When you cross the Delaware River on the Ben Franklin Bridge, one of the first exits takes you down 8th Street through the edge of Chinatown. Since the 1960s, a large parking garage has spanned 8th Street between Arch and Filbert Street and it's pretty much looked terrible since the day it opened. Here, take a look:

View in the past

We learned a couple of years ago that the PPA, which by the way owns the garage, was planning to renovate the exterior and its dank underbelly and we were hopeful, but appropriately skeptical. We just couldn't wrap our minds around the idea that this garbage building could possibly turn into something attractive. But we've gotta say, with the project seemingly complete since our visit last year, we can see that they actually did a pretty good job. The garage now looks extremely cool thanks to "veils of metal mesh and glass with screening made of glass louvers."

The view from 8th Street

Parcade is like Barcade, but 100% less fun

Not only has the facade of the garage been transformed, but the underpass has also gotten a serious facelift. It's still a dark space under a parking garage, but we didn't flinch at the idea of walking through, which is certainly a step in the right direction. A few stores are on this block, including some PPA offices, and a bunch of spaces are still available for rent. So act now and you can own a store under a parking garage! The little lights on the ceiling are a crucial touch, as they add necessary light to the streetscape.

PPA offices and a dry cleaners

On the west side, a little market, a shoe repair shop, and space for rent

The reality doesn't quite match the renderings, with the missing crowd of tourists being the biggest difference. 

The original rendering

Ah well, it's still a job pretty well done. We'd be glad to see a similar treatment for some of the other garages around town.