Walk safe is time-intensive. Vakilizadeh said many hours go into its beautification and upkeep, and the walk is under continuous inspection for safety and cleanliness.
During the winter months, Penn Maintenance uses a special salt and equipment to mitigate environmental impact and minimize damage.
“At the end of the day, we need to balance the safety of our pedestrians and the environmental impact of what we do,” Vakilizadeh said. “And [not] create bigger problems for ourselves by damaging [things] and then having to go fix them.”
Engineering freshman Nika Kunwar has seen multiple people take tumbles on Locust, as well as on other parts of campus.
“One woman literally fell in the middle of the street in front of the Quad and it was terrifying,” Kunwar said.
College freshman Isabella Pilotta has tripped on Locust herself, but thinks it is fairly well maintained.
“I have done it myself a couple of times, usually once a week, [on] the bricks that are well lodged into the ground, but are uneven.”
Vakilizadeh noted that sometimes the bricks are are removed.
“I don’t want to call it stealing, I think a lot of people decide to have one for memories,” Vakilizadeh said. “The brick does not just suddenly leave by itself, someone has taken it.”
Despite these instances, Vakilizadeh says missing bricks are “not a massive problem.”
“For us, the top priority is people’s safety,” he said.
Correction: A previous version of this article characterized Penn Executive Directtor of Operations and Maintenance Faramarz Vakilizadeh as saying occasionally Penn students remove bricks from Locust Walk. He actually had been referring to "people" generally. The DP regrets the error.