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National pubs weigh in on Philadelphia, host city

If Jennifer Weiner managed to irritate you in The New York Times, head to the Washington Post for a more nuanced, loving portrait of the city from Karen Heller. 

Philadelphia is a city of stoops and row homes and civic squares. Rittenhouse Square is our sumptuous shared living room and Washington Square our front garden. We’re all about the neighborhoods, fiercely championed, some of them very nice, indeed, and others so busted by poverty they will break your heart...

“I’m over ‘Rocky,’ ” says Mayor Jim Kenney, who took office in January but not before dressing up as Buddy the Elf for a Christmas event. “I love it, but we’re so much more than that. It’s got a younger feel. The rising immigration levels have given it a different tone...”

After years of fretting about the “brain drain” — legions of college students leaving after graduation — the city has attracted a vital new core of young adults. In recent years, it has become — there is really no other word for it — hip, not through any government initiative and certainly not reduced taxes (hah!), but because Philadelphia is absurdly affordable, sandwiched between cities like Washington and New York that are so woefully not. Says Kenney, “You can rent a three-bedroom house with a basement for what a bathroom rents for in New York.”

Original source: The Washington Post
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Vogue releases its 'Ultimate Philadelphia Travel Guide'

The fashion magazine uses the DNC as a hook to run down tips for a high-class visit to Philadelphia. Think shopping, snacking and cocktails.

Starting today, Philadelphia is hosting the 2016 Democratic National Convention. The birthplace of America is an apt gathering spot for the politically minded conventiongoers—its historic core is present at every turn, but today, it exudes a fresh, dynamic spirit. Here, you’re just as likely to find yourself examining a centuries-old scroll as you are sipping a vegan cocktail or pedaling past a rainbow-painted crosswalk in the “Gayborhood.” Whether you come for the politics or opt for a less frenetic time to visit, explore Philadelphia’s world-class art collections, exciting food scene, verdant public spaces, and of course, storied past.

Original source: Vogue
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CBS News (and Mo Rocca) tour Philadelphia

Mo Rocca brought his zany humor to a tour of Philadelphia with Governor Ed Rendell (we endorse their cheesesteak choice: Dalessandro's), and CBS News also took the time to tell the story of the city through its murals

Check out the videos here and here

Original source: CBS News 

Exploring North Philadelphia, looking for lessons for the Democrats

NPR sets out for a tour of North Philadelphia with community activist and Clinton delegate Malcolm Kenyatta. He talks bout the triumphs and challenges happening in this essential, evolving neighborhood. Listen to the story here. 

Ahmad Nuruddin gave us a ride to the corner of Broad and Cecil B. Moore streets right in front of the Temple University Bookstore where community activist and yesterday's Barbershop guest Malcolm Kenyatta offered to take us on a walking tour of his North Philly neighborhood.

He had described it as the best and worst of the city. And when we got there, I wondered why. There were plenty of people, lots of shops, a lot going on. So I asked Malcolm why he wanted to meet there.

MALCOLM KENYATTA: Philadelphia is not only a city of neighborhoods. I think Philadelphia in a lot of cases is a city of blocks. We're right now still very close to the university...

KENYATTA: And that is the conundrum that we have to figure out. Philadelphia, I mean - we're hosting the DNC. We just had the pope here - first-world heritage city in North America. So all these great things that are happening but that progress is only hitting people in pockets.

MARTIN: We turned down a narrow side street with a hodgepodge of rundown row houses and ones with signs put up by management companies. A group of kids were playing basketball on a court nearby. Do you feel that either party is talking about the cities in a specific way - what the cities are for, what the city should do and specific ways to make the cities kind of engines of opportunity or to create opportunity that's more widely shared?

KENYATTA: No. In terms of a cohesive plan for this is what we're going to do for our American cities, no, I haven't seen that.

Original source: NPR
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Open Streets Festival is happening!

On September 24, miles of the city's streets will close to car traffic. The event was inspired by the fun had by bikers and pedestrians during the Pope's visit.

City officials have confirmed that on Sept. 24 they will temporarily close a swath of the city from South Street to Fairmount Park to vehicular traffic.

Clarena Tolson, deputy managing director for infrastructure and transportation, on Tuesday gave residents of the Bella Vista Neighborhood Association a heads-up about plans for the first Philly Free Streets event, according to Mike Dunn, city spokesman.

"The planned route will generally run the length of South Street winding its way through Fairmount Park ending at the Belmont Plateau," Dunn said in a statement.

LeeAnne Mullins, chair of Open Streets PHL, the nonprofit working to have select streets closed to traffic for recreational events, said she was at the meeting and pleased to hear about the upcoming event.

"We are really excited to be included at the table to assist the city in putting on an event of this scale," she said.

"I think a lot of people will be excited, pleased, and impressed," Mullins said.

Original source: Philly.com
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Dear South Philly Parkers: Move off the median

The long tradition of parking in the middle of Broad Street is going away, at least for the length of the Democratic National Convention. It's a shame visitors won't be able to witness this proud tradition.

Enforcement will focus on South Broad Street between Washington and Packer Avenues, beginning on Sunday, July 24 and ending on Friday, July 29.

