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Pope visit creates car-free utopia on Philly streets

What a weekend! The pope's visit transformed Philadelphia, giving pedestrians and bikers the run of the town. This editor spent three days tooling around the open streets, luxuriating in the car-free experience -- and even cruising on the Ben Franklin Bridge.

The Inquirer's Inga Saffron raved about the experiment, and encouraged the city to incorporate the lessons learned into everyday life.

When Pope Francis spoke about joy this weekend, he probably wasn't thinking about the ecstasy that comes from being able to stroll down the center of Walnut Street without a car at your back. Or the rapture of skateboarding the wrong way on Pine Street. Or the bliss of biking 20 abreast on Broad Street. Or the pure, giddy fun of playing touch football in front of the Convention Center on Arch Street.

The unprecedented shutdown of the five-square-mile heart of Philadelphia was driven by the need for security (or rather, the perceived need for security), but it inadvertently created the kind of car-free city that urbanists dare imagine only in their wildest dreams. The virtual absence of vehicles in the sprawling secure zone, from Girard to Lombard, was a revelation. Instead of locking us in, it turned out that the much-maligned traffic box liberated us from the long tyranny of the car.
Philadelphia has always claimed to be a walkable city, but this weekend we saw walkability redefined...

While no one would advocate making the traffic box a permanent feature of the city, this carless weekend has opened our eyes to the possibilities of closing streets and limiting traffic. We've seen that closing Center City streets, far from paralyzing the town, can make it a more joyful place.

Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
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Pope Ride draws 3,000 cyclists

The Pope Ride took advantage of car-free streets and drew thousands of cyclists -- from weekend warriors in spandex to kids in cargo bikes. Philadelphia Magazine compiled their favorite social media images from the event.

Original source: Philadelphia Magazine
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Fall means exciting new restaurants across the city

As the fall leaves turn, long-anticipated restaurants are opening across the city. Are there any future neighborhood institutions in the bunch? Any trends worth tracking? Philadelphia Magazine runs down almost a dozen of the spots they're most excited for.

Restaurant Neuf
943 South 9th Street, Bella Vista
Joncarl Lachman of NOORD is opening his second restaurant, this one with a bar and the French influenced flavors of Northern Africa. Lachman is especially excited about the bouillabaisse which will be a dynamic experience with the broth presented first and the fish added. The chef, who has spent lots of time researching in North African neighborhoods of Paris is also looking forward to the braised goat leg with sweet potatoes, dried apricots, roasted vegetables, crushed mixed nuts and spiced tomato broth....The bar will be the focus after 10 pm with a menu of bar snacks and a Cornell especially wants people to try VP Chartreuse. The aged chartreuse will be available for $20 during happy hour. Half-carafes are another way to enjoy time at the bar. A bar specific menu will be offered after 10 pm as the lighting gets darker and the music is turned up.

1200 South 21st Street, Point Breeze

The team behind Café Lift, Prohibition Taproom, Bufad and Kensington Quarters is adding another name to the list with Buckminster’s—a French-Asian concept going into the space at 21st and Federal in Point Breeze. And the chef they’ve got on board? Rob Marzinsky, who did his time at Pub & Kitchen and Fitler Dining Room before taking off to wander around Asia.
Now that he’s back, he’s using the food he ate there as an inspiration for the menu at Buckminster’s. And as a bonus, he’ll be working with Kensington Quarters butcher Heather Thomason, so we know he’ll be getting his hands on some good meats to start things off.

Original source: Philadelphia Magazine
Read the complete list here

Eight Commonwealth breweries triumph at Great American Beer Festival

PA continues to grow its reputation as a brew-happy state with victories at this national competition. Winners include:

Belgian- and French-Style Ale
Silver: Grisette, Sly Fox Brewing Co., Pottstown, PA

Belgian-Style Fruit Beer
Gold: xReserve Ale 05-15 Peach and Ginger Saison, Saucony Creek Brewing Co., Kutztown, PA

Belgian-Style Strong Specialty Ale
Silver: The Cannibal, Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant - Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia, PA

Belgian-Style Tripel
Bronze: Millennium Trippel, Church Brew Works - Lawrenceville Brewery, Pittsburgh, PA

Imperial Stout
Silver: Russian Imperial Stout, Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant - Lancaster, Lancaster, PA

Munich-Style Helles
Bronze: Goldencold Lager, Susquehanna Brewing Co., Pittston, PA

Specialty Beer
Bronze: Pack Dog Peanut Butter Ale, Marley’s Brewery & Grille, Bloomsburg, PA

Vienna-Style Lager
Silver: Oktoberfest, Stoudts Brewing Co., Adamstown, PA

Via Foobooz.


