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Say It Ain't So: Vintage departures board at 30th Street to be replaced

Time stops for no one and nothing, but that doesn't make the thought of losing the flipping departures board -- and its iconic flapping sound -- at 30th Street Station any less sad.

The ticking departures board at Philadelphia's main train station could make its own exit soon. Just how long the letters will continue to flip and signal passing trains at 30th Street Station remains in question.

Amtrak spokesman Mike Tolbert says the plan to swap the Solari board with a digitized model is in its early design phase with no replacement timeline. A flipboard has directed station travelers for at least 35 years.

Tolbert says the model has grown obsolete, making it difficult to find replacement parts.

Amtrak wants to improve the passenger experience with easier-to-read displays and says a digitized board with synchronized audio and visual components would comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.


Original source: Associated Press
Read the complete story here

West Passyunk food festival feeds South Philly on September 10

Move over East Passyunk -- the western stretch of this diagonal avenue is coming into its own with a growing restaurant scene. This fall fest will celebrate its evolution. 

West Passyunk's culinary establishments will come together on Sept. 10 from 12-8 p.m. for the second annual SausageFest, taking place along the corridor between South Broad and 15th streets.

One of the purposes of the festival is to highlight West Passyunk Avenue's growing restaurant scene, which has fallen behind its burgeoning eastern counterpart that's seen restaurant openings like P'Unk Burger and Filipino BYOB Perla, and upcoming additions like Manatawny Still Works out of Pottstown, which will open a tasting room.

“After many years of watching East Passyunk Avenue blossom into a regionally significant restaurant district, the residents of Newbold and West Passyunk in South Philly are now getting their chance to experience an explosion of fine dining," said Timothy Lidiak, president of the Newbold Community Development Corp.

First came Chaat & Chai in 2015 by Anney Thomas and Margie Felton just off Passyunk Avenue on 16th Street and Snyder Avenue, followed by La Mula Terca — or The Stubborn Mule — on the 2100 block of Snyder by Israel Nocelo andArturo Lorenzo, who also own Café y Chocolate across the street.

"These new restaurants are now beginning to attract new residents to the Newbold and West Passyunk neighborhoods, which in turn is developing an increased demand for more new eateries," Lidiak said.


Original source: Philadelphia Business Journal
Read the complete story here

Obama coming to Philadelphia on September 13

The President will join Hillary Clinton on the campaign trail in the City of Brotherly Love. 

[Obama's] appearance in the city is scheduled for Sept. 13, the Clinton campaign said Friday. The time and location of the event haven't been announced, though people interested in attending can sign up online.

"At a public event, President Obama will lay out the high stakes of November's election for Pennsylvania families and encourage Pennsylvanians to register to vote ahead of the October 11 deadline," the campaign said. "He will urge Pennsylvanians to support Clinton and her vision for an America that is stronger together, with an economy that works for everyone, not just those at the top."


Original source: Philly.com
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Curbed Philly catalogues the '15 ugliest buildings in Philadelphia'

We don't agree with every entry on this list, but it's still a fun look at some of Philly's quirkier structures. Check it out here. 

Original source: Curbed Philly

UberEATS looks to feed Philadelphia

The on-demand delivery service continues its expansion, landing in the City of Brotherly Love. 

Talk of the ride-sharing company bringing its UberEATS service to Philadelphia has been around for months now, following an earlier job opening posted by Uber indicating Philadelphia was in line for the service. Uber quickly squashed any talk that it would be coming to the city.

Uber, however, has ended that months-long wait. UberEATS will [made] its official Philadelphia debut at 7 a.m. on Wednesday.

UberEATS will be separate from the Uber app, so new users must download the dedicated UberEATS app. Users can use their existing Uber account, including home address and credit card information, for UberEATS when they get started.
The app is available on iOS and Android devices, and online.

Philadelphia is one of the first 25 cities to receive the standalone app after it launched in 2015 in Toronto, Canada. Other cities that have it include San Francisco and London. A select few beta users already got a peek at the app, which had a soft launch in Philadelphia on Monday.


Original source: Philadelphia Business Journal
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17 Philadelphia region groceries get OK to sell wine under new law

Under new legislation, some Pennsylvania grocery stores and restaurants are now eligible to sell wine. 17 regional establishments are moving towards that goal, but only one in Philadelphia proper (Port Richmond Thriftway, 2497 Aramingo Ave., Philadelphia).

Wine aficionados — or those looking to buy wine along with their other grocery items — will be able to do so at nearly 20 Philadelphia-area grocery stores and other food-and-beverage establishments.

The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board this week approved up to 84 wine expanded permits, following a bill that expanded wine and beer sales in grocery stores, licensed restaurants, hotels and bars went into affect on Aug. 8...

Each permit was approved after verification that the applicant met all statutory requirements and provided information required for the permit to be granted, according to the Control Board, which said a wine expanded permit can't be granted unless the licensee is certified through the Responsible Alcohol Management Program.


Original source: NBC 10
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Strength of U.S. Women's Field Hockey team born in PA

Though they've since been knocked out, the U.S. field hockey team had an impressive run in Rio. And the squad's Pennsylvania roots run deep. 

Take a glance at the Olympic roster for the United States women's field hockey team, and you'll notice a recurring theme — 12 of the 25 players on the undefeated squad are from Pennsylvania.
 
The state's success in the sport goes back decades. Beth Anders, the leading overall women's scorer at the 1984 Olympics, is from Norristown. Ten of the 16 players on that bronze-medal winning team were from Pennsylvania...
 
"To a large degree, it's self-fulfilling," USA field hockey executive director Simon Hoskins said. "The elite players become elite coaches in that area, and they help develop the next generation of athletes. It's been a virtuous cycle of ever-improving hockey, and now we're at this level that — we can compete with anyone. We're world-beaters right now, which is great to see."

...Pennsylvania's success prompted the national program to move its headquarters to Lancaster in 2013. U.S. coach Craig Parnham said the training site was moved from Chula Vista, California, so the players could train together and build camaraderie while being close to family and friends. The facility, about a 90-minute drive from Philadelphia, is appropriately named the "Home of Hockey."


Original source: Associated Press via The New York Times
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A fight to save Jewelers Row

Toll Brothers is planning to demolish five properties on this historic commercial corridor. Can the city rally to save an essential piece of Philly's urban fabric? 

A day after city officials confirmed Toll's moves to clear five properties from Jewelers Row and replace them with an 80-unit tower, a pall of uncertainty has settled over the street.

Retailers and craftspeople who have operated on the row for years - if not decades - huddled on sidewalks sharing information, wondering how they'd been kept in the dark about Toll's plans.

"I'm so angry, it's unbelievable," said Frank G. Schaffer, proprietor of FGS Gems in one of the Jewelers Row buildings eyed for demolition. "You don't just uproot a business like this and move."

...The Sansom Street jewelers weren't the only ones distressed by Toll's plans.

An online petition posted late Thursday asking Philadelphia planning and development director Anne Fadullon to intervene against the development had attracted more than 1,000 signatures by late Friday afternoon.


Fadullon said in an statement that she welcomes the historic preservation community's input on the proposal and hopes the situation leads "to a broader conversation of how we can meet both our historic preservation responsibilities and our economic development needs."

Original source: Philly.com
Read the complete story here; to sign a petition to save the buildings, click here

A development with 'social impact' at 8th and Race?

One of the city's largest and most central vacant lots -- Race Street between 8th and 9th -- is the subject of an RFP from the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority. They are looking for an impact that goes beyond profit.

Later this month, PRA will release a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the lot. For the first time, the Authority will require developers to describe the “social impact” of their development proposals. The social impact component is open-ended, including anything from affordable housing and minority-business participation to healthy food access, job creation, or even simple cash donations to nonprofits or community groups. Greg Heller, the director of the PRA, says he’s just hoping to be convinced that a particular proposal will be the best one for the neighborhood and the city.

“PRA’s mission is to return publicly owned land to active use in a way that benefits people and communities,” Heller wrote in an email. “Scoring projects in part based on their social impact is a way of making sure that we are fulfilling that mission and our responsibility to the public.”

...The lot at 8th and Race has 80,000 square feet of buildable area, and PRA has been assembling it since the 1980s, according to Heller. It’s zoned for commercial use and doesn’t have many limits on the scale of development, so a developer could potentially put something very big on the site. The property is one of several, along with the Police Department’s “Roundhouse” and several federal buildings, that form a weird borderland between Chinatown and Old City.


Original source: Philadelphia Magazine
Read the complete story here

Cutting-edge cancer treatments showcased in NYTimes; Philly leads the way

An exceptional series in the New York Times shines a light on immunotherapy and cancer. Some of the big advancements are happening right here in Philadelphia.

Dr. Rosenberg, Dr. Carl H. June of the University of Pennsylvania and Dr. Michel Sadelain of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center have been at the forefront of this research for decades, laboring in separate labs in an intense sometimes-cooperative, sometimes-competitive pursuit to bring to fruition a daring therapy that few colleagues believed would work. Now, versions of the therapy for a limited number of blood cancers are nearing approval by federal regulators, and could reach the market as early as next year...

“We’re in the Model T version of the CAR now,” said Dr. Levine, now the director of the cell production facility at the University of Pennsylvania. “What’s coming along are Google CARs and Tesla CARs.”

In February, the Novartis-Penn Center for Advanced Cellular Therapeutics opened on the ninth floor of a Penn medical building, paid for mainly by $20 million from Novartis. It has gleaming new laboratory space, clean rooms with the capacity to manufacture therapy for 400 patients a year, and a great view of downtown Philadelphia. On the wall are photographs of patients with success stories, like Doug Olson running a half-marathon and, of course, Emily Whitehead.


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

The Museum of the American Revolution sets sail with life-size ship

The upcoming Museum of the American Revolution will feature a seaworthy attraction to lure in visitors.

Builders working with the Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia are crafting half of a ship — which at 45 feet can still impress in scope and scale — to invite visitors to learn a lesser known story of the Revolution through the lesser known 14-year-old James Forten.
 
The ship will act as one of the museum's primary immersive exhibits, explore maritime involvement in the Revolution and highlight Forten, a free African-American boy who served on a privateer ship and later became a prominent abolitionist and wealthy Philadelphia businessman. The museum is set to open in April just two blocks from Independence Hall...

So, to help the public learn more about the war effort and allow them to easily walk aboard a Revolutionary era boat, the museum asked for a ship that wouldn't float. Building such a ship was a bit counterintuitive for experienced shipwright Mark Donahue.
 
"We're building a boat that won't float. It kind of messes around with our minds some of the time," said Donahue, director of the Workshop of the Water at the Independence Seaport Museum.
 
Donahue led some 20 people tasked with crafting the $175,000 replica in a nearly yearlong process. About one-thousand pieces will be transferred to the museum in August to reassemble the ship on site.

Original source: Associated Press
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The war over dumpster pools

Philly residents are always looking for creative ways to cool down. Now a Cedar Street Block Party has led the City to push back against the innovative practice of turning dumpsters into summer cool-down spots.

Karen Guss, communications director for the Department of Licenses and Inspections, told [NPR] that it was "just another day for us":

"In view of the City's commitment to public health, safety and basic common sense, we will not issue permits for block party dumpster pools. And while you would think this decision would not require an explanation, three days of press requests have proven otherwise. So, Philly, here's why you shouldn't swim in a receptacle most often used for waste:
— First and foremost, this could reduce the amount of water available should a fire break out in that neighborhood. So if you would like to have water available should a fire break out in your home, don't illegally tap a hydrant.
—  There is also the potential loss of life by injury due to the hydrant water pushing a small child or even an adult into oncoming traffic.
— Finally, remember that the pressure of the water coming out of the hydrant is so strong, and so powerful, that if opened too quickly or closed too quickly, it could deliver a jolt to the main of sufficient force that could break the main ... and many blocks could lose water service until it is repaired.
— We are not screwing around, Philly. The Streets Department will not issue any future block party permits to the 2400 block of Cedar, and officials have contacted the dumpster rental company regarding its failures to obtain the proper closure permits and to take mandatory measures to protect the street during placement of the dumpster."


Bummer, dude. 

Original source: NPR
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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
Read the complete story here

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
Read the complete story here

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
Read the complete story here

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
Read the complete story here

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
Read the complete story here

The New York Times hits up Hershey Park

A New York Times travel writer comes to terms with his hatred of roller coasters, while still learning to love theme parks during a trip to Hershey. 

It was at Coney Island’s Freak Bar, in the summer of 2010, where I last thought that riding a roller coaster was a good idea.
What followed would forever be known as “the Cyclone incident,” at least to my loved ones and me, including the friend who, after we shared a steady stream of sangria, convinced me that Coney Island’s creaky landmark was the perfect “beginner’s coaster.” It wasn’t...


But as a recent trip to Hersheypark to reclaim some lost childhood joy confirmed, amusement parks, and theme parks in particular, can still be fulfilling, especially if you can shed the shame that often accompanies those of us who prefer both feet on the ground...

While Disney has Mickey and Universal Studios has Harry Potter, Hersheypark and its related attractions have a common thread with even more widespread appeal: chocolate. I just happen to really like chocolate, as does my wife, who joined me on this trip, so you can imagine our joy in being able to build our own custom chocolate bars, right down to the label’s design, at Hershey’s Chocolate World...

“We’re really three parks in one,” said Kathleen McGraw, director of communication for Hershey Entertainment and Resorts, referring to Hersheypark, its Boardwalk section’s water attractions and the 
ZooAmerica North American Wildlife Park.

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


 

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
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Philadelphia named top city for millennials, even if they don't know it yet

While millennials tend to crave a New York lifestyle, a recent survey finds that Philadelphia would actually be a much better place for them to live and work.

In a recent survey one-in-five Millennials said New York is their ideal city. Less than 1% said the same of Philadelphia. Ironically, however, the city of Ben Franklin and cheesesteaks outranks its more popular brethren when it comes to qualities the young purport to value.

Millennial-run apartment search site Abodo set out to determine what their generational-peers look for in a city to call home by surveying 2,000 people born between 1982 and 1998. Respondents rated 20 qualities on a 1 to 10 scale, with 10 connoting the highest importance.

It turns out, the top three qualities Millennials want in a city are economic in nature: a thriving job market (average score: 8.19), affordable rent (7.94) and affordable home prices (7.55). Beyond those core three, the ratings for quality of life metrics were fairly evenly dispersed. Rounding out the top third of the list were parks or hiking trails (6.52), non-chain restaurants (6.49) and quality pizza (6.11). Meanwhile, items ranging from top-rate public schools (6.07) to an LGBTQ-friendly environment (5.47) to access to music venues (5.38) all have above average ratings. In fact, the only quality not achieving a score greater than five was the presence of a local college or university (4.99)...

The company judged Philadelphia as the best city for Millennials in part due to solid marks on job market (the Philadelphia region’s unemployment rate was 20 basis points below the national average when the data was pulled) and average home prices (sale and rental) of at or below 30% of average income. 


Original source: Forbes
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41 million people visited Philadelphia last year -- the most ever

?Last year set a new benchmark for Philadelphia tourism and things show no sign of slowing down thanks to the upcoming Democratic National Convention.

Visit Philadelphia released Philadelphia’s tourism statistics today, and the numbers are record-breaking: 41 million people visited our city last year, up from 39 million in 2014.

But to some extent, the results are unsurprising -- this marks the sixth year in a row that Philadelphia has broken the previous year’s tourism record. And with the city playing host to marquee events like the papal visit in 2015 and the Democratic National Convention this year, why should we be surprised? Philly’s a city on the rise. (The New York Times shouted us out in its "36 hours" series in May).

And while Philly rises, its economic fortunes do, too. According to Visit Philadelphia, visitors to the city generated $10.7 billion in economic impact, or, put another way, $29 million every single day. 


Original source: Philadelphia Magazine
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PA liquor laws take step into the future: Wine in grocery stores!

Pennsylvania's liquor laws have long contained vestiges of prohibition -- especially when it comes to wine sales. Now that is changing.

Barely a day after it sped through the House and unexpectedly landed on his desk, Gov. Wolf on Wednesday signed a law to let hundreds of restaurants, hotels, and grocery stores sell wine.

The bill takes effect in 60 days, though it might take months for consumers to see the impact.

Besides granting by-the-bottle wine licenses for stores that already sell beer, the measure takes steps to loosen the state's oft-criticized control of the alcohol market.

It permits direct shipments of wine to homes, and removes restrictions on when State Stores can open on Sundays and holidays. It also gives the Liquor Control Board flexibility in pricing, and provides licenses allowing casinos to sell alcohol around the clock.

"For the last 80-some years we have not been able to do this, so this truly is historic," Wolf said in an afternoon signing ceremony...

The LCB operates more than 600 wine and spirits stores, and consumers can also purchase bottles at wineries or through a state website.

The law expands the roster of potential wine vendors to include about 10,000 holders of restaurant licenses - including more than 300 grocery and convenience stores now allowed to sell beer - and about 1,200 holders of hotel licenses, according to Elizabeth Brassell, an LCB spokeswoman.

Any of those businesses could seek a permit allowing them to sell up to four bottles of wine per customer for off-premises consumption until 11 at night.


Original source: Philly.com
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Has the farmers' market movement hit a plateau?

?As the local food movement matures, farmers' markets are trying to figure out the perfect formula. While some new markets have opened in recent years, others have closed or retooled. Philly is now home to about 40 markets.

Headhouse, arguably the city's most venerable farmers' market, is marking its 10th year. A lot has changed in that time...The number of markets has nearly doubled since 2006, to 8,476 last year.

But there are signs the movement might be plateauing.

Farmers' overall sales at markets, after climbing dramatically, declined about 1 percent from 2007 to 2012, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service.

And though there are several new markets this year, others have closed.

"The landscape has changed, in that there are a lot of places for folks to get local food," said Lisa Kelly, who manages Headhouse for the nonprofit Food Trust. Competition includes CSAs, boutiques like Green Aisle Grocery, and even Walmart. "We're not the only game in town anymore."

Jon Glyn, farmers' market program manager at Farm to City, said the business has been maturing.

"I feel like we're hitting the second wave of the farmers' market movement," he said.

"For 10 or 15 years, we've had a lot of interest in farmers' markets. Every neighborhood wanted their own, and even old-school farmers that gave up on farmers' markets in the '80s and '90s are now coming back. Some of our markets are on their 10th year, and they've actually inspired this new generation of young people who are getting into farming. But they're having trouble finding spots at farmers' markets that already have established vendors, and everyone is fighting for the same dollars."


Original source: Philly.com
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Philly closer to becoming first major city to pass soda tax

The New York Times takes a look at Philly's soda tax proposal, and why it might succeed where others failed. 

If the measure passes a final vote next week, as it is expected to do, it will impose a tax of 1.5 cents for every ounce that includes sugar or artificial sweeteners — about 30 cents for a 20-ounce drink or $2.16 for a 12-pack. On Wednesday night, it was passed on a voice vote by the City Council’s “committee of the whole,” which includes the entire council.

Mayor Jim Kenney’s original proposal was to tax sugary drinks at 3 cents an ounce, a rate that would have doubled the price of many sodas. Aware of the political challenges, he tried a novel strategy to promote his tax. Instead of selling it as a nanny state measure meant to make the city healthier, he presented it as a big untapped source of revenue that could be used to pay for popular initiatives, including expanded prekindergarten, and renovations of city libraries and recreation centers.

That choice appears to have paid off, but it may come with some consequences. Because the measure was cast as a revenue-raiser, the final deal is not exactly what public health experts might prefer. Council members, in negotiations, altered the spectrum of taxed products to hit budget targets. The measure that passed Wednesday taxes not just sugary drinks but also diet drinks. It exempts juice drinks from the tax as long as they have 50 percent juice, even if they also have added sugar. Minutes before the final vote at 8 p.m., the city’s finance department revealed that some soda-tax revenue would also be used to plug a budget shortfall...

“There has been much discussion around the world and within the U.S. to adopt soda taxes,” Kelly Brownell, the dean of the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University, and a soda-tax advocate, said in an email. “Philadelphia has now created an entirely new level of momentum.”


Original source: The New York Times
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Atlas Obscura visits Fairmount Park cave linked to 17th century cult

?Built into the side of a hill in Fairmount Park, the "Kelpius Cave" is believed to have been home to America’s first cult of mystics to predict the apocalypse. Atlas Obscura investigates.

Although cynics suspect the structure is simply an old springhouse, tradition holds that this area along the banks of Wissahickon Creek was settled in 1694 by mystic and scholar Johannes Kelpius and his followers. Believing, based on elaborate interpretation of the Bible's "Book of Revelations," that the world was going to end that year, the monks sought to live a solitary lifestyle in the wilderness while awaiting the End of Days and the Second Coming...

When the end of the world did not come as planned, Kelpius and the monks stayed in the Wissahickon, creating art and music, studying the skies, and helping the community around them when they could. The group mostly disbanded after Kelpius’s death in 1708, though many stayed in the community as doctors and lawyers. One of the later members of the Society, Christopher Witt, painted the first oil painting in America, with Kelpius as his subject. The painting is currently housed at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. 

Until the 1940s, the structure dubbed Cave of Kelpius had a fireplace and chimney, which were removed due to vandalism, but do hint at its having been more than a springhouse. The cave's true identity has been debated for many years. It's marked today by a granite monolith placed outside the entrance in 1961 by the Rosicrucians (meaning "rose" and "cross"), a worldwide mystical brotherhood that claims to have secret wisdom dating to ancient Egypt, and considers Kelpius the original American Rosicrucian.

Today, you'll find the enigmatic structure located on the trails near the southern end of the 1,800-acre Wissahickon Valley Park, a section of Fairmount Park in Northwest Philadelphia. The cave is sometimes used as a homeless shelter today, so be mindful before entering. 


Original source: Atlas Obscura
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Federal Donuts expands to Nashville, Miami

The local chicken-and-donuts chain continues its quest for world domination, announcing plans for locations in Miami and Nashville. 

It's all happening. The best fried chicken and doughnuts in the country are no longer confined to Philadelphia. Congratulations, America, you're getting more Federal Donuts.

Philadelphia's beloved fried-chicken-and-doughnuts-and-coffee chainlet was founded in 2011 by acclaimed chef and 2014 Eater Chef of the Year Michael Solomonov with his Zahav restaurant partner Steve Cook, local coffee shop owners Tom Henneman and Bobby Logue, and Philly food maven Felicia D'Ambrosio. The brand (often referred to as to FedNuts) opened to epic lines and now boasts five locations in Philadelphia. Fried chicken and doughnuts were a rare combination in the first years of this decade, but diners can now find similar chicken and doughnut shops across the country.

Federal Donuts' owners have been teasing more locations for years. Back in 2014, Cook told Philadelphia Business Journal that he was looking at "cities that are drivable [to] Philadelphia" for potential new locations. So it was truly surprising when Eater learned earlier this week that the first two locations outside Philadelphia would be opening in the far-flung cities of Nashvilleand Miami. The FedNuts crew has opened the floodgates and is in full expansion mode.


Original source: Eater
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The New York Times spends 36 hours in Philadelphia

The Gray Lady's iconic recurring travel feature visits Philadelphia in advance of the DNC. Check out their itinerary here. 

With the Democratic National Convention to be held here in July, and its expected influx of 50,000 people, Philadelphia is more than ready to show itself off to the world. Thanks to a compact city center and plenty of bike lanes — plus a popular bike-share program — Philadelphia rewards exploration on two feet or two wheels. A college town, the city has a young vibe and a profusion of happy hours, as well as one of the most dynamic culinary landscapes in the country. The restaurant scene is expanding rapidly, from Frankford Avenue in the north to Passyunk Avenue in the south, discarding traditional “red sauce” Italian restaurants and working-class bars in favor of indie B.Y.O.B.s and elegant cafes. With an ever-increasing number of stellar museums, the transformation of industrial spaces into artist studios and a newly invigorated clutch of outdoorsy offerings, the city has never been more inviting — and not just to the Democrats.

Original source: The New York Times
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Bart Blatstein to reopen A.C. casino, but without the casino part

The Philadelphia developer is bullish on Atlantic City, and he's starting with the Showboat. 

Real estate developer Bart Blatstein said on Friday he will reopen the Showboat, one of Atlantic City's four shuttered casino hotels, in July, but without the gambling.

Blatstein, chief executive of Philadelphia-based Tower Investments, said in a statement that 852 hotel rooms will open in two towers at the Showboat, making it the largest non-casino hotel in New Jersey...

The Showboat carries a deed restriction that currently prevents it from reopening the casino. Former Showboat owner Caesars Entertainment Corp closed it in 2014 even though it had been marginally profitable.

Asked whether he would ever seek to reopen the casino at Showboat, Blatstein said in a phone interview that "all options are open ... It's a remarkable property. I'm very bullish on Atlantic City."

He aims to open the hotel by July 4, though it could take an additional week.

"To open up that many rooms in a month's time, it's a lot of sheets and pillowcases. It's a lot of work," he said.

Blatstein has other developments in the seaside resort town, including the boardwalk entertainment and retail complex The Playground at Caesars casino hotel.


Original source: Reuters (via The New York Times)
Read the complete story here.  

Shark Tank auditions come to Philadelphia

Casting for the entrepreneurship-based reality show is coming to Temple University this weekend. Get your pitches ready!

Entrepreneurial students at Temple University might find themselves on national TV in a few months pitching their best business ideas. The hit ABC show Shark Tank will host a casting session at Temple this Saturday, June 11th. Between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., students, alumni, faculty and staff will be able to pitch their business ideas to the show’s casting team in hopes of winning a future spot in front of the “sharks.” 

The show, which received Emmy awards in 2014 and 2015, gives budding entrepreneurs the chance to woo over self-made millionaires and billionaires in hopes of securing an investment for their own business. After six seasons, the judges have already offered $66 million to a various start-ups, according to the show’s website.

The casting session will be held at Alter Hall at the Fox School of Business and involves a quick one-minute pitch and follow-up questions with the show’s casting directors. From there, a few people may be chosen to move on to the next round, which is taped and aired.


Original source: Philadelphia Magazine
Click here for details. 

International company establishes U.S. headquarters in Philly

Pruftechnik, global provider of high-quality testing and measuring systems for industrial maintenance, has decided on Philadelphia for it's United States base.

The German company will add 35 new jobs to region, investing $1.4 million in the project. The decision comes a few months after the Kenney Administration said Germany would be a focus of efforts to recruit international businesses to the city.

Pruftechnik's Philadelphia office will hold sales and management positions at a renovated building on Bartram Avenue. Pruftechnik Services, a subsidiary that provides specialized machinery services, will also reside in the city.

“The new operation enables Pruftechnik to bridge the gap between R&D, product management, international sales and production in Germany, and the end-user community in the United States," said Florian Buder, Pruftechnik's North American CEO. "The ‘factory direct’ approach makes us more customer-centric.”


Original source: Philadelphia Business Journal
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Slide the City bails on Philly

The giant urban waterslide event is once again skipping its Philadelphia stop. Turns out the City wasn't too stoked about the organization.

Following last week’s announcement that Slide the City would come to Philadelphia this summer after missing a scheduled 2015 date, the event has again been canceled.
 
Slide the City was scheduled to bring its 1,000-foot slip-and-slide to Sedgley Drive in Fairmount Park by the Philadelphia Museum of Art on Saturday, Aug. 6. However, as Lauren Hitt, spokeswoman for Mayor Kenney’s administration, tells us, a permit for Slide the City will not be issued.

"We just felt like they weren't great partners," she said in an interview today.

She also said five other parties had already reserved the picnic and pavilion areas at Lemon Hill where the slide was hoping to set up Aug. 6.

Slide the City last year canceled its Philadelphia stop at the last minute after months of promotion. In an email following last year’s cancelation, Slide the City said simply that "our season is coming to an end" and that "we’re sad we can’t come to Philadelphia this year."


Philly Voice has more on the conflict.

Original source: Philly.com
Check out the complete story here

Philly's parks mapped via Google Street View

A new Google Street View initiative -- launched in collaboration with Philadelphia Parks & Recreation and the Fairmount Park Conservancy -- will make it possible to visualize 200 miles of trails and visit various sites within the country's largest urban park system.

Launched in in 2007, the Street View feature of Google Maps has done wonders for misty-eyed nostalgia and real estate voyeurism. That is, the technology has made it dually possible to remotely revisit your childhood cul-de-sac and place yourself squarely in front of that fixer-upper of a dream home across town that might, fingers crossed, come on the market sooner than later.

