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48 Old City / Society Hill Articles | Page: | Show All

Museum of the American Revolution sets opening date

Construction at the new Old City site is moving fast, and the museum is set to open next spring.

The Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia has announced it will open on April 19 next year. It's the anniversary of the opening battles in 1775 between British troops and American colonists in Lexington and Concord and the "shot heard round the world."

One of the marquee exhibits will be Gen. George Washington's headquarters tent during the Valley Forge winter of 1777-78. It will be viewable through a glass wall and in a completely sealed environment.

The museum has built up a large collection, including guns and other artifacts from the first fighting of the Revolutionary War.
Officials say they were able to set an opening date after philanthropist H.F. "Gerry" Lenfest gave the museum a $10 million donation on top of his previous $40 million matching gift.


Original source: The Associated Press
Read the complete story here

The New York Times relishes Colonial history in Philadelphia

Looking for Colonial history? You can't do better than Philadelphia, where a new museum and a treasure trove of sites beckon.

When walking the streets of the Old City area in Philadelphia, it’s easy to imagine being back in the late 18th century. A small 8-by-10-block section was where so many of the famous names of the period — George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Betsy Ross, John and Samuel Adams, Dolley and James Madison and, nearly everywhere, it seems, Ben Franklin — lived and socialized.

Many buildings they passed by remain, the city having long ago taken to preservation. Philadelphia is a place where ideas, agreements, arguments, animosities and friendships were clearly part of the fabric.

“Philadelphia owns this story,” said Michael C. Quinn, president and chief executive of the Museum of the American Revolution, a $119 million edifice scheduled to open in April 2017, two short blocks east of Independence Hall. “It is an incredibly compelling story, and it created some of the most inspiring and lofty ideals the world has known. We have to keep telling it in as many ways as possible...”

“This is not Disneyland, but a real place,” said Meryl Levitz, president and chief executive of Visit Philadelphia, the city’s main nonprofit tourism promotion agency. “This is where America began. I don’t think you can have too much of that. The population keeps expanding, so there are always more people to attract, and from what we know, those people want more, better and newer.”


Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here

Khyber Pass named one of the country's top bars

The Old City watering hole has earned a spot on Esquire's annual list of the country's best bars:

Back in the 1980s, the Khyber was where all the punk bands played. Nowadays the bands are gone and it's a lot cleaner. But there's still a great rock 'n' roll jukebox, decent New Orleans food (and cocktails), and a whole lot of craft beer on tap.

Original source: Esquire
Read the complete list here

Legendary Bookbinders restaurant reopens under Iron Chef Jose Garces

A piece of Philadelphia history reopens under one of the city's culinary stars.

Garces has taken over the Old Original Bookbinders on Walnut Street after it closed in 2009. It’s now called The Olde Bar and it’s Garces 9th restaurant in the city.

“I wasn’t looking to open another restaurant in Philadelphia. I was just looking to do something special.”

The famous restaurant opened in the late 1800’s...

He adds, “Obviously this space has a lot of history, a lot of stories. We are nodding to that but we are also creating something that’s original.”

Bookbinders was known for its seafood and Chef Garces plans to keep it that way.

“Put a little bit of tarter sauce… King crab legs, poached lobster, poached shrimp.”

The drinks are paying tribute to the old restaurant too, offering drinks like the Clover club cocktail.


Original source: CBS Philly
Read the complete story here.

Fancy Philly condo featured in The New York Times

A sprawling Old City condo gets a luxe spotlight in The New York Times.

The condo takes up the entire second floor of a 1914 warehouse that was converted to nine residential units around 2005. Original features include pine floors, exposed brick and some windows; updates include recessed lighting and stainless-steel appliances.

Common areas are anchored by a great room with a wall of floor-to-ceiling windows. In one corner is a kitchen with soapstone counters, a pale-green tile backsplash and appliances by Viking, Bosch and Sub-Zero. Pendant lights hang over the kitchen island. One of the bedrooms is separated from the great room by a partial wall and an original wood door. Another is used as a den and office, with a built-in metal desk, shelving and large windows overlooking a park across the street.


Check out the slideshow here.

Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.
 

High Street on Market named No. 2 new restaurant in the country

High Street on Market in Old City was named the number two new restaurant on Bon Appetit's highly anticipated national list.

I dare anyone who has jumped on the gluten-free bandwagon (without a doctor’s note) to eat at High Street on Market and still call himself gluten-intolerant. You don’t stand a chance. Know why? Because chef Eli Kulp basically built this restaurant around head baker Alex Bois’s superstar bread program.

Let’s start with the breakfast sandwiches, specifically the Forager: seared king oyster mushrooms, braised kale, fried egg, Swiss cheese, and black trumpet mushroom mayo piled on one of Bois’s cloudlike kaiser rolls. Hell, put a tofu burger and vegan “cheese” on one of those things and I would still—greedily!—order it again. The black squid-ink bialy stuffed with smoked whitefish may sound questionable, but I promise it will be something you crave for weeks afterward.

Abstinence won’t be any easier at lunch. The “Best Grilled Cheese Ever,” served on house-made roasted potato bread, delivers on its inflated claim. And no dinner here would be complete without more of Bois’s signature loaves: levain with vegetable ash, anadama miche (made with molasses and cracked corn), and buckwheat cherry, to name a few. If, at this point, you are wondering if the No. 2 restaurant on this year’s list got here on its dough alone, the answer is -- unequivocally and emphatically -- a very carby yes.


Original source: Bon Appetit
Read the complete story here.

Check out the jaw-dropping Penn's Landing feasibility study

Last week, we wrote about the ambitious new plans fomenting for Penn's Landing and the rest of the Delaware Waterfront. Now, check out the awesome, inspiring feasibility study complete with renderings.

Original source: Delaware River Waterfront; HT PlanPhilly
Check out the whole document here.

Brutal winter bruises the local economy

The relentless cold and snow has had a big impact on small businesses, including those in Philadelphia.

At London Grill, a restaurant in the Fairmount section of Philadelphia, revenue is down 10 percent more than in the usual January slump, said Terry Berch McNally, a co-owner. But weather can also be fickle: On Thursday, just as Ms. McNally was fretting about whether her Valentine’s Day bookings would fall through, the afternoon brought twice as many drinkers as usual because local employers had closed early.

When weather strikes repeatedly, losses can build up. Valentine’s Day was blissfully sunny, putting an end to the immediate worries of both Ms. McNally, who got a flurry of last-minute reservations, and Susan McKee, at Old City Flowers in Philadelphia.

Thankfully, Ms. McKee said, the biggest day of the year for florists would not be a bust. But her revenue for 2014 is down about half from what it would usually be. Inventory has been hard to get because of grounded planes. Walk-in sales have been slow.

“It’s crushing me,” she said on Thursday, when Philly was blanketed by snow and ice. “I have thousands of dollars invested in perishable gorgeous flowers that I can’t get anywhere. I have three trucks parked outside the store, and I can’t move the trucks. This day is lost. There was no revenue today.”


Orginal source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.


Huffington Post Travel calls Philly a 'City of Makers'

Philadelphia gets props for its proclivity for hands-on activities -- many of them available to tourists.

Philadelphia's diverse neighborhoods have been the bastion of artisans and craftspeople since their very beginnings. In the early 1700s, immigrants sought their fortunes in the one colony that didn't require a tithe to the Church -- Pennsylvania. By 1740, Philadelphia was the largest city in the colonies -- an engine of industry. One German observer wrote in 1754: "Pennsylvania is heaven for farmers, paradise for artisans and hell for officials and preachers." This "paradise for artisans" has gone through a rebirth in recent years, revitalizing Philadelphia's flagging neighborhoods and bringing a distinctive creative energy to each.

Original source: The Huffington Post
Read the complete story here.



World's first selfie taken in Philadelphia?

A local photography pioneer turned the camera on himself:

The above self-portrait (that’s apparently what selfies used to be called), which resides at the Library of Congress, was taken by Robert Cornelius in Philadelphia in October 1839, 174 years before Jim Gardner would post a selfie. The first-generation American, born to Dutch immigrants, is considered a pioneer of photography. He took the photo–a daguerreotype–while standing outside of his family’s Philadelphia lamp store. Experts say that Cornelius had to remain still for several minutes to obtain the final product.

