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The new Promise Zones are announced, include Camden, N.J.

The Obama administration has announced the latest round of "Promise Zones," and Camden, N.J., is on the list. It joins Mantua in West Philadelphia, part of the first group.

[The administration singled] out eight economically struggling communities for special government attention as they work together to reduce poverty and crime, increase economic and educational opportunities and attract private investment...

Under the program, communities designated as zones receive preferential treatment when applying for federal grants, benefit from more coordinated government assistance and would be singled out for possible congressionally approved tax incentives.
The federal government and local leaders in these communities work together to increase economic activity and educational opportunities, attract private investment, reduce violent crime, improve public health and address any other priorities that the communities identify.


Original source: The New York Times
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PA jazz treasure Steve Coleman plans Philly shows

The New York Times takes a long look at Steve Coleman, one of the region's jazz legends, as he plans upcoming concerts in Philly.

More than any other living jazz musician, the alto saxophonist and composer Steve Coleman seeks inspiration in unlikely places. So it wasn’t all that odd to find him here on a recent Saturday, scouting locations at Bartram’s Garden, the nation’s oldest botanical garden, near the southernmost bend of the Schuylkill.

Mr. Coleman, one of the most rigorously conceptual thinkers in improvised music, was considering potential sites for a pair of major outdoor performances, on June 21, the summer solstice, and Sept. 23, the fall equinox. Those celestial dates, like the arboreal setting, represent an alignment of his interests. Some of them, anyway.

Over the last 30 years, since his debut album, Mr. Coleman, 58, has been an indefatigable outlier in jazz, engaged in esoteric but vital work on the margins. He has also been a mentor and touchstone to many in the music’s current vanguard, like the trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire and the pianist Vijay Iyer, who once declared in JazzTimes magazine that Mr. Coleman was, for him, as important a figure as John Coltrane, someone who “has contributed an equal amount to the history of the music.”


Original source: The New York Times
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Philadelphia rolls out Indego bike share

The city's long-anticipated bike share has launched following years of planning.

Philadelphia's bike share program is finally rolling.

Mayor Michael Nutter launched the Indego system Thursday with a ceremonial ride in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Officials in the nation's fifth-largest city say the program has 600 bikes and 70 docking stations that operate 24 hours a day.

Users will be able to get a bike at any station and return it to any other station by using a member card or a credit or debit card.


The city has invested $3 million and another $4.5 million is coming from state, local and foundation funding.

Original source: The Associated Press
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The Pope versus the Philadelphia Eagles

The Pope and the Eagles won't be sharing the city in September.

According to Sports Illustrated writer Peter King, Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput sent a letter to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on July 8, 2014 requesting that the Eagles be out of town for the pontiff's visit -- presumably hoping that football would not interfere with the millions expected to gather in the city that weekend for a mass outside the Philadelphia Art Museum.

The NFL released its full 2015-16 season schedule on Tuesday, and the Eagles will not be in Philadelphia during the pope's visit. NFL senior vice president of broadcasting Howard Katz responded to the archbishop in October, according to King, saying the football team would be in New Jersey playing against the New York Jets on September 27.

"The pope did influence the NFL schedule," Katz told King on Tuesday. "My name may be Katz, but I wasn’t taking any chances.”


Original source: Sports Illustrated via Huffington Post
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Cliff Lee's spectacular Rittenhouse Condo has hit the market

Now that's a home run: check out Cliff Lee's gorgeous Rittenhouse condo. It can be yours for $6.9 million.

Original source: Philly.com

A Capella: The Next Generation

The New York Times shines a light on the rise of next-generation a Capella -- notably at University of Pennsylvania. 

The a cappella craze showcases a tradition that dates back decades — or longer — at some schools: The Yale Whiffenpoofs were founded in 1909.

Off the Beat started more than 25 years ago at the University of Pennsylvania with audiences of fewer than 100 people, said junior Jasmine Barksdale, the music director. Now the 15-member group performs in an auditorium that can hold about 1,000, she said.

"There are people I meet randomly who are like: 'Oh my gosh, you're in Off the Beat? I've been to every Off the Beat show since I was a freshman,'" said Barksdale, an economics major at Wharton.