Protest groups are expected to march down South Broad Street toward the convention venue at the Wells Fargo Center.

Enforcing the parking ban will help ensure the safety of the protesters and police officers, city officials said.

Residents are encouraged to check street signs for temporary parking restrictions.

Parking on the median on South Broad Street, double parking in South Philly and parking vehicles in any place large enough to hold them has long been the norm for decades.

Original source: Philly Voice
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A big shakeup in the local media landscape

A major local media group has been sold. The company publishes an array of local papers, and plans include increased distribution.

Broad Street Media, publisher Philadelphia Weekly, Northeast Times, South Philly Review and nine other publications, was sold to a minority owner. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Richard Donnelly, president of advertising distribution company Donnelly Distribution in Pennsauken, N.J., purchased the company from former CEO Darwin Oordt and others who had operated the company since 2010. Donnelly’s company, which has a 40,000-square-feet facility in Pennsauken, packages advertising inserts for delivery, reaching nearly 900,000 homes every week.

Donnelly announced immediate plans to expand distribution of Philadelphia Weekly to sections beyond the weekly’s traditional Center City territory, including Manayunk, Roxborough, East Falls, Northern Liberties and Fishtown.

He also named veteran Philadelphia newspaperman Don Russell, best known as beer reporter Joe Sixpack and creator of Philly Beer Week from his days with the Daily News, to editor in chief of all of the Cherry Hill, N.J.-based company's publications.

Original source: Philadelphia Business Journal
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AME Church celebrates 200 years in Philadelphia

This religious institution, birthed in Philadelphia, celebrated its bicentennial this week.

The African Methodist Episcopal Church, founded by a freed slave who created a new religion rather than endure racism from white worshippers, is marking its bicentennial in its birthplace of Philadelphia.

As many as 30,000 people are estimated to be in the city for the AME Church's general conference, which started July 6 and runs to July 13. Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton stopped by the conference Friday, courting the black voting bloc that will be key to her success in November.

From its roots more than 200 years ago, the African Methodist Episcopal Church has been embedded in the struggle for freedom and equality, and draws on its rich past to remain a powerful political and religious force in American culture.

"There's a recognition that this is a denomination that represents African-American excellence, independence and autonomy," said AME historian Christina Dickerson Cousin. "The AME Church is pretty much as old as the country itself. What other African-American institution can say that?"

...The church stands today as an example for social justice leadership, said the Rev. Mark Tyler, Mother Bethel's current pastor.

"[Founder] Richard Allen was 'Black Lives Matter' before there was 'Black Lives Matter,'" Tyler said, referring to the movement launched in recent years around the police shootings of largely unarmed black men and boys. "As opposed to simply starting a church, they began a movement. It's not just about worship, it's about educational opportunity, economic empowerment and raising the community. Self-determination is so critical to our identity."

Original source: Associated Press via The New York Times

Showboat in Atlantic City reopens under Bart Blatstein

The erstwhile casino has had a bumpy road over the last few years. Now it has new life under a flashy Philly developer.

The Showboat reopened to guests with 852 hotel rooms and suites. The building will keep the Showboat name, for now, but no longer offer casino games.

New owner Bart Blatstein told reporters Friday that he plans to rebrand the hotel by next year, but didn't disclose possible new names.

"It removes one of the eyesores," Atlantic City Councilman Marty Small told The Philadelphia Inquirer. "It's a big day for the city of Atlantic City. It's a win."

The opening was done without much pomp or circumstance and Blatstein told The Press of Atlantic City he didn't want to "over promise and under-deliver..."

After a disastrous sale to Stockton University, and a failed effort to flip it to another casino owner, the Showboat was sold in January to Blatstein, a Philadelphia developer, who last year bought and re-branded the former Pier Shops complex into The Playground.

Blatstein's plans to make that property into an entertainment destination have hit some rocky moments, including news Friday that a nightclub there will now become a comedy club, the Inquirer reported. The nightclub opened in March to replace a concert space that failed last summer.

Original source: Associated Press via The New York Times
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The New York Times celebrates an 'African art summer' in Philadelphia

The Times checks out multiple exhibits showcasing African art across Philadelphia, finding plenty to like.

People talk about Africa as if it were a unitary thing, one culture, one mind, which it’s not. That’s my only problem with “Creative Africa,” at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and my complaint stops with the title. The project itself, a set of five small, tight, concurrent exhibitions of African material, is richly textured, and in one case sensational.

Add to it a fine survey of work by the Afro-Caribbean conceptualist Nari Ward at the nearby Barnes Foundation, and the foundation’s pioneering and under-known collection of “classical” African sculpture, and this city can lay claim to being in the middle of a full-fledged African art summer...

One show in particular draws praise. 

Cultural tides move in many directions, and Africa gets as much as it gives. It got something fabulous when, a century or so ago, a modest Dutch textile manufacturer began sending brilliantly colored and patterned fabrics its way. This story is told in “Vlisco: African Fashion on a Global Stage,” by far the most vivacious of the “Creative Africa” shows. Vlisco is the modern name of the company, which is in the Netherlands and still producing wax-printed fabric styles so closely associated with West African and Central African fashion that most people assume that they are African-made...