Written on the back of the photograph: "The first light picture ever taken. 1839."


Original source: Philadelphia Magazine
Read the complete story here.



The Benjamin Franklin Museum gets a facelift

After two years under the knife, the Benjamin Franklin Museum has debuted its fresh new look. Gone are the outdated exhibits, in are interactive activities.

Franklin is Philadelphia’s icon, no less than Elvis Presley is Memphis’s. There is no shortage of Franklin impersonators who attend events and are willing guides to the city’s historic area. The city prides itself on its diversity, and Franklin is without doubt the polymath of his generation. Philadelphians particularly love him for his warts — his supposed womanizing, his love of drinking, his illegitimate son, his offbeat experiments, his sardonic aphorisms.

Dr. Talbott and Cynthia MacLeod, the superintendent of Independence National Historical Park, of which the museum is a part, say they believe Franklin would love modern Philadelphia and its residents as well. He would no doubt be rooting for the bedraggled Phillies and Eagles and holding court at its many sidewalk cafes.


Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.

A New York Times interactive feature takes a closer look at Old City

The New York Times took a deep dive into four square blocks of Old City, noting the rise of galleries, boutiques and condos, and the continued resilience of historic sites and wholesale businesses. Click through to check out the in-depth video and graphic elements of the interactive piece. 

Things took a turn for the better around 1976, the year of the Bicentennial, when interest flared up in Philadelphia’s federal past. "There was a sense of a reconnecting with the earliest history of the city," said Nathaniel Popkin, a local urbanist writer and the editor of the Web site Hidden City Philadelphia. Mr. Popkin believes that the term "Old City" was coined in those days. "It had an 'e' on the end of 'Old' originally," he said.

Today, Old City's narrow brick buildings house an assortment of design and fashion boutiques, along with some remaining wholesalers of textiles and heavy-duty kitchen equipment. Factories are now condominium complexes with names like the Castings to acknowledge their manufacturing heritage.


Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete feature here.

Benjamin Franklin Museum opens on Independence Mall

A museum dedicated to Benjamin Franklin, one of Philadelphia's favorite sons, has opened on Independence Mall.

In an underground space originally built for the 1976 bicentennial, the 9,500-square-foot museum covers the life and times of the founding father, including his contributions to science, diplomacy and politics. It is next to Franklin’s original home, indicated by a skeletal "ghost house."

Extensive computer animation covers Franklin in aspects from active to reflective; for example, flying a rooftop kite to test electrical conductivity and writing his autobiography. Personal artifacts include a chess piece and the hand-carried "sedan chair" he used during the 1787 Constitutional Convention when he was too ill to walk. Matching games, touch objects and flip books encourage interaction.


Original source: The New York Times
Read the full story here.

Legendary Philadelphia clockmaker profiled in new book

Peter Stretch, a renowned and visionary 18th century clockmaker, is the subject of a new book by Frank L. Hohmann III.

Peter and Margery became role models for Philadelphians. They gave advice to unmarried Quakers about maintaining "moderation or modesty" in budding love affairs. The couple donated money to widows, orphans and victims of house fires and kidnappings by Indians. For elite customers, Peter Stretch built brass clocks with multiple dials that tracked the time and moon phases. The dials were surrounded by metal cherubs and crowns. The carved wooden clock cases mostly came from the Philadelphia cabinetmaker John Head, a fellow English Quaker émigré. (Head’s account books, rediscovered in a Philadelphia archive in 1999, have page after page listing transactions with Stretch.)

The clockmaker’s workshop was so renowned that its address, at the intersection of Second and Chestnut Streets, was known as Stretch’s Corner. His buyers flaunted the clocks in their finest parlors, and the survival rate is high. A few of the antiques still belong to his clients’ descendants, and two-thirds of perhaps 200 made in Stretch’s career have been identified, sometimes with handwritten notes attached describing their travels over the centuries.


Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.

48 Old City / Society Hill Articles | Page: | Show All
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