LEGO Vatican wows at the Franklin Institute

It's Pope madness -- and the Franklin Institute is getting into the act.

The city's science museum was hosting a blockbuster exhibit of Lego sculptures and preparing to unveil a huge display of Holy See treasures for the pope's upcoming visit when administrators got a serendipitous inquiry.

Would they like to see a model of the Vatican that a priest built entirely of Legos?

"It's amazing," said Larry Dubinski, president and CEO of The Franklin Institute, where the plastic brick structure is now on view in downtown Philadelphia. "People are in awe."

The Rev. Bob Simon spent about 10 months constructing a mini St. Peter's Basilica out of a half-million Legos. His architectural feat includes a Lego pope on a balcony overlooking the crowd in St. Peter's Square, which itself is made up of about 44,000 Lego pieces resembling cobblestones.

A colorful cast of Lego characters populates the piazza, including a nun with a selfie stick and a bespectacled figurine of Simon. All told, the display measures 14 feet by 6 feet and weighs about 100 pounds.

Original source: Associated Press via The New York Times
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On the Ground: Parkside Journal welcomes Flying Kite to the neighborhood

The local paper invited Flying Kite publisher Michelle Freeman to pen an intro to the program.

In 2011, Flying Kite Media deepened its coverage around neighborhood news and began to explore the possibility of transforming vacant spaces into pop-up community media hubs.

With very limited funds and a desire to connect directly with people across the city helping to move their communities forward, the On the Ground program was born.

The On the Ground program aims to dive deep into changing neighborhoods, uncovering the people, places, and businesses that contribute to its vitality. The Flying Kite team embeds itself in a neighborhood for a period of 90 days, bringing a currently vacant space alive by creating a temporary media hub that hosts meetings, events, art exhibitions, and open office hours...

Flying Kite’s team is thrilled to report that their On the Ground program is up and running once again, as of this summer, and has landed in Parkside. Made possible by support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Flying Kite will take its On the Ground program to four of the five neighborhoods that the Fairmount Park Conservancy is initiating their Re-Imagining Civic Commons initiative, which will activate some major public space projects over the course of several years.

Original source: Parkside Journal
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Taking libraries beyond books

The New York Times examines how libraries are looking to the future, and innovating along the way. That includes The Free Library.

Libraries aren’t just for books, or even e-books, anymore. They are for checking out cake pans (North Haven, Conn.), snowshoes (Biddeford, Me.), telescopes and microscopes (Ann Arbor, Mich.), American Girl dolls (Lewiston, Me.), fishing rods (Grand Rapids, Minn.), Frisbees and Wiffle balls (Mesa, Ariz.) and mobile hot spot devices (New York and Chicago).

Here in Sacramento, where people can check out sewing machines, ukuleles, GoPro cameras and board games, the new service is called theLibrary of Things.

“The move toward electronic content has given us an opportunity to re-evaluate our physical spaces and enhance our role as a community hub,” said Larry Neal, the president of the Public Library Association, a division of the American Library Association, which represents 9,000 public libraries. “The web is swell,” he added, “but it can feel impersonal...”

Last year, the Free Library of Philadelphia pulled together city, state and private funds to open a teaching kitchen, which is meant to teach math and literacy through recipes and to address childhood obesity. It has a 36-seat classroom and a flat-screen TV for close-ups of chefs preparing healthy dishes.

Original source: The New York Times
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Philly's creative class produces Pope-tastic merch

With the Pope descending on Philadelphia, the city's shops and designers are creating some awesome threads and keepsakes. (Philadelphia Brewing Company is also getting into the act, producing "Holy Wooder" IPA.) 