The success of "Pitch Perfect," based on a book about the small but robust a cappella community, has led to the planned May 15 release of "Pitch Perfect 2." Two days before that, the Pop cable network debuts "Sing It On," a documentary-style series on this year's ICCA competition. Grammy winner John Legend — a former a cappella singer at Penn — is the executive producer.


Original source: The New York Times
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Commonwealth housing market remains strong

According to a new report, housing sales climbed 10 percent throughout all of Pennsylvania in March, and home prices are up, too.

There were more than 3,000 more closings, 28,111 vs. 25,400, in the first quarter of 2015, according to a report released Monday by the Pennsylvania Association of Realtors. Median home prices also are up from $155,000 a year ago to $158,000 in the first three months of 2015.

"We're seeing healthy activity in markets throughout the commonwealth," said Pennsylvania Association of Realtors President Ron Croushore in a statement. “While each local real estate market is unique, I think most markets are looking positive and will see a healthy increase in 2015. Consumers are showing more interest in buying homes, and sellers are often receiving multiple offers on listings."


Original source: Pittsburgh Business Times
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Philadelphia named 4th most walkable city in the country

As Wired reports, the City of Brotherly Love has been named the fourth most walkable city in the country by Redfin.

Cities that make life easier for pedestrians are, to many, better places to live. Studies have shown that walkable urban areas are healthier, wealthier and safer (perhaps in part because wealthy people can afford to live in nicer places)—and anyway, who doesn’t want to go outside every once in a while?

If getting around without a car appeals, you should head to New York City or San Francisco (if you can afford either). That’s according to a new ranking of the most walkable large US cities by Redfin, a real estate analysis website and brokerage.

The site uses something it calls Walk Score, an algorithm to measure how convenient it is to do daily errands without wheels, on a 100-point scale. It doesn’t take into account public transit systems (there’s a different score for that), but looks at things like the walking distance to schools, restaurants, and grocery stores, from any given point.


Here's whole list:

New York: 87.6
San Francisco: 83.9
Boston: 79.5
Philadelphia: 76.5
Miami: 75.6
Chicago: 74.8
Washington, D.C.: 74.1
Seattle: 70.8
Oakland: 68.5
Baltimore: 66.2

Original source: Wired
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Philly named one of the world's most romantic destinations

In a list of the world's most romantic cities, Philadelphia comes in at No. 9.

While you may already be considering known romantic destinations like Paris or New Orleans for your next trip, the truth is there’s a lot of beauty out there just waiting to be untapped. Those places will always be there, but enjoy these below spots before they get on everyone else’s radar as well...
 
Amazing food in beautiful, historic locations makes this city perfect for a romantic weekend getaway and a few special meals, says Perrie Hartz, Associate Editor at Fodor’s Travel. Areas like Rittenhouse Square and Old City have a quaint feel to them, and during the summer, festivals along the waterfront and at the Ben Franklin Parkway make for beautiful nights out under the stars.

Original source: Bustle 
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Newly discovered Cezanne sketches to be displayed at the Barnes

Recently discovered sketches by a master will be displayed at the Barnes Foundation on the Parkway. 

A pair of previously unknown sketches by Paul Cezanne will be displayed in Philadelphia following their recent discovery on the backs of two watercolors.

They'll be on view at the Barnes Foundation in double-sided frames, with both sides visible, from Friday through May 18. One sketch is in graphite, the other in watercolor.

The art institution says the images were uncovered during conservation work on two Cezanne paintings depicting the landscape of southern France.

Officials say the sketches haven't been seen since at least the early 20th century.


Original source: The New York Times
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The Sixers woes are a story unto themselves; a reporter hits the road with the team

The Sixers' terribleness is almost a thing of beauty. A New York Times reporter hit the road with the floundering squad.

There has never been a professional sports team quite like the 2014-15 Philadelphia 76ers, a roster of basketball castoffs and drifters that could be the least capable assemblage of players ever to suit up for an N.B.A. game. The franchise — widely believed by those who follow pro basketball to be deliberately in “tank mode,” in order to lose games and get a top pick in this summer’s N.B.A. draft — has offended sensibilities, provoked curiosity, inspired bizarre mathematical theorems...