More recently, Google Street View has embraced armchair adventure tourism and gone off-road, so to speak, with the addition of dozens of far-flung — and a few not all that far-flung — destinations ranging from the Galapagos Islands to Grand Canyon and the Pyramids of Giza. Does the fact that you may never have the chance to visit the Citadel of Qaitbay, the Wieliczka Salt Mine or Finland’s one-and-only Santa Claus Village in your lifetime keep you up at night? Now, you can visit all three in a single evening through the magic of 360-degree panoramic imagery...Philadelphia, home to Fairmount Park, will be the first city to digitally document its entire park system on Google Street View as part of the tech giant’s Google Trekker program...

Equipped with a 15-lens camera apparatus that snaps panoramic images every three seconds, the 50-pound Google Trekker backpack is on loan — so Philadelphia better work fast to capture every nook and cranny of its park system within the allotted six-month time frame. From the sound of it, the city hired the right gents to perform the task. Both experienced hikers, Conor Michaud is a gym instructor and Gint Stirbys is a professional mover. On their feet from 9 a.m. through 3 p.m., the roving documentarians will alternate duties — one will don the super-hefty camera-backpack while the other will walk ahead to clear the parks’ trails by removing any obstacles or litter.


Original source: Mother Nature Network
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Suburban Chinatowns on the rise, including one in Exton

Chinese immigrants are increasingly gravitating towards suburban communities. This is both a result of urban core gentrification and shifting tastes. In the Philadelphia region, Exton has a booming Chinese population. 
 
Leong says Chinatowns on the East Coast are becoming a lot less Chinese. He and a group of researchers from the University of Pennsylvania recently studied the Chinatowns of New York, Philadelphia, and Boston, and found that gentrification and rising housing costs were making it hard for blue-collar immigrants to live there. Their study found that in 1990, Asian residents comprised 45 to 75 percent of the three Chinatown neighborhoods. Twenty years later, they made up 42 to 46 percent. During that time, the white population doubled in Philadelphia and Boston’s Chinatown neighborhoods...

America’s new Chinatowns are basically strip malls in the suburbs, says Leong. The town of  Exton, an affluent suburb of Philadelphia where the average home value is about $340,000, is a good example of one. During a recent visit, I noticed a handful of Chinese restaurants and grocery stores scattered among big-box retailers like Walmart and Toys “R” Us. In 2000, only six percent of Exton’s residents were Asian. Now, about 20 percent are. Many Indian and Chinese immigrants who live there work for big financial and pharmaceutical companies in the area.

Cheryl Wang, a risk analyst for a large U.S. bank, lives in Exton with her husband and their two children. She says about half of her neighbors are Asian and the other half are white. Wang, 42, is representative of many of the new Chinese immigrants: She has two master’s degrees, one in information sciences and the other in business administration, and has spent most of adult life in the Philadelphia suburbs. She avoids Chinatown at all costs. “Our backgrounds are very different—we speak different languages,” says Wang, who speaks Mandarin. “I really dislike [Chinatown]. It's not as clean as the suburbs and there are a lot of crowds.” Wang says she prefers the peacefulness of the suburbs, where, unlike in China, she doesn’t need connections to get her children into good schools.
 
Original source: The Atlantic
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Curtis Institute receives $55 million gift

The Center City music school gets a huge boost.

The Curtis Institute of Music, the prestigious conservatory in Philadelphia, announced on Thursday that it has been given a $55 million gift from the outgoing chairwoman of its board, Nina Baroness von Maltzahn. It is one of the largest gifts ever made to an American music school, and a statement from the conservatory described the gift as the largest single donation it had received since Mary Louise Curtis Bok established its tuition-free policy in 1928.

The statement said that the gift would be added to its endowment to help support a number of strategic initiatives — one of which is to remain tuition-free — as the conservatory prepares to celebrate its centennial in 2024.


Original source: The New York Times
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'PoliticalFest' to entertain Democrats in July

When the Democratic National Convention comes to Philly, there will be a host of entertainment options for politicos.

Interactive exhibits, displays, games and theater celebrating American political history will be offered across seven downtown locations from July 22 to 27 as part of "PoliticalFest."

The Oval Office set from the TV series "The West Wing" will be at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. At the National Constitution Center, the festival hub, actors who have played presidents on stage or on screen will take part in answer-and-question sessions.

Former Gov. Ed Rendell, the host committee chairman, says the festival will help showcase Philadelphia.

Tickets on sale at www.phldnc.com will provide entry to all venues as well as bus transportation.


Original source: Associated Press
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Temple gifts 'baby boxes' to new moms to promote infant health

In a year-long project, Temple University Hospital will give free "baby boxes" to all moms who deliver there. This simple act could save lives.

It might seem a little strange to put your newborn baby in a cardboard box. But one hospital is teaching moms that it's the safest thing possible for their little bundles of joy...The idea is to decrease the rate of "co-sleeping," the practice of parents sleeping in the same bed as their babies. Done incorrectly, co-sleeping is associated with a higher risk of infant mortality. According to Philly.com, many local parents co-sleep with their kids because it's part of their culture, or their parents co-slept with them. Others do so because they can't afford a crib, or lack the space for one. 

The boxes are functioning bassinets and come with a sheet and a firm mattress, which help keep the baby sleeping on his or her back and away from toys and stuffed animals. They also contain essential items for the baby, like onesies and baby books. The boxes, manufactured by The Baby Box Company, are worth around $80 to $100 each...

Baby boxes are popular elsewhere in the world, and parents in the U.S. are just now taking notice. In Finland, the government gives them out to every new mom, and the practice dramatically dropped the country's infant mortality rates.


Original source: Good Housekeeping
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The New York Times lauds Philly's vegan dining scene

We can even forgive the lazy cheesesteak reference -- and the odd Passyunk fountain mention -- in this great rundown of Philly's vibrant vegan dining landscape.

What do you call a Philly cheese steak with no cheese and no steak?

It sounds like the setup to a punch line. But there’s nothing to laugh at when it comes to eating vegan in Philadelphia, which, in the last few years, has blossomed into a dynamic universe of vegan food, from old-school doughnuts to adventuresome tacos. Veganism is so hot that the city declared last Nov. 1 Philly Vegan Day.

“There’s a new energy here,” said Mike Barone, the owner of Grindcore House, a vegan coffee spot in South Philadelphia, famously an Italian neighborhood that’s undergone a restaurant renaissance near the grand Passyunk fountain. “You can go out to more places that are vegan. A lot of other places are accommodating, and that’s snowballing.”

Philadelphia’s vegan cheerleaders say what’s happening comes from living in a food-curious city where it’s cheap to explore new ground.

Much credit for the city’s vegan boom goes to Richard Landau and Kate Jacoby, a husband and wife team whose “vegetable restaurant” Vedge opened in 2011 in a townhouse near the trendy 13th Street neighborhood. (Horizons, their previous restaurant, helped endear the city to vegan eating.) The menu emphasizes seasonal vegetables and hearty, savory proteins like tofu and seitan (wheat gluten).

“We are cooking good food,” Mr. Landau said. “I don’t think most of our clientele care that it’s vegan.” Last year Philadelphia magazine named Vedge and V Street among the best 50 restaurants in town, calling Vedge “our favorite place to send anyone looking for a true taste of Philly talent.”


Original source: The New York Times
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The Associated Press shines a light on Philly's new attractions in advance of DNC

The AP lists off "New Ways to See Philly From Up High and Down Low," in advance of the Democratic National Convention in July.

With classic rowhouse architecture, brick sidewalks and narrow streets, some charming neighborhoods in Philadelphia can almost make you forget about cheesesteaks, Rocky and that whole American Revolution thing.
Almost.

It will be hard to escape the Cradle of Liberty references this summer as the city hosts the Democratic National Convention. But Philly has plenty to offer even the most non-political visitor.

Things have been really hoppy, er hoppin', during the warm months thanks to an influx of beer gardens and revamped civic spaces where you can socialize, people-watch and Instagram your heart out.

New vantage points from up high and at the water's edge will give you a whole new way to look at The City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection.


Original source: Associated Press via The New York Times
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PHA looks beyond housing in Sharswood, incorporating commercial and educational uses

The New York Times takes a look at PHA's grand design for revitalizing the Sharswood neighborhood in North Philadelphia.

Seeking to do more than provide basic homes for its residents, this city’s public housing agency is taking a new approach to neighborhood revitalization. In its latest project, it is adding commercial and educational development to its main role of home building, aiming to address the underlying causes of urban distress.

In the northern part of the city, the Philadelphia Housing Authority is razing part of the Norman Blumberg Apartments in the Sharswood neighborhood, which has had especially high rates of poverty, crime and urban blight. The agency plans to bring in shops, offices and schools, along with housing, in an ambitious program to breathe new life into a struggling community.

The $500 million project, just two and a half miles from downtown Philadelphia, aims to recreate a middle-class community that never recovered after being ravaged by rioting in the 1960s, agency officials say...

Central to the new vision will be the creation of a new commercial corridor along Ridge Avenue, the neighborhood’s main street, which lost businesses as the local economy declined.

In all, the plan projects 400,000 square feet of commercial space. The agency said it was close to making a deal for a drugstore and a supermarket...The housing authority plans to move its headquarters to the street from downtown, bringing around 1,100 employees, who will bolster demand for businesses.


Original source: The New York Times
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Could Philadelphia become a mecca for vertical farming?

This sustainable agriculture model might just bloom in the City of Brotherly Love.

With its muggy summers and freezing winters, Philadelphia isn’t exactly known as an agricultural hotspot. But a resolution passed Thursday by Philadelphia City Council could put the City of Brotherly Love on the map as the next international green hub.

Local lawmakers are aiming to expand vertical and urban farming in the bustling metropolis, Philly.com reported.

“The most noble thing a human being can do is produce food for others,” Councilman Al Taubenberger, who introduced the resolution, said at a news conference held at Metropolis Farms in South Philly. “Vertical farming is something very special indeed, and fits like a glove in Philadelphia.”

As EcoWatch reported, Metropolis Farms is not only the first indoor hydroponic vertical farm in Philadelphia, it’s the first vegan-certified farm in the nation and the only known vertical farm to operate on the second floor of a building. By growing food locally, the farm slashes the distance food needs to travel to get to local kitchens, grocery stores and restaurants.


Original source: Alternet
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Brightening up Boathouse Row for the DNC

All 10,000 bulbs are being replaced for the first time since the site went LED in 2005.

"We have every intention to get it done before the Democratic National Convention," Barry Bessler, chief of staff of the parks and facilities division of the city's Parks and Recreation Department, told the Philadelphia Business Journal.

"That's a tremendous Philadelphia icon, and we want it to look its best with all these people coming to town," Bessler said.
The Fairmount Park Conservancy is supplying the money for the endeavor. Bessler said "it's going to be a significant investment," but he could not confirm the total financial cost. Reliable sources, however, place it at an estimated $500,000...

The intensity of the LED lights will be significantly brighter than it is now, Bessler said, without using more wattage.


"That's a nice feature of the upgrade in technology," he said. "We will get a much brighter appearance without any more electricity."

Original source: Philadelphia Business Journal
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Britain's Mirror spends 48 hours in Philadelphia

The British publication sent their travel editor to Philadelphia -- he came back with "eight essential experiences."

If you’ve only got 48 hours in the city with famous links to Monopoly, the first thing you should do is go directly to jail.

Philadelphia was where legend says businessman Charles Darrow dreamed up the iconic board game in 1933 (he didn’t, he patented it – it was invented in 1903 by Elizabeth Magie of Washington DC, but that’s another story).

However, on a short visit to the splendid City of Brotherly Love, I cannot recommend highly enough a trip to the Eastern State Penitentiary. Here are eight unmissable things to see and do on a short break to Philly – much of which is walkable.


Original source: Mirror
Read the complete list here

'South Philly, West of Broad' named one of the country's best beer 'hoods

DRAFT Magazine names a segment of Philadelphia one of American's great beer neighborhoods.

This isn’t the name of a ’hood, but more the western quadrant of the city made up of several neighborhoods. They’re culturally diverse, working-class neighborhoods that are experiencing significant gentrification with businesses (and beer) following suit. Overall, there’s not tons of stuff yet, but it’s ready to explode given the recent additions.” –Jared Littman, founder of Philly Tap Finder

The original: South Philadelphia Tap Room has been a beloved mainstay since 2003, featuring 14 taps (including cask and nitro lines) and food until 1 a.m.

The newbie: New arrival Brewery ARS shoots for a spring opening in West Passyunk, brewing American-style saisons (expect dialed-up hops) with a small cafe attached.

Also visit: Taproom on 19th bar, American Sardine BarBrew bottle shop


Original source: DRAFT Magazine
Read the complete story here.

Philly restaurants invade Washington, D.C.

Watch out Washington, D.C.: Philly restauranteurs are coming to town. The Washington Post looks at this growing trend.

What's next, the Liberty Bell?

Philadelphia may be home to its own excellent food scene, but more and more chefs and restaurateurs from the city are making the 123-mile trek south, bringing both tried-and-true and new concepts to Washington.

There's Pizzeria Vetri, from the acclaimed Vetri Family Italian restaurant group; HipCityVeg, a vegan fast-casual chain; and Honeygrow, a fast-casual stir-fry chain. All three have plans this spring or summer to join a scene that already includes Philadelphia imports such as restaurateur Stephen Starr (Le Diplomate), coffee roaster and cafe La Colombe and chef Jose Garces (Rural Society), whose Village Whiskey bourbon and burger bar is in development here as well. 

"I always felt Washington was a cool market," said Starr, whose runaway success at Le Diplomate, the 14th Street NW brasserie that opened in 2013, sold more than a few Philadelphia chefs on the prospect of opening in the nation's capital. He began scouting the city in the late '90s but only pulled the trigger when he found the perfect location -- an old dry cleaner in a free-standing, one-story building with plenty of sidewalk space. He said he's also "close" to two more deals here.


Original source: The Washington Post
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Donkeys take over Philadelphia in advance of DNC

To get the city into the Democratic (Party) spirit, fiberglass donkeys will be placed around the city in advance of the Democratic National Convention.

Fifty-seven fiberglass donkeys will be displayed at various sites and attractions starting July 1. The symbol of the Democratic Party will represent each U.S. state, each territory, Washington, D.C., and Democrats abroad.

The donkeys will be painted with iconic images from each location, chosen by each state's delegates. The ideas were given to Philadelphia artists to create.

"Donkeys Around Town" is an effort to get residents in the convention spirit and encourage delegates and other visitors to explore the city. It's the brainchild of former Gov. Ed Rendell, who's the host committee chairman.

Rendell said he was inspired by a similar program in Erie a few years back that seemed to get tourists and locals excited to explore the city and the artworks.

"I think it's going to be great for the delegates and great for the residents," Rendell said.


Original source: Associated Press
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Kenney cancels city-funded travel to North Carolina and Mississippi

In response to anti-LGBT laws passed in those southern states, the mayor will halt official visits.

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney has issued a ban on all publicly funded and non-essential travel for city employees to Mississippi and North Carolina. A spokeswoman for the Mayor’s Office confirmed with NBC10 the travel ban is in response to controversial laws from the two states which limit anti-discrimination protections for lesbian, gay and transgender people.

The North Carolina law directs transgender people to use public toilets corresponding to the sex listed on their birth certificate. The law also excludes LGBT people from state anti-discrimination protections, blocks local governments from expanding LGBT protections, and bars all types of workplace discrimination lawsuits from state courts. In Mississippi, legislation taking effect this summer will allow certain workers, including some in private businesses, to cite religious beliefs in denying services to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.


Original source: Philadelphia Business Journal
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Eastern State Penitentary explores mass incarceration

The historic site is now engaging with the present via a new exhibit, "Prisons Today: Questions in the Age of Mass Incarceration."

Philadelphia's Eastern State Penitentiary opened in 1829 with the belief that criminals could redeem themselves, and it was cruel to crowd or mistreat them. The only light came from the skylight in the vaulted ceiling, sending the message that only the light of God and hard work could lead to reform.

By the 1930s, space meant to house 300 inmates instead held 2,000. By 1970, the year Eastern State closed, punishment was its primary mission.

Now, in a transformation that began modestly a few years ago, the penitentiary that housed such notorious criminals as gangster Al Capone and bank robber "Slick Willie" Sutton is completing a retooling of its programming to place a major focus on growing questions about the effectiveness of America's prison system.

"Prisons Today: Questions in the Age of Mass Incarceration," an exhibit opening next month in workshops alongside one of the cellblocks, lets visitors know that the U.S. has the world's highest known percentage of incarcerated citizens. It also highlights large racial disparities in prison populations and the toll mass incarceration has taken on minority communities.

"Five years ago, I would have told you visitors didn't want to hear about this, that it would make them uncomfortable. They'd take this as being political, they'd be offended or they'd think we were trying to drive a political agenda," said Sean Kelley, exhibit curator for the nonprofit that has run the museum since 2001. "At every turn, we've been proven wrong."


Original source: Associated Press
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Philadelphia apologizes to Jackie Robinson

Sixty-nine years later, the City of Brotherly Love issues a mea culpa for its behavior towards the barrier-breaking ballplayer. 

Last summer, the Anderson Monarchs, a Philadelphia baseball team that featured the Little League World Series star Mo’ne Davis, barnstormed through the South. They played baseball, and they also toured sites significant to the civil rights movement as a nod to the team’s heritage — it is named, after all, for the Kansas City Monarchs, the Negro leagues club for which Jackie Robinson once played...

Nearly a year later, the team’s trip has helped inspire an apology being extended by Philadelphia to Robinson, who broke Major League Baseball’s color barrier when he made his debut for the Brooklyn Dodgers at the start of the 1947 season.

The apology comes as Major League Baseball, on Friday, celebrates the 69th anniversary of Robinson’s first game with the Dodgers with its Jackie Robinson Day, initiated in 2004. Every major league player wears Robinson’s No. 42, an annual sight in baseball. What is different this year is the apology from the City of Philadelphia for the manner in which the Phillies treated Robinson when he began his career.


Original source: The New York Times
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Beer garden confirmed for Reading Viaduct

As we reported in December, a PHS Pop-Up Beer Garden is coming to Callowhill. The plans have now been confirmed.

This summer, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society plans to open two pop-up beer gardens, a return to 15th and South streets plus a new park at the foot of the Philadelphia Rail Park.

Thanks to a $360,000 grant from the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, Philadelphians will get their first extended interaction with the planned Rail Park. A pop-up garden is set for 10th and Hamilton streets, at the base of the Reading Viaduct. Today, the area is a tangle of crumbling concrete, overgrown lots and decay, but with the help of PHS and noted landscape architect Walter Hood, the project aims to merge the post-industrial structure with urban green space. The pop-up will raise awareness for the creation of the Rail Park as it blends art, history and horticulture. The location is convenient to live music venues Union Transfer and Underground Arts, as well as the Chinatown and Callowhill neighborhoods. Perhaps even more so than the other PHS pop-ups, this location will challenge the way Philadelphians interact with and envision their urban spaces.


Original source: Philadelphia Magazine
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High Times: Governor Wolf signs bill legalizing medical marijuana

Pennsylvania is the 24th state to legalize a comprehensive medical marijuana program.

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf signed the bill into law Sunday afternoon surrounded by a jubilant crowd of supporters at the Capitol building in Harrisburg...

The bill sets standards for tracking plants, certifying physicians and licensing growers, dispensaries and physicians. Patients could take marijuana in pill, oil, vapor, ointment or liquid form, but would not be able to legally obtain marijuana to smoke or grow.

Among those celebrating the victory was parent Dana Ulrich, who has fought for legal access to the drug in the belief that it would help her 8-year-old daughter Lorelei, who has numerous seizures every day.

"I never doubted for one second that this day would come," she told the crowd, thanking patient advocates and caregivers as well as lawmakers and the governor. "When you get a group of truly dedicated people together, that have the same goal and the same mind and the same hearts, you can achieve anything."

Wolf called it "a great, great day for Pennsylvania, but more important, a great day for Pennsylvanians." He said he and lawmakers were responding not to a special interest group or to campaign contributors, but to "a real human need." 


Original source: NBC 10
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Bye Bye Tokens: SEPTA Key finally coming in June

The long-awaited debut of SEPTA's automated pay system should finally arrive in June.

The transportation agency is making 10,000 SEPTA Key cards available on June 13 through a first-come, first-serve pilot program. Riders can buy the cards at kiosks in subway stations, and the cards will be usable as weekly or monthly transpasses on the subway, trolleys or buses.

The card program, which was originally scheduled to debut in 2013, is supposed to bring SEPTA’s antiquated fare system into the modern age. The card will allow riders to pay for fare plans with a debit or credit card.

On June 13 riders will be able to buy a $24 weekly plan on the new SEPTA Key cards. Monthly passes for July will be available June 20. SEPTA installed readers throughout the city’s transit network that will register fares when the card it tapped against them. If cards are lost or stolen users can put holds on them and get replacements. Users will eventually be able to set up accounts with Key similar to E-ZPass that will automatically replenish the card when funds get low. There will also be cards with more flexibility, including cards for single rides, coming down the line. Regional Rail wasn’t included in the initial rollout because of its size and more varied fare rates. It should be added to the network in 2017. SEPTA would like to eventually eliminate tokens and cash payments entirely.


Original source: Philadelphia Inquirer
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Philly media outlet Billy Penn eyes expansion to second city

The online news site Billy Penn is eyeing a second publication in another city -- the finalists include Baltimore, Chicago and Pittsburgh.

In an interview with POLITICO conducted before the final cities were selected, Spirited Media founder and CEO Jim Brady said he was looking to launch a Billy Penn-like site in cities with a high percentage of young news consumers and a relatively compact size. More than half of Billy Penn’s audience is 35 years old or younger, Brady said, and the compactness of a city gives the company’s stories a better shot at having a citywide impact.

The possibility that Brady might bring his mobile-first local model to one of these three cities is thanks to a hefty investment from USA Today owner Gannett that was announced a few weeks ago...

Brady said that the final decision on which city to launch in next will come down to the journalism and business talent in the cities it chooses to focus on.

“What I want to do is get myself down to two or three cities, and then go to those cities and interview people and let that be the tie-breaker,” he said. “Finding the right people is paramount.”

Once Brady decides on a final city, the company will decide on a name and will staff up with about a half-dozen people on both the editorial and business sides. Brady said he expects to make a final decision by May 1. 


Original source: Politico New York
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Conde Nast Traveler publishes South Philly-centric list of top local eats

Conde Nast Traveler runs down the "6 Best Places to Eat in Philadelphia Right Now," and it has a decidedly southern (Philly) bent with Bing Bing Dim Sum, Coeur, Restaurant Neuf, Hungry Pigeon and Laurel. Kensington Quarters is the one outlier.

Philadelphia may be known for its cheesesteaks, and with good reason. But for those with a finer palette, or who are simply looking for a bite that's equal parts creative and delicious, head to one of these six new restaurants in the City of Brotherly Love. From a pan-Asian take on matzo ball soup to "Frenchified Algerian" and then some, chefs are bringing the heat—and the cheese, and the wine, and the....pigeon? (yup, pigeon)—turning down-to-earth Philly into a foodie's dream.

Original source: Conde Nast Traveler
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Aramark is staying put in Philadelphia

The good services giant is keeping its global headquarters in Philadelphia.

Chief executive Eric Foss said Thursday that after an extensive review, the company concluded that Philadelphia remains "the ideal choice for us."

The city has been the company's home since 1961.

Aramark had been considering a move before its lease expired in 2018.

The company says factors considered in its decision included overall business environment, access to talent, costs, diversity, transportation and quality of life.

Aramark is now weighing whether to remain at is current building or move to another location in the city. It says it will make that decision by summer's end.

Aramark says about 1,150 people work in management and management support roles at its global headquarters.


Original source: Associated Press
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New protected bike lanes in the works. Huzzah!

A big boost of funds means smooth sailing for local cyclists, as plans for new protected bike lanes comes into focus. PlanPhilly has the complete list of projects.

Thanks to $300,000 in federal Transportation Alternative Program (TAP) funds recently awarded by the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC) and another $200,000 expected to come from PennDOT, the Philadelphia Streets Department will soon upgrade and expand the city’s bike facility network with new protected and buffered bike lanes.

“Protected” bike lanes refer to lanes that use flexible plastic delineator posts to help physically separate automobile and bicycle traffic. “Buffered” bike lanes are slightly wider bike lanes that use a bit of extra paint to create a more visible buffer...

The goal of more and better bike lanes has already been approved in City Council through adoption of two iterations of the city’s Pedestrian and Bicycle Plan, Philadelphia’s Complete Streets Design Handbook, the city’s comprehensive Philadelphia 2035 Citywide Vision city plan, and in all of District Plans completed so far—each developed after three rounds of public feedback meetings planned in conjunction with district councilmen and RCOs. There will be at least one more public feedback session per bike infrastructure project. And with each, another shot for opponents to shout the project down.


Original source: PlanPhilly
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Delivery app Favor lands in Philly

Favor is the latest app-based delivery system to come to town. How will it handle the competition? 

A Texas-based on-demand delivery app has come to Philadelphia, promising to deliver goods — including food from local restaurants — to residents in less than an hour, competing with companies already in the market like Instacart and Postmates.
Favor of Austin, Texas., launched in June 2013 and has since expanded to more than 20 cities across the United States with more than 10,000 so-called personal delivery assistants, or "runners."

"We've always been excited about Philly," said Ben Doherty, cofounder and COO. "I researched the market a long time ago, and I thought it was a really great potential place to launch."

"Overall, Philly is a dense market; it has lots of students and young working professionals," Doherty said. "That's generally who we focus on for our market."

Favor's runners will serve Philadelphia neighborhoods, including Temple University, University City, Northern Liberties, Fishtown, Fairmount, Center City and Old City.

The app connects customers to a runner, who will pick up and deliver "anything from tacos, to groceries, to your laundry that you’ve neglected to pick up," according to Favor.

"We do deliver anything you want," Doherty said. "That's a strong value proposition. Because they're personal assistants, they can act on your behalf and purchase anything you need."

Delivery times average about 35 minutes, according to the company. There is a flat deliver fee rate of $5 in Philadelphia plus 5 percent of the cost of the item ordered, Doherty said.


Original source: Philadelphia Business Journal
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Starr Restaurants hires high-profile new culinary director

Starr Restaurants has hired a new head honcho with a New York pedigree.

When Alex Lee resigned his pressure-cooker position as executive chef atDaniel in 2003 to become the executive chef at Glen Oaks country club in Old Westbury, N.Y., he may as well have gone to Mars. A high-profile star seemed to have left the picture.

Now he is back in the restaurant world as the culinary director of Starr Restaurants, Stephen Starr’s fast-growing group of 34 restaurants, most in Philadelphia and New York. Mr. Lee, who started last week, will oversee all of them and the other corporate chefs in the organization. Mr. Starr said he expected Mr. Lee to concentrate on the company’s new restaurants...

Hiring Mr. Lee is yet another example of Mr. Starr’s ability to attract marquee chefs. His roster already includes Masaharu Morimoto, Douglas Rodriguez, Justin Smillie, Jason Atherton from London and Daniel Rose from Paris.


Original source: The New York Times
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'Broad City' comes to Philadelphia

Well, the suburbs of Philadelphia. On the Comedy Central show, dynamic duo Abbi and Ilana take the train to 30th Street Station and then head to Abbi's (Jacobson's real life) hometown of Wayne. Tony Danza played her pop. Check out the episode here.

Original source: Comedy Central

Renderings and name released for huge townhome project replacing Mt. Sinai

The massive townhome project that is replacing historic Mt. Sinai hospital is moving forward -- check out the renderings.

Demolition is still continuing on Mt. Sinai at 4th and Reed. While the site isn’t ready for construction just yet, we have a new look at what to expect of this development. A total of 95 townhomes are set to be built in this project being called Southwark on Reed.

There are three different home layouts being offered in this development. These options are called the “Dickinson,” “Jefferson” and “Columbus.” Each housing layout includes between three and four bedrooms and a varying number of bathrooms and storage space in each. The largest of the home options, the Jefferson, also includes a two car garage. You can check out the full housing layouts here.

Plans for the site include 95 townhomes and green courtyards that are also accessible to the public. Previous concerns about this development included a lack of greenery, which seems to be addressed by the addition of street trees.

According to the website, the pre-construction cost of these homes in this project from the Concordia Group and D3 Real Estate Development is somewhere in the range of $400,000.