When you attend a big concert or an event, grabbing a souvenir is a great way to remember the moment. And with the pope coming to our area there are plenty of unique items being created to mark the occasion.

You'll find a Philly-fied find inspired by Pope Francis' historic visit to Philadelphia on the shelves at Monkey's Uncle in Doylestown.

"The turning water into wine kind of jumped into my head and knowing that we love water ice - one thing led to another," said Dan Hershberg, President and Owner of Philly Phaithful.

The threads are the kitchy and creative work of homegrown Philly Phaithful.

The apparel company, based in the Northern Liberties neighborhood of Philadelphia, wanted to welcome Pope Francis to the "Philavatican" with a sort of South Philly-esque, modern day miracle. 

Original source: 6 ABC
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Philly schools make list of top spots for aspiring famous fashion designers

Business of Fashion has released Global Fashion School Rankings, and the New York Times parses the list.

...the BoF one, which has a pretty rigorous and transparen tmethodology, is worth reading — both because of what its sheer existence says about the importance of fashion education and how it may no longer be the sad stepchild of arts college programs, but also because of the schools that make the list.

Some of them may surprise you. They surprised me, and, it seems, even the editors at BoF who compiled the ranking. “Perhaps the most surprising outcome of our Global Fashion School Rankings was the outstanding feedback from students and alumni from schools off the beaten path, suggesting that prospective students may want to carefully consider a wider range of colleges when making decisions about higher education in fashion,” wrote the editors Imran Amed and Robin Mellery-Pratt in an accompanying op-ed.

So what were these unexpected institutions?

In the undergraduate list, Central St. Martins (C.S.M.) was top, as you might expect, but Kingston University, near London, was No. 3, and Drexel University in Philadelphia was No. 10. Philadelphia University was No. 16, and the University for the Creative Arts, in Epsom, England, was No. 17. Pratt, by contrast, was 21.

Original source: The New York Times
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New high school program teaches modern manufacturing skills

A new program at Benjamin Franklin High School looks to prepare students for careers in advanced manufacturing.

Manufacturing isn’t dead. It’s just gone high-tech and a new center opening next month at Ben Franklin High School aims to teach modern manufacturing skills to students.

Workers are finishing construction on the Center for Advanced Manufacturing, on the lower level of Ben Franklin High. Classrooms for four disciplines: computer aided design, welding, precision machining and mechatronics to open this fall. Four more open next year.

David Kipphut, who heads the district’s Office of Career and Technical Education, uses Tastykake as an example of the assembly line technology being taught.

“They only have bakers in their research and quality assurance labs. Everyone working out on the field is not a baker. They’re all technicians.”

400 students will begin this fall. Students in the Ben Franklin catchment get first dibs, the other slots doled out by lottery.

Original source: CBS Philly
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Artists aim to create a physical manifestation of human suffering for the Pope

Even artists are getting into the act of prepping for the Pope with this arresting installation.

Artists are finishing construction of an unusual exhibit they hope resonates with Pope Francis during his trip to Philadelphia and with anyone experiencing trouble in their daily life.

When it opens Sept. 3, the grotto outside the city's Roman Catholic cathedral will house more than 30,000 knots, each representing a personal hardship or societal challenge.

"It's deeply moving to see the universal quality of these struggles," said lead artist Meg Saligman.

Organizers are crossing their fingers that Francis, who celebrates Mass at the basilica on Sept. 26, will visit the installation because it's inspired by one of his favorite paintings, "Mary, Undoer of Knots." The artwork shows Mary untangling a long ribbon — a symbol for smoothing life's difficulties...

Knots for the project here have been gathered worldwide. At a recent public event outside the Philadelphia Museum of Art, passers-by wrote their burdens on strips of cloth and then tied the fabric in a knot. Challenges ranged from addictions to student loans to health problems.

Participants were then invited to undo someone else's knot — to symbolically share that person's hardship — and weave it through a loom for all to see.

