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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.


Local organizations partner behind new slogan, 'PHL: Here for the Making'

The Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, the Pennsylvania Convention & Visitors Bureau and other partners are putting forth a new slogan for the city -- PHL: Here for the Making. They hope to encourage not only visitors but businesses to head to Philly.

Rob Wunderling, president and CEO of the chamber, says it sparks a new energy at the grass-roots level.

“We really believe that the citizens in the greater Philadelphia region want to make something happen here,” he says. “They want to make it here. It can be made here.”

Wunderling says 42 percent of the leads for companies considering coming to the Philadelphia region come from individual Philadelphians who reside here.

“So we want everybody to sing from the same page,” he says, “and that is truly we are here for the making.”


Original source: CBS News
Read the complete story here.

'Michael Snow: Photo-Centric' debuts at the Philadelphia Museum of Art

The Philadelphia Museum of Art is presenting a survey of photographer Michael Snow's work.

But Mr. Snow is a bit of a polymath; he also paints, sculpts, performs as a jazz pianist and assembles photo installations that are as rigorously structural as his films but are also, surprisingly, quite playful. He hasn’t had a museum show of his photography since 1976, when the Museum of Modern Art gave him a small “Projects” exhibition. “Michael Snow: Photo-Centric” gives us a long overdue look at his work in the medium — starting with projects from the 1960s that overlap with film and performance and continuing to supersize staged color prints that reflect photo trends of the early 2000s.

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

Local 'Project Runway' winner Dom Streater shows at New York Fashion Week

Project Runway winner (and Philly resident) Dom Streater exhibited a colorful collection at New York Fashion Week -- her first show since her victory.

The luminous, naturally lit whitewashed studio was precisely scattered with models donning Streater’s blooming bright pieces. It was a particularly cold windy day in the Big Apple, but these garments seemed to be projecting their own sort of sunshine. In the months between earning her fashion fame and displaying her newest collection, 25-year-old Dom has managed to quit her waitressing job at Silk City Diner – that supported her fashion ventures – and settle into a place of her own; a studio apartment on Pine Street in Center City...

The foundation of Streater’s clothing was unapologetically girly. The palette offered shades of red, pink, black and gray that were arranged in custom floral-inspired patterns, both on their own or placed with a solid color. These custom patterns, a skill that crowned her Runway queen, are what made her collection a standout.


Here's a preview of the collection.

Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
Read the complete story and check out the pictures here.

Grub Street examines the NYC-to-Philly trend

Why do New York chefs come to Philly? And what makes this town different? Grub Street tackled the issue.

It's easy to think that people who leave New York couldn't hack it in the city's cutthroat restaurant environment. But recently, chefs are relocating just as they're poised to make it big here, opting for the comfort of Philly overpotential celebrity in New York. Peter Serpico left his justly celebrated role within the Momofuku empire to open Serpico on South Street in June. Meanwhile, after two years working at Torrisi Italian Specialties, Eli Kulp was poised to become the executive chef and partner of a little restaurant called Carbone (perhaps you've heard of it?). Instead, Kulp teamed up with Ellen Yin’s sixteen-year-old Philly restaurant, Fork, launched a spinoff called High Street on Market, and, most recently, got named the Philadelphia Inquirer's "Chef of the Year." So, what's the draw?

Original source: Grub Street
Read the entire story here.

Philly chefs share favorite 'under the radar' spots

We Feast asked top local chefs about their favorite places to eat when they're not working -- we agree with quite a few of them. Joe Cicala of Le Virtu repped Los Gallos, a killer Mexican spot in South Philly.

“I do a lot of takeout due to my grueling work schedule, and Los Gallos satisfies my Mexican craving. It’s always good—I like the cemitas poblanos and tacos a la plancha—affordable, and it’s right around the corner.” 

Original source: We Feast
Check out the complete list here.


Announcement of new Comcast tower has city abuzz

A new skyscraper will rise above Philadelphia thanks to Comcast. The city was abuzz with chatter about the new addition, including Inquirer architecture critic Inga Saffron.

Until now, America's most glamorous tech companies have largely been housed in suburban oases, velvet prisons that offer employees endless supplies of vitamin water and protein bars, but require lengthy commutes in company caravans from San Francisco to the cluttered highway strips of Silicon Valley. There's plenty of interaction inside the bubble, but hardly any with the wider world.

With its new 1,121-foot-tall loft building, designed by Britain's Norman Foster, Comcast fashions a rebuttal to all that. Think of the towering waterfall of glass that was unveiled Wednesday as a skyscraper version of the great, light-filled factory lofts of the early 20th century, but wedged into the unpredictable heart of Center City atop the region's densest transit hub. In the six years since Comcast embedded itself in one of the city's more straight-laced corporate towers, it has done a complete 180: Its second high-rise should be a glorious vertical atelier where employees can make a mess while they invent and build stuff.


Original source: Philadelphia Inquirer
Read the complete story here.

Philly photographer paints portrait of Rust Belt town in 'Homesteading'

Noted local photographer Zoe Strauss -- of "Under I-95" fame -- has a new project, 'Homesteading,' that examines life in a post-steel mill town.

“Homesteading” combines landscapes, street photography and formal studio portraits to explore over generations the history of those who built Andrew Carnegie’s wealth, the ways their fates were intertwined and the current lives of Homestead’s residents. After a year of research, she found it daunting to blend themes of globalization, a mythic past and the trauma of that past in a mundane 21st-century community. She actually felt she had reached the limits of what she could do with photography. So, she did what she always does when overwhelmed: Let strangers show her the way...

Ms. Strauss is not your typical Magnum photographer — she describes herself as a lesbian anarchist from Philadelphia and is unfailingly humble. She is interested as much by theory as by photographic practice, and she loves and is influenced by science fiction, art theory and epic poetry.