Original source: Passyunk Post
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A couple more big projects come to Washington Avenue East

Two new mixed use projects have been announced for the stretch of Washington Avenue east of Broad Street -- one at 12th Street and one at the triangle where Passyunk Avenue meets 8th Street. (These are in addition to the proposed building at 9th and Washington.)

Naked Philly on 12th and Washington: A post on the Washington Avenue Associates Facebook page tipped us off that the City has issued a zoning permit for the demolition of the building and the construction of a five-story project with 48 apartments, 15 parking spots, and a sizable commercial space. Remember, when we shared the listing, it came with a recommendation for a similar project, albeit with an additional level of apartments. The Facebook post also included a very simple elevations drawing of what we can expect to see built here. This property is zoned CMX-3, and the project is being done completely by-right.

On 8th and Washington: You probably don't remember, but we told you about this property way back at the end of 2011. Yikes, we've been doing this awhile. The property was available for sale for a couple years for $3M, but had come off the market at that point. While any 8,000+ sqft parcel near Center City sounds exciting, a $3M price tag was a little too dear, especially back then. Earlier this year, the property came back on the market at half the price, and was unsurprisingly snatched up in short order. Like the folks at 12th & Washington, these developers appear to be pursuing a by-right project. According to their zoning permit, they're planning a five-story building with ground-floor retail and sixteen apartments...The building will have a rear yard on its southern side, but will also have an open courtyard in the middle of the building. Not only will this provide for additional windows for the units, but it will also allow the project to meet its open space requirement. Whoever thought this project through has designed something pretty clever on a uniquely shaped property. Good for them. And good for the people who live nearby, who will see this long-underused property get redeveloped. And to think we thought they already had it made, living so close to the Center City Pretzel Company.

Original source: Naked Philly

Philadelphia Zoo welcomes lemur babies! Lemur babies!!

The Philadelphia Zoo is now home to four new residents -- but we have to wait a little longer for their public debut.

They're not quite ready for their public close-up, but four black-and-white ruffed lemur babies are off to a good start at the Philadelphia Zoo.

They were born last month to 9-year-old Kiaka and 10-year-old Huey, weighing in at a combined one-third of a pound.

Kiaka is proving to be a good first-time mom. She carries the fluffy siblings in her mouth from one nest box to another, since they cannot move around on their own for a few months.


Original source: Associated Press
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Atlas Obscura takes a hard look at "jawn" -- "unlike any word, in any language"

Atlas Obscura examines the Philly-centric linguistic phenomenon -- and analyzes why it's so special.

Taylor Jones, a Ph.D student at the University of Pennsylvania, was unfamiliar with the bizarre stew of linguistic quirks in Philadelphia when he first started school there a few years ago. An army brat, it seems like Jones grew up everywhere but eastern Pennsylvania. But one of his first interactions with legendary Penn linguist Bill Labov started him on the road to understanding his new city.

"My introduction to graduate work was being asked about jawn," says Jones...

The word "jawn" is unlike any other English word. In fact, according to the experts that I spoke to, it’s unlike any other word in any other language. It is an all-purpose noun, a stand-in for inanimate objects, abstract concepts, events, places, individual people, and groups of people. It is a completely acceptable statement in Philadelphia to ask someone to "remember to bring that jawn to the jawn..."
 
So let’s start at the beginning: Where does “jawn” come from?

Read the complete story here
Original source: Atlas Obscura
 

Transformation at the Pennsylvania Ballet

The New York Times profiles Ángel Corella, the man who hopes to "reinvent" the Pennsylvania Ballet.

Mr. Corella, 40, seems to be having a very good time these days as he works to reinvent the Pennsylvania Ballet, where he has made top-to-bottom changes since becoming artistic director in 2014. He has brought on new artistic staff, new administrative leadership, new dancers from all over the world and a new approach to programming.

This month, he will return to New York, the site of his triumphs with Ballet Theater, to show off his revamped troupe at a run at the Joyce Theater (March 29 through April 3) featuring works made for its dancers.

“It feels like a whole new company,” Mr. Corella said the other day in his office here, which he explained had no desk because he still likes to do most of his work in the studio.

Mr. Corella came to Philadelphia after the collapse of a different kind of quixotic quest: trying to establish a dance company in his native Spain, first called the Corella Ballet Castilla y León and then Barcelona Ballet, during the country’s deep financial crisis.

The Pennsylvania Ballet was looking hard at what life after 50 should look like: At the end of its 2013-14 season, its 50th anniversary, its longtime artistic director, Roy Kaiser, stepped down. Mr. Corella signed on, and soon after his arrival he dismissed top artistic staff members who had decades of experience with the company and replaced them with his own team.

Now, Mr. Corella is throwing himself into all aspects of his new company, from leading company class twice a week to hiring dancers to bringing more contemporary choreographers on board to creating the new “Don Quixote,” which had its world premiere at the Academy of Music here on March 3.


Original source: The New York Times
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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
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Statewide Spotlight: Pittsburgh's food scene hits the big time

The New York Times continues its love affair with Steel City, this time highlighting the symbiosis between the Pittsburgh food scene and its growing population of young people.

Everybody seems so young. And everybody’s talking about restaurants. If there are scholars who hope to study how a vibrant food culture can help radically transform an American city, the time to do that is right now, in real time, in the place that gave us Heinz ketchup.

In December, Zagat named Pittsburgh the No. 1 food city in America. Vogue just went live with a piece that proclaimed, “Pittsburgh is not just a happening place to visit — increasingly, people, especially New Yorkers, are toying with the idea of moving here.”

For decades, Pittsburgh was hardly seen as a beacon of innovative cuisine or a magnet for the young. It was the once-glorious metropolis that young people fled from after the shuttering of the steel mills in the early 1980s led to a mass exodus and a stark decline.

“We had to reinvent ourselves,” said Bill Peduto, Pittsburgh’s mayor.

And they have. Over the last decade or so, the city has been the beneficiary of several overlapping booms. Cheap rent and a voracious appetite for culture have attracted artists. Cheap rent and Carnegie Mellon University have attracted companies like Google, Facebook and Uber, seeking to tap local tech talent. And cheap rent alone has inspired chefs to pursue deeply personal projects that might have a hard time surviving in the Darwinian real estate microclimates of New York and San Francisco.

No one can pinpoint whether it was the artists or techies or chefs who got the revitalization rolling. But there’s no denying that restaurants play a starring role in the story Pittsburgh now tells about itself. The allure of inhabiting a Hot New Food Town — be it Nashville or Richmond, Va., or Portland (Oregon or Maine) — helps persuade young people to visit, to move in and to stay.


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

Better Bike Share Conference comes to Philadelphia

A major national conference focused on the growing Bike Share industry is coming to the City of Brotherly Love.

People For Bikes, a biking coalition based in Boulder, Colo., has teamed with the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, the Association of City Transportation Officials and Philadelphia to hold the Better Bike Share Conference from June 22-24.

These parties have worked together before. In 2014, they teamed up to award grants to cities to build more bike share systems. To date, they've handed out $375,000.

"The City of Philadelphia’s Office of Transportation and Infrastructure Systems is committed to ensuring equitable access to our Indego bike share system and all modes of transportation," said Clarena Tolson, Philadelphia's deputy managing director of transportation and infrastructure.

According to its event page, the conference is appealing to "city officials, bike share operators, community-based organizations and nonprofits working at the intersection of transportation and equity."


Original source: Philadelphia Business Journal
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Drexel selects developer for huge swath between campus and 30th Street Station

Drexel has taken the next step in its grand plans to transform the blocks between its University City campus and 30th Street Station.

Drexel University has selected Brandywine Realty Trust to develop an expanse of mostly school-owned property...into an enclave of offices, academic buildings, homes, shops and parks.

The 125-year-old university and Philadelphia's biggest office landlord plan to build about 8 million square feet of floor space - equal to about six-and-a half Comcast Center towers - over the next several decades, beginning with the redevelopment of a strip of parking lots and industrial buildings north of Market Street.

Drexel President John Fry and Brandywine's chief executive officer, Jerry Sweeney, were set to formally announce their plans for what will be known as Schuylkill Yards together at a Wednesday afternoon event.

"Drexel has always believed there's a superior use for this unique location - essentially the 50-yard-line of the Eastern Seaboard - as a neighborhood built around collaboration and innovation," Fry said in a statement ahead of the formal announcement. "The time is right to put this vision into action."


Original source: Philadelphia Inquirer
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Flights from Philadelphia to Cuba?

As airlines start flying to Cuba, there's a race to add routes. Frontier is looking to fly from Philadelphia to Varadero.

U.S. airlines are looking to serve Cuba primarily from their large hub cities, with Havana being the most popular destination.
At least eight carriers submitted applications to the U.S. Department of Transportation Wednesday outlining what routes they would like to fly. The government will spend the next few months reviewing the requests and is expected to award the contested Havana routes this summer. Flights to smaller cities — if uncontested and lacking any contentious issues — could be approved much sooner...

U.S. tourists still won't legally be allowed to visit Cuba but the start of commercial flights will make it much easier for those who fall into one of the authorized travel categories. Charter flights are expensive, frequently chaotic and lack many of the traditional supports of commercial aviation such as online booking and 24-hour customer service.

Nearly 160,000 U.S. leisure travelers flew to Cuba last year, along with hundreds of thousands of Cuban-Americans visiting family. Tourism is still barred, but the number of legal reasons to go to Cuba — from organizing professional meetings to distributing information to Cubans — has grown so large and is so loosely enforced that the distinction from tourism has blurred significantly...

Frontier Airlines applied for one daily flight between Denver and Havana, three daily flights between Miami and Havana, one daily flight between Miami and Santiago, four weekly flights between Miami and Camaguey, three weekly flights between Miami and Santa Clara, one weekly flight between Chicago and Varadero and one weekly flight between Philadelphia and Varadero.


Original source: The New York Times
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Could a soda tax work in Philadelphia?

Mayor Jim Kenney has proposed a tax on sugary beverages. It would be one of the most ambitious such plans in the country.

The first skirmishes in a new soda-tax battle occurred on Tuesday. Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney, a Democrat, will seek a 3-cent-per-ounce tax on sugar-sweetened beverages. Kenney, who took office in January, will put the tax in front of the city council on Thursday as part of his 2016 budget recommendations. If passed, the tariff would be three-times higher than the soda tax that residents of Berkeley, California, passed by ballot measure in 2014.

With 1.5 million people—far larger than both Berkeley and San Francisco, where a soda-tax ballot measure was narrowly defeated in 2014—Philadelphia looks significantly different than recent soda-tax battlegrounds...

While prior soda-tax battles have focused squarely on public-health issues, obesity doesn’t appear to be Mayor Kenney’s top concern. He needs more revenue to fund universal prekindergarten in the city, and the administration believes that the projected $400 million the special tax would raise over five years could go a long way toward making that campaign promise a reality. According to The Wall Street Journal, the mayor’s office would flag $256 million for pre-K, $39 million to help finance the opening of 25 community schools, and additional revenue to be funneled into Philadelphia’s pension and parks funds.

Original source: takepart

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The Atlantic spotlights Philly's criminal justice revolution

A story in The Atlantic focuses on the Kenney administration's efforts to revolutionize criminal justice in the city -- and undo decades of harm.

But Philadelphia may have reached a tipping point. The city is in the midst of what could be a pivotal phase of reform, now helmed by newly-minted mayor Jim Kenney. The magazine Philadelphia has called Kenney, “Mr. Criminal Justice Reform,” citing his record as councilman, which included championing the decriminalization of marijuana in Philadelphia, which he called a civil-rights issue, and campaign promises to eliminate cash bail for some low-level defendants and to give convicted felons a second chance. Kenney’s candidacy was compared to that of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio: Both are white, but ran on a populist platform preaching racial, economic, and criminal justice reform. On his first night as mayor in January, rather than celebrate with an inaugural ball, Kenney took the festivities to the streets with a block party. He aims to be a mayor of the people, addressing issues that have plagued the city for decades, including overcrowded jails and tense relations between police and residents...

Before even being sworn into office, Kenney promised to reduce the city’s jail population by one third in the next three years...

The city has a grant application for up to $4 million pending with the MacArthur Foundation. Elected officials have been tight lipped about the proposal’s specifics, but have indicated that it generally focuses on decreasing reliance on cash bail, bolstering diversion programs to decrease pretrial detainment, and enhancing mental-health services for defendants awaiting trial. The grant recipients are expected to be announced mid-March. Regardless of whether the money is granted, both Kenney and Clarke agree that the reforms are necessary and will continue—though perhaps on a slower timeline. “It’s all about priorities,” Clarke said. “If these are the things that we need to change, we’re going to change them.”


Original source: The Atlantic
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Toronto Star asks, Is Philly cooler than New York? (Yes!)

The Canadian paper reassesses the City of Brotherly Love, and likes what they see.
 
When you think of the city of Philadelphia, what pops into your head?

My impression used to be a mishmash of gooey meat-and-cheese sandwiches, Rocky Balboa running up some stone steps, a cracked bronze bell, and the intro song to Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. But then I went to Philly for a few days, and that all changed.

What I discovered is an understated, historically rich city quietly going through a youth-driven cultural revolution that could propel it to the top of hip, urban U.S.-destination lists. Yes, I’m going to say it: Philadelphia might just turn out to be cooler than New York City...

Original source: Toronto Star
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Will patience pay off for the Phillies?

The New York Times takes a look at our upstart squad -- and makes the argument for some tentative hope after an abysmal 2015 season.

The Philadelphia Phillies hold the first overall pick in the draft this June. The last time they had it, in 1998, they chose outfielder Pat Burrell. Ten years later, Burrell doubled to start the go-ahead rally on the night the Phillies won the World Series.

Success in baseball is rarely so orderly. Today’s losing does not guarantee tomorrow’s parade. But as the Phillies rebuild a roster that staggered to 99 losses last season, they believe an upswing is inevitable.

“The teams that get themselves in the most trouble are the ones that try something for two years, it doesn’t work, so let’s try something different,” said Andy MacPhail, who will begin his first full season as the Phillies’ president for baseball operations.

If ever there was a time to ask for patience in Philadelphia, this is it. The city has been bruised by the failures of its professional sports teams, but smart fans accept that the Phillies’ previous strategy — clinging to highly paid, fading veterans — was failing. A full-scale renovation is underway, run by MacPhail — who has helped turn around the Minnesota Twins, the Chicago Cubs and the Orioles — and the new general manager, Matt Klentak.

“To understand where we want to end up, we need to understand where we are today and build the foundation appropriately,” Klentak said. “But a lot of pieces of the foundation are already here.”


Original source: The New York Times
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Travel + Leisure offers film-centric guide to touring Philly

With all the attention around Creed, this national travel mag tells tourists how to enjoy Philly like a movie star.

Yo Adrian! The city memorialized in the Rocky series and now the award-winning Creed has been home to a wide variety of movie plots and filming locations, including Philadelphia (which opens with a montage of famous sites), Mannequin, Trading Places, Twelve Monkeys, and In Her Shoes. Remember, “I see dead people”? The Sixth Sense was set and filmed in the City of Brotherly Love. The scene in Silver Linings Playbook where Pat and Tiffany kiss in the street under twinkling holiday lights? That’s Jewelers’ Row. Just in time for the Academy Awards, here is our guide to visiting Philadelphia like a movie star. 

Original source: Travel + Leisure
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Shark Tank sends PiperWai sales soaring

This Philly startup got a big boost from their appearance on the ABC hit. You might remember PiperWai from this story in Flying Kite detailing the development of their all-natural deodorant.

Sales of a Philadelphia company's all-natural deodorant skyrocketed since the co-founders appeared on ABC's Shark Tank in December, a reality TV boost that caused the entrepreneurs to wake up in a cold sweat as they quickly scaled up and worked to fill tens of thousands of orders.

"We'd wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat, worrying about a millimeter difference on a corrugated box," said Jess Edelstein, who created PiperWai with business partner and childhood friend, Sarah Ribner.

The pair will return to Shark Tank this Friday to give an update on their business. The co-founders pitted two "Sharks" against each other during their initial mid-December appearance on the show, eventually securing a $50,000 investment from Barbara Corcoran in PiperWai...

"Nobody could have predicted the demand we received," said Edelstein. "We were the third fastest company in Shark Tank history to reach a million dollars and our product is only $12."

Hitting the million dollar mark 10 days after the original show aired, PiperWai had more than $1.3 million in sales in the two months that followed their reality TV debut, the co-founders said.

"Before we went on Shark Tank, our lifetime sales were $130,000," Edelstein added.
 
Original source: Philadelphia Business Journal
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International Pop comes to the Philadelphia Museum of Art

An exciting new exhibition exploring Pop art has opened in Philly. 

At the new exhibit on International Pop at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, visitors are invited to kneel at a shrine to Roberto Carlos, the massively popular Brazilian musician.

"Adoração: Altar de Roberto Carlos" (Adoration: Altar for Roberto Carlos) by Nelson Leirner is a curtained niche, housing a neon bust of Carlos surrounded by illuminated religious icons.

Inside the darkened shrine, Carlos is blinding. The series of weakly lit sacred icons is completely overwhelmed by the flashing pop singer. Pop art, it seems to say, will have an irreverent ego.

"International Pop," opening at the Philadelphia Museum of Art on Wednesday, includes works by many of the touchstone artists of that midcentury art movement: Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg. The main thrust are the dozens of lesser-known artists from around the world who added their light to the movement...

In some countries, Pop art was one of the only ways artists could comment on violence and censorship. While recovering from World War II or navigating military dictatorships, artists could still make cut-out collages from pictures in American magazines when they had few other resources.


Original source: Newsworks
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Inga Saffron lauds latest section of Schuylkill River Trail

The beloved greenway will extend to Southwest Philadelphia with the completion of the next section. Inquirer architecture critic Inga Saffron lauds the project, which started with just a short stretch of riverside concrete.

Any day now, the Schuylkill River Development Corp. will start formal construction on the fourth installment of the now wildly popular waterfront trail. Called Bartram's Mile, the $6 million addition is the first segment to make the leap across the river and extend the recreation path into the neighborhoods of Southwest Philadelphia. This time, it will be lushly landscaped, with groves of trees, gentle hills, and grassy meadows.

With the opening of Bartram's Mile expected in late fall, the dream of a continuous waterfront path stretching from the city's northwest corner to its southern tip is starting to look like a reality. Though there is still years of work ahead, the progress over the last decade suggests a steady, incremental approach is an effective way to reclaim our once-industrialized waterfronts for the public's enjoyment.

Bartram's Mile also represents another kind of leap. Bringing the park to the underserved Kingsessing neighborhood will demonstrate that waterfront trails aren't for just the city's elites. Surrounded by a tangle of rail lines and the Schuylkill Expressway, Southwest Philadelphia has felt cut off from Center City and the universities. The trail, which stretches from 58th Street to the Gray's Ferry Bridge, will eventually make it possible to bike downtown in under 20 minutes.


Original source: Philadelphia Inquirer
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Statewide Spotlight: Philly company invests in huge Downtown Pittsburgh reuse project

A 12-story landmark building and former Macy's location in Downtown Pittsburgh will be transformed into a high-end mixed use project, signaling continued confidence in that city's rebirth.

Core Realty, based in Philadelphia, in July paid $15 million for the property just months before Macy’s closed. The building, on the corner of Fifth Avenue and Smithfield Street, dates to the late 1800s and for years was the flagship of the Kaufmann’s department store chain. It went through several expansions and renovations, including a heralded Art Deco interior makeover of the first floor in 1930.

Randy Mineo, executive vice president of Core Realty and a Pittsburgh native, envisions a mix of retailers, restaurants and entertainment spots to complement a 155-room Even Hotel and 312 luxury apartments. Named the Grand at Fifth Avenue, the estimated $100 million project will feature an open-air atrium beginning on the fifth floor and 600 parking spaces, a sparse commodity downtown.

“I’ve always looked at Pittsburgh as a hidden gem; it’s a city that has been kind of ignored,” said Mr. Mineo, who with the owner of Core Realty, Michael Samschick, began hunting for properties in the city three years ago. “But you could tell that underneath the surface, Pittsburgh was bubbling...”


Original source: The New York Times
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Should mobster's home become a historic landmark?

The home of a late Philadelphia mob boss has been nominated as a historical landmark and begs the question, 'What makes something historic?'

Angelo Bruno, who was known as the "Gentle Don" when he ran the city's Italian mob in the 1960s and 1970s, was gunned down outside the home in 1980.

The Philadelphia Daily News reports that Bruno's biographer sent the city's Historical Commission a landmark nomination for the rowhome.

The writer, Celeste Morello, said she nominated the three-bedroom home due to its significance in law enforcement history, saying Bruno's criminal activity helped shape federal laws and strategies for fighting organized crime.

"If Bruno didn't do things to make law enforcement notice him, I doubt that Philadelphia would have been one of the first organized-crime law enforcement units with a 'strike force' in the country," Morello told the
Daily News.

The commission is expected to take up the nomination next month.

"I assume it is our first historical property nomination related to Mafia history in Philadelphia. I can't think that there is another one," said Kim Broadbent, historic preservation planner on the staff of the Historical Commission. "It's certainly a unique story about Philadelphia's history that we don't typically come across at the office."


Original source: Associated Press
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Solomonov doc gets Philly premiere

A documentary detailing Philly chef Michael Solomonov's journey through Israeli cuisine will make its local premiere next month at the Philadelphia Jewish Film Festival. The film will be shown Monday, March 28 at 7:30 p.m. at the Gershman Y cultural center. Solomonov will be on hand for a post-film conversation and reception, as well as a book signing for his best-selling Zahav cookbook. From Philly.com:

Directed by Oscar-nominated documentarian Roger Sherman, In Search of Israeli Cuisine follows Solomonov on an adventure through Israel’s vibrant food culture. The result: An intimate, behind-the-scenes look into the culinary heritages that have helped inspire beloved Phildelphia restaurants like Dizengoff, Abe Fisher, and Zahav.

"It’s important for Americans to realize that regardless of what you see on TV, regardless of your political stance, Israeli cuisine reflects humanity at its best," Solomonov said of the doc via a release. "Sometimes the easiest way for people to relate to a country is through its food and culture."


Tickets: $15 film only; $30 film and reception; $60 for film and reception along with a copy of Zahav.

Original source: Philly.com
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Lonely Planet puts Philly at the top of its U.S. destinations list

The famous travel guide put the City of Brotherly Love at the top of its list of places to visit in the United States.

Visited by Pope Francis, hosting the Democratic National Convention in July, and freshly crowned as the US’s first and only World Heritage City (joining the ranks of Cairo, Paris and Jerusalem), Philly’s on a roll. NYC’s more neighborly neighbor is experiencing a transformation to its urban core, as many US cities are right now. Craft breweries? Check. Hot new locavore restaurants? Big check. But Philadelphia is steadfastly managing to retain its historic roots and gritty flavor, as well as its affordability – a pleasant surprise for a city so cosmopolitan and accessible. Hands up to the sky, Rocky fans: celebrate the film’s 40th anniversary in 2016 with a sprint up the 72 steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.?

Original source: Lonely Planet
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Mayor welcomes skaters back to LOVE Park, sorta

As LOVE Park undergoes a renovation, the skateboarders are allowed to return -- temporarily.

Skateboarders in Philadelphia are feeling the love from Love Park now that the mayor has temporarily lifted a ban on skating there until it closes for renovations.

Democratic Mayor Jim Kenney made the announcement Wednesday during a groundbreaking ceremony for the park and welcome center's $20 million facelift.


The park is a skateboarding haven. Kenney urges skaters to take advantage of it until it closes Feb. 15. He tells skaters they're "part of the fabric" of Love Park. He says granite removed during the overhaul will be used in skate parks across the city.

Original source: Associated Press (via The New York Times)
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Market East feeding frenzy continues: Gallery developers scoop up three buildings

The developers behind the renovation of The Gallery have scooped up three more properties in Market East, signaling continued rebirth in the neighborhood. 

Moves to remake the dilapidated Gallery at Market East into a high-end outlet mall are expected to give area property values a lift.
 
Among the beneficiaries of that boost: the developers behind the Gallery's redevelopment effort.

As their proposal for the Fashion Outlets of Philadelphia was coming together, Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust (PREIT) and Macerich Co. were quietly buying up property across the street.

The acquisition of three buildings on the 1000 block of Market Street shows the developers' bullishness on the area's resurgence, which the $325 million Gallery project aims to fuel...

PREIT and Santa Monica, Calif.-based Macerich plan to find new tenants for the properties after the redeveloped mall's occupants are selected, Coradino said.

Likely candidates are retailers that want to be in the area but are not a good match for the mall, which hopes to feature discount versions of designer-label stores and crowd-drawing restaurants.

The developers may want to use the properties to coax current Gallery tenants that are inconsistent with the Fashion Outlets concept but have long-term leases for their space, said Tom Londres, president of retail brokerage Metro Commercial Real Estate Inc.


Original source: Philadelphia Inquirer
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Next City asks if Kenney is Philly's first mayor for millennials

Next City argues that our new mayor is uniquely qualified to appeal to the next generation of Philadelphians.

When former Mayor Michael Nutter, a bookish reform candidate, took office in 2008, he arranged for 2,000 guests to board a cruise ship docked in the city’s defunct Navy Yard, which was being slowly transformed into a tax-free business park. The $50-a-head fete was billed as a salute to the city’s neighborhoods, but the real message was clear: Philadelphia was open for business again.

When Nutter’s successor, former Councilman Jim Kenney, was sworn in last month, he threw a block party, the ultimate community tradition in a city of narrow streets and tightly packed rowhomes. The son of a working-class Irish family from the dockside neighborhoods in South Philly, Kenney was hailed as the “anti-Nutter,” a folksy, relatable mayor who would shift the city’s political focus away from downtown business interests and back to taxpayers feeling alternately thrilled and threatened by their hometown’s recent resurgence...

As the incoming mayor was taking pains to demonstrate, he is an old-school rowhouse guy, but one that supports a new breed of Philly urbanity that involves more food trucks and fewer cars, taller buildings and the possibility that Philly could stand to tamp down its we-are-not-New-York rhetoric and learn from its neighbor to the north’s walkable streets.

Perhaps more importantly in a city where a Pew study found that 29 percent of millennials said they planned to leave the city because of failing schools, Kenney positioned himself as the education candidate. He pushed a model for “community schools” pioneered in Cincinnati, another rebounding city pushing itself to retain a growing population of educated young adults...

“I have taken positions in my career that have not made a lot of those folks happy. LGBT rights, immigration rights, marijuana decriminalization. These are issues a lot of my core constituency and people that are friendly with me do not understand,” he says. “But ultimately, hopefully, they do understand. When you do the right thing, and not just the popular thing, you’re hoping that the right thing becomes popular.”

Original source: Next City
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A trip down memory lane to Philly's historic sports stadiums

Curbed takes a look at stadiums from Philly's sports past. Check them out.

South Philly may be home to all of the city's stadiums today, but you might be surprised to know that North Philly was where all the magic began. Take Baker Bowl, for instance, which stood at Broad Street and Lehigh Avenue and was the first home of the Phillies. And just a few blocks away was Shibe Park, which was once described as, "the greatest place of its character in the world." And that's just the start of it. Here are six football and baseball stadiums that once stood in Philadelphia. Just in time for the Super Bowl, let's take a trip down memory lane, when these behemoths only cost $100,000 to build and tickets to see a Jimi Hendrix concert in them set folks back $6.50.?

Original source: Curbed
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UberPool coming to Philadelphia

Uber's carpooling option is coming to Philadelphia, allowing budget-minded ridesharers to save even more dough.

UberPOOL, a new feature from the San Francisco-based ride-sharing company that allows customers to share trips with people heading in the same direction, will launch in Philadelphia, according to multiple sources familiar with the development.
UberPOOL is usually 50 percent cheaper than UberX. In Philadelphia, riders could save $0.55 per mile, which should make it appealing for solo riders or a pair. The option doesn't work for three or more riders summoning an Uber together...

UberPOOL launched its private beta with Google in August 2014. It's already available in at least eight markets including Washington, D.C., New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston, and Austin, Texas, along with Paris and Bangalore, India.

The addition of UberPOOL to the Philadelphia market comes at a strange time between the city and app. Uber has an office and a huge fleet in Philadelphia, although it is operating illegally in the city since its UberX service is not regulated by the Philadelphia Parking Authority.

