April 2, 2003 |
It's dark and cool inside, even on the sunniest days. The sound of dripping water echoes throughout the buildings and the wind moans through the corridors. The air is moldy. Signs of life are there - furniture, record players, stacks of photocopied Christmas carols. But this is an empty place, abandoned, filled with bad memories. Philadelphia State Hospital in the Far Northeast, better known as Byberry, closed its door to patients in 1990. Since then, it has become an accessible but illegal netherworld for so-called urban explorers drawn to its dark tunnels and darker history.
April 2, 2003 |
Somerton residents consider it an eyesore and a danger. Politicians call it a waste of open space in a crowded city. All of that could soon change. Under the latest plan to redevelop the site of the former Philadelphia State Hospital in the Far Northeast, the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corp. (PIDC) would purchase 130 acres of the state-owned property known as Byberry for $1 and initiate a plan that would bring offices and homes to the site, while still leaving a thick thatch of land untouched.
January 29, 2001 |
Joe Duckworth appeared recently before the township Planning Commission with sketches for a 92-home development at Byberry and Heaton Roads that he has no interest in building. "We don't want to do this," said Duckworth, president of Arcadia Land Co. of Wayne. Frustrated by the Board of Commissioners' delay in acting on his original proposal for an unconventional, "walkable" community of 97 tightly packed homes with 40 percent open space on 42 acres, Duckworth said his only option was to submit an "inferior" version that complied with the township's zoning code.
October 24, 2000 |
Officials call it the last prime piece of open land in Northeast Philadelphia, and it looks like it might stay that way for a while. Although state officials are reviewing proposals to develop the 153-acre site of the former Philadelphia State Hospital, better known as Byberry, the area's city councilman and civic association have vowed to block any plans under the current arrangement. Last year, the state - which closed the notorious mental hospital in the city's Somerton section in 1990 - agreed to a controversial plan to turn 90 acres of the site over to the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corp.
December 19, 1999 |
Mark Mendelson, the developer selected to transform hundreds of acres of state-owned land stretching from Union County to Philadelphia, has a bold but troubled business past. He lost his Center City luxury hotel to lenders, sending 180 guests abruptly packing for other lodging. An Allentown office building he owned fell into a sinkhole and was imploded. He took over a sickly Philadelphia hospital but was unable to revive it. And over the course of his years as a developer, he has become the target of dozens of lawsuits.
December 14, 1999 |
State officials have agreed to a controversial plan to turn over the 152-acre former Philadelphia State Hospital, known as Byberry, in Northeast Philadelphia for commercial development. The Philadelphia Industrial Development Authority, the quasi-public agency that controls city development projects, yesterday said it had agreed to take control of the site. PIDC will develop 90 acres of the mental hospital site that was once home to 7,000 patients. It was closed by the state in 1990 after allegations of inhumane conditions.
August 10, 1999 |
Nine years after the state closed Philadelphia State Hospital, the old mental institution better known as Byberry, it is negotiating to sell 153 acres of the property to the city and a private developer, who hope to put up office buildings, houses or apartments, and possibly a shopping center. The sale could be complete by the end of the summer, according to Samantha Elliot, spokeswoman for the state Department of General Services, which oversees the property at Southampton Road and Roosevelt Boulevard in the Far Northeast.
April 19, 1999 |
Six years on the city police force couldn't prepare Gary Harkins for the knock on the door that came early Saturday morning. Harkins, 43, had fallen asleep on the couch in his Somerton home, waiting for his 18-year-old son to come home from a friend's house. He awoke after midnight to find fellow officers on his doorstep. They told him a young man had been killed by a hit-and-run driver a few blocks away. They believed it was his son, Gary Jr., and they wanted him to identify the body.
January 18, 1999 |
Jeanne Cwiklinski Slivka, 87, retired director of social service at the former Philadelphia State Hospital at Byberry, died Friday of lung cancer at her Trevose home. Mrs. Slivka went to work at the hospital, for many years Pennsylvania's largest psychiatric institution, in 1943 after the death of her husband, Witold "Victor" Slivka. She started as a secretary and interpreter. Within two years, she was a senior caseworker. Mrs. Slivka went on to obtain a master's degree in social work from the University of Pennsylvania in 1951.
February 12, 1998 |
It was once home to hundreds of lost souls. Now the haunted halls of Philadelphia State Hospital and its 500 rolling acres are home to a dozen businesses that, slowly, are transforming the blighted complex into a commercial/industrial hub the city can be proud of. The site, formerly known as Byberry, had languished for years after it was closed by former Gov. Robert Casey after a state task force found inadequate treatment, mismanagement and...