If you’ve ever travelled over the Ben Franklin Bridge and headed through town via 8th Street, you’ve surely noticed the terrible PPA parking garage that “arches over” 8th Street between Arch and Filbert. Its miserable aesthetic comes off even worse when you consider what it replaced when it was built in the mid-1960s.

8th and Arch in 1959

Current view

Philaphilia tells us that the construction of this monstrosity was actually celebrated in its time, as it made it much easier for suburban shoppers to park when visiting the adjacent Strawbridge’s or Lit Bros. department stores. Somehow, it looked a little less scary during the Johnson administration.

Right after it was finished

Over the years, however, this building has held up, shall we say, extremely poorly. Retail spaces on 8th Street have (understandably) struggled mightily, since no reasonable person would choose to do their shopping under an overpass. Vacancy has been commonplace, with a handful of long-time tenants like a dry cleaners and a pizza place hanging on over the years.

Recently, a reader gave us the heads up that some new businesses may be coming to this retail deathtrap- or at least that’s what the PPA is hoping for. We drove by just the other day, and noticed that many of the retail spaces on the eastern side of the street seem to be getting improved with new windows, and one of the spaces is even getting some interior work done.

Still looks really rough

Men working in one of the spaces

Still plenty of vacancy

We don’t see how even the most high-end of renovations could possibly make this a desirable location for any retail business, but we’ll certainly provide an update if we hear of anything. In the meantime, let us pray together that this awful building will someday be demolished, to make way for, uh, anything at all.

Then again, if this building came down, wherever would we park when we want to shop at Lit Bros.?!?