Downtown State College

Participants rappel down the 12-story Fraser Center.
Maddie Biertempfel / WPSU

Rappelling down a 12-story building isn’t a typical way to spend a Thursday afternoon—unless it’s for a good cause.

“Oh my gosh, that was crazy. Yeah, I guess I’m not as afraid of heights as I thought I was,” Wendy Vinhage said.

Vinhage—now at ground level—is director of the nonprofit organization, Interfaith Human Services.

Her group, along with the FaithCentre, hosted “Over the Edge.” The event raised money for each group's mission to provide resources for Centre County residents in need.

building construction
Min Xian / WPSU

The development going on in State College right now is expected to increase the number of housing units in the borough by about 20 percent. And largely they’ll be downtown student rentals.

While many Pennsylvania municipalities struggle to sustain their downtowns and shrinking populations, the State College area faces a different set of challenges. The place that’s home to Penn State is seeing growth. But not everyone thinks it’s the right kind.

apartment building
Anne Danahy / WPSU

Aviva Franz, a sophomore at Penn State, is leaving her apartment in the Metropolitan on a breezy fall day. She moved into the new, upscale building in downtown State College at the end of August.

“It definitely offers more, but there are tradeoffs," Franz said. "Like, it’s definitely more expensive than some of the other places. We do have a gym in the building, even though it’s small, and we do have a study lounge.”

A portrait of a refugee child, Hanna, is on display in the window of the Corner Room in downtown State College.
Min Xian / WPSU

 

State College resident Penny Eifrig spends part of each year living in Berlin, Germany. As Berlin accepted refugees in 2015, Eifrig got involved in the cause. Her involvement led to the photo series “They Have Names,” which has been on display in downtown State College since Nov. 3. WPSU graduate assistant Adison Godfrey talked with Eifrig about the photo exhibit and her work with refugees.

Adison Godfrey: Thanks for talking with me.

Protestors at the Allen Street Gates in State College, Pa.
Erin Cassidy Hendrick / WPSU

On a chilly Saturday afternoon in State College, among busy downtown traffic, Salvation Army bell-ringers and even a wedding photo shoot, a group of about twenty people solemnly stood at the gates of Allen Street.  

The group gathered for a protest in the wake of Michael Brown and Eric Garner’s deaths. This was the latest of several rallies in State College, some in support of law enforcement but most, like Saturday’s, to protest police brutality and institutionalized racism.