Are Balconies and Bay Windows “Racist”?
Are Balconies and Bay Windows “Racist”? by Brock Simmons for The Gateway Pundit
In Philadelphia, city councilman Kenyatta Johnson has pushed for the city to ban balconies and bay windows from new apartments and condos, saying that they are a “symbol of gentrification” that causes anxiety, as he criticizes the new housing developments being built in the city.
Johnson, who represents much of South Philadelphia, introduced a bill during City Council’s May 23 session that would ban balconies and bay windows across Point Breeze and Grays Ferry. The two architectural features would still be allowed outside of those two neighborhoods, but according to the bill, the distance from which they can project from a building would continue to be regulated.
Johnson’s legislation comes amid unprecedented change in his district, which stretches from the fast-gentrifying neighborhoods of Graduate Hospital and Point Breeze, to areas farther south and west, including the Navy Yard and Eastwick. Thousands of new rowhouses have been built, adding taller and showier structures to older and modest rowhouse blocks. The boxy, bump-out bay windows that Johnson aims to legislate have become a well-known architectural feature of Philadelphia’s construction boom, just as aluminum siding and roof decks have.
For some homeowners in the market for newly constructed homes, balconies and bump-out bay windows offer two things that a traditional rowhouse can’t: additional space and light.Other people see these architectural features as a defining symbol of gentrification — bringing with it anxieties about cost-of-living increases and displacement. And yet others worry that the features disrupt the appearance and character of older blocks.
Bay windows “are absolutely reflective of the change that has happened in that [area] in the last 15 years or so,” said Patrick Grossi, advocacy director for the Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia. “They are an icon of that change, and maybe for a lot of people, they are an icon of unwelcome change.”
Historically known for their curved outward projection, bay windows have long been a defining characteristic of Philadelphia architecture, often appearing in West Philadelphia Victorians, for example, or South Philadelphia rowhouses. (In the latter neighborhood, bay windows are well-known for their holiday displays.) Johnson’s legislation is instead more likely targeted at the large, boxy bay windows that have appeared citywide in recent years, jutting out from the sides of new rowhouses built in South Philadelphia, the River Wards, West Philadelphia, and elsewhere.
Naturally, it appears as though Councilman Johnson himself has been using his position to profit from new housing and help his friends land sweetheart deals: