The iconic flipping departures board at 30th Street Station is probably never coming back. But the comforting clickety-clack of a mechanical split-flap display could grace Philly’s grand train station at some point in the future — albeit as part of the decor.
Oat Foundry, the local engineering agency that makes modern versions based on the classic Solari design, has been talking with Amtrak about a commission. Nothing is final yet, and a timeline is unclear.
Best case scenario? Amtrak installs a new board that lets waiting passengers kill time by typing in their own messages.
That’s what’s on display at a gallery pop-up in Old City this weekend, which runs through 5 p.m. Sunday.
The “Remembering Flippy Board” event commemorates a year since 30th Street Station lost its split-flap, and the interactive part is a ton of fun.
Walk into Room 244 at 3rd and Race and you can tap out your own message on a laptop sitting by the door, then watch it appear on Oat Foundry’s 4-foot-by-8-foot flipping board.
Also on display at the pop-up, which opened with a reception on Friday night, is a very cool tool that was implemented by the Eagles at the end of last season.
The battery-powered sign uses “flip-disc” technology to help defensive coordinators tell their players what formation to take on each play.
If you’re wondering why Amtrak got rid of the Solari board in the fist place, it had to do with accessibility.
Per officials, neither hearing-impaired nor vision-impaired passengers were being served by the old display. It wasn’t integrated with 30th Street’s public address system, so some changes that were indicated visually were not delivered via audio. Also, the font used on the flipping letters was was hard to view from a distance.
Neither of those issues are a problem with Oat Foundry’s modern boards, which are already in use by multiple companies around the globe.