Welcome back to Prism, a podcast series produced in partnership with the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. In these conversations, we’re shining a light on the power of creativity in PA communities. Season two’s episodes are coming out monthly, so don’t forget to subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts. That way you’ll never miss one.
Chester is a small city of over 30,000 nestled along the Delaware River southwest of Philadelphia. It’s a place with a long history. It was incorporated in 1682 and is home to the Chester Courthouse, the oldest existing public building in the United States. It experienced an industrial boom driven by shipyards and manufacturing, followed by periods of unrest and divestment. As you’ll hear in this conversation, it it was also a key site of protest during the civil rights movement.
Chester these days is an inflection point. Outside investment in a professional soccer stadium and waterfront casino have brought people to town, but even more importantly, a group of artists and small business owners have spent decades reimagining Overtown, a part of the city that now boasts galleries, shops restaurants, and performance spaces — almost all of which are locally owned. Today, we’re joined by Devon Walls and L. Ward, two architects of Chester’s Arts and Culture District. They talk about the area’s evolution and how they are working to make sure the city maintains its authentic, creative heart.
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Lead image via Chester Made.