Uber lashed out at the PPA late last week after a
Philadelphia Daily News article revealed the extent of the PPA's sting operations against Uber drivers. UberPOOL is its first real commitment toward expanding its services in Philadelphia beyond UberX. The company declined to establish UberEATS in Philadelphia.

Original source: Philadelphia Business Journal
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Philly photog shares local hidden gems with HuffPo

A partnership between Global Yodel and Huffington Post results in this local guide from photographer Darren Burton.

What is the best thing about Philadelphia? Hands down, the food and the art. Last year Philadelphia was ranked #6 for the best food cities in America by the Washington Post. Most tourists only know of us for our cheesesteaks, which ironically we don't eat often. There are MANY amazing restaurants that will leave your stomach satisfied to say the least. In addition to tons of restaurants, you can also find many murals, museums and art galleries throughout the city...

Describe a perfect day in Philadelphia: If my friend was at the The Logan Philadelphia Hotel for 24 hours, for starters, I would have them get breakfast at the Urban Farmer Restaurant on the 1st floor. (I'd suggest the Honey Biscuit with Country Sausage and Chicken.) After they eat I'd urge them to spend their afternoon on the parkway checking out the Philadelphia Museum of ArtAcademy of Natural Sciences, and The Franklin Institute. Of course, after all the walking they'd be hungry, so, I'd suggest going to Tela's Market on 19th and Fairmount and eating their Softshell Crab Sandwich followed by a Strawberry Banana Gelato from Philly Flavors which is only one block away. By this time, I'm sure they'd be tired so I'd suggest to go to The Logan Spa back at the hotel for a nice massage and then a nap. When they awake during the evening I'd urge them to put on a casual outfit and head over to Silk City in the Northern Liberties neighborhood and grab a bite to eat. (I'd suggest getting the Shrimp & Grits.) After dinner, the grand finale would be to head on over to The Fillmore for a dope concert. When the concert is over, if they still wanted to party, I'd suggest dancing their little hearts out at The Barbary right down the street.


Original source: Huffington Post; Global Yodel
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Local startup Curalate raises $27.5 million in Series C funding; will hire 115

A shining star in the local startup scene, Curalate has impressed again with a huge funding round. Philly.com's PhillyDeals blog has the scoop.

Curalate, the "visual commerce" software maker that helps Urban Outfitters and Forever21 sell clothes via partners Instagram, Pinterest and other social media, has raised $27.5 million from its past investors New Enterprise Associates (the largest U.S. venture capital outfit), Josh Kopelman's Philadelphia-based FirstRound Capital (biggest VC based on the East Coast), and MentorTech Ventures (a Phila-based group, includes Pa. state venture capital, which backs firms run by Penn people like Curalate CEO Apu Gupta, a Wharton MBA). "They believe," Gupta told me...

Gupta says the latest cash infusion, which follows $12.5 million in fundraising since 2012, will pay to double Curalate's staff -- currently 115 at its Center City HQ, New York and Seattle offices -- to 230 by year's end. "We're trying to disrupt a $1.6 trillion (ecommerce) market. It's gonna take some money," Gupta told me. "There's a lot of hiring to be done."

"Curalate is transforming ecommerce," NEA general partner Harry Weller said in a statement. He called it "one of those rare companies," combining: a "disruptive vision" for ecommerce, also capable of building rugged software that speeds consumers to buy stuff. 


Original source: Philly.com
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New York Times Magazine takes a close look at Amtrak 188

The New York Times Magazine examines the crash of Amtrak 188, one of the worst rail disasters in U.S. history. The incident occurred in North Philadelphia and impacted many lives locally.

From 30th Street Station, the train glided northwest out of Philadelphia, tracing the arc of the freeway. Near the old Schuylkill River Bridge, it jogged right, gathering speed, bound for the New Jersey border. Had you been standing anywhere near the tracks, you would have heard Amtrak 188 before you saw it, in the hum of the rail bed and the metallic shiver of the electricity in the overhead catenary wires. And then you would have felt it, in the vibration of the earth: the combined weight of a 98-ton locomotive and seven 50-ton cars, carrying a total of 258 people, eight of them employees...

In the days and weeks and months to come, every part of his northbound journey would be dissected by law enforcement, by the news media, by the public. It would be said, correctly, that the wreck of Amtrak 188 was the worst kind of anomaly — that train travel was safer than many other forms of travel, cars included, and that Amtrak’s safety record was sterling. (This, too, is accurate: From 2000 to 2014, accidents on Amtrak routes dropped to 1.7 accidents per million passenger-miles from 4.1.) Bostian’s personal life would be picked apart, his state of mind questioned. Theories would be floated and discredited: that there was some sort of mechanical problem with the locomotive, or the track, or the signals (none of the above). That Bostian was on his phone at the time of the accident (he was not). That he was using drugs or drinking (his blood was clean).
Finally, investigators would turn their focus on the section of track between North Philadelphia Station and Frankford Junction. Three miles of train travel: the distance it took for an otherwise unremarkable trip, overseen by an engineer known for his prudence, to go violently, impossibly wrong.

Original source: New York Times Magazine
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Growing local company Invisible Sentinel tackles food safety concerns

This Philadelphia startup gets a big spotlight in The New York Times. Their food-testing technology could help solve headaches for big companies like Chipotle who struggle with outbreaks of bacteria including E. coli or listeria that sicken customers. 

Troubles for one business can mean opportunities for others. And the competitive field of food testing is one. Companies big and small are looking for ways to make food testing faster, more accurate and less expensive. It requires sophisticated scientific and technological skills and is far from the easiest point of entry for a small start-up. But one Philadelphia biotech company led by a pair of entrepreneurs is hoping it has found a niche.

The company, Invisible Sentinel, has developed a patented technology called Veriflow that uses a hand-held device to detect the DNA of micro-organisms like E. coli, salmonella and listeria quickly and at a relatively affordable price. The technology has been approved by AOAC International, an association that sets standards for microbial food testing.

“It’s like a pregnancy test — one line negative and two lines positive — except that it’s amplified DNA that you’re reading,” said Benjamin Pascal, a co-founder of Invisible Sentinel.

Today, according to Invisible Sentinel, 114 companies in the United States and more than 50 internationally use the technology at more than 250 different sites in 18 countries.

Wawa Inc., which owns dairy and beverage manufacturing plants as well as 715 convenience stores in six states, tested Veriflow for about six months before signing on in March 2013. “Invisible Sentinel’s technology was two to three times faster than others,” said Chris Gheysens, the company’s chief executive.


Original source: The New York Times
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Hope and fear in Atlantic City

Reuters takes a look at the changing face of Atlantic City -- a seaside city facing enormous challenges and working to embrace exciting opportunities.

Brimming with promise but ground down by poverty, Atlantic City is trying to reinvent itself even as it teeters on the edge of fiscal ruin. Its perception as a seedy locale is just one of several hurdles.

The city has been devastated by the quick collapse of its one-time monopoly on East Coast casino gambling and could see its cash flow run dry by April. The ravaged local economy laid bare the city's bloated budget and over dependence on a single industry.

Now, even as local elected officials are faced with the potential of a state takeover, they hope some seeds they planted to clean up crime-ridden areas and diversify the economy could begin bearing fruit before long.


The city has added new recreation and entertainment venues from Philadelphia developer Bart Blatstein, for example. Stockton University, which is nearby and has about 8,600 students, unveiled plans to expand there, and the city played host to a summer of successful beach concerts.

Clean-up efforts at a Texas Avenue playground and other parks have also worked. Overall, crime in Atlantic City fell by 9.3 percent in 2015 through November, compared to the same period the previous year, and has been declining for most of the last decade, according to state police data compiled by Reuters.?

Original source: Reuters
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Travel + Leisure counts down Philly's top spots to watch the Super Bowl

Travel + Leisure picks their top five spots to catch the big game (February 7). You can root for the Panthers or the Broncos will sipping beer and noshing snacks. Here are our two favorites from the list.

2. McGillin's Olde Ale House
Established in the late 19th-century, McGillin's is the oldest continuously operating tavern in town. If you don't believe them, every single liquor license this modern speakeasy has acquired since 1871 hangs on a wall, alongside other signage of the ghosts of the city's past, like Wanamaker's and Woolworth. Shimmy up to the bar and order the SuperMug for $5, which gets you refills of Bud Light throughout the entire game for a buck a pop...

5. Brauhaus Schmitz
While this South Street German beer hall is normally your go-to venue to catch that other brand of football (along with Fado, a few blocks to the west), this year you can join the ranks of like-minded fans who believe that football—even the American kind—is best paired with lederhosen and giant draughts of bier. The game will be broadcast on the big screen in their Brauer Bund Beer Hall. Their $50 Super Bowl special includes pork rinds, roast beef, meatballs, wings, and more, all you can drink beer, and tax and gratuity. Make reservations by visiting their website.


Original source: Travel + Leisure
Read the complete list here.

The vision for Bok comes into focus with new tenants

The former Bok Technical High School is being transformed into a hive for local businesses, innovation and community engagement. As more tenants are announced, it becomes clear that the space will serve diverse masters.

Having already signed on makerspace Hive76 and Fringe hair salon, newish owner Lindsey Scannapieco and her development company, Scout Ltd., has signed Project P.L.A.Y., a private nonprofit preschool based in Elkins Park, to open a second location inside the hulking school building at Ninth and Mifflin in September 2016.
 
"The community was kind of seeking more day-care options," Scannapieco told Property. "I think it’ll be great." 
In an effort to subsidize building overhead and support the local business within the space, Scannapieco said they have applied for a liquor license for a permanent rooftop cafe...

In March, Scout Ltd. was awarded an endowment of $146,960 through the Knight Foundation's Knight Cities Challenge to reimagine Bok's outdoor spaces as a community engagement area called the "South Philly Stoop." The school will be located on the first floor and have direct access to a new outdoor play space on South Ninth Street, which is currently being designed. Scannapieco said that it would be open for community use after school hours...

 
Scannapieco said that Bok currently has filled out the first floor space with over 15 tenants, and a press release states that 75 percent are residents of South Philly and over 45 percent live in the 19148 ZIP code. Over the next year, an additional 35,000-square-feet of leasable space will be opened up, "and the process has begun for zoning of the historic auditorium and gymnasium for community events such as local sports leagues, fundraisers and private events," reads the release.

Original source: Philadelphia Magazine (Property)
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Fresh modern housing comes to college neighborhoods, but not for students

The New York Times takes a look at new residential development near colleges -- and notes that many of them have no interest in undergrad renters. University City features prominently in the piece.

A block from Drexel University, a glassy new rental building offers residents a roof deck with a heated saltwater pool, a fire pit and outdoor televisions — amenities that would make for a raucous college party, if college students could live there.

But the 28-story tower at 3601 Market Street was not built to house any of Drexel’s 16,900 undergraduates. Nor is it intended for the 10,400 undergraduates studying at nearby University of Pennsylvania.

Instead, it aims to attract young professionals — junior faculty, office workers and young doctors — to live in University City, a West Philadelphia neighborhood that is also home to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the Penn Presbyterian Medical Center.

The Market Street apartments are among roughly 2,000 residential units that are planned or have recently opened in University City and are aimed at young professionals and graduate students. A local developer has also acquired eight rental buildings in the neighborhood since the summer, with plans to renovate those 600 units to attract more young professionals...

Near college campuses around the country, developers have begun building luxury housing for the staff, not the students. Tapping into a desire among some younger workers to live in walkable, urban communities, these developers have discovered that a college neighborhood can fit that bill, as students are no longer the only ones who want to live near campus...

Developers use various strategies to keep undergraduates away from these new projects, including high rents that most students can’t afford. They time leasing to miss the start of the academic year, reject applicants who will rely on a guarantor to pay the rent and design spaces that are not ideal for young students. “The undergraduates get the message,” Mr. Downey said.


Original source: The New York Times
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For Sale: Fiat used by Pope on his visit to Philly

Remember that adorable Fiat Pope Francis used to cruise around Philadelphia in September? It's going up on the auction block.

A tiny black Fiat 500L that ferried Pope Francis through Philadelphia during his historic first visit to the United States will be auctioned next week, officials said on Wednesday.

The car, which the 79-year-old Pontiff chose as a symbol of his concern for the environment and desire to put aside some of the rich trappings long associated with his office, will be auctioned on Jan. 29, said organizers of last year's World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia.

Proceeds from the sale will benefit the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia, they said. The car will then go on display at the Philadelphia Auto Show, officials said.


Original source: Reuters
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Examining the work of controversial sociologist Alice Goffman, chronicler of life in West Philly

New York Times Magazine takes a deep dive into the work and life of Alice Goffman, writer of 'On the Run,' a book based on her field work in West Philadelphia. The story is a nuanced look at a complex topic:

The object of dispute was Goffman’s debut book, ‘‘On the Run,’’ which chronicles the social world of a group of young black men in a mixed-­income neighborhood in West Philadelphia, some of them low-­level drug dealers who live under constant threat of arrest and cycle in and out of prison. She began the project as a 20-year-old undergraduate at the University of Pennsylvania; eventually she moved to be closer to the neighborhood, which in the book she calls ‘‘Sixth Street,’’ and even took in two of her subjects as roommates. While most ethnographic projects are completed over a year and a half, Goffman spent more than six years working in the neighborhood, which evolved from a field site into what she still basically considers her home. Her field notes, which she kept with obsessive fidelity — often transcribing hourslong conversations as they happened in real time — ran to thousands of pages. She had to spend more than a year chopping up and organizing these notes by theme for her book: the rituals of court dates and bail hearings; relationships with women and children; experiences of betrayal and abandonment. All those records had now been burned: Even before the controversy began, Goffman felt as though their ritual incineration was the only way she could protect her friend-­informers from police scrutiny after her book was published...

Within her discipline, attitudes toward Goffman’s work were conflicted from the beginning. The American Sociological Association gave ‘‘On the Run’’ its Dissertation Award, and many of Goffman’s peers came to feel as though she had been specially anointed by the discipline’s power elite — that she had been allowed, as the future public face of sociology, to operate by her own set of rules. As a qualitative researcher, Goffman paid relatively scant attention to the dominant mode of her data-­preoccupied field, instead opting to work in a hybrid fashion, as something between a reporter and an academic. She has also mostly refused to play the kinds of political games that can constitute a large part of academic life, eschewing disciplinary jargon and citing the work of other scholars only when she felt like it.

Worse, perhaps, was Goffman’s fondness in her writing for what could seem like lurid detail. Some of the flourishes in ‘‘On the Run’’ were harmless or even felicitous — one character’s ‘‘morning routine of clothes ironing, hair care, body lotion and sneaker buffing’’ — but others seemed to play up her own peril or pander to audience expectations. In one scene, two white officers in SWAT gear break down a house door, ‘‘with guns strapped to the sides of their legs.’’ She continues, ‘‘The first officer in pointed a gun at me and asked who was in the house; he continued to point the gun toward me as he went up the stairs.’’ In another, Goffman writes that the house of a family ‘‘smelled of piss and vomit and stale cigarettes, and cockroaches roamed freely across the countertops and soiled living-­room furniture.’’

Above all, what frustrated her critics was the fact that she was a well-off, expensively educated white woman who wrote about the lives of poor black men without expending a lot of time or energy on what the field refers to as ‘‘positionality’’ — in this case, on an accounting of her own privilege. Goffman identifies strongly and explicitly with the confident social scientists of previous generations, and if none of those figures felt as though they had to apologize for doing straightforward, readable work on marginalized or discredited populations, she didn’t see why she should have to. As another young professor told me, with the air of reverent exasperation that people use to talk about her, ‘‘Alice used a writing style that today you can’t really use in the social sciences.’’ He sighed and began to trail off. ‘‘In the past,’’ he said with some astonishment, ‘‘they really did write that way.’’ The book smacked, some sociologists argued, of a kind of swaggering adventurism that the discipline had long gotten over. Goffman became a proxy for old and unsettled arguments about ethnography that extended far beyond her own particular case. What is the continuing role of the qualitative in an era devoted to data? When the politics of representation have become so fraught, who gets to write about whom?

Original source: New York Times Magazine
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Philly-flavored emojis are coming to a smart phone near you

Visit Philadelphia has commissioned an emoji keyboard bursting with Philly pride. In no time you'll be texting soft pretzels and Rocky statues to fellow fans of the City of Brotherly Love.

The agency hopes the application, released Wednesday, will amplify the increasing buzz around Philadelphia as a tourism destination, said president and chief executive officer Meryl Levitz.

"Word of mouth is the most trusted source of advice for travelers and trip-takers," Levitz said. "This is another fun way for that word of mouth to travel."

The keyboard can be downloaded from the Google Play store and Apple Inc.'s App Store and activated while using messaging applications such as iMessenger, Android MMS and Facebook Messenger.

Users can then select from more than 40 Philadelphia-related images to insert into their messages, ranging from pretzels and cheesesteaks to caricatures of Benjamin Franklin and Betsy Ross.


Original source: Philadelphia Inquirer
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Media News: Philly's major media outlets donated to nonprofit

The Inquirer, Daily News and Philly.com have been donated to a new media institute.

"What would the city be without the Inquirer and the Daily News?" asked H.F. "Gerry" Lenfest, who until his gift was the sole owner of The Inquirer, Daily News and Philly.com website. No TV, radio or internet portal can match the news agencies in-depth coverage, he said.

On Tuesday, in a meeting with employees and then at a news conference at the Constitution Center, Lenfest formally announced the details of a complicated transaction designed to ensure that quality journalism endures in Philadelphia for generations.

The move places the region's dominant news-gatherers under the auspices of the nonprofit Philadelphia Foundation.

"In a democracy," foundation President and CEO Pedro Ramos said at the Constitution Center, "great cities need and depend on quality journalism."

Lenfest's gift will support and enhance "nothing less than an essential element of our democracy," Ramos said...

Subscribers and readers will see no immediate changes. Nor will PMN employees. The company's contracts with its labor unions remain in force. Bill Ross, executive editor of the Newspaper Guild, which represents journalists and other workers at PMN, said he was "somewhat optimistic" about the new structure.


Original source: Philly.com
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Frontier Airlines adds a bunch of cheap new routes from Philly

The budget airline has announced a slate of new destinations from Philadelphia, including Portland, Austin, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Kansas City, Milwaukee, New Orleans, Atlanta, Detroit, Seattle and Nashville.

Most flights start in mid-April, but at least a half dozen won’t roll out until May or June to accommodate delivery dates for some of the 18 new aircraft the carrier has on order.

None of these new flights will begin as daily service. Depending on the route, schedules are either Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday or Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.

“The day of week schedule helps capacity meet initial demand as we enter these new markets,” said Frontier spokesman  Jim Faulkner .

The new routes are being introduced with fares as low as $39 one-way and target markets the Denver-based carrier considers “historically overpriced and underserved.” In in most cases the new routes put Frontier up against service offered by Delta, United, American or Southwest.


Original source: USA Today
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Philly is once again a Sanctuary City

New mayor Jim Kenney has reinstated Philly's status as a "sanctuary city."

Mayor Kenney on Monday barred almost all cooperation between city law enforcement and federal immigration agents, reverting to a policy that made Philadelphia one of the nation's "sanctuary cities."

"The only way that people buy into [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] is when they . . . have input into the process," Kenney - who had promised to rescind his predecessor's eleventh-hour order on his first day in office - said at a signing ceremony where immigrant-rights activists cheered.

Kenney said he had spoken with Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, who is promoting "Priority Enforcement," a replacement for "Secure Communities," an ICE program that has been rejected by immigrant groups and dozens of municipalities, including Philadelphia, as overly aggressive.

Kenney said Johnson will send ICE representatives to Philadelphia to brief immigration stakeholders on the new program and try to explain why it does not have the shortcomings of Secure Communities.

"But until that happens," he said, "we are going back to our old situation," which, between April 2014 and late last month, barred police and prison officials from telling ICE agents about an undocumented prisoner's pending release unless the person was convicted of a violent felony and ICE's request was supported by a warrant.


Original source: Philly.com
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Keys to the dinosaurs' extinction in South Jersey?

Experts from Rowan University are digging into a treasure trove of fossils behind a South Jersey shopping center.

Behind a Lowe’s home improvement store here, scientists are methodically scraping and sifting through a quarry pit that may contain unique insights to the mass extinction that eliminated the dinosaurs.

Back then, about 66 million years ago, the oceans were higher, and this part of southern New Jersey was a shallow sea, 10 to 15 miles offshore from an ancient mountain range that rose from the water. Today’s quarry pit was once the sea bottom, and one particular layer about 40 feet beneath the surface contains a bounty of fossils.

Kenneth J. Lacovara, a professor of paleontology and geology at nearby Rowan University, calls the layer a “mass death assemblage.” He believes it may be the only known collection of animal remains that dates from the mass extinction itself.

But they are not the only fossil hunters here.

Once a year for the past four years, the quarry has been opened to the public, and citizen paleontologists have come in droves — about 1,500 for the most recent community event last fall...

The dating of the fossil layer puts their deaths tantalizingly close in time to the impact of a meteor off what is now the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico. Most paleontologists think that the climatic cataclysm that followed killed three-quarters of the species living on Earth — and all of the dinosaurs except those that evolved into birds.


Original source: The New York Times
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Philadelphia welcomes a new mayor

On January 4, Jim Kenney was sworn in as the 99th mayor of Philadelphia.

"Government functions properly when it is accessible and accountable to the people it serves," he said in a relatively short speech that touched on broad themes of service, education and job creation.

He also briefly addressed the charged issue of police-citizen relations, saying two things must be kept in mind.

"Black lives do matter," he said, to applause - and then added that it also must be remembered that most police officers are decent, honest, hard-working civil servants.

"The vision that will guide my administration is that city government should first and foremost deliver efficient, effective services to all Philadelphians; regardless if they live in the Northeast or Southwest; if they're a new transplant or if their family has lived here for generations," he said.

"That may sound like a 'back to basics' approach. But, in reality, it is as large and as difficult a goal as has ever been announced on this stage."


"To achieve this vision," Kenney said, "we will all have to work together. Government simply cannot do it alone - we need our businesses, our non-profits, our universities and everyday Philadelphians to come together and row in the same direction."

Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
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Philadelphia Eagles' long snapper used magic to overcome tragedy

Jon Dorenbos experienced unbelievable tragedy at a young age, and a love of magic helped pull him out. He's been with the Birds for 13 years. 

Soon after Jon Dorenbos’s mother was murdered by his father, he moved in with his aunt and returned to his hometown for a Little League all-star game where he witnessed his first magic show. Today, Dorenbos, the Philadelphia Eagles’ long snapper, says that 30-minute experience helped turn around his life...

After Alan Dorenbos was found guilty of second-degree murder and sentenced to more than 13 years in prison, Jon and Kristina (who also have an older brother) moved to Garden Grove, Calif., to live with an aunt, Susan Hindman, who was Kathy Dorenbos’s younger sister.

Hindman, who was 32 and single, made sure her niece and nephew were active. Jon won the lead role as Charlie Brown in a community theater production, remained involved in sports and dreamed of playing baseball at Pepperdine University. But it was magic that won his heart...

For the past few years, he has toured the country during each off-season performing “The Jon Dorenbos Experience,” a small-audience show he created for corporate clients. He mostly does card tricks, but he says his main goal is to entertain.

“I don’t need you to think I’m some god figure,” Dorenbos said. “I’m not trying to sell you on the spirits of anything. It’s cool. It’s fun. Let’s have a good time, let’s laugh, let’s have some energy and let’s call it a day.”


Original source: The New York Times
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Land Bank simplifies the process for developing blighted properties

The New York Times delves into the tough situation Philadelphia faces when dealing with vacant and blighted properties -- the new Land Bank is hoping to help.

Abandoned properties, numbering an estimated 32,000 owned by both private and public sectors citywide, may be tempting targets for developers during a current real estate boom in some areas of Philadelphia. But potential buyers have often been deterred by delinquent taxes or by having to locate absent owners or determine that the owners are deceased.

Developers and city officials hope that the Philadelphia Land Bank, a recently created city program, will help sift through the labyrinth of records on vacant and abandoned lots like the Eubanks property and make them available for sale and redevelopment.

But some neighborhood residents and activists worry that developers’ efforts will lead to higher taxes and gentrification, forcing out longtime homeowners.

On Dec. 9, Philadelphia’s mayor, Michael A. Nutter, announced the transfer of deeds for 150 properties owned by the Philadelphia Housing Development Corporation, a city agency, to the Land Bank. The transfer represented the first set of buildings or lots to be taken over by the new entity.

A further 1,135 city-owned properties are to be transferred to the Land Bank by the end of 2015, beginning a process that could shift about 8,500 publicly owned vacant properties from a number of city agencies to a single entity that would become a “one-stop shop” for developers...

The Land Bank will determine whether developers’ plans are appropriate to local needs such as more affordable units in neighborhoods dominated by market-rate housing, or more market-rate development in a neighborhood that already has a good stock of subsidized properties, said Beth McConnell, policy director for the Philadelphia Association of Community Development Corporations, which advocates for the Land Bank.

Ms. McConnell said the Land Bank had the potential to clear urban blight and return land to productive use in a way that conforms with neighborhood and citywide plans.


Original source: The New York Times
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Philly makes Fodor's 'Go List 2016'

Philadelphia keeps reeling in the travel accolades, including a spot on this travel company's list of places to go in 2016.

Philadelphia may be one of the oldest cities in the country—UNESCO recently named it the first World Heritage City in the United States—but the wave of new eateries popping up in seemingly every neighborhood is evidence of both a food renaissance and cultural revival in the city. Formerly under-the-radar areas like Fishtown and Northern Liberties have experienced an immense revitalization with the arrival of many new breweries and beer gardens, turning these once-quiet neighborhoods into hip nightlife and cuisine hubs. Meanwhile, Philadelphia continues its rising trend of development with the stunning new Schuylkill Banks Boardwalk, as well as the soaring Comcast Innovation and Technology Center skyscraper that will house the much-buzzed-about new Four Seasons Hotel (expected to open in 2018). And, of course, the Democratic National Convention, taking place in Philadelphia in 2016, will usher in a wave of tourists and an even greater renewal of interest in this historic city.

Original source: Fodor's
Read the complete list here

New York Times details four amazing art shows in Philly

It's an embarrassment of riches for Philadelphia art fans this season -- The New York Times profiles four shows at four local institutions. 

Rarely is it a better time than now for a trip to Philadelphia, where four of the city’s major art institutions are presenting exceptionally rewarding shows, each distinctively its own thing. ThePennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts offers a comprehensive retrospective of the career of Norman Lewis, the first such exhibition to be devoted to this African-American Modernist painter and one that invites viewers to consider Mr. Lewis’s place in the history of the country’s art. Dazzling the eyes and intriguing the mind, thePhiladelphia Museum of Art presents two centuries’ worth of American still-life paintings and sculptures, from John James Audubon’s images of birds and mammals to Andy Warhol’s Brillo boxes. The Barnes Foundation has an astounding presentation of extravagantly ornamental antique works of wrought iron from a French museum, including door knockers with demonic faces and coffee grinders that look as if dreamed up by a steampunk artist. And the Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania has a solo show of delightfully offbeat works by the self-taught New York artist Christopher Knowles.

Original source: The New York Times
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Spirit Airlines expands its offerings to and from Philadelphia

The budget airline will add new flights in and out of Philadelphia International Airport. 

Spirit Airlines  is expanding in Philadelphia, adding new nonstop routes to Detroit and Fort Lauderdale.  Once the flights begin on April 29, Spirit will fly to eight destinations nonstop from Philadelphia.

"We are excited to bring more low fare choices to more places for our customers," Mark Kopczak, Spirit’s Vice President of Network Planning, says in a statement. "Spirit continues to make flying more affordable in Detroit, Fort Lauderdale, and Philadelphia, enabling customers to visit places they previously couldn't afford."

Spirit will fly one daily round-trip flight on both routes, but it will face direct competition.


Original source: USA Today
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Local swimmer named Sports Illustrated's 'SportsKid of the Year'

Reece Whitley, a swimmer from William Penn Charter, earned the top honor in Sports Illustrated.

Reece had begun playing competitive basketball when he was seven — around the same time he began T-ball and swimming — and he was, of course, a post player. A self-described “solid mid-range shooter,” Reece could dunk on a hoop by the time he was 13, though he never dunked in a game.

