Just as an aside, for those of you who care to visit the site of this experiment (Philadelphia Navy Yard) today, it's a very, very strange place.
Driving south from center city Philadelphia with all of the shopping, commerce, business, glass towers, theaters, the University of the Arts, and then
down Broad St through the old Italian and Jewish neighborhoods with all their big brownstone homes and then through the sports arena area one finally
finds oneself in the navy yard, down at the end of Philadelphia's main north-south artery.
It gives off a combined aura of New England ivy-covered campus, forgotten industrial park, bizzarro-West Point clone, big rusty ship repository, old
cruise dock, and modern-day fashion design mecca (the main business entity is the headquarters for Anthropologie and Urban Outfitters). Being there is
a complete exercise in surreality.
The only life you'll find is in one southwest corner where hip, attractive-looking girls wlk their dogs that they've brought with them to work. The
other many square miles of the Navy Yard are largely abandoned save for an old church here or a print press there. There are still functional bus
stops and officer's quarters that appear to be well-kept, but there's also an overgrown maze of tan-colored grass and crumbling concrete, huge
hangars, strange "blocks" of ghetto-like brick housing that are sporadically placed all over the southeastern corner of the grounds, with smashed
windows and nature generally reclaiming the homes. One of these clusters is actually inhabited, with nice cars parked out front and kids playing in
pools. This is not a neighborhood, mind you, and the closest real infrastructure (grocery, convenience, entertainment, pharmacy, etc) are all MILES
away. One has to wonder if this is active Navy military housing? It's all very strange. It's within Philadelphia city limits and really not all that
far from Center City at all, but in terms of appearance, atmosphere, and vibe, the wilderness of it all is lightyears away from a major east coast
Of course there are big plans for the navy yard, to revitalize it as a sort of rural-urban loft village, which, if successful in reinvigorating the
place, would be a nice place to live and to work. I'm sure that the Anthropologie/Urban Outfitters employees love it - their grounds on the former
cruise terminal are amazing, complete with indoor coi ponds, giant Buddha statues, indoor waterfalls, and fine dining. But for the most part, the rest
of the area outside is frightening. And for one who is familiar with the history of the USS Eldridge and the Philadelphia Experiment, calling to mind
that horror while standing alone in a field of wild grass between a big empty brick warehouse and a giant hangar along the waterfront, is truly