Northern Liberties: Destitute Urban Carnival Reborn!
3 June 2011 |
William Penn was a regionalist. In Philadelphia, he envisioned a “great city,” with its port and institutions of religion and governance, connected to large plantations and farm communities in the hinterlands, or liberties. The symbiotic relationship between city and liberties lasted well beyond Penn, as the Northern Liberties took on a more open, and in some ways more tolerant, character than the city itself. And by the early 1800s, with its huge Second Street market (3 miles long!) and numerous inns, mills, and workshops, it too became one of the largest cities in the nation. Fueled by innovation and relative freedom, it was a place to make one’s own.
Flash forward to 2011 and the Northern Liberties clings to its culture of individual daring and creativity. But has wealth and “gentrification” compromised this history? “Destitute Urban Circus,” a 2-part film by artist John Thornton, explores the tensions inherent in urban change. The film is fun and funny and full of insight about this iconic place in urban America.