Urban Studies Senior Seminar Papers

Document Type

Thesis or dissertation

Date of this Version



Suggested Citation:

Bernardin, Kimberly. "'Home Alone' at the Piazza: Privatized Public Space in Philadelphia." University of Pennsylvania, Urban Studies Program. 2016.


The Piazza at Schmidt’s is a 2009 Philadelphia mixed-use development of apartments, retail and 80,000 square feet of paved open space, meant to foster vibrant urban interaction. Initially, the Piazza was highly community-oriented: the developer incorporated the neighborhood’s requests for walkability, filled the retail space with local artists, and hosted many public events. However, this early community-based success was unsustainable because of the developer’s inherent private-sector commitment to maximizing the return on investment. Today, the Piazza is chronically underused because the drive for short-term profit has sabotaged the long-term viability of the public space. The Piazza at Schmidt’s is a telling example of why the system of privatized public space may be ineffective: because the original arts community was less profitable, it was not given the chance to thrive, and the resulting public space has lost its sense of vibrant urban life.



Date Posted: 09 June 2016