Original source: New York Times' Lens blog
Read the complete story here.

Philadelphia Museum of Art receives major gift of contemporary works

Keith L. Sachs, the former chief executive of Saxco International, and his wife, Katherine are giving a major gift to the Philadelphia Museum of Art from their contemporary collection.

The couple are also major buyers of contemporary art, working closely with museum curators to amass a top-flight collection of paintings, drawings and sculptures from the 1950s to the present. This week, the museum announced that it had been promised a lion’s share of the Sachs holdings. Included in the gift are 97 works by contemporary masters like Jasper Johns, Ellsworth Kelly, Brice Marden and Gerhard Richter, worth nearly $70 million, according to auction house experts asked for their assessment. Timothy Rub, the museum’s director, said it was one of the most important gifts of contemporary art in the institution’s 138-year history.

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

Recently digitized historic maps depict much smaller Philadelphia

The University of Richmond’s Digital Scholarship Lab has digitized and made available online the entire Atlas of the Historical Geography of the United States. By viewing the maps on top of contemporary images, you get a unique picture of progress. Check out Philadelphia.

The old paper maps have been geo-rectified so that they can be viewed atop digital maps. The atlas contains several series of maps across the years, which have now been animated. In one, you can watch the center of the U.S. population migrate from 1790 to 1930 (in the 1920s, the center of America's urban population was located in western Ohio).

As you might imagine, the newly accessible collection is full of arcane trivia about American exports in the 1790s, but also a wealth of knowledge about the early growth of U.S. cities, and what their first planners had in mind for them. One particularly delightful chapter is devoted to the "plans of cities" – all of them, of necessity, from the East Coast – dating back to as early as 1775
.

Original source: The Atlantic Cities
Read the complete story here.

The New York Times shines a bright light on Philly's new land bank

Philadelphia's recently passed land bank legislation got some big-time press in a New York Times feature.

The new city ordinance aims to consolidate ownership of the properties under the roof of the Land Bank. And to encourage developers to buy through one-stop shopping, the city ordinance also gives the Land Bank power to acquire title to privately owned vacant properties if they are delinquent in taxes. Officials said about three-quarters of Philadelphia’s vacant properties were privately owned and many were behind on taxes. That has deterred prospective buyers who have trouble tracking down owners of long-abandoned properties or dealing with liens on the buildings.

Once the Land Bank is operational later this year, developers will be in a better position to take control of whole blocks that currently show a “gap-tooth” patchwork of public and private buildings and land, proponents say.


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

GQ's Alan Richman weighs in on the cheesesteak wars

The renowned food critic drafted his list of the 10 best cheesesteaks in Philadelphia. (Ed note: the presence of Pat's and Geno's on the list is a disgrace; the omission of Dalessandro's is even worse.) 

So many cheesesteaks, so much to learn, even for a Philadelphia native, which I am. Who makes the best, a debate that has consumed the city for decades? Which is the best cheese, sliced provolone or Cheez Whiz, the legendary goop invented by Kraft in the early fifties? (American cheese, a third option, is too feeble to be a viable choice.) Which establishment chops, caramelizes, and adds the correct quantity of onions, which is my particular passion, given that the grilled beef in these sandwiches tends to be bland?  And, finally, just how good is the bread, a judgment we tended to leave to Maria Gallagher, a former restaurant critic for Philadelphia magazine?

Original source: GQ
Read the complete list here.

The 50K 'Rocky' run earns national attention

A 'Fat Ass' run stemming from a Philly Mag blog post -- plotting Rocky's run from the film Rocky II -- took place a couple weeks ago, and earned some national press.

The run through distal parts of the city seems almost impossible, even for someone as tough as Rocky.

Enter the ultra-running movement to show it is possible. Nearly four decades after the first Rocky movie, a group of runners set out Saturday to re-create Rocky's training run—all 31 miles of it, the equivalent of 50 kilometers...

Before sunrise Saturday, about 150 runners huddled in the cold near the South Philly house that Rocky moves into with his bride, Adrian, played by Talia Shire. This is where he starts his training run, hoping to beat Apollo Creed, played by Carl Weathers.

Many runners were decked out in old-school gray sweats and red headbands like the ones Rocky wore. Phil Yurkon of Scranton, Pa., wore boxing gloves and had "Lithuanian Stallion" written on the back of his sweatshirt, a play on Rocky's "Italian Stallion" nickname and a homage to Mr. Yurkon's ancestry. The 32-year-old hadn't run more than 17 miles before this run; he heard about the Rocky run the day before and decided to try it.


Original source: The Wall Street Journal
Read the complete story here.

Philadelphia's German-inspired Christmas Village is up-and-running

The grand tradition of lights and booths and hot drinks has once again arrived at City Hall.

The seasonal bouquet permeates the air of the Christmas Villages in Baltimore and Philadelphia, a pair of German-inflected colonies featuring crafts, local and Deutschland foods, toe-warming beverages and decorative lights as bright as a diamond tiara. The special events, which run through Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day, respectively, transport the glee — and the glühwein — of the German Christmas markets to the East Coast.

"It’s the spirit of the traditional Christkindlesmarkt," said founder Thomas Bauer, a native of Nuremberg, which holds one of the largest and most celebrated markets in Germany.

Over Thanksgiving weekend, Christkind the Christmas Angel even flew in from Nuremberg to officiate over the festivities, which are in their sixth year for Philadelphia and the first for Baltimore. Bauer chose the City of Brotherly Love as his original site because of the region’s German heritage and significant Amish population...In Philadelphia, the elfin structures occupied by more than 60 retailers encircle the 38-foot-tall Christmas tree in Love Park.


Original source: The Washington 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.


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