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In Philadelphia, A Discussion About Urban Renewal And The 'Trauma' Of Eminent Domain

Emma Lee


Two Trains Running, a play by August Wilson that is about to finish a run at Philadelphia's Arden Theater, takes place in the late 1960s, at a restaurant owned by a black man. The city is planning to seize the restuarant through eminent domain, and he fights to get what he considers a fair price. The characters talk about their struggles with racism, making ends meet, and a changing city.

Last night, during a panel discussion hosted by the theater and Keystone Crossroads, Philadelphia residents said there's a lot about the play they can relate to.

The backdrop for Wilson's play is urban renewal, a post-World War II policy of redeveloping distressed neighborhoods, often by seizing and condemning existing properties.

"Poverty and history have taught us that these sort of large-scale redevelopment projects don't always work out," said Rasheedah Phillips, managing attorney of the housing unit at Community Legal Services.

Read the full version of this report at Keystone Crossroads' websiteKeystone Crossroads is a new statewide public media initiative reporting on the challenges facing Pennsylvania's cities. WPSU is a participating station.