PHILADELPHIA, PA - If you’ve had a chance to check out the new Cherry Street Pier on Columbus Boulevard, you might have noticed the section with 10 typewriters in the middle of the pier. It’s part of a larger effort to put 2000 fully-functioning, old-school typewriters into the public space by 2020.
For some people, clacking away on a typewriter is reminiscent of the good old days. But for a younger generation, it’s a whole new world.
It’s part of the Festival for the People, which is a 14 day celebration of art at the Cherry Street Pier, which ends on October 28th. Festival for the People features three weekends of dynamic participatory programs and events, sculptures, installations, videos, and banners. The festival celebrates the rich subcultural forms across Philadelphia, from comics to tattoos to internet culture, while also offering a fun and critical perspective on populism.
“There’s pretty much always someone on the machines,” explained Dianne Loftis, who is the Program Manager for the Festival for the People. “I mean, not just kids. There’s a lot of adults who haven’t experience typewriters, and they are totally fascinated by them and also a lot of older folks who grew up with them are tickled to see them in a public space.”
That’s precisely the goal. Bryan Kravitz of Philly typewriter and his co-owner, Orrin Leeb, founded the Philly Public Typewriter Program a year ago.
Kravitz explained, “We’re putting 2000 typewriters by 2020 all over Philadelphia; in colleges, libraries, and public spaces. Giving people an opportunity to use typewriters again.”
In South Philadelphia, they teach a class at their typewriter store, Philly Typewriter, to people who want to learn to repair and refurbish donated machines, which they then put back out into the world.