Larry Freedman on Northern Liberties: "Living in the Zone"
Larry Freedman wears many hats. He is a drummer and professional studio producer. He is the Chair of the Northern Liberties Zoning Committee. He is also a proud home owner and family man. The Philadelphia native juggles all of these roles with a laid-back, yet passionate attitude. His self-deprecating humor is exemplified by a small quote he has framed in his home studio — “I distinctly remember forgetting that.” Despite this advertisement, Freedman never fails to find a story or joke to share.
Freedman moved to Northern Liberties in the late 1980’s, and not only witnessed the neighborhood undergo a large transformation, but he helped play a role in much of the change. After living in fear of the rampant crime around his commercial district house, Freedman decided to get involved. “You’re being attacked from all sides. You don’t see anything happening. You don’t see the city helping. You get angry, and the only thing that happens is the tax assessor comes and he’s assessing your taxes, and you say to him, ‘You should be giving me money for living here.’” He joined the zoning committee in 1986, became Chair in 1994, and has presided over many of the development projects that have altered Northern Liberties since then.
As a musician, Freedman started off as a drummer. He played in recording studios and various live venues across the city for many years in his youth. Eventually, however, he wanted to ease into a more regular work schedule. He has mostly stopped playing live gigs, and focuses on recording all types of musicians, voice artists, and radio commercials in his home’s first-floor studio, which goes by the name of 2nd Street Productions. Many of the jingles that populate the city’s airwaves can be attributed to his studio.
A recent idea of Freedman’s is a senior center in Northern Liberties. The idea sprang up when he realized how he and so many other people love the neighborhood too much to ever leave. “We already have a day care center. So we should have a place for people to go to when they get old. No one should ever have to leave this neighborhood if they don’t want to,” he says. When Larry Freedman talks about Northern Liberties, one gets the sense that he’s not talking about his home’s location, but rather his home itself.