It’s a terrific display. And to top it off, a platform in the center of the room is crowded with mannequins dressed in couture made from such fabrics by some of Africa’s top fashion designers: Lanre da Silva AjayiLeonie Amangoua, Pepita Djoffon, Josephine Memel and Ruhimbasa Nyenyezi Seraphine, with Philadelphia’s Ikire Jones thrown in.

Original source: The New York Times
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Prepping for protests at the DNC

Philadelphia is preparing for protests in conjunction with the Democratic National Convention -- local leaders hope to keep them peaceful and permitted.

Philadelphia officials say they will respect the First Amendment rights of all protesters during the Democratic National Convention, but they are sticking with requirements that all demonstrators have permits.

"There is no intended 'crackdown' on un-permitted protesting," City Solicitor Sozi Pedro Tulante wrote in a letter to the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania. The letter, dated June 17, was in response to the ACLU's concerns about how the protests would be handled.

Tens of thousands of protesters are expected at the July 25-28 convention...

When asked to provide details on how the city would handle protests without permits, Lauren Hitt, a spokeswoman for Mayor Jim Kenney, said no protesters will be arrested solely because they don't have a permit.

Scott Williams, an organizer with the International Action Center, said his group applied for permits to march but won't be deterred if its applications are rejected.

"The First Amendment is our permit," he said.

The city wants to avoid a repeat of 2000 when it arrested more than 400 protesters at the Republican National Convention, only to see most cases end in acquittals.

Earlier this month, a City Council committee passed legislation letting police issue $100 civil fines rather than make criminal arrests for many nuisance crimes. The offenses include disorderly conduct, blocking a street and failing to heed a request to disperse.

Original source: The Associated Press via The New York Times
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Habitat for Humanity Philadelphia ReStore hits $1 million in sales

The nonprofit home improvement store and donation center on Washington Avenue exceeded its year-one projections.

Within ten minutes of opening its doors to the public for shopping on its first anniversary today (June 23rd), the ReStore sold a dining table and a leather sofa. And little did shopper Victoria Wilson know she would be the customer to officially put the store over the million-dollar mark in its first year with these items.

The event kicked off with brief remarks from Habitat for Humanity Executive Director Frank Monaghan, future Habitat homeowner Clifton Carter, ReStore employee and Habitat homeowner Audreyelaine Coleman, and the lucky customer who was rewarded with a $100 gift certificate to the store.

The store sells new and gently used furniture, appliances, home goods, and building supplies, including items donated by higher-end furniture stores such as West Elm and Crate and Barrel as well as home improvement megastore chains like Home Depot. Habitat then uses all of the ReStore profits to build and repair homes for low-income Philadelphia families. The $1 million in sales over the past year has allowed the nonprofit to construct two homes, create seven jobs and redirect 900 tons of home goods toward homes instead of landfills.

Original source: Philadelphia Magazine
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Philadelphia Cheesesteak Festival returns, hopes to learn from its mistakes

?Last year's fest was a bit of a disaster, but organizers have learned from those missteps and hope to mount a more successful -- and tasty -- event in September. 

Xfinity Live! will host the second-ever Philadelphia Cheesesteak Festival on Saturday, September 17 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets will go on sale Tuesday, July 12 via the official festival website.

This year, the number of tickets is limited to just 5,000 total — down significantly from 2015’s event, which sold 20,000 passes and overwhelmed promoters and workers alike. Now, with fewer guests and guidance from Xfinity Live!, organizers hope some of last year’s issues will be alleviated.

At 2015’s festival, folks complained of high drink pricing, too few samples, and long lines, among other issues. According to a release, drink pricing will be “more reasonable” for 2016, and volunteers will be supplied to vendors in an attempt to keep things moving more smoothly.

“This year we are addressing all of the operational aspects to maximize the value of the event for paying customers,” said organizer Kevin Baxter of the festival. “We listened to the public and our vendors and took their suggestions in planning for this year.”

Original source: Philly.com
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Public pools open across Philadelphia

Trying to escape the heat? Philly's plethora of public pools are opening over the next few weeks. Take advantage of this urban amenity before its too late.

A full calendar of openings can be found here. All dates are subject to change.

Original source: Philly Voice
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Vogue lauds Fishtown's food and drink favorites

The fashion magazine makes an argument for this neighborhood's myriad awesome dining and nightlife options.

First came the artists, then the musicians, then the enterprising new chefs, and just like that, Philly’s low-key working-class neighborhood of Fishtown (so-called because of its history as the center of the shad fishing industry) evolved into the city’s latest hub of cool. The focus of this area’s renaissance? Really good food (and drinks too).

Like Brooklyn’s Williamsburg did five years ago, under-the-radar Fishtown has become home to nationally acclaimed restaurants (including a pizzeria deemed the best in the country by Bon Appétit) and lively bars. Here, a field guide to the very best spots to eat and drink in Philly’s coolest new hood.

Original source: Vogue
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973 Articles | Page: | Show All
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