A Philadelphian, by birth and temperament, I followed the Sixers off and on for months this season, trying to understand how the team’s quixotic plan was progressing. Oddly, the basketball team the Sixers put on the court was not uninteresting. On their better nights, they were not unwatchable. At all times, they were illuminating. I felt as if I were looking in on a strange social-science experiment: Throw together a group of marginal, overmatched professional athletes and give them a shot at their lifelong dream. The results were both inspiring and heartbreaking. 


Original source: The New York Times
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Philly exports its culinary legacy: Cheesesteaks, water ice, Wawa and soft pretzels

A couple Philly mainstays -- Rita's, Tony Luke's, Philly Pretzel Factory, Wawa -- look to take over the world.

The man intent on taking the Philly cheesesteak global saw a familiar sight from home on a recent trip to Florida: a Wawa.
The hoagie-making, coffee-brewing convenience and gas chain from the Philadelphia area is pushing hard into the Sunshine State, opening more than 60 stores since 2012 with another 25 planned by the end of the year.

Albie Misci, sales director at cheesesteak chain Tony Luke's, knows the idea.

He's helping take Philly's most famous culinary treat to Florida, California and even the Middle Eastern nation of Bahrain.

Other staples from the City of Brotherly Love, including its beloved soft pretzels and water ice, are also going global, as their Philadelphia-based purveyors aggressively expand into national - and international - chains.


Original source: Associated Press
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Family takes epic journey from Argentina to Philly for Pope's visit

A family embarks on an epic journey from South America, aiming to arrive in time for the Pope's visit to Philadelphia. 

As many as two million people are expected to be in Philadelphia for the visit by Pope Francis and the World Meeting of Families in September. But it’s unlikely any of them will have a journey as long — or as remarkable — as one family from Argentina.

Packed in a 1980 VW minibus are Noël Zemborain; her husband, Alfredo Walker (nicknamed ‘Catire’); and their four kids: Carmin, 2; Mia, 5; Dimas, 8; and Cala, 12.

“It’s a very big family,” says Noël. “A very intense family experience.”

That’s putting it mildly.

In March, mom and dad ditched their jobs, drained their savings, and told their three girls and one boy that they were about to embark on the trip of a lifetime.

“We are traveling all through the continents toward Philadelphia,” says Noël. “We are meeting people, we are learning things about them, and getting to know other ways of living.”


Original source: CBS
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Petty Island fantasy courtesy of the Better Philadelphia Challenge

Could an overlooked island in the Delaware connect Philadelphia and Camden?

Can an obscure, uninhabited, 292-acre island that sits in the Delaware River between Philadelphia and Camden be knitted into the urban fabric of those cities? One team of designers recently concocted a long-term development plan that would take rural cues — and also considers challenges such as food insecurity and rising sea levels — to do just that...

The group won the annual Better Philadelphia Challenge, which is presented by the Philadelphia Center for Architecture and open to university-level students. The competition looks for a solution to an actual urban-design issue in Philadelphia, with the hope that the resulting ideas could be applied to other cities. This year, applicants were asked to imagine ways to develop Petty Island, which most Philadelphians aren’t even aware exists but which claims a colorful history.

Hanifin and his teammates Akshali Gandhi, Li-Yu Pan, Chen Sun and Lishutong Zhang — all master degree candidates in either landscape architecture or regional planning — came up with a thoughtful vision for both short-term and long-term development of the island and the facing Philadelphia waterfront, with a focus on addressing issues of food insecurity, urban farming and agricultural education. The Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger estimates that in 2013, 22 percent of city residents experienced food insecurity.

The team’s winning multiphase proposal, dubbed “Delaware Valley Foodworx,” includes an agricultural college, seed bank, sky farm, discovery center and farmers’ market on the island. 


Original source: Next City
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Big drama on the Eagle Cam: Eaglets are born!

An eaglet is born live on the Pennsylvania Game Commission's wildly popular Eagle Cam. Check out video and images here!

Original source: Philadelphia Magazine


 
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