While he still loves basketball, Reece, now 15 and 6' 8", is no longer on a team. But the sophomore at William Penn Charter School has won a junior national championship and holds five individual national age-group records in the pool, where he has become one of the top young swimmers in the country. His times in the 100- and 200-meter breaststroke last year qualified him to compete at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials this June in Omaha, Nebraska. He’s also become a role model for young swimmers in his community and wherever he travels. “I’ve had so much fun watching him grow, continue to love the sport, and advocate for the sport,” says Crystal Keelan, the head coach at Penn Charter Aquatic Club (PCAC). “As he’s maturing, he’s wanting to spread the word about swimming and making connections with people of all ages.”


Original source: Sports Illustrated
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Shining a light on Stargazy, South Philly's remarkable new pie and mash shop

Local food writer Drew Lazor goes deep on Stargazy, the British-style pie shop that recently opened on East Passyunk Avenue.

But what really sets Stargazy apart is the pie and mash itself, a simple but incredibly satisfying dish that has yet to have its moment here in the States. Understanding the appeal of this beloved blue-collar meal, Jacobson and others will tell you, is key to understanding the DNA of London’s working class. It’s that city’s original fast food — and if the early reaction to Stargazy is any indication, Americans are picking up on it quick.

Jacobson, who holds dual U.K./U.S. citizenship, originally crossed the pond for work ten years ago and hasn’t left. He’s cooked in a number of restaurants around the country, most notably a string of small, critically acclaimed, chef-driven restaurants in the Philadelphia area. But when it finally came time to go all in on his own place, Jacobson knew it was an opportunity to introduce something completely different. That something: an American approximation of the “proper” pie and mash shops of his childhood.

While not an everyday thing, Jacobson has vivid memories of visiting these tidy canteen-style shops with his father, who himself was raised on the stuff in London’s East End. The single-plate combination of a flaky-cased beef pie, mashed potato, electric-green parsley liquor and a right scoop of eels is the type of comfort food that sticks with you as much as to you.

“It was something I became more nostalgic for after I moved away and couldn’t have it anymore,” says Jacobson, who began poking around to learn how other pie men in the States did it. He quickly came to a realization: “Nationally, I couldn’t find a single shop. I thought, there has to be room for one.” As far as he can tell, Stargazy still holds that distinction a little more than three months in. 


Original source: Food Republic
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The Boss is coming to Philadelphia

Bruce Springsteen has announced a 9-week tour -- and he's making a stop in Philadelphia.

On Friday the 66-year-old icon announced The River Tour with the E Street Band, which starts Jan. 16, 2016, in Pittsburgh.

Springsteen will play 24 dates and wrap the tour on March 17, 2016, at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena.

Tickets go on sale Dec. 11. The tour also will visit Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, Atlanta and New York's Madison Square Garden.

Friday's announcement of the tour was made the day he released the four-disc "The Ties That Bind: The River Collection," which includes unreleased songs, the original 1980 "The River" album and more.

Before the tour, Springsteen will perform on "Saturday Night Live" on Dec. 19.


Original source: Associated Press via The New York Times
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The art gallery scene in Philadelphia is struggling

As multiple galleries close, the Philadelphia Inquirer seeks to explain what's going on in the local art world.

Rosenfeld Gallery, Gallery Joe, LGTripp Gallery, Artists' House, and Hooloon Gallery have all closed in Old City. The Vivant Art Gallery closed in October 2014, although it still operates online.

The closing of Rosenfeld marked the end of 40 years in the neighborhood where First Friday has defined the streetscape and embodied Philadelphia's claim as a city of art makers and sellers.

Gallery Joe, still operating privately by appointment, was in Old City for more than 20 years. Ditto Artists' House, which opened in 1991.
Is this just normal churn in a notoriously fickle and difficult business? Or does it herald something more momentous?...

"The traditional gallery setting and process of selling is not successful," said [sculptor Katherine Stanek]. "Patrons are changing. The greatest impact comes from the Internet. People are buying on the Internet. They can find whatever they want. They don't visit galleries.

"At the same time, these art fairs are going up. You can go to Miami or Chicago or New York and find a whole shopping mall of art."

Stanek hopes the prospect of constantly changing aesthetic sensibilities reflected in curated shows, plus the possibility of seeing art made and hung in a living-room-like space, will coax collectors away from their screens and the art malls.


Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
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'Creed' earns rave reviews, spotlights revitalized Philadelphia

The latest entry in the 'Rocky' franchise soars, and shows off a fresh Philadelphia. From A.O. Scott's New York Times review:

“Creed” is a dandy piece of entertainment, soothingly old-fashioned and bracingly up-to-date. The punches fly, the music soars (hip-hop along with Ludwig Goransson’s variations on the old Bill Conti brass) and the ground is prepared for “Creed II.” We’ll see how that goes. But for now it is sweet to have this lesson in the importance of fast footwork, brute power and brotherly love.

Reuters, meanwhile, took a look at how the depiction of Philadelphia has evolved since that original Oscar-winning film:

In the final scene of the movie "Creed," aging boxer Rocky Balboa stands atop the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and surveys the gleaming steel and glass office towers of the city's skyline.

The 72 stone steps look the same as they did when Balboa, played by Sylvester Stallone, ran up them in the famous training montage from 1976's Academy Award-winning "Rocky." But the view in "Creed," which opens on Wednesday in theaters nationwide, is clearer and brighter, reflecting Philadelphia's revival.

"In the 1970's, this city was right in middle of half a century of population decline," said Larry Eichel, director of the Pew Charitable Trust's Philadelphia Research Initiative. "In the last eight years, the city has grown by 72,000 people. That's not as much as other cities, but when you put it in the context of a half century of decline, it's an achievement."


Even the city's hipper side gets a shout-out.

In the original film, Rocky hung out in a bar so run down that in one scene his best friend struggles to comb his hair in a bathroom mirror so broken that only a fragment of glass remains.

In the new film, Adonis Johnson, the son of Balboa rival-turned-mentor Apollo Creed, leaves behind a life of privilege to walk in the footsteps of a father he never knew. The title character, played by Michael B. Jordan, hangs out in Johnny Brenda's, a bar whose 2003 renovation as a live music venue marked a turning point in the gritty Philadelphia neighborhood of Fishtown.


Original source: New York Times, Reuters
 

Philly's red panda cubs have names!

The Philadelphia Zoo's adorable balls of fur have finally been officially named.

There wasn't much suspense over the recent mayoral race in Philadelphia, but voters waited with baited breath over the results of a more recent election: what should we name the two panda cubs born at the Philadelphia Zoo this summer?

The Zoo announced the winning names on Friday, after tallying over 40,000 votes online. The brother and sister pair will now go by Betsy and Ben, and if you need that reference explained to you, go back to history class.

Betsy and Ben destroyed the competition, garnering 17,000 votes in a field of five name pairs. General Curator Kevin Murphy said he was "thrilled" to see so many people get excited about naming the cubs.

“There were some really great submissions and paring down the list wasn’t easy but we are happy with the end result. This was a great way to build excitement as well as welcome these two important cubs to the Philadelphia Zoo,” he said...

The pandas' birth isn't important just because they're so darn cute. The Philadelphia Zoo participates in the Species Survival Plan, a collaboration between zoos around the world to maintain healthy, genetically diverse populations of threatened or endangered species inside zoos.


Original source: Philly Voice
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Is Philly the saddest sports city in America right now?

Things are certainly woeful for Philly's four major spots teams right now. USA Today's For The Win makes the case that we're currently the saddest sports city in America.

The Philadelphia Eagles got embarrassed on Thanksgiving...and it underscores a sad truth: Philadelphia is the saddest pro sports city in America right now.

Some caveats, before everyone yells at me on Twitter: I am only speaking about pro sports cities, i.e. cities with pro sports. I agree that people in Twin Falls, Idaho have no pro sports, and thus are probably a sadder pro sports city. But for a city like Philadelphia, with a proud pro sports tradition and teams in all the four major sports, things are dire right now...

There are bad situations in other cities, for sure. But Philadelphia deserves better than this. They have proud fans (some of whom may be terrible people) but they’re loyal. These fans care. And they deserve better than what this city is giving them right now.

Fight on Philadelphia, good times are coming soon.


Original source: USA Today
Read the complete story here.

Five-story mixed-use project proposed for contested Bella Vista lot

A sure-to-be-contested project has been proposed for the long-vacant triangle-shaped lot at 6th and Christian Streets, right at the nexus of Bella Vista and Queen Village. The main issues are height and parking.

Developers are hoping to build a 5-story apartment building with a ground-floor restaurant on a vacant, triangular property...Neighbors spent years trying to get the property dedicated as a park. The property’s owner, Stuart Schlaffman, had previously allowed neighbors to clean up the property and plant flowers and shrubs there, though he says that he’s always intended to sell it. The Redevelopment Authority briefly made moves to try to acquire the property from Schlaffman, who also owns Condom Kingdom on South Street, but those plans were never realized...

Now, two developers really are hoping to build on the property. Dan Rosin and Raphael Licht met with near neighbors to discuss the proposal last week, according to Sam Olshin of Atkin Olshin Schade, the architects for the project. The purpose of that meeting was to get early feedback from the most-affected residents before a formal presentation to Bella Vista Neighborhood Association scheduled for next Tuesday.

Renderings of the proposal show a 57-foot building, rising to 64 feet at the top of a pilothouse, with glassy restaurant space on the ground floor. A commercial kitchen is included in the floor plans. The renderings don’t include a number of residential units, but a zoning appeal says the developers are hoping to build 12 apartments. No parking spaces are included.


Original source: PlanPhilly
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Mummers open up parade to ethnic organizations

The Mummers have long faced criticism for their insularity, but now they're opening up the parade to a more diverse stable of troupes.

The Mummers Parade, a long-running and extravagant Philadelphia New Year's celebration that has faced criticism for its lack of diversity and racial insensitivity, will welcome performances by ethnic groups for the first time this year, organizers said.

The change will help ensure the 115-year-old tradition — often called the city's version of Mardi Gras — continues and thrives, Mummers spokesman George Badey said.

Among the new participants is the San Mateo Carnavalero, a Mexican heritage organization.

"The Mummers aren't being dragged kicking and screaming into this," Badey said Tuesday. "The Mummers are full partners in this quest to make the parade more diverse."


Original source: The Associated Press via The New York Times
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The Slinky, born in Philadelphia 70 years ago

Turns out the Slinky, a staple of childhood for decades, was invented in the City of Brotherly Love. The New York Times looks back at its genesis. 

The Slinky, which first appeared in the Gimbels department store in Philadelphia 70 years ago this month, didn’t start out as a toy.

A mechanical engineer at a shipyard in Philadelphia, Richard James, was trying to come up with an anti-vibration device for ship instruments.

He knocked some springs off a desk and was startled when they took slinking steps, almost as if they were strolling away. He saw their potential as a plaything.

The simplicity of a Slinky belies its scientific complexity.

Each ring of a slinking Slinky is pulled up by another and pulled down by gravity in equal amounts.

Try holding the top of a Slinky, while letting the bottom dangle over a step. The bottom of a Slinky doesn’t move until you let go and the top of the Slinky comes down and is completely compressed.

Astronauts on the shuttle Discovery in 1985 found that the Slinky did not behave in weightlessness the way it does on Earth.
One astronaut said: “It sort of droops.”

More than 300 million Slinkys have been sold since Mr. James and his wife, Betty, demonstrated the toy at Gimbels.


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

Local food writers launch podcast

Food mavens Joy Manning and Marisa McClellan have created Local Mouthful, a podcast focusing on all things local and tasty.

Podcasts can be a home cook’s best friend, teaching and entertaining us while keeping us company -- and they’re especially useful during the holiday season as we log extended hours in the kitchen...

Manning is the editor of Edible Philly magazine, a cookbook author and a former restaurant critic for Philadelphia magazine. McClellan is a canning guru and the author of several books, including the upcoming Naturally Sweet Food in Jars(Running Press, 2016).

The two met in 2002 while working admin jobs at a nonprofit outside of the culinary world. Coincidentally, both went on to pursue careers in food writing. Over the years, Manning and McClellan would take long walks around the city, discussing everything from farmers market finds to recent restaurant meals. 

“I often thought to myself, we should record this and do a podcast,” says Manning. 

Finally, in August they began producing weekly episodes in McClellan’s Rittenhouse apartment. Topics range from the best weeknight crockpot meals to favorite types of oysters. Many of the episodes include an interview with a guest, such as Joe Beddia of the acclaimed Pizzeria Beddia and P.J. Hopkins of Brine Street Picklery.?


Original source: Philly Voice
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Marc Vetri to sell restaurant group to URBN

In a stunning move, local chef and restauranteur Marc Vetri and his partner Jeff Benjamin have sold their empire to Urban Outfitters, Inc. The high-end flagship resto Vetri was not included in the sale.

Restaurant patrons will not notice a thing, Vetri said in an interview. "Nothing is changing. In meetings, everyone from Urban kept saying, ‘It’s more crucial than ever that you guys are at your restaurants.’ " Terms were not immediately disclosed.

With Vetri as president and Benjamin as COO, the Vetri Family will become a subsidiary of Urban Outfitters Inc., known as URBN. It will join a stable of brands that includes hip clothing retailer Urban Outfitters, female-focused lifestyle store Anthropologie, home and garden center Terrain, and apparel enterprise Free People, which operates both retail and wholesale arms.

Vetri Family partners Jeff Michaud and Brad Spence each will assume the title "executive director, culinary," and will continue their roles overseeing menu development and execution at all properties.

No branding or logo modifications are planned, and no employee moves are expected...

All of URBN’s current food and beverage brands will be folded into and managed by the Vetri Family. The restaurant veterans will also be tasked with helping Urban develop food and beverage concepts - a challenge both Vetri and Benjamin say they are very much looking forward to.

"It’s like after 17 years, Jeff and I are renewing our vows instead of getting a divorce," Vetri said, clearly energized by the whole deal.


Original source: Philly.com
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Penn named one of world's most beautiful college campuses

The West Philly university was included on a Buzzfeed list "25 of the Most Beautiful College Campuses in the World." It came in at No. 13. Check out the whole list here. 

Original source: Buzzfeed

Philadelphia has a new mayor, and some changes to the city charter

Local voters headed to the polls last week, electing a new mayor. And that's not all -- there are also changes on the state supreme court and to the city charter.
 
The banner behind Jim Kenney was decorated with children's green and orange handprints and read, "Welcome, Mayor Kenney!"

A little premature, as Kenney won't become mayor until he is sworn in Jan. 4. But he made clear Wednesday that the planning and transitioning had already begun.

Kenney addressed reporters for the first time as mayor-elect at Jackson School in South Philadelphia, the morning after catapulting past his rivals to a historic victory...

In short remarks and 25 minutes of taking questions, Kenney offered some new specifics of his now-familiar campaign promises, including providing universal, free pre-K to 3- and 4-year-olds, a goal he says will be worked into his first budgeting process next spring and start to unfold next fall.

Original source: Philly.com
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Local hummuseria Dizengoff to open kiosk in NYC's Chelsea Market

This quick-serve concept from chef Michael Solomonov and partner Steve Cook is preparing for world domination, starting with a stall at Manhattan's Chelsea Market.

Chelsea Market is using the former Ruthy’s Bakery space for another collection of kiosks, to open in January. The confirmed tenants are Dizengoff, the Philadelphia-based hummus stand from Michael Solomonov and Steve Cook; Berlin Currywurst from Los Angeles; Davidovich Bakery, a New York artisan bakery; Filaga, for Sicilian pizza cooked on a stone; Seed and Mill, selling halvah and tahini; Cappone’s Salumeria and Sandwiches, relocating from Gansevoort Market; and Li-Lac Chocolates: 75 Ninth Avenue (15th Street).?

Original source: The New York Times
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Philadelphia Media Network lays off 46; Philly.com hit hardest

The company that owns the Daily News and the Philadelphia Inquirer recently laid off more workers, another sign of the tough media market both locally and globally.

More than 40 staffers in newsrooms throughout Philadelphia Media Network have been laid off as the company seeks to consolidate its disparate editorial staffers to forge a single unified newsroom.

Today’s layoffs, which claimed a total of 46 jobs, were scattered throughout the company’s three newsrooms, said Howard Gensler, president of the Local 10 at the Newspaper Guild of Greater Philadelphia. Staffers at Philly.com were hit the hardest, with 17 of about 30 editorial employees losing their jobs. The Philadelphia Daily News also saw severe cuts, with 17 of about 60 editorial employees laid off. The Philadelphia Inquirer lost 12 staffers.


Morale in the company’s newsrooms is extremely low, Gensler said. Nearly everybody knows somebody who’s headed for the exits. Meanwhile, employees who didn’t get laid off are on tenterhooks waiting to see how they will fit in with the restructured newsroom because the cuts don’t take effect until Dec. 4.

Original source: Poynter.org
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Philly's adult literacy program earns praise in Huffington Post

Philadelphia offers first free online interactive adult-education program, brings innovation to this tough problem.

Five years ago, more than half a million adults in Philadelphia lacked basic literacy and work skills, imperiling their ability to land jobs and climb out of poverty, the Philadelphia Workforce Investment Board reported. Yet at the same time, hundreds of literacy providers operated scattershot programs all over the city, albeit with few resources, fewer notable metrics and even less oversight...

Today, Philadelphia sponsors what organizers say is the first free online interactive adult-education program in the nation. At 30 literacy organizations and three campuses called myPLACE (Philadelphia Literacy and Adult Career Education), students learn together in groups (or cohorts), attend class in-person and online and work with a learning coach who sends them texts, e-mails, even postcards to keep them engaged and moving forward. The goal is to help them earn a GED, read at a community-college level and ultimately land a job. In just over a year, more than 3,000 adults have either completed basic literacy classes online, earned their GEDs or have been launched on a career path. The U.S. Department of Education's Digital Promise initiative has named myPLACE a model site. The organizers' goal this year: to reach 16,000 adults online, on their phones, in person or at home.


Original source: Huffington Post
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Philly-shot 'Creed' brings Rocky story into the next generation

Michael B. Jordan takes on the role of Apollo Creed's son in an upcoming film, which was shot in Philadelphia.

There came a time not long ago when the actor Michael B. Jordan realized he had to stop dying on screen, because it was killing his mom...

With his latest film, “Creed,” Mr. Jordan not only made good on his vow, but he also helped bring back a franchise. He plays an aspiring fighter named Adonis Johnson, the heretofore unknown son of the boxer Apollo Creed. Adonis journeys to Philadelphia to be trained by Rocky Balboa, played by — who else? — Sylvester Stallone.

The film again paired Mr. Jordan with Ryan Coogler, the director of “Fruitvale Station,” who in turn conceived of “Creed” as a deeply personal homage to his sickly father. Co-starring Tessa Thompson, of “Dear White People” and “Selma,” as Mr. Jordan’s love interest, “Creed” explores a different side of Philadelphia than the Rocky films do. While the story largely centers on the father-and-son-like bond between Adonis and an ailing Rocky, it is told through the eyes of young black millennials, showcasing the city’s hip-hop and dirt bike scenes.



Original source: The New York Times
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Target confirms two smaller, urban-style stores for Center City

Target, the chain juggernaut, will open two smaller urban stores in Center City.

The two stores will be what the company calls a “flexible format Target,” which has a smaller footprint than a typical Target store and looks to fit into the (mostly urban) neighborhoods in which they are located.

Metro Commercial Real Estate Inc. recently brokered the deals for the new Target stores in Center City. Tom Londres and Steve Niggeman, both principals at Metro Commercial, represented Target in the transactions.

While the two locations, one at 1900 Chestnut Street (about 23,000 sq. ft.) and the other at 1112 Chestnut (about 22,000 sq. ft.), represent smaller versions of the traditional Target store format, Target representatives told Metro Commercial that “guests can walk into a Target store of any shape or size and find great merchandise, helpful team members, clean, bright aisles and incredible value.”

Target had initially called these smaller-format stores City Target and Target Express, but now the company plans to simply call them Target and re-brand existing ones.


Original source: Chain Store Age
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Andrew Zimmern visits Philadelphia on 'Bizarre Foods,' hangs with Michael Solomonov

The Travel Channel show Bizarre Foods visited Philadelphia, and host Andrew Zimmern seemed to have a blast munching on duck hearts and fishing for shad.

Check out air times and clips from the episode here. 

Go vote! (And maybe win $10,000)

Philadelphians, head to the polls today! And as if participating in democracy wasn't enough, you could win $10,000.

One lucky Philadelphia resident could win a $10,000 payday just for casting a ballot in the mayor’s race.

Non-profit media organization the Philadelphia Citizen announced Thursday that a random voter will be selected on election day to win $10,000 just for voting. The lottery is sponsored by the Pamela and Ajay Raju Foundation, and is meant to encourage voter turnout in a city that has seen very low voter turnout in the last few years. The Mayoral election in 2007 brought out only 29% of eligible voters, the paper said, and only 27% voted in the primary this year.

Noting that voter turnout rates are down across the country—the 2014 federal election brought out only 36% of registered voters—the Citizen calls out Philadelphia in particular for having low civic participation. “It is especially galling here, where this country started and where every single one of us knows a myriad of problems that need solving,” the paper wrote. “Philadelphia suffers from chronic civic participation malaise. We could, as usual, stand back and wring our hands. Instead, we at The Citizen have decided it’s time for action.” Any voter is eligible to win, regardless of which candidate they select. The Citizen will select a specific polling location and a specific time, and the first voter to exit that station at that time will be the winner.
 
Original source: Time
Read the complete story here.

Terry Gross, a Philadelphia institution, gets the NYT Mag profile treatment

Terry Gross, the master interviewer, has become a beloved figure, and not just in Philadelphia. Her show, WHYY's Fresh Air, is syndicated nationally.

This fall, Gross marks her 40th anniversary hosting ‘‘Fresh Air.’’ At 64, she is ‘‘the most effective and beautiful interviewer of people on the planet,’’ as Marc Maron said recently, while introducing an episode of his podcast, ‘‘WTF,’’ that featured a conversation with Gross. She’s deft on news and subtle on history, sixth-sensey in probing personal biography and expert at examining the intricacies of artistic process. She is acutely attuned to the twin pulls of disclosure and privacy.

‘‘You started writing memoirs before our culture got as confessional as it’s become, before the word ‘oversharing’ was coined,’’ Gross said to the writer Mary Karr last month. ‘‘So has that affected your standards of what is meant to be written about and what is meant to maintain silence about?’’ (‘‘That’s such a smart question,’’ Karr responded. ‘‘Damn it, now I’m going to have to think.’’) Gross says very little about her own life on the air. ‘‘I try not to make it about me,’’ Gross told me. ‘‘I try to use my experiences to help me understand my guests’ experiences, but not to take anything away from them.’’ Early in her career, she realized that remaining somewhat unknown allows ‘‘radio listeners to do what they like to do, which is to create you.’’ She added, ‘‘Whatever you need me to be, I’ll be that.’’


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

Opera Philadelphia announces innovative new festival

Opera Philadelphia has announced an ambitious new event for 2017.

Over the past few years, Opera Philadelphia has been working on becoming the very model of a modern opera company. It has explored new formats — an opera about Andy Warhol in a warehouse — while continuing its commitment to tradition. It has received grants for innovative outreach projects, such as Hip H’opera in inner-city schools, and a composer-in-residence program. It has been met with critical and public acclaim. And yet, for all of its success, it had a problem — audiences weren’t growing the way that they were supposed to...

Opera Philadelphia announced Tuesday the launch of a new opera festival at the start of its 2017-2018 season. Called O17, the festival will blanket the city with opera — seven events in 12 days, from a traditional opera at the Academy of Music (Barrie Koskie’s production of “The Magic Flute”) to a piece developed by Daniel Bernard Roumain and directed by Bill T. Jones in the Wilma Theater to a double-bill of Monteverdi and a new work by Lembit Beecher, presented in the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Selling out? Hardly. Exciting? Yes.


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

Huge 9th and Washington project moves closer to reality

The Planning Commission has approved rezoning for this potentially transformative development in the heart of the Italian Market. PlanPhilly has the scoop:

The Planning Commission voted on Tuesday to recommend a bill that would allow a 70-unit apartment complex to rise at 9th Street and Washington Avenue in the Italian Market.

The project, a 5-story ditty with 18,000 square feet of retail space on the ground floor and two levels of underground parking, was presented to Passyunk Square Civic Associationearlier this year. The developers, Midwood Investment & Development, are planning to hold another meeting with the community group before the bill goes to a committee hearing in City Council, probably sometime next month. The project would replace Anastasio’s, a seafood restaurant that Midwood says it will try to bring back as a tenant in the new building, and the largest vacant lot in the Italian Market.

In recommending the bill, which rezones the lot from CMX-2 to CMX-3, the Planning Commission mulled over the following questions.

Does the project reflect the direction that residents and planners think the neighborhood should be headed while respecting the surrounding environment?


Yes, the Commission reasoned. There seems to be general if not universal consensus that Washington Avenue could handle a bit more residential and commercial density, and there’s even greater consensus that the Italian Market could handle a bit more parking capacity, especially if it’s placed below ground. The project is 5 stories at the southeast corner of 9th Street and Washington Avenue, with commercial space along the ground floor of both frontages. It steps down to some lower townhomes along Darien Street, the eastern boundary of the site, to fit in with the existing homes on the other side of that street.

Original source: PlanPhilly
Read the complete story here

Marijuana decriminalization, a year in

It's been a year since Philadelphia decriminalized small amounts of marijuana. How's it going? And could further steps towards legality be in the offing under a new mayor?
 
Philly blunt: Possessing a small amount of marijuana or smoking some in public has been decriminalized here for exactly one year today, and the city hasn't gone up in smoke.

In fact, since decriminalization took effect, police have cited 73 percent fewer people than they arrested for possessing weed during the same time period in the year prior to decriminalization.

And if mayoral candidate Jim Kenney has his way, citations for marijuana users may become a thing of the past, too.

"I'm not interested in issuing citations, either. We'll get to that conversation at the appropriate time next year," Kenney told the 
Daily News. "As time goes on, I don't know if there's going to be a need for any kind of punishment."

As a councilman, Kenney championed the decriminalization bill. He said he did so because Philadelphia was the only municipality in the state still physically arresting people for possessing a small amount of weed and the city was arresting black pot smokers at five times the rate of white ones.

"I think it's pretty hypocritical in a state that licenses, sells and taxes alcohol - that actually runs alcohol-dispensing stores - to say that marijuana rises to the level of an opiate," Kenney said. "It's not necessary, productive or good for the community."

Original source: Daily News
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The S.S. United States moves closer to demolition

At one point, the future looked bright for this massive ship -- currently docked in Philadelphia -- but now its supporters are scrambling to save it.

A Titanic-sized supership that once ferried presidents, Hollywood royalty, actual royalty and even the Mona Lisa has a place in the history books as the fastest oceanliner in the world. The owners are now racing to avoid having the ship, the S.S. United States, relegated to the junk heap.

A preservationist group, the S.S. United States Conservancy, saved the vessel from being scrapped a few years ago. Its members are working with a developer to give the mothballed vessel a new life as a stationary waterfront real-estate development in New York City, the ship’s home port in her heyday.

Their big dreams, however, now face a financial crisis: Short of money, the conservancy in recent days formally authorized a ship broker to explore the potential sale to a recycler. In other words, the preservationists might have to scrap their vessel...

The S.S. United States left service in the late 1960s. Today she is docked in Philadelphia, stripped of her interiors and rusting in the Delaware River across the street from an Ikea store...

The conservancy has explored many options for repurposing the ship. It discussed a hotel-and-event-space proposal in Miami, a mixed-use development and museum complex in Philadelphia, and redevelopment plans in Boston, Baltimore and Florida’s Port Canaveral. With a major cruise line, the conservancy explored the prospect of returning the ship to oceangoing service.

The preservationists even weighed the possibility, Ms. Gibbs said, of using the ship as an artificial reef — in other words, sinking it — in tandem with a museum and visitor’s center. But, she said, “I have spent over a decade trying to save the ship, not preside over her demolition.”

In recent days, as the board considered its dwindling finances, Hurricane Joaquin was threatening the East Coast, forcing the conservancy to take precautions to make sure their ship stayed safe. “A hurricane struck me as a perfect metaphor for what we were confronting,” Ms. Gibbs said.


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

Philadelphia leads the way in reduced soda consumption, a huge public health boon

Soda consumption is down nationwide, and Philadelphia is at the forefront of this massive change. The New York Times chronicles "The Decline of 'Big Soda.'"

