Only Reason to go to South Street Now Gone

Actually that title is a little dramatic. I still have a drunken, 2:30AM place in my heart for Lorenzos, and (upstairs!) at Tattooed Moms is still alright every now and then, but the strips draw – the 4th and South Toynbee Tile – is now history. For those that don’t know (which is pretty much everyone on earth) the 4th and South tile was the last confirmed original Toynbee tile in Philadelphia. It was glued at least 15-20 years ago and in that time, withstood everything the intersection threw at it.

I’ll let tile fan, Colin Smith’s eulogy speak for the loss:

It’s okay folks. I’ll miss the tile very much, but the fact of the matter is death is necessarily connected to life. No matter what sorts of issues of relativity we may squabble over in regards to the space between conception and destruction, there is little room for disagreement in regards to the hefty, unwavering inevitability of death. This tile’s demise is as inevitable as its birth, which we can potentially date around late ’80s/early ’90s.

Rather than trying to beat death, I think we should use it as event to mark and celebrate the end of a narrative. Think of how many molecules came and went from this tile over the years! The tile itself was gone before it was ever even visible! In actuality, there is no ’tile’ at all, just a procession of molecules engaged in a finite process of “tile-ing.”

And what a process it was! I can remember the tile as a shining, colorful beacon of weirdness aglow in the eye of a younger me trolling along South Street in the early ’90s. And here we are in 2008, celebrating the times of these molecules in their participation in the oldest Philadelphia Toynbee Tile. These molecules performed quite a function for quite some time, but they will soon disperse and begin new lives in the corporeal bodies of our realm of operation – the physical world. We needn’t fight this process! Some would argue that we can’t. Our options are to make peace with it or be overtaken by it while kicking and screaming.

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