Original source: Associated Press via The New York Times
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ESPN ranks cities by sports uniforms; Philly represents

ESPN took a scientific look at which cities have the coolest sports threads -- Philadelphia came in at number four.

Philly fans may be notorious for booing, but they certainly have nothing to complain about when it comes to their teams' uniforms (including the 76ers' new set, which hasn't yet appeared on the court but looks very promising). From team to team, from top to bottom, not a stinker in the bunch. And the city's score will go even higher if the Eagles ever make the much-anticipated return to kelly green.

Original source: ESPN
Read the complete list here

Never heard of 'Philadelphia-style' ice cream? Make some before summer ends

Apparently there is an easier way to make ice cream, and it's called "Philadelphia style" -- it's made with just milk, cream and flavorings; no eggs. The New York Times investigates.

It is fluffy and light, letting flavors like vanilla, lemon or just fresh cream come through more clearly. “The beauty of Philly-style ice cream is that it pairs well with so many desserts,” said Eric Berley, who runs the Franklin Fountain, a retro-style ice cream parlor in Philadelphia, with his brother, Ryan.

Mr. Berley said that because this style contains more air and water, it is actually colder and lighter than other ice creams — the better to set off the flavors and textures of warm pies, rich cakes and sweet fruit. It is less filling and dense, so it can be paired with another dessert without making the whole thing too heavy...

Why Philadelphia-style? When ice cream first became popular in the United States in the 19th century, all-dairy ice cream was the norm.

Custard-based ice creams were referred to as “French style” — as in French vanilla — and they became synonymous with elegance and luxury. Superrich ice creams made with cream (no milk), or with cream and eggs, acquired names like “Waldorf” and “Delmonico.”

But the earlier formula of milk and cream lived on in Philadelphia: in cartons of Breyers, founded there in 1866; in the cones at Bassetts in Reading Terminal Market, the oldest family run ice cream business in the country; and at the marble counters of the Franklin Fountain.

“Philadelphians have great respect for history,” Eric Berley said. “We wouldn’t change something as important as ice cream very lightly.”

Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story (and check out the video) here.

The (cardboard) Pope is already popping up all over Philadelphia

Cardboard cutouts of the pontiff are already taking over Philadelphia.

Kathy McDade posed with the faux Francis near Independence Hall so she could brag to her family about spotting the famous figure.

"I thought let me take a picture and post it on my Facebook page, and show them all that I met the pope in person," McDade said, laughing.

Pope Francis plans to visit Philadelphia Sept. 26-27 for the World Meeting of Families, a Catholic conference designed to bring families closer together.

Nancy Caramanico, digital content manager for the World Meeting of Families, said bringing the cutout to various sites on "Philly Francis Fridays" has proved popular with both Catholics and non-Catholics.

"Pope Francis is described as the people's pope. So we have him in places where many people can see him," Caramanico said. "People are just really excited to be around him and are anticipating his visit to Philadelphia."

The staff encourages people to post their pictures on social media using the hashtags #PopeinPhilly or #WMF2015.

Original source: Associated Press via The New York Times
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Huge Italian Market development project proposed for 9th and Washington

Hearts leapt with delight at this proposal for a long vacant parcel at 9th and Washington -- it has character, retail, residential and PARKING.

At last night’s Passyunk Square Civic Association zoning meeting, conceptual plans were presented for a 5-story mixed-use building that would have 18,000 sq. ft. of commercial space, 70 apartments, 8 single-family trinities and approximately 150 parking spaces in an underground lot.

Midwood Investment and Development, the group that is responsible for the recently-completed Cheesecake Factory location on Walnut Street, is behind this development. Though don’t worry, they called this project the “anti-cheesecake project.”

In order to blend with the existing retail on 9th Street, there would be awnings on the street-level to mimic the historic style of the Italian Market. Having those awnings would mean that the retail locations that would be tenants of this building would be able to bring some of their merchandise out onto the street, just like the other vendors in the Italian Market. During the presentation, they expressed that they’d like to keep the street level “alive” and “interactive.” A total of 18,000 sq. ft. of retail space along 9th Street and Washington Avenue is currently in the plans.

Original source: Passyunk Post
Read the complete story here
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