Five years ago, Mayor Michael A. Nutter proposed a tax on soda in Philadelphia, and the industry rose up to beat it back...
It’s a familiar story. Soda taxes have also flopped in New York State and San Francisco. So far, only superliberal Berkeley, Calif., has succeeded in adopting such a measure over industry objections.

The obvious lesson from Philadelphia is that the soda industry is winning the policy battles over the future of its product. But the bigger picture is that soda companies are losing the war.
Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here
 

The City Paper is closing

With little notice and quite a bit of controversy, the City Paper was bought and shut down by Broad Street Media. The final issue came out this week.

You may have read this afternoon that Philadelphia City Paper had been sold and would cease publication as of Thursday, Oct. 8. 

This came as a surprise to us, too. We first heard about it via Broad Street Media’s press release announcing that they’d acquired the intellectual rights to City Paper (in other words they bought the name and the URL.) That was brought to our attention when people from other newspapers started calling us for comment or friends started texting their condolences, the result of a very unfortunate misunderstanding between our current owners and our soon-to-be-owners about the timing of the announcement.

We’re all obviously really sad. We’re intensely proud of the work we’ve done this past year — not to mention the past three decades...

So. At the moment, we're the only people here, playing maudlin songs on the jukebox. Somebody just said, "It might be really great to do a post chronicling what it's like when an entire staff gets laid off!" Someone else replied, "Dude, the clicks don't count anymore."

They don't, we guess. We'd like to think, though, that the clicks were never the most important thing. We did our best to do good journalism, to give a voice to the people and stories of Philadelphia that sometimes get overlooked.


From Philly.com: 

"It's heartbreaking," said Daniel Denvir, a multiple-award winner who covered criminal justice and public education for City Paper until this past spring. "Alt-weeklies everywhere are in a death spiral. And that death spiral has now consumed the City Paper, the last legit alt-weekly standing in the city. It leaves an enormous hole in the news ecosystem."

Fortunately, and effort is in the works to salvage the archives. From the City Paper:

We're happy to be able to update this post with the news that, while City Paper will not be publishing any new stuff after the 8th, Darwin Oordt, the CEO of Broad Street Media, has said he is committed to finding a "good steward" to keep our 35+ years of archives public and available — possibly Temple's Urban Archives, which has expressed an interest in helping with the project.

(For more on efforts to save the archives, check out this post from the Columbia Journalism Review.)

Speaking as someone who came up in the alt-weekly world and occasionally contributed to the City Paper, you will be sorely missed. 

Original source: City Paper, Philly.com

 

Gawker claims Pope weekend led to 'the nicest Philly has ever been'

Gawker also got into the act of chronically the strange state of Philly over the course of the pope's visit.

This time around, many Philadelphians left town in the days before Pope Francis’s arrival, hoping to avoid what was lazily termed “pope-ocalypse” (or “pope-a-geddon”) altogether. Others vowed not to leave their homes until the madness passed—a staycation with a holy purpose, amen. A braver group of Philadelphians planned to venture out into the streets to check out the scene. What would Center City hold for these urban adventurers? Faith-based stampedes, perhaps. Overturned cars, alight with gasoline, testosterone, and the fire of the holy spirit—maybe. Lines, long lines, lines for everything, lines, lines, lines? Almost certainly.

The city was dead.

Wandering through the car-less and largely people-less Old and Center Cities in the early afternoon on Saturday, after Pope Francis celebrated mass at the Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul, felt like a pleasant nightmare. Sure, in this post-apocalyptic world everyone I’d ever known had died, leaving me alone in search of the head of the Catholic Church, but the weather was pleasant and boy was it nice to stroll through the streets unbothered. Time enough at last.

It was a great weekend to be in Philadelphia, truly, unless you were a member of the service industry.


Original source: Gawker
Read the complete story here

Slate lauds Philly's car-free streets moment

Flying Kite contributor Jake Blumgart tells Slate readers about the magical Open Streets moment Philly experienced during the pope's visit. And he thinks other cities should try it, too. 

It was wonderfully, serenely, even disarmingly quiet in downtown Philadelphia this past weekend. At the order of the U.S. Secret Service, 4.7 square miles were cleared of automobiles for two days as Pope Francis, his entourage, and his devotees descended upon the city. While the expected massive crowds never quite materialized, the streets filled with local children playing, cyclists lazily pedaling about, and clusters of pilgrims wandering between events—all without a car in sight...
 
The fact that cities are nicer when cars aren’t zipping around is obvious once it’s been experienced. In recent years many metropolises across the world—from New York to Jakarta, Indonesia, to Bogotá, Colombia—have been experimenting with contained and short-lived “open streets” days, where automobiles are banned and the city blocks returned to the people. What made Philadelphia’s experiment stand out is that its car-free moment was so extensive and so incidental. Most cities that actually plan for open streets only select a small area for the festivities, but the experience of a huge swathe of Philadelphia being reclaimed created a lot of converts to the cause. The fledgling group Open Streets Philly started a Change.org petition earlier this week that quickly exceeded its goal of 2,500 signatories. The buzz around Philadelphia’s carless weekend may not have convinced anyone that city centers need to be permanently car-free, but it certainly demonstrated a hunger for occasionally experiencing a city without the danger and distraction of automobiles. It’s a hunger more cities should sate.

Original source: Slate
Read the complete story here

PlanPhilly takes a close look at the fate of our beloved Toynbee Tiles

The Toynbee Tiles -- linoleum text squares embedded in pavement across the city -- are a Philadelphia institution, and they're in danger of disappearing.

The city’s paving agreements stipulate that paving contractors must halt resurfacing and notify a Streets engineer if they come across a Toynbee Tile, those strange mosaic messages embedded into the pavement across Philadelphia.

The Tiles are at once part of our local lore and art known the world over, the product of a South Philly man with a tenuous grip on reality and a tremendous amount of creativity. The tiles have inspired imitators and thieves alike, not to mention numerous news pieces and one award-winning documentary. And with all signs suggesting the mysterious Tiler has left the city for good, the tiles are becoming ever more rare and in danger of extinction in their native habitat, Philadelphia.

The Streets Department wants to save a few for posterity, before their slow resurfacing process destroys the few left remaining that have managed to survive years of city winters and SEPTA buses. For Tonybee fans, that’s reason for hope.

Want to know more about the Toynbee Tiles? Check out the awesome, award-winning 2011 documentary Resurrect Dead. Here's an interview Flying Kite did with director Jon Foy.

Original source: PlanPhilly
Read the complete story here

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
Read the complete story here
 

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
Read the complete coverage here

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.
...

Buckminster’s
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
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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
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Philadelphia Union advance to the U.S Open Cup

Our local footballers are heading to (and hosting) the finals of the U.S. Open Cup, the oldest ongoing national soccer competition in the country.

Ever since losing an extra-time heartbreaker to the Seattle Sounders in the 2014 US Open Cup title game at PPL Park, the Philadelphia Union made a pledge to get back to that same point this year.

They even came up with the motto of “Unfinished business” to guide them on their quest.

And while it may have taken some wild and unlikely wins, they accomplished that goal, beating the Chicago Fire in one Open Cup semifinal Wednesday before watching Sporting Kansas City take down Real Salt Lake in the other – a pair of results that ensured the Union will host their second straight Open Cup final.

And this time, they want to win it.

“We talked about it after the Seattle game last year that we had to get back to the final because there was unfinished business,” Union head coach Jim Curtin said. “But as cliché as it sounds, it’s amazing to get back. Every guy in there can look each other in the eye and be happy and know what it means to not just talk about but to actually do it. I couldn’t be prouder of our players.”


Original source: MLSsoccer.com
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Philly Mag weighs in on the future of Washington Avenue

Last year, Flying Kite checked in on the huge changes coming to Washington Avenue, an industrial corridor in transition. Now a couple of big announcements later, Philly Mag takes a look at this key thoroughfare. 

Washington Avenue forms the spine of some of the hottest neighborhoods in Philadelphia: Point Breeze, Graduate Hospital, East Passyunk and Bella Vista. It’s also stood as the southernmost edge of greater Center City; a gritty and unforgiving moat of asphalt four lanes wide that makes it oh-so-clear you’re not in Society Hill any more.

Those facts of geography probably make Washington Avenue’s transformation inevitable. In fact, it’s already begun. Center City’s relentless growth has led legions of new Philadelphians to cross the Avenue, and they’re demanding it become, well, a more normal street. They want a Washington Avenue that is less quirky and less chaotic: fewer pastrami factories, more purveyors of artisanal charcuterie.

Developers are rushing to meet that demand. Several mega-projects are in the works on Washington Avenue, including a 32-story Bart Blatstein development at Broad Street that will feature a grocery store, shops, restaurants, 700 parking spaces and 1,600 apartments. Seeking to build on that momentum, city planners want to rezone the western half of the Avenue, much of which is now zoned for exclusively industrial uses.


Original source: Philadelphia Magazine
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Philadelphia named one of American's best food cities

The Washington Post names Philadelphia one of the best cities in American, and takes a deep dive into what makes us unique. 

In modern Philadelphia, small is big. Unlike in other major markets, rents here are moderate, making it easy for chefs to open personal expressions. With $100,000 and a decent piece of real estate, says chef Rich Landau of the innovative vegan restaurants Vedge and V Street, “you can snap your fingers and open in two months.” Craig LaBan, the authoritative restaurant critic of the Philadelphia Inquirer, says that a hallmark of the city he covers, rich with museums and historical sites, is its “accessible sophistication.”?

Original source: The Washington Post
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La Colombe acquires influential investor, continues to expand

The founder of Chobani yogurt looks to coffee, La Colombe.

Having shaken up the yogurt world, Hamdi Ulukaya, the founder of Chobani, now has his sights on a much tougher target — coffee.

Mr. Ulukaya has taken a stake in La Colombe Coffee Roasters, one of the many coffee brands that have sprung up over the last 10 years to cater to the tastes of coffee drinkers who consider themselves connoisseurs...

“We’re in what I call the third generation of coffee,” said Todd Carmichael, the co-founder and chief executive of La Colombe Coffee Roasters. “For your grandfather, coffee was basically a commodity, roasted dark, quick, hot, hard to differentiate. For you and me, it was discovery of lattes, milk-based coffee drinks. And for this generation, it’s about different beans and how a coffee grown in Ethiopia tastes different from one grown in Costa Rica.”

Mr. Carmichael once set a record for an American crossing Antarctica on foot without assistance. “The reason I did that is really just because I told people I would,” he said, explaining how he plans to grow La Colombe into a coffee empire with 150 stores, a thriving online store and robust sales into restaurants.


Original source: The New York Times
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Philly choreographer brings ballet into the modern era

Choreographer Matthew Neenan stuns with "Sunset, o639 Hours" -- the show is headed to a New York festival.

A few weeks back, the lobby of the Wilma Theater here took on the aspect of a cheap Hawaiian resort. Polynesian music twanged from speakers. Everyone who entered was offered a paper-flower lei. This was not a visit from a hula troupe. This was a gala performance of the Wilma’s resident contemporary ballet company, BalletX. And yet the atmosphere made complete sense, if only in combination with a more incongruous fact: The ballet on the program was about a signal incident in the history of airmail.

That work, “Sunset, o639 Hours,” debuted at the Wilma last year to rave reviews. BalletX reprised it here this July, brought it to the Vail International Dance Festival this month and will perform it in Manhattan on Tuesday and Wednesday as part of the Joyce Theater’s late-summer Ballet Festival...

Mr. Neenan, 41, has found some fame of his own — not cover-of-Time level but impressive for an American ballet choreographer, especially one who doesn’t live in New York City. In addition to making dances for BalletX, which he founded with Christine Cox in 2005, Mr. Neenan has been the resident choreographer of Pennsylvania Ballet since 2007. Ballet troupes around the country perform his works, and in the past two years — busy ones for Mr. Neenan — Alastair Macaulay has praised him in The New York Times as “one of the strange originals of American ballet” and “one of the most appealing and singular choreographic voices in ballet today.”


Original source: The New York Times
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Talking mental health on campus with a focus on Penn

The New York Times shines a light on a mental health crisis on college campuses. The story focuses on University of Pennsylvania, where student Kathryn DeWitt describes her struggle. She has since become involved with Active Minds -- a Flying Kite partner through our work with the Thomas Scattergood Foundation -- to create change.

Classmates seemed to have it all together. Every morning, the administration sent out an email blast highlighting faculty and student accomplishments. Some women attended class wearing full makeup. Ms. DeWitt had acne. They talked about their fantastic internships. She was still focused on the week’s homework. Friends’ lives, as told through selfies, showed them having more fun, making more friends and going to better parties. Even the meals they posted to Instagram looked more delicious.

Other efforts at Penn include the formation of a peer counseling program, to start in the fall, and the posting of “ugly selfies” to Instagram and Facebook, a perfectionism-backlash movement that took place for a few weeks earlier this year. Nationally, researchers from 10 universities have joined forces to study resiliency, and the Jed and Clinton Health Matters Campus Program has enlisted 90 schools to help develop mental health and wellness programs. Active Minds, which was founded at Penn in 2001, now has more than 400 chapters, including ones at community colleges and high schools. Ms. DeWitt is the Penn chapter’s webmaster.


Original source: The New York Times
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Philly team wins International Youth Poetry Slam

A local team triumphed at the International Youth Poetry Slam.

Philly Youth Poetry Movement (PYPM) won the finals of the Brave New Voices (BVN) competition in Atlanta, last week.
It’s the third time the group has brought the title to Philadelphia since it started in 2006.

“I started it because there were no safe spaces for young people to create and write and produce and advocate for themselves,” says executive director Greg Corbin. “When a young person finds the value of their voice, they find the value of themselves. They understand that their story actually means something.”

From a modest poetry night, the program now how twice-weekly writing workshops, monthly slams, an annual city-wide high school slam– and three national titles.


Original source: CBS News
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Philadelphia Magazine lists 2015's 'Best Philadelphians'

Philadelphia Magazine picks 35 locals worth noticing including Mayor Nutter, Mo'Ne Davis, Maria Quiñones-Sánchez and the Ludemans of Postgreen Homes.

This group of Best Philadelphians should have so many more people on it — several million more — because every Philadelphian is a Best Philadelphian. Every single one of us should get a gold star, dammit, especially when it’s snowing outside and the buses aren’t running and the ramp to 95 is closed. But all yearbooks must have superlatives, so we do want to highlight some people who have made this a banner year — starting with the guy who kind of runs things in this town.

Original source: Philadelphia Magazine
Read the complete list here

Looking for housing for the Pope's visit? The floor might be your best bet

Housing all the anticipated visitors coming to town for the Pope's visit in September continues to be a favorite topic of discussion.

There aren't enough beds for the more than 1 million visitors expected to flood Philadelphia when Pope Francis visits in September, particularly for those trying to be frugal. So Belinda Lewis Held had to be creative when it came to sheltering the more than 1,000 young people she's guiding that weekend: They'll be bunking down in museums, classrooms and churches.

"They're young and they don't mind the floors. They'll bring sleeping bags or yoga mats and pillows," said Lewis Held, director of group travel for APilgrimsJourney.com, a Pittsburgh company that organizes worldwide Catholic tours. "They're willing to rough it for Pope Francis."

With the papal visit imminent and the city's 11,500 hotel rooms filling up quickly, wannabe visitors are thinking outside the box(spring) when it comes to lodgings, particularly when they want to keep costs down.

Philadelphia officials may permit camping in some public parks, and untraditional offerings have appeared online. On Airbnb, a Delaware River houseboat was booked but a converted dance studio was still available late this week. Craigslist had a listing for an empty warehouse and multiple couch surfing options.


Original source: The Associated Press via The New York Times
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American Idol to hold auditions for final season in Philadelphia

As the reality TV juggernaut nears retirement, it's coming to Philadelphia to search for singers.

If you’ve been waiting to audition for the hit Fox-TV show “American Idol, “ your last chance may be upon you – and luckily an audition opportunity is coming nearby for the show’s final season.

“American Idol” 15 auditions will be held Aug. 2 at Temple University’s Liacouras Center, 1776 N. Broad St., Philadelphia.

The stop is among  five scheduled stops auditions that started July 10 at Denver Coliseum in Colorado. The next is scheduled for Wednesday at Martin Luther King, Jr. Arena in Savannah, Ga. Other scheduled stops are Aug. 8 at Verizon Arena in Little Rock, Ark., and Sept. 15 at Cow Palace in San Francisco, Calif.

Those who wish to audition will line up the morning of Aug. 2 at The Liacouras Center to register. If you wait until late in the day on audition day to register, the auditions may run out of space and time.


Original source: Allentown Morning Call
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The Inquirer checks in with Oxford Mills, the teacher-targeted development

We told you about Oxford Mills back in 2013. This teacher-centric development in Kensington draws a community of like-minded young people.
 
Oxford Mills is the first development of its kind in the city, billing itself as an "urban oasis for teachers and nonprofits." It features 114 apartments, most of which are rented to teachers at a discount, and just under 40,000 square feet of office space, most of which is leased by education-related companies.

The project originated when Philadelphia developers Greg Hill and Gabe Canuso joined with Baltimore-based Seawall Development, the outfit that in 2009 pioneered teacher housing complexes in that city. Hill and Canuso, who turned their attention from luxury projects to more socially conscious work, loved the idea of a space for educators, they said.

"We've heard so many stories about newer teachers, younger teachers that really struggle," Hill said. "Landing in tough schools without a lot of resources - it's a challenge. But to come home and have colleagues to communicate and share ideas with, they're more energized and supported."

Source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
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Putting the city's youth to work over the summer

Fewer American teenagers are holding down summer jobs. Some organizations are working hard to combat the problem.

The absence of work means more than having no money for a mobile phone or a night out with friends. A summer job can provide essential experience that is crucial to snagging better jobs later, experts say. Research shows that for every year teenagers work while in high school, income rises an average of 15 percent when they are in their 20s.

If that’s true for Nasir Mack, he may be wealthy by the time he turns 30. The 16-year-old is starting his third summer in the Philadelphia Youth Network’s WorkReady program. In the past, he was employed by an engineering company and a community college. This summer, he will work at the city’s Office of Housing and Community Development.

When Nasir first heard about the program through friends, he jumped at the chance, given the alternative. “I’m not going to be doing anything but sitting in the house,” he said. “Why would I want to do that when there are so many things out there you can be doing?”


Original source: The New York Times
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Philly rapper has number one album in the country

Philadelphia rapper Meek Mill has the number one album in the country.

Meek Mill is the new top musical act in the U.S., vaulting to No. 1 on the Billboard Artist 100 (dated July 18), as the arrival of his new album fuels his vault to the top. The rapper dethrones Taylor Swift, who drops to No. 2 after spending a record 31st nonconsecutive week at No. 1.

Original source: Billboard
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The New York Times highlights SoNo development, office space for millenials

This ambitious project between Chinatown and Northern Liberties looks to attract young workers.

The 250,000-square-foot building, now occupied by a distributor of maternity clothing, will be remade into a center for media, advertising and technology companies, under plans recently announced by the developer, Alliance Partners HSP.

The building, in an industrial zone between Philadelphia’s Chinatown and the rapidly developing Northern Liberties neighborhood, will be reconfigured at a cost of about $50 million into space expected to accommodate up to eight tenants employing a total of 1,000 to 1,500 workers in an open-plan arrangement, the developer said...

The project aims to tap into an influx of millennials — those born between the early 1980s and the early 2000s — who are being drawn to Philadelphia by growing job opportunities and housing that, for now, is more affordable than that in Washington or New York.

The city is also retaining more local university students who are staying after graduation in response to the growing job market, greater availability of housing, improved amenities such as public parks, and a vibrant downtown restaurant scene.

By creating the new space on the southern edge of the already millennial-rich Northern Liberties and within a 20-minute walk of City Hall, Alliance believes it will be well positioned to attract tenants that employ the targeted work force...

Mr. Previdi said the new space — named SoNo, for south of Northern Liberties — will be designed to encourage the collaboration that is highly valued by tenants like software companies. “They want everybody talking; they want everybody sharing ideas,” he said.

The redesign will minimize the amount of individual employee space while allowing more for common areas like a cafeteria, a gym and parking space for 70 bicycles. Alliance plans to begin construction by the end of this year, and to complete the project within 24 months.


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

Philly could become U.S.'s first UNESCO World Heritage City

The City of Brotherly Love is set to become the country's first city to earn this prestigious designation.

Philadelphia is on track to receive a World Heritage City designation this year, which would make it the only U.S. city to have such a distinction.

There are about 270 cities on the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization's World Heritage Cities program, but none are in the United States...

"Some have said it's almost like a Sister Cities program on steroids," said Zabeth Teelucksingh, executive director of the Global Philadelphia Association, who added it appears likely Philly will make the list.

"We're told that it's 95 percent," said Teelucksingh, who explained more sites are added each year during the annual meeting...

The designation would be a boon for Philadelphia, likely increasing travel and business in the city, Teelucksingh said.
"It's a global thing; it's automatically international," she said. "It's like being part of a brand that's automatically global."


Original source: Philadelphia Business Journal
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Is the country's best pizza made in Philadelphia?

Bon Appetit thinks so, shining a light on Pizzeria Beddia in Philly's Fishtown neighborhood.

When I visited Pizzeria Beddia a few months after its March 2013 opening, I didn’t know what to expect. Solid neighborhood pizza made by an owner who cared? I figured I’d order a pie, congratulate Beddia on realizing his dream, and head to my next meal—the real reason I was in town. Beddia’s food would likely be a solid addition to the Philly scene, perhaps even the East Coast. As it turned out, Pizzeria Beddia was one of those beautiful eating experiences that still haunts me. I wasn’t on vacation, and there wasn’t some well-designed setting distorting my senses. It was just me and that pizza in a forgettable space. But it changed everything.

Original source: Bon Appetit
Read the complete story here.

Philly crosswalks get colorful to celebrate LGBT rights

The Gayborhood's crosswalks were recently repainted in red, orange, yellow, green, blue and violet.

The crosswalks appeared Thursday morning. Backers say they were planned for some time.

Philly Pride Presents senior adviser Chuck Volz says the crosswalks were completed at a cost far less than the initial $26,000 estimate.

Independence Visitor Center employee Albert Lee says the crosswalks show tourists that Philadelphia is a gay-friendly city.

The rainbow crosswalks will be dedicated at the Annual Reminders Block Party on July 5 honoring the 50th anniversary of the first wave of U.S. LGBT rights group demonstrations.


Source: Associated Press via Time
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Financial Times spotlights Elixr Coffee Roasters in Center City

Financial Times shows some love for Elixr Coffee Roasters in its Business Travel section.

Stumbling in by accident is practically impossible, as the café is located on a side street with little foot traffic and has just a nondescript sign on the front door.

The lucky few who find the place are rewarded with a lively ambience and decor, premium low-roast coffee sourced from Central and South America and vegan doughnuts baked fresh each morning.

Despite the minimal branding, Elixr has become a popular haunt in the Center City district -- for business people, students, entrepreneurs and start-ups looking to collaborate or share ideas. Private and communal seating is plentiful, with two-seater tables as well as a lounge area and community tables.


Original source: Financial Times
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Fette Sau's chef pens barbecue cookbook

Joe Carroll, the man behind Fette Sau -- the one in Brooklyn and the one in Philadelphia's Fishtown neighborhood -- has some tips on 'cue.

You just want to grill a better steak than the one you grilled last summer, or smoke a better brisket, or fire up a basket of vegetables that will leave your guests swooning. You don’t want to feel as if doing any of that is going to be a campaign. You’re not looking to go pro.

If so, Joe Carroll’s “Feeding the Fire” (Artisan, $29.95), written with Nick Fauchald, may be the most useful book of the current season. A collection of strategies and lessons as much as one of recipes and pronouncements, the book offers a helpful primer to those seeking guidance on an elementary question that bedevils many: how to use a grill or a smoker to their best effect under varying circumstances, all summer long.

Mr. Carroll is hardly barbecue royalty. He’s a home cook from New Jersey with no formal culinary training who runs a small kingdom of bars and restaurants in Brooklyn and Philadelphia devoted to the pleasures of live-fire cooking, most notably Fette Sau and St. Anselm. His kitchens celebrate no native barbecue tradition beyond Brooklyn’s own, which is to say: Mr. Carroll puts char on the food, and accompanies it with flavors that are of interest to his palate, wherever they come from.


Original source: The New York Times
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The Wells Fargo Center is no more (at least according to the Sixers)

The bank declined to become partners with the franchise, so the Sixers are now referring to their home as simply "The Center."

The Philadelphia 76ers have 86ed the corporate name to their home arena.

The Sixers have decided to stop referring to the Wells Fargo Center by name in all news releases and on the team website because the financial institution chose not to become a business partner with the basketball franchise.

This season, the 76ers started referring to the 20,000-seat arena simply as The Center.

Some fans thought that was just a marketing idea to develop a catchy nickname for the arena instead of referring to the corporate title.

But the Sixers started sending press releases stating events would be held "at the Sixers' home arena."

A June 9 release touting auditions for a Sixers dance team gives the full address for the arena but omits the name.

Chris Heck, chief revenue officer of the 76ers, said the team values its partners and tries to maximize its relationships.

"We also continue to enjoy our relationship with Comcast Spectacor as tenants at a world-class arena, but that particular bank is currently not a sponsor of the Philadelphia 76ers," Heck said.


Wells Fargo, which has a naming rights deal on the arena through 2024, declined comment.


Original source: The New York Times
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Stereogum heaps praise on Philly's music scene

The indie site took a broad look at the City of Brotherly Love's hot local scene.

Cayetana have agreed to spend the afternoon showing me around Philadelphia, a city that has quietly become the unexpected capital of American rock music. We’ve just exited Long In The Tooth, the band’s favorite record store. While the store’s clerk went on about some group who sounded like “a British Marked Men,” Cayetana’s singer and guitarist, Augusta Koch — her hair bluer than her jean jacket — eyed a vinyl copy of Bob Mould’s The District Line. She picked it up, and then decided she should probably not spend too much this week. Before we left, she grabbed a copy of the new Mountain Goats album, and drummer Kelly Olsen — wearing a vintage but, I’m told, not ironic New York Mets T-shirt — bought a copy of the Muffs’ Whoop Dee Do, even though she’s moving soon and it’s going to be just one more thing to pack...

“I can usually tell when something’s happening, more than not, by the increase of phone calls I get from A&R guys,” says Bruce Warren, assistant station manager for WXPN, Philadelphia’s listener-supported radio station. “Last year, every week I got a phone call from someone, indie and major, asking, ‘Who’s the band that I need to see?’ They’re smelling blood.”

One of the first things Warren impresses upon me is that the Philadelphia music scene has always been great, and he’s correct. This town has given the world the Roots, Jill Scott, Will Smith, Todd Rundgren, Diplo, Gamble & Huff, and the Philadelphia Sound; Warren even has nice things to say about the Hooters. But six years ago, Warren began to notice a proliferation of new bands, venues, and recording studios in his hometown. The rising buzz inspired him to help create the Key, a section of the WXPN website designed to highlight local talent. It launched in 2010, and nearly every significant band in Philadelphia was featured on the site — and there’s no small amount of significant bands in town these days.


Original source: Stereogum
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Philly Little Leaguers head south for a trip through history

The New York Times' Frank Bruni writes about the confluence of baseball and black history through the lens of the Anderson Monarchs and their star Mo'ne Davis. 

Last summer, a 13-year-old named Mo’ne Davis landed on the cover of Sports Illustrated, a national sensation after she pitched a shutout in the Little League World Series, where almost all of the other players are boys. She’s believed to be the only black girl ever to participate in the competition.

This summer, she plans to do something else surprising: Visit the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala., where four black girls were killed in a 1963 bombing. Three of them were 14. Mo’ne will turn that age on the day she shows up at the landmark...

But over three weeks in late June and early July, she and 13 other kids on her team here — the rest of them boys, most of them black, all roughly her age — have a schedule of exhibition games across the country that mixes exhilarating notes with somber ones.

They’re not just hitting the road. They’re taking it south, into history: the church in Birmingham, the bridge in Selma. They’ll play ball, then visit Little Rock Central High School, a battleground in the fight to integrate schools. They’ll swing for the fences, then bow their heads at the house in Jackson, Miss., where Medgar Evers lived...

Throughout the year, the team has been meeting weekly to watch movies and discuss reading assignments about the African-American experience and civil rights. In advance of a summer tour in 2012 of cities and stadiums that were important in the Negro Leagues, Bandura required that they study up on the history of baseball and its integration.


Original source: The New York Times
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The New York Times' Travel section takes a ride on Indego

After naming Philadelphia one of its 52 places to visit in 2015, the New York Times checks in on its latest tourism asset.

With the April launch of IndegoPhiladelphia’s 24-hour bike share program, the city now has a network similar to New York’s Citi Bike; Washington, D.C.’s Capital Bikeshare; and bike programs in other cities. (Philadelphia is also on our list of 52 Places to Go for 2015.) A bike can be rented with a credit or debit card at any Indego docking station for $4 per half-hour, an ideal option for neighborhood trips. There is also an option to find open bikes at individual stations online.

Now, it’s time to explore the city.

Center City Philadelphia would be an excellent place to begin, given the density of docking stations in the neighborhood...

With Independence Day quickly approaching, it’s only natural that American history will play an oversized role in any summer trip to Philadelphia. Traveling east from City Hall, Old City has the Independence National Historic Park, which includes Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell and the Benjamin Franklin Museum. Christ Church Burial Ground, the final resting place of Benjamin Franklin and four other signers of the Declaration of Independence, is near the park.

Continue east and you’ll discover Elfreth’s Alley, a collection of 32 brick rowhouses on what is considered the oldest continuously occupied residential street in America.


Original source: The New York Times
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Legendary Philly-born photographer dies at 75

Mary Ellen Mark, a Philadelphia native, became one of the most iconic photographers of her generation.

Mary Ellen Mark, whose unflinching yet compassionate depictions of prostitutes in Mumbai, homeless teenagers in Seattle and mental patients in a state institution in Oregon made her one of the premier documentary photographers of her generation, died on Monday in Manhattan. She was 75...

Mary Ellen Mark was born on March 20, 1940, in Philadelphia, and grew up nearby in Elkins Park. She had two main ambitions in high school, she told The New York Times Magazine in 1987: to become the head cheerleader and to be popular with boys. She succeeded at both.

She studied at the University of Pennsylvania, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in painting and art history in 1962 and a master’s degree in photojournalism in 1964. She was particularly interested in the work of documentarians like Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Frank and Dorothea Lange.

Original source: The New York Times
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WIP compiles the dumbest comments in Philly sports history

In honor of Ruben Amaro Jr.'s recent stumble, WIP compiled some of the city's biggest sports blunders. My personal favorite: 

The Eagles tied the Bengals late in the 2008 season. Donovan McNabb had no idea an NFL game could end in a tie.

The quote: “I’ve never been a part of a tie. I never even knew that was in the rule book. It’s part of the rules, and we have to go with it. I was looking forward to getting the opportunity to get out there and try to drive to win the game. But unfortunately, with the rules, we settled with a tie.”


Original source: WIP via CBS
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Philadelphia International Airport eyes expansion

The Philadelphia International Airport has its eyes on International Plaza, a 27-acre parcel.

Councilman Kenyatta Johnson introduced the legislation, calling for the city to buy the office buildings and the 27 acres and lease them to the Philadelphia Authority for Industrial Development.

Officials said the buildings could be demolished to make room for some combination of new facilities for the airport and possibly for United Parcel Service.

"If you had asked me 20 years ago, does it make sense for the airport to acquire International Plaza, my answer would be the same as it is today: absolutely," said James Tyrrell, deputy Philadelphia aviation director of property and business development.


Original source: Associated Press via Lancaster Online
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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
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Amtrak crash raises huge questions about transportation and infrastructure spending

The train disaster, which happened only a few miles from 30th Street Station, raises a lot of questions about the state of our country's infrastructure. 

Investigators into the Amtrak crash in Philadelphia are focusing on excess speed, but there is a related issue: the overall condition of Amtrak and the nation’s infrastructure. One of the reasons that American trains should not travel 100 miles an hour in many places is that the state of our rail system — like the state of our bridges, highways and airports — is not good...

Much of the problem of crumbling infrastructure has existed for years. There is, however, a new development that has made things worse. The combined money that federal, state and local governments spend on construction has dropped significantly, relative to the size of the economy, in the last five years. And only part of the decline stems from the end of the stimulus program, which temporarily lifted infrastructure spending.

Such spending now represents about 1.5 percent of total economic activity, down from about 1.8 percent on average from 1993 through 2008. It’s at its lowest level in at least 22 years. (A hat-tip to Joe Weisenthal, of Business Insider, who calculated this statistic in 2013, after the collapse of a bridge near Seattle.)

Lawrence Summers, the former Treasury secretary and Harvard president, sent an email to us today making an argument similar to Mr. Weisenthal’s: More infrastructure spending would both make accidents less likely and bring economic benefits.


Original source: The New York Times
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A 'Cambodia Town' in South Philly?

An influx of Cambodian immigrants changes the face of South Philly -- should the designation become official?

On sunny weekend afternoons, in the shadow of an ornate, golden Buddhist temple, Mifflin Square in South Philadelphia is dotted with charcoal grills, chile-lacquered chicken wings, and thin-sliced fatty beef heavily seasoned with lemongrass sputtering over the coals. Women pound chilies, garlic, and dried shrimp to a paste to season the snappy unripe papaya for the lime-drenched salads they sell to passersby.

This is what some people call Cambodia Town, where these authentic street foods sell for $1, and where there's an effort afoot to make the title official. Though there are other places throughout the city that are rich in Cambodian culture - similar vendors sell snacks in Franklin Delano Roosevelt Park, and there's a new temple under construction in Southwest Philadelphia - the area around Mifflin Square is the heart of this community. Business owners, city officials, and Cambodian Americans think it's time to raise the profile of their culture - especially its bold, bright, and balanced cuisine.

Original source: Philadelphia Inquirer
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76ers rebrand, showcase Ben Franklin's dribbling skills

The 76ers have revealed an updated logo that draws on the team's old vintage look. Plus, a dribbling Ben Franklin.

Rebranding is a tricky and thankless undertaking for sports franchises.

If you do a good job, people on the Internet will complain and mock you. If you do a bad job, all of the people on the Internet will complain and mock you roundly.

So it comes as a bit of a relief for me to say that the Philadelphia 76ers have redesigned their logos, and there's really not much to complain about here. 

The team tweeted out a slate of the new logo mockups. Admirably, they forwent musical festival neons and stuck to sprucing up the classic design already in place...

The franchise is also going through with the dribbling Ben Franklin secondary logo that first surfaced in 2014. It's a little goofy, but I commend Philadelphia for faithfully depicting Franklin's significant handles. Dude could cook.
 
Original source: The Bleacher Report
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Universities and drug companies partner to tackle big diseases

New partnerships between universities and drug companies show promises for complex diseases. 

British pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline is teaming up with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to start a research institute and a company aimed at curing H.I.V. infection and AIDS... The company and the university will each own half of the new company, Qura Therapeutics, which will have the rights to commercialize any discoveries... 

The arrangement is part of a trend in which pharmaceutical companies are working directly with university researchers. Novartis and the University of Pennsylvania, for instance, are building a research center on the Philadelphia campus to work on ways to genetically alter a patient’s immune cells to battle cancer.

But while the University of Pennsylvania partnership is already producing striking remissions in some cancer patients, the attempt to cure H.I.V. is expected to take far longer and may fall short. The $20 million being contributed is a small sum for a company like Glaxo, which spent close to $5 billion on research and development last year.


Original source: The New York Times
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Burt Reynolds hits Philly Comic-Con

The big-screen legend made a splash in the City of Brotherly Love. 

Hollywood legend Burt Reynolds showed he can still kick it into high gear as he stepped out for the Wizard World Comic Con in Philadelphia on Saturday.

"I always enjoy talking to fans and I'm usually very pleased with their curiosity about my career, what I'm doing, what I'm not doing, and why I'm not doing more,"the 79-year-old told the Philadelphia Inquirer.

The “Smokey and the Bandit” star made his debut at a comic con, where attendees included cult favorites such as “Machete” star Danny Trejo and the original Incredible Hulk, Lou Ferrigno.

Reynolds unveiled some details about his second memoir, “But Enough About Me,” which is still in the works. The actor will focus his latest memoir on all the people he worked with throughout his acting career.


Original source: New York Daily News
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Three local women get a deal in the 'Shark Tank'

Zoom Interiors, a startup run by three Philly transplants, earned a deal on the ABC show that funds promising entrepreneurs. In the end, Barbara Corcoran offered $100,000 for 33 percent of the company.

Beatrice Fischel-Bock, Madeline Fraser and Elizabeth Grover all met as students during their first interior design course at George Washington University. “We became friends instantly and worked together for the next three years of design school learning each other’s strengths and weaknesses,” Fischel-Bock said.

The company was born after friends started asking them to design their first apartments upon graduation. However, at the time they were all studying abroad, but quickly realized they were still able to assist their friends, who were all on budgets.
“It dawned on us that this is clearly an undeserved part of the market,” Fischel-Bock explained. “The design industry had just been shaken by the recession and people were very conscious about affordability. We decided to try our new formula with paying customers.”

...After starting their business in Washington DC, where they were in school, they moved to Philly after graduation. Fischel-Bock refers to the city as “the best kept secret on the East coast.” “It has the highest rate of millennials moving in to the city and just has such an authentic feel. The startup community is very close knit and supportive and continues to grow,” she said.


Original source: The Heavy
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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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PHS announces three pop-up beer gardens for summer 2015

This year, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society will install three -- three!! -- of their wildly popular beer gardens. The transformation of these vacant lots is fast becoming a Philly tradition. Check out the full scoop from Foobooz:

Last year's South Street beer garden will return to 1438 South Street. This season will feature "Bohemian flair" as designed by designer Karen Regan of Tallulah & Bird. This year, the South Street beer garden will include wooden trellis, container gardens, large palm and banana trees and Jack-in-the-pulpit relatives that will rise five-feet tall. The space will also offer public and private spaces, a first for a PHS pop-up garden. Look for beers from Barren Hill Brewery to be offered throughout the summer. Barren Hill will also work with Wyndridge Farm, creator of PHS Cider on an exclusive beer for the garden.

The South Philadelphia location has landed at 9th and Wharton, opposite Cheesesteak Vegas. The look here will be an urban garden with a "hipster vibe." Look for recycled bike parts and reclaimed wood. A splash of color provided by a wave of Gomphrena Fireworks will spice up the beer garden. The spot will offer bean-baggy furnishings and a return of the popular stepped stadium seating that was so popular on Broad Street in 2013. Food and drink will be provided by Royal Tavern and Cantina Los Caballitos and will also borrow from the Italian flavors of the neighborhood.
The third location will be in the courtyard of Three Logan Square at 18th and Cherry Streets. Sure to be a gathering place for

Comcast employees and other Center City office workers. This space is being designed by Sargenti Architecture, a local firm. The vibe here should be beachy with sand around the fountain and palm trees, honey locusts, whispygrasses and lush tropicals dotting the area. A wood deck, white furnishings and cabanas for lounging will make this an attractive spot during the day and after work. Food and drink will be provided by City Tap House across the street.


Original source: Philadelphia Magazine
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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
Read the complete story here.

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
Read the complete story here

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


 

Philadelphia continues to gain population after decades of decline

The city continues to gain population, a promising reversal after years of decline -- but there are still big concerns. 

Philadelphia's population grew for the eighth year in a row in 2014, and surrounding counties were mostly stable, according to new census data, but the picture was not quite as rosy at it may have seemed in the nation's fifth-largest city...

While Philadelphia's increase was undeniably good news, the uptick was fueled by an increase in births, rather than an influx of residents, which raised demographers' concerns.

More people left Philadelphia for elsewhere in the country than moved in last year. Had it not been for a high number of births, and an influx of immigrants, the city's population would have fallen, the data showed.

And given people's tendency to flee the city once their children reach school age, Thursday's numbers were all the more sobering, especially in light of ongoing turmoil surrounding the chronically underfunded School District.

"We still have more people leaving the city," said Temple University demographer David Elesh. "It suggests that as people have children, they may be likely to consider a suburban home instead of a city home."

The data underscore the need to repair Philadelphia's public schools. Failure to do so could counteract what has become, in recent years, a younger population.


Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
Read the complete story here

Paste Magazine drinks its way across Philly's craft beer scene

Paste highlights 10 Philadelphia breweries, including some of our favorites. 

Philly Beer Week is swiftly approaching, but if you cannot wait until May, quench your thirst at the storied pillars of Philadelphia’s craft brew scene any time of the year. Philadelphians are as proud of their beer as they are of monuments like the Liberty Bell, the Betsy Ross House and the Rocky Steps. Nothing could possibly go better with a Philly cheesesteak than an ice-cold brew.

Original source: Paste Magazine
Read the complete story here

Could the Broad Street Line extension to the Navy Yard finally happen?

As PlanPhilly reports, PIDC is pushing forward with the idea of extending the Broad Street Line into the Navy Yard.

The Navy Yard is booming right now, adding about 1,000 jobs per year. New buildings are fully leased before construction on them can even begin. Plans for adding 1,500 residential units over the next few years are in the works. And the streets connecting the Navy Yard to the rest of the city are reaching capacity. According to Agate: “You have to find ways other than by strictly automobile to bring 1,000 more employees per year into the Navy Yard.”

“Frankly,” said Agate, “it’s a race against time to make sure that the infrastructure … is keeping pace with the growth the Navy Yard wants to experience.”

Right now, the BSL ends at AT&T Station near the sport stadiums. PIDC hopes to extend the line another 1.5 miles and to add one or two stations in the Navy Yard.  


Original source: PlanPhilly
Read the complete story here.

Grab a Cold One: PA beer distributors can now sell 12-packs

In a boon for partygoers everywhere who don't want to haul a whole case of brewskies, the state's beer distributors will now be allowed to sell 12-packs. 

The PLCB’s Office of Chief Counsel issued a legal advisory today “informing brewers that they may sell ‘original containers’ as long as the container contains at least 128 fluid ounces — for example a 12-pack — to distributors that may be resold ‘as is’ to consumers.”

For years, beer distributors have been able to sell beer only by the case or keg, while groceries, bars and convenience stores have gained the ability to sell six-packs, 12-packs, and individual bottles for consumption on premises.  

State Rep. Paul Costa, D-Wilkins and ranking minority party member of the House Liquor Control Committee, called the PLCB opinion “a step in the right direction to provide consumer convenience.”


“By allowing these 12-packs to be sold at beer distributors, customers get another choice in their beer selections,” he said. “It provides family-owned distributors more options in their product line [and supports] our breweries in Pennsylvania, so it’s a win-win situation.”

Original source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Check out the complete story here.

Inquirer publishes in-depth report on East Market development

The Inquirer takes an in-depth look at an essential section of Center City Philadelphia and its latest chapter.

If Philadelphia were a basketball court, Market Street East would be that inexplicable dead spot on the floor, the place where the ball just doesn’t bounce.

The eight-block corridor has four Dunkin’ Donuts and two Subway sandwich shops — but no outdoor cafe. A McDonald’s sits in what used to be a porn emporium...

For years, when people like Paul Levy pitched the route’s potential to developers, they answered, “Yeah, I get it, but nobody goes to Market Street.”

Now that’s changing — fast.

People involved in massive construction plans say that, finally, Market East is poised to become the worthy, prosperous connector of Center City’s two great icons, City Hall and Independence Mall.

“The pieces are in place,” said Levy, president of the Center City District, the marketing and planning agency. “’Inevitable’ may be too strong a word, but, ‘Very highly likely.’”


Want to learn more? Check out this Flying Kite feature from 2013.

Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
Read the complete story here.
 

The original Phillie Phanatic now trains future mascots

David Raymond, the original Phanatic, has become the go-to resource for teams, schools and businesses that want a mascot, or want to improve the one they have. Of course they want to learn from the best!

In the spring of 1978, a big furry green creature with a pot belly and a long snout appeared on a major-league baseball field in Philadelphia and forever raised the bar for the professional team mascot.

Beneath that Muppet-like exterior was David Raymond, who donned the costume as a young intern, stepped out on the field on a cool April night and began a career delighting crowds with wild, athletic antics unlike anything baseball had seen before. He spent 16 years as the Phillie Phanatic, the mascot of the Philadelphia Phillies, retiring in 1994...

Mr. Raymond charges $399 a person for a three-day Mascot Boot Camp, like the one he will be conducting at Kutztown University of Pennsylvania from March 20 to 22. His private Mascot Boot Camps range from $3,500 to $5,000 depending on the number of days and performers the client wants. If a client wants him to create a whole new character and have a consulting contract, it will cost $20,000 to $75,000. (Mr. Raymond contracts out the actual construction of the costume.) And if a client already has a mascot that does not quite work, Mr. Raymond will do what he calls “mascot intervention” for about $2,500.


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

Two Philly spots make GQ's top 25 restaurants list

Two local restaurants have earned a place of honor of GQ's list of the country's 25 best restaurants.

Laurel at #8: The room might well be a shotgun apartment: front door leading to a tiny area (seating twenty) leading straight back to an undersized kitchen. There's not much decor, save for a few black iron sconces and hanging lamps. The chairs are exceedingly comfy, the service attentive, the stemware pleasing—all enhancements to a BYOB dining experience with a style of cooking I loved back when it was called “modern French.” Yet the most stunning dish was pure Americana, catfish in a coconut-clam broth. Hard to imagine a kitchen in Philly accomplishing what the South has been trying to do for centuries: make catfish elegant. Chef Nicholas Elmi does it gracefully. His meat dishes are intensely flavorful, particularly duck magret and foie gras. Stylishness has come to East Passyunk Avenue, once ground zero for cheesesteaks, now fast emerging as Philly's premier dining locale.

Lo Spiedo at #24: Come here for a little history and a lot of meat. Lo Spiedo is located just inside the old navy yard, where the battleship New Jersey was built. Almost as sturdy is the reginette bolognese. “Too much meat,” I griped. “Marc Vetri knows what he's doing,” argued a friend. He always does. Here you'll find glorified Americanized Italian food, including a gutsy celery-root milanese sandwich. If vegetarians gave out medals, it deserves the Navy Cross.
 
Original source: GQ
Read the complete list here.

The Philadelphia Flower Show celebrates the movies

The Philadelphia Flower Show pays tribute to Disney and Pixar films with the theme "Celebrate the Movies." The show runs through March 8.

Meticulously landscaped exhibits have been inspired by more than a dozen features, from "Frozen" and "Finding Nemo" to "Cars" and "Cinderella."

Visitors enter through a huge, art deco theater facade as if they were attending a red carpet premiere. Palm trees, roses and lilies help recreate the ornate interior of a 1920s movie palace, while moss, jewels, fabric and other blooms cascade down from "chandeliers" overhead.

Billed as the nation's largest and longest-running flower show, it covers 10 acres and dates back to 1829. Organizers hope this year's family-friendly theme will help a new crop of gardening enthusiasts establish roots at the annual extravaganza, which runs through March 8.

"Introducing that new generation, that younger generation to the flower show is something that we want to do," said Drew Becher, president of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, which sponsors the show.


Original source: The Associated Press (via The New York Times)
Read the complete story here.

Philadelphia School District nets $42 million from sale of shuttered schools

The School District has cleared some serious cash from the sale of its vacant buildings -- but it's still not as much as promised.

The George W. Childs Elementary School at 17th andTasker in South Philadelphia once resonated with the sounds of more than 500 students traipsing its halls and reciting their lessons. 

The school relocated in 2010, leaving behind a century-old building that's now slated to become a mixed-income housing complex.

Childs is one of 12 former schools the district has sold since 2013. Sales are pending for another 14 properties. These empty buildings have been cast alternately as neighborhood eyesores, reminders of upheaval in the city's education landscape and sources of revenue for a cash-strapped district...

Out of a total $67.6 million in building sales over the last two years, the district netted $42 million after bonds and closing costs.

That disparity is one reason why the district drew fire from public school advocates such as Helen Gym, who questioned whether the district could use "under-utilization" as a rationale for closing school buildings while simultaneously expanding charter schools.


Original source: Newsworks
Read the complete story here.

The 2016 Democratic National Convention comes to Philadelphia!

Philadelphia has been awarded the 2016 Democratic National Convention. It's a huge boon for the area and a symbol of its progress.

Maybe it was the private nighttime visit to Independence National Historical Park, where the Democrats’ top national official got to touch the Liberty Bell.

Whatever it was that sealed the deal, Democrats on Thursday chose Philadelphia for their 2016 national convention, looking ahead to Independence Hall and other symbols of America’s birth bathing their presidential nominee in a patriotic aura.

"In addition to their commitment to a seamless and safe convention, Philadelphia’s deep-rooted place in American history provides a perfect setting for this special gathering," Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, who had caressed the Liberty Bell, said in her announcement.


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

 

Buzz Bissinger lists some Dos and Don'ts for the arriving DNC hordes

The curmudgeonly author of 'Prayer for the City' shares some tips with Politico readers. Some of our favorites:

DON’T come near a cheesesteak. They are gnarly and fundamentally deranged in conception. Until you eat one. Then they are almost worth the guilt you will inevitably feel because you just ate one and likely ingested fifty or sixty thousand calories. Instead satisfy your cravings in what is America's most interesting and diverse culinary city. Try one of the many BYOBs. They are small and intimate and the food stunning and the cost reasonable.

DO drive on the Schuylkill Expressway one night to see the twinkling lights of Boathouse Row against the backdrop of the art museum and the Fairmount Water Works and the city skyline. It is the single most spectacular view in the city. Then be prepared to die since the expressway is the worst engineered highway in history (for a real death thrill, take the South Street exit heading east and try to merge).

DO be prepared to have a ball. The city is truly divine and you will feel pampered. Now if only there was no convention …


Original source: Politico
Read the complete story here.

Drexel student starts feeding frenzy in the 'Shark Tank'

A Drexel student-entrepreneur started a feeding frenzy in the Shark Tank, eventually earning a deal with two sharks for his app Scholly. Check out the video here.

Original source: ABC

Six more weeks of winter says PA groundhog

That's right: Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow on February 2, crushing hearts across the country.

On an overcast morning, Phil the groundhog gazed at the sky, looked for his shadow and at about 7:25 a.m. ET told his handler Bill Deeley his prediction: "Forecasts abound on the Internet, but, I, Punxsutawney Phil am still your best bet. Yes, a shadow I see, you can head to Twitter, hashtag: Six more weeks of winter!"

Phil's prediction on Gobbler's Knob in Punxsutawney, Pa., came as a winter storm moved from the Midwest to the Northeast.


Original source: NPR
Read the complete story here.

Philly 0.0 Instant Gratification Run is all fun, no work

This run has everything -- drinks, t-shirts, food -- without the actual running.

The Philly 0.0 Instant Gratification Run finished a step after it started Friday night. An official time of 1 second was given to each of the estimated 350 participants, who paid $20 to $35 apiece for a T-shirt, beer, food and live music. It was a race like any other race except for, well, the actual running.

Traditional races have spawned any number of novelty alternatives: obstacle courses featuring mud, fire and barbed wire; mile runs in which participants chug a beer before each of four laps around a track; color runs in which participants are showered with kaleidoscopic cornstarch.

And now, inspired by a cartoon, comes the nonrun, with the motto “All the fun, none of the commitment!”

Depending on one’s view, Friday’s race was an existential comment on engagement and responsibility; a critique or embrace of entitlement and self-importance; a celebration or rejection of couch-potato sloth; a chance for serious runners to shake off the midwinter doldrums with silly fun; or a sly enticement of nonrunners, luring them to what may be the best part of a race — the after-party.

“We wanted to prove that with no hard work, no perseverance and no discipline, anyone can be a winner,” said Dan Babeu, 40, of Levittown, Pa.


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

Philadelphia University basketball coach passes tremendous milestone

This local legend recently became only the second NCAA men's basketball coach to win 1,000 games. 

[Philadelphia University coach Herb] Magee hit the milestone with the Rams' 80-60 win over Post on Saturday. He has won all 1,000 games over 48 seasons at the 3,600-student private Division II university in Philadelphia.

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski is the only other NCAA men's coach to win 1,000 games. Krzyzewski won his 1,000th game on Jan. 25 against St. John's at Madison Square Garden. He is the fourth men's coach in all divisions to reach the milestone.
Magee needed two tries after the Rams (15-6, 9-3 Central Athletic Collegiate Conference) lost this week to Wilmington.

"Relief. I don't make that up," Magee said. "That's the way I felt. Ask my wife, she'll tell you. It's been a tough situation because the hype is there and everyone is pulling for us as a team but they're really pulling for me to get 1,000 wins because they know how important it is. It means a lot."


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

Governor Tom Wolf appoints transgender woman physician general

The state's new governor has already demonstrated a commitment to diversity, appointing a transgender woman as physician general.

Dr. [Rachel] Levine, a resident of Middletown, Pennsylvania, is currently a professor of Pediatrics and Psychiatry at the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, where she also serves as chief of the Division of Adolescent Medicine and Eating Disorders, a program she created on her own. She has also worked actively with the school’s Office of Diversity, mentoring LGBT students, faculty and staff, and she sits on the board of Equality PA.

...In a press release sent out this weekend, Wolf explains why he chose her for this position:

“Dr. Rachel Levine is well-respected in the fields of pediatrics, psychiatry, and behavioral health, where she has practiced for close to three decades. She has been a leading voice in efforts to treat teens with medical and psychological problems, as well as adults and children with eating disorders. It is important to me that we place equal emphasis on behavioral and physical health issues. Dr. Levine will bring expertise and wide-ranging knowledge to this important role advising the secretary of Health and me on medical and public health matters."


Original source: Philadelphia Magazine
Read the complete story here.

Washington Post backs Philly for 2016 Democratic Convention

The Washington Post blogger thinks Philly is an ideal choice for the 2016 Democratic Convention.

As much as I love my home town, New York City, and would love to see Brooklyn host the 2016 Democratic convention, I have to agree with my MSNBC colleague Chris Matthews. The party’s next presidential standard-bearer should accept the nomination in Philadelphia. “By gathering in iconic Philadelphia, Democrats could lay claim to not just the flag but what it stands for,” Matthews argued Sunday in The Post. “A week there, sparkling with American values, could produce the kind of inspiring national convention we’ve missed in recent years.”?

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

Dinner service grows at public schools

Schools serving an after-school snack or dinner is a growing national trend, and Philadelphia is at the forefront. According to The New York Times, the number of students served dinner or an after-school snack nationwide rose to nearly 1 million last year.

More recent research indicates while family dinners can be linked to fewer symptoms of depression, most of the other benefits seem to decrease when demographic and other environmental factors are taken into account. At a time when many families have hectic schedules, dinner at school could provide some relief, said Rachel Dunifon, a policy professor at Cornell University.
"If these meals help alleviate stress, it could actually be good and open up more time for families," she said.

[The Los Angeles Unified School District] currently serves supper to 75,000 students and plans to expand the program to about 150,000 over the next two years. School officials estimate it will generate $16.6 million in revenue, which will go toward expanding the program.

Other large, urban districts with dinner programs include Philadelphia and District of Columbia public schools. Wayne Grasela, senior vice president for food services, said the School District of Philadelphia now serves 4,500 dinners each day.


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

Local cab driver gets big surpise: A $1,000 tip

A taxi driver in Philadelphia got a tip big enough to make national news.

An anonymous passenger brightened a Philadelphia cab driver's night with the tip of a lifetime: nearly $1,000 on a $4.31 fare.

Oumar Maiga's bosses revealed the hefty, holiday-season gratuity Wednesday after waiting to make sure the credit card cleared and it wasn't an error.

The West African immigrant received the $989.98 tip Dec. 13.

Maiga's bosses tell Philly.com the cabbie and passenger chatted briefly during the mile-long trip from the city's Old City section to Columbus Boulevard.

Maiga said his shift had been a little hectic. The passenger said he'd make it a great night and punched in the tip.


Original source: The Associated Press (via The New York Times)
Read the complete story here

Rideshare company Lyft plans Philadelphia roll-out

Lyft, the rideshare competitor to UberX, is planning to launch in Philadelphia; it already operates in Pittsburgh.

Billy Penn reported on a Craigslist ad asking for drivers as well as Lyft signage at City Coho, a co-working space at 2401 Walnut Street.

After several controversies surrounding Uber, 
The New York Times Nick Bilton wrote the company is a “moral alternative.” Lyft costs about the same as UberX, the lower-cost alternative to Uber Black.

Original source: Philadelphia Magazine
Read the complete story here.

Pope's visit causes headaches for engaged couples

Pity the local couples who had selected September 26, 2015 as their big day.

Nearly everything was set by the end of August.

The church was chosen, hall booked. The groomsmen would wear gray tuxes and light blue dresses for the bridesmaids. At the reception, there will be touches of the Jersey Shore — the place where Brittany Lowell and Jeff Doney first went steady...

Everything was going smoothly and then last November planning hit a big roadblock: Pope Francis.

The leader of the world’s largest Christian church confirmed he'd make his first trip to the United States and spending three days in Philadelphia from September 25-27 to take part in the World Meeting of Families conference and deliver mass to some 2 million people.

“As soon as that happened I went into panic mode,” the 26-year-old legal secretary and dance instructor from Northeast Philly said.

It’s not the serious influx of visitors or the traffic or the increased security that is causing a snag, rather, finding a place for the newlyweds-to-be and their guests to stay.


Original source: NBC 10
Read the complete story here.

The Barnes Foundation finds new executive director

After an exhaustive search, the shifting Philly institution has found a new leader.

The Barnes Foundation — now in its third year in its gleaming new home in downtown Philadelphia after a contentious relocation — announced on Wednesday that it had chosen Thomas Collins, a longtime museum leader and curator, to become its new executive director and president after a search of almost a year.

Mr. Collins, known as Thom, has served for nearly five years as director of the Pérez Art Museum Miami, previously known as the Miami Art Museum and renamed in 2012 to recognize a multimillion-dollar gift of art and cash from the developer Jorge M. Pérez. Under Mr. Collins’s leadership, the museum constructed a new building designed by the firm Herzog & de Meuron that opened in December 2013 and attracted 300,000 visitors in its first year, far exceeding expectations...

Asked his opinion about the Barnes’s relocation from the suburb of Merion — permitted in a 2004 court decision that circumvented the charter and bylaws of Barnes, who had stipulated that his collection could not be lent, sold or moved from its original home — Mr. Collins said: “To me it seems like an unqualified success. I have no reservations now about it at all, and I wouldn’t be going there if I did.”


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

Frontier Airlines grows its Philadelphia presense

Frontier Airlines, the budget carrier, is adding routes out of Philadelphia -- a boon for local travelers.

Frontier Airlines has announced it will fly to Chicago O'Hare, Charlotte, and Atlanta daily from Philadelphia International Airport, beginning March 13.

An introductory fare starting at $19 one-way will be available until 11:59 p.m. Wednesday at www.flyfrontier.com for travel on Tuesdays and Wednesdays through April 29...

"This added service gives travelers in the region access to more low-fare flights to popular destinations," said Philadelphia airport CEO Mark Gale. "More choices mean more competition, which is good news for the consumer."

The Denver-based airline began flights in December from Philadelphia to Miami, Orlando, and Tampa, Fla., and Cancun, Mexico.


Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
Read the complete story here.

Temple's online MBA program ranked No. 1

U.S. News and World Report has named Temple University's Fox School of Business the nation's best online MBA program.

Temple, tied with Indiana University and theUniversity of North Carolina, scored a perfect score of 100 when judged on faculty credentials and training, student services and technology, student engagement, peer reputation and admissions selectivity.
Is it validation for Temple? "Absolutely, yes," said Darin Kapanjie, academic director of the online MBA program.

Temple's online MBA program launched in fall 2009 under Kapanjie's leadership. He came to Temple in 2003 as a faculty member in the statistics department, and actively took to integrating technology into the classroom...

The program has since developed an online and digital learning team, which has seven in-house instructional designers that help the Temple faculty organize and deliver their courses online most effectively. There are also two technology support specialists and two staffers in charge of video production. (The Fox school has its own TV studio, where faculty members can record their lectures).


Original source: Philadelphia Business Journal
Read the complete story here.

Philly named No. 3 'Place to Go in 2015' by New York Times

Philly earns a coveted spot on this yearly list of "52 Places to Go."

"A series of projects has transformed Philadelphia into a hive of outdoor urban activity. Dilworth Park, formerly a hideous slab of concrete adjoining City Hall, reopened this past autumn as a green, pedestrian-friendly public space with a winter ice-skating rink (and a cafe by the indefatigable chef Jose Garces). Public art installations, mini “parklets” and open-air beer gardens have become common sights. The Delaware River waterfront was reworked for summer 2014 with the Spruce Street Harbor Park (complete with hammocks, lanterns and floating bar) becoming a new fixture, following the renovation of the Race Street Pier, completed in 2011, and offers free yoga classes on a bi-level strip of high-design decking and grass. The city’s other river, the Schuylkill, has its own new boardwalk. To top it off, this spring, Philadelphia will get its first bike share program, making this mostly flat city even more friendly for those on two wheels."

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

Knight Cities Challenge finalists announced, including 20 from Philadelphia

The Knight Cities Challenge has announced its finalists, including a healthy list from Philadelphia.

How do you choose 126 good ideas for cities from the more than 7,000 proposals submitted to the first Knight Cities Challenge?
It wasn’t easy.  But, as of today, we’ve asked 126 happy finalists to submit final applications in three weeks with more details about their ideas.

It’s an exciting time for them but also for us at Knight Foundation. It is a privilege to meet so many people who are passionate about their communities and who are working to make them better. Soon, we’ll have plans and budgets and bios that we and our reviewers will pore over to make the even tougher decision about which applicants become Knight Cities Challenge winners...

We identified the biggest category of finalists as projects that sought to bring public life back to public spaces with almost 24 percent of the total. That was followed by supporting a changing urban economy, 20 percent; promoting a robust civic life, 17 percent; building connections between diverse communities, 11 percent; changing the stories communities tell about themselves, 11 percent; reimagining civic assets, such as libraries, parks, trails and school grounds, 10 percent; and retaining talent, 7 percent. Seeing these themes emerge, we are so excited to learn more about what the challenge finalists are planning...

In three weeks the final applications will be in, and we will announce the winners, who will receive a share of $5 million, before April 1. 

Source: The Knight Foundation
Check out the complete list here.

FlightCar.com provides free airport parking -- if you're willing to rent out your car

Philly has another new way to save while traveling -- while engaging with the sharing economy.

Uncomfortable with strangers living with you? Equally unexcited to bunk with strangers? Or simply hesitant about Airbnb’s legal struggles? Take a baby step into the sharing economy by renting out your car while you’re away and get free airport parking to boot. Or rent someone else’s car for less than most traditional companies and forget about monitoring the ebb and flow of daily rates as your trip approaches. FlightCar.com is now operating in Boston, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Washington and Los Angeles, among other cities.

If you’re leaving your car at an airport, you will get between $0.05 and $0.20 per mile driven, plus that free parking if you are renting out your car. Savings can be significant: As of late December you could rent from FlightCar in Boston in January for as low as $19 a day (including tax and insurance), more than 40 percent less than the cheapest listing I found on Kayak (not including insurance).


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

Philly will be home to Forbes' Under 30 Summit for years to come

Forbes has announced that Philadelphia will play host to its yearly youth-oriented summit for the foreseeable future.

After a successful first yearForbes magazine's Under 30 Summit will be back in Philadelphia this October. The announcement came as the media company unleashed its newest 30 Under 30 Who are Moving the World list Monday.

The inaugural summit brought together about 1,500 young movers-and-shakers, mostly from past Under 30 lists, for educational panels, pitch contests, TED-style presentations, music and food festivals. Last year's speakers included Malala Yousafzai, the youngest Nobel Prize Laureate, who detailed her campaign for girls' education, and Monica Lewinsky, who talked about the culture of digital harassment. Also on the lineup were Pete Cashmore, founder and CEO of Mashable; Neil Blumenthal, co-founder of Warby ParkerJosh Kushner, managing partner of Thrive Capital; and Steve Case, founder of AOL.

"While we have no multi-year contract, we have every intention of making Philadelphia our long-term home," said Wendy Furrer Egan, senior director of editorial publicity at Forbes.

This year's summit will take place Oct. 4-7 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center and other venues in the city...

Lane, from Forbes, told the Philadelphia Business Journal last year that the No. 1 reason he chose Philadelphia as the go-to destination was because of its location. He named its proximity to other major cities, like New York and Washington, D.C., as well as its simplicity to get to via public transportation — whether train, bus or plane.

Of course, Philadelphia's young crowd and "increasing entrepreneurial world view," he said, is a plus.


Original source: Philadelphia Business Journal
Read the complete story here.

Wharton student -- and founder of four companies by age 21 -- reflects

The New York Times spoke with Daniel Fine, a serial entrepreneur and Wharton student who's staying in school.

Daniel Fine is the founder and chief executive of Glass-U, a two-year-old, 10-employee maker of foldable sunglasses bearing the licensed brands of universities, music festivals like Lollapalooza, and the World Cup soccer tournament last summer. He arranges for the manufacture of the glasses in China and their distribution around the country. He’s also a senior in college.

Mr. Fine financed Glass-U, which operates out of off-campus housing, in part with proceeds from a tutoring company, NexTutors, that he started right after high school. He has also founded Fine Prints, a custom apparel company he started during high school, and Dosed, a health care technology company that is working on a smartphone app to help diabetics...

Q. You considered applying for a Thiel Fellowship, a $100,000 grant to forgo college and pursue your dream?
A. I made it through the second round, but I didn’t complete my application. At Penn, I’ve absolutely learned in the classroom, but it’s been a much greater benefit being here and growing as a person and learning who I am, what I’m becoming and what I’m hoping to be.


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

Saying goodbye (and thank you) to Jimmy Rollins

A writer for the Huffington Post reflects on the Phillies great's impressive legacy.

Rollins ends his decade-and-a-half tenure in Philadelphia this week. His final curtain call comes as the franchise's all-time leader in hits, at-bats, doubles, and stolen bases. He also ranks second in games, singles, triples, runs, total bases and extra-base hits. With all due respect to Phillie-for-Life Larry Bowa, the man affectionately known as J-Roll stands as the clear choice for Greatest Shortstop in Phillies History...

Where Iverson and Dawkin came up short, Rollins delivered. For the first time in a quarter of a century, the sports fanatics of Philadelphia could raise their heads high and call themselves World F&%$ing Champions... just like Jimmy had promised.
The Phillies would remain the team to beat in the NL East for three more seasons, including a franchise record 102-wins in 2011, however it was those delivered-upon promises that will forever define J-Roll's time in South Philly.

Jimmy preached expecting the best at a time when Philadelphians were instinctively expecting the worst. More than any other player, Rollins changed the culture, not just in the clubhouse, but in the city itself.


Original source: Huffington Post
Read the complete story here

Grantland's Wesley Morris pens a year-end ode to Mo'ne Davis

Pulitzer Prize winner Wesley Morris included his thoughts on Philly's own Taney Dragon Mo'ne Davis in his end-of-year reflections.

In mid-August, as racial protests roiled suburban St. Louis, sectarian violence inflamed the Middle East, and Vladimir Putin toyed with the mouse also known as Ukraine, a force of serenity seemed to emanate from South Williamsport, Pennsylvania. A girl stood on a hill of dirt and, with great style and cool poise, threw baseballs to boys at bat. Except this wasn’t just some girl. This was a goddess of bewitching precision, the apotheosis of seizing a moment before a moment seizes you. In the two star-making shutouts pitched by Mo’ne Davis at the Little League World Series, 14 batters were sent trudging back to the dugout. I felt for them. No one could touch her fastball. No one could handle her changeup. But most important: Nothing could stop her hair.

I know. That hair.

...It’s possible that the hair’s motion — part whip, part whirlpool; some combination of violence, beauty, and grace — seduced constituencies predisposed to understand the story of that hair. It invoked Valkyries, graphic novels, and photo shoots. Her hair effortlessly did whatcertain pop stars need industrial-strength wind-generating fans to do. By itself, the hair would give you pause. As worn by Davis, it conferred upon her unself-conscious strength, majesty, otherworldliness. That’s how she seemed to throw: with abandon.


Original source: Grantland
Read the complete story here.

A velodrome for South Philly?

An exciting new cycling-centric project has been proposed for South Philly. Inquirer architecture critic Inga Saffron weighs in.

A group of Philadelphia bicycle-racing enthusiasts is speeding ahead with plans for an ambitious, Olympic-class arena that is intended to position the city as the leader of the nation's growing track-cycling culture, while also providing space for the public to learn and practice the sport.

But to realize the $100 million velodrome, whose swooping form would echo the banked curves of a bicycle track, the city would have to give the organizers a four-acre parcel in South Philadelphia's historic FDR Park, the city's only green space designed by the famous firm founded by Frederick Law Olmsted.

Named Project 250, the privately planned arena has excited the imaginations of cyclists, who believe a state-of-the-art, 250-meter bike track would become a top U.S. venue for international races. The arena, which would occupy a Broad Street site across from the Sports Complex, has already won strong backing from Mayor Nutter and Councilman Kenyatta Johnson, as well as from the Friends of FDR Park and neighborhood groups.


Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
Read the complete story here.

Philly's transit system blasts into the future

Septa's long-anticipated high-tech update is on the way -- and Philly is jumping straight to the top of the queue. 

A public transit system that still uses metal tokens and paper transfers - yes, in the 21st century - appears finally to be moving into the era of debit cards and pay-by-cellphone technology.

Philadelphia riders can now see evidence of SEPTA Key, the long-awaited smart card system for the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority. Dozens of computerized kiosks, turnstiles and fare boxes have popped up in stations and on vehicles, and testing begins this month.

"We see this project as taking us in the fare payment industry from last place to first place," said Kevin O'Brien, SEPTA senior program manager.


Original source: The Associated Press via The Philadelphia Inquirer
Read the complete story here.

VIDEO: MSNBC showcases Wash Cycle Laundry, one of Philly's top startups

MSNBC's Your Business highlights the story of Wash Cycle Laundry, one of Philadelphia's most innovative -- and greenest -- startups. 

Check out the video here.

The Sixers' extreme woes continue to attract national attention

Stats hub FiveThirtyEight is the latest national publication to take notice of the 76ers' clinic in the art of losing.

The Philadelphia 76ers are in a bit of a tailspin right now. Monday night’s loss, against a San Antonio Spurs team that was sitting both Tim Duncan and Tony Parker, was Philadelphia’s 17th straight to start the season, a franchise record and one shy of the all-time NBA record set by the New Jersey Nets in 2009. It’s been 230 days since the Sixers won a basketball game.

Back in mid-November, our friends at the Harvard Sports Analysis Collective anticipated the Sixers’ woes and computed the odds of the team’s season-opening losing streak reaching various lengths. The chances of a 17-game streak back then were just 20 percent; Philadelphia still had to lose a few theoretically winnable games (of course, it obliged). Now we need to update the probabilities and ask just how long this Sixers skid might last.


The New York Times also entered the fray last week: "At 0-15, 76ers Are Perfecting the Art of Tanking"

Original source: FiveThirtyEight
Read the complete story here.

The New York Times reviews Philly's Radisson Blu Warwick Hotel

Philly's latest upscale hotel gets some attention.

Walking into the Radisson Blu Warwick Hotel is like walking into a modern European techno club — which is either good or bad depending on your taste. The Blu brand is literally reflected in light strips surrounding mirrored entryways, while electronic music plays at medium volume in the background of the white and silver lobby. With all new guest rooms, fitness center and lobby, the hotel reopened as a Radisson Blu last November. The exterior of the hotel, a landmark that opened in 1926 as the Warwick Hotel, was mostly left intact during the $20 million renovation.

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

Philadelphia's casino soap opera takes another twist

Philadelphia's latest gambling license was awarded to a South Philadelphia project. It's the latest in a wave of casino projects coming to the East Coast.

A $425 million project with a casino and a boutique hotel rising in the stadium district of Philadelphia is the latest entrant into the tumultuous world of East Coast gambling.

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board awarded a license on Tuesday to a joint venture of Cordish Companies and Greenwood Gaming and Entertainment to build the Philadelphia area’s fourth gambling hall and the 13th casino in the state.

The decision came as New York is edging closer to approving up to four Las Vegas-style casinos at locations outside of New York City. Massachusetts recently approved two billion-dollar casinos, one at either end of the state. And in Connecticut, some lawmakers are talking about expanding the state’s casino industry to protect its market share.

The frenzy of casino building is taking place in what is widely regarded as the most competitive market in the country despite flat or falling gambling revenues in Connecticut, Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.


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

Did the term 'Black Friday' originate in Philadelphia?

A Temple professor Frank Farley posits that the term "Black Friday" originated in the City of Brotherly Love.

In an interview with NBC10, he said that the term was coined by the Philadelphia Police Department after the city was overrun with fans coming to town for the Army-Navy game. With the game typically held on a Saturday, the city was full of rowdy fans on Friday — creating chaos and overrunning retail stores.

"The day before, people are rushing into Philly for the game," Farley told NBC10. "The police are overwhelmed. The idea of this day — that was a very bad day for the cops — became labeled Black Friday."


Original source: Philadelphia Business Journal
Read the complete story here.

Philly's Madame Fromage tells NY Times about her fantasy Thanksgiving

The New York Times asked leading food personalities about their fantasy Thanksgiving meals, including Philly's own Madame Fromage.

What do some Americans want for Thanksgiving dinner? They want lobster. They want Alaskan king crab and West African peanut stew, Peking duck and pad thai, Neapolitan pizza and Brazilian feijoada. In some cases, they want any form of meat that doesn’t gobble: osso buco, rack of lamb, suckling pig. For Tenaya Darlington, who lives in Philadelphia and blogs about cheese as Madame Fromage, nothing would beat “a Raclette party: quick prep, followed by satisfying stink and a long supper around a warm oven,” she said.

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

The iconic PNB sign finally comes down -- and in only 34 minutes

A staple of Philadelphia's skyline, the PNB sign, finally finished coming down last week. It was a surprisingly quick process.

In just 34 minutes Sunday, the Philadelphia skyline was changed forever as crews removed the remaining parts of the PNB sign from its perch high above Center City.

The removal went far quicker than the last attempt in August when it took workers 7 hours to shuttle only three letters of the iconic sign to ground level. They were forced to reschedule the complete removal to Sunday.

Crews used a helicopter to lift the nine letters from the crown of the One South Broad building, over Dilworth Park and to a staging area along JFK Boulevard.

By 8:10 a.m., the final 16-foot-tall letter — an "N" from the tower's eastern face — touched the asphalt outside City Hall. The letters, each weighing 3,000 lbs., were loaded by crane onto a flatbed trailer and taken away.

The "PNB" letters have graced the Philadelphia skyline for the past 60 years. The sign was installed to signify the One South Broad as the headquarters for the now-defunct Philadelphia National Bank.


Original source: NBC 10
Check out the complete story here.

Philadelphia's Chinese immigrant community finds a use for the city's ginkgo fruits

That stinky menace, the ginkgo tree, has traditionally been used in Chinese dishes -- and foraged by locals.

On her way to get coffee the other day, Margaret Chin passed a female ginkgo tree outside Holy Redeemer Chinese Catholic Church at 9th and Vine streets and picked up two fallen ginkgo fruits from the parking lot.

She went home to Chinatown, cleaned off the fleshy pulps and let the nuts dry. Then she cracked the shells and added the meaty kernels to a collection in her freezer to be cooked in soup...

Helen Wen, a Northeast Philadelphia resident who came here from China in 1997, says her mother and mother-in-law have often picked the fallen ginkgo fruits from the ground. She believes in the health benefits of the nuts inside and eats them in congee, or rice porridge. Ginkgo nuts are good for one’s memory, kidneys and urinary tract, she said.

Wen said her mother, now in her 70s, used to pick up the fallen fruits in and around Chinatown. Last year and again this year, her mother went with a friend to scour for the fruit in Northeast Philadelphia.


Original source: The Associated Press
Read the complete story here.

The Pope is coming to Philadelphia; could draw a million to Mass on the Parkway

Pope Francis has announced a 2015 U.S. trip with Philadelphia as the flagship stop.

Pope Francis confirmed on Monday that he will make his first papal visit to the United States in September to attend an international meeting in Philadelphia on the theme of family, as part of an American journey that is also expected to include a stop in New York...

Francis’ visit to Philadelphia is expected to draw as many as a million people to a Mass on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in the heart of the city.


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

Pennsylvania elects a new governor

On Tuesday, Pennsylvanians headed to the poll and elected Tom Wolf (D) as our new governor.

Democrat Tom Wolf, a businessman from central Pennsylvania, was elected governor Tuesday in his first campaign for political office...

"We need to reestablish education as the priority," Wolf told supporters at the York Expo Center shortly after 10 p.m., after thanking Corbett for his service.

He exhorted Pennsylvanians to believe in themselves and their future. "Let's make this the time," Wolf said. "Let's get started."


Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
Read the complete story here.

10,000 Santas expected at annual 'Running of the Santas'

The annual pub crawl continues to grow at an exponential rate.

10,000 Santas.

That's what event organizers for Philadelphia's "Running of the Santas" are expecting to fill the streets of Philadelphia on Dec. 13.

"Running of the Santas" started in 1998 as a bar crawl between 40 friends all decked out in Santa gear. It has since grown, with last year attracting more than 8,000 attendees. It also has gone international, with events happening as far away as New Zealand.

The Philadelphia event begins a 11 a.m. on Dec. 13 at McFaddens (461 N. Third St., Philadelphia), which is dubbed "The South Pole." There  At 4 p.m., participants engage in a short run to "The North Pole," aka the Electric Factory (421 N. Seventh St., Philadelphia). The party ends when "the beer is gone" according to the event's website.


Original source: PennLive
Read the complete story here.

Big drama over UberX in Philadelphia

The launch of UberX, the company's more casual cousin, in Philadelphia has been full of drama -- and there's no end in site.

From the Philadelphia Inquirer:

In its PUC filing, Uber said it "has no intention to launch service in the Counties of Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania without authority from the Commission."

That night, Uber announced the launch of UberX service in Philadelphia, citing the insurance issue and saying it wanted to "ensure you have the convenient and affordable transportation options you deserve."

Asked about the apparent conflict, Uber spokesman Taylor Bennett said in an e-mail:

"What we have in Philadelphia is a real transportation emergency. When a number of taxis still don't have adequate insurance, going from one unrated company to another, Philadelphians deserve the safe and reliable options they're demanding."


From the Daily Pennsylvanian:

During the two days after UberX’s Oct. 24 launch, PPA Officials stopped six UberX drivers and impounded their cars.

“Our policy is to do everything we can to shut them down,” Fenerty said. He explained that when UberX drivers are caught, they will be fined $1,000 and have their cars impounded. Uber will also be fined $1,000 for “aiding and abetting an illegal taxi service,” as well as an additional $750 for operating an illegal dispatch system.

But Uber is fighting back. As of Oct. 15, more than 43,000 individuals signed a petition that asked for the state to legalize UberX, but legislators say that it is not going to be approved until 2015. Uber has spent almost $100,000 on lobbying efforts to get this bill, known as HB 2468 , passed in the house.

“Philadelphians have made it abundantly clear that they demand more transportation options in the city. UberX gives residents and visitors the safe, reliable and affordable ride they deserve,” an Uber representative said via email.
 



 

South Philly's Gennaro's Tomato Pie named best pizzeria in the state

Thrillist's list of the top pizzeria in every state singled out South Philly's Gennaro's Tomato Pie -- aka heaven on earth.

Philadelphia’s got some legit classic Italian cred (as well as some innovative spots like Pizzeria Beddia and Pizza Brain), so this was a tough call, but we’ve gotta hand it to South Philly's relative newcomer Gennaro’s. It’s got a pedigree that can be traced from America’s first pizza joint (Lombardi’s, also one of Little Italy’s best), and serves up simple, awesome pies with whole-milk mozzarella and crushed tomatoes.

In other Gennaro's news, the primo pizzeria is moving to a larger location in Passyunk Square

Original source: Thrillist
Read the complete list here.

Paul Strand retrospective at Philadelphia Museum of Art earns praise

A retrospective of the work of modernist photographer Paul Strand wows at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. 

Drawing on the Philadelphia museum’s sizable Paul Strand Collection (most of it acquired since 2010), the show of some 250 prints takes in the full sweep of his career and some three-quarters of the 20th century. It includes film excerpts and a generous sampling of his photo books, projects that feed back into the early photographs and reveal longstanding interests in duration and narrative.

Bringing modernism down to earth, Strand branched out from Manhattan’s parks and skyscrapers to Maine forests, Mexican churches and small villages in Italy and New England. The immense but well-paced show makes room for mentors and influences beyond Stieglitz, among them the fin de siècle Parisian photographer Eugène Atget, the Italian neo-realist screenwriter Cesare Zavattini and the American social documentarian Lewis Hine (one of Strand’s teachers at the Ethical Culture School on the Upper West Side of Manhattan).


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

Little League World Series star Mo'ne Davis takes over

Philadelphia Little League star Mo'ne Davis can't be stopped. She's starring a Spike Lee-helmed commercial and gracing the pages of Teen VogueFrom Time:

The World Series is upon us, but 13-year-old Little League superstar Mo’ne Davis is still the most talked-about player in baseball. Director Spike Lee teamed up with Chevrolet to create a commercial featuring the young pitcher, who made the cover of Sports Illustrated this year after becoming the first girl in history to throw a shutout during the Little League World Series.

In the ad, Davis reads an open letter to America: “I throw 70 miles per hour. That’s throwing like a girl,” she says.


And check out this amazing Teen Vogue image via Jezebel.

Spanish dancer Ángel Corella makes Pennsylvania Ballet debut

Ángel Corella makes his much anticipated debut as artistic director at the Pennsylvania Ballet. The New York Times headed south to Philadelphia to check it out.

In July, the star Spanish dancer Ángel Corella — a principal for many years with American Ballet Theater — was appointed artistic director of Pennsylvania Ballet. On Oct. 16, the company began to perform under his direction, at its main home, the Philadelphia Academy of Musichere, one of America’s most beautiful opera houses; posters have been hanging in downtown Philadelphia with a picture of his face (lightly bearded) to advertise the opening program, “Press Play: The Directorial Debut of Angel Corella.” I attended the Saturday matinee...

Pennsylvania Ballet was founded in 1963 (its first artistic director, Barbara Weisberger, was in Saturday’s audience), and has one of the longest records for performing Balanchine outside New York. (It first danced “Allegro Brillante,” this program’s opener, in 1965.) There were some last-minute cast changes on Saturday, and yet the ballet most affected by substitutions, Mr. Ratmansky’s “Jeu de Cartes” (which joined the Pennsylvania repertory three years ago) was, with “Allegro,” ebullient, with dancers seizing its many opportunities with enthusiasm and glee. Beatrice Jona Affron, the company’s music director and conductor, produced especially fine orchestral playing; there were also excellent contributions from the pianist Martha Koeneman.


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

Camden once again has a supermarket

In a huge boon for food access in the city of Camden, a PriceRite Supermarket has opened.
 
Camden had been without a chain grocery for more than a year since the Pathmark on Mount Ephraim Avenue closed. PriceRite is the first supermarket to move into Camden in 40 years, officials said.

"One year ago, when Pathmark closed, it left many people doubting, could we relocate a supermarket to this same site?" Mayor Dana L. Redd said. "A promise made is a promise kept today. This project and others like it will be the catalyst for the Comeback City."

The store is owned by Ravitz Family Markets, a family-owned business in operation since 1968, which also plans to open a ShopRite in 2016 on Admiral Wilson Boulevard in Camden. Ravitz owns five ShopRite stores in Burlington and Camden Counties.

Jason Ravitz described the PriceRite store as a hybrid of Aldi and Costco, with low prices and bulk items. Shoppers bring their own bags or pay 10 cents a bag, a cost Ravitz said would go toward keeping prices low. For the first few weeks, PriceRite will give out reusable bags.


Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
Read the complete story here.

In East Kensington, an artist-enlivened empty lot is set for development

Since 2010, the Little Berlin artist collective has been activating a vacant lot in East Kensington. Now the land has been sold to a developer. It's the urban-gentrification-circle-of-life!

When the arts collective Little Berlin arrived in the neighborhood in 2010 they started hosting events on the site informally at first, before seeking permission from Hirsh, who had purchased the lot in 2008, to develop it as a performance venue and community space. The Little Berlin website describes the agreement with Hirsh as a “partnership.”

The artists took the idea seriously and have been relentless in bringing life to the parcel. A few weeks ago, a Dodge Caravan that had been driven from Ohio was set up with two film projectors replacing the headlights, shining a film on an adjoining wall...

The neighborhood’s vintage housing and soaring former factories have lately become an asset, attractive to developers and young, prospective tenants. The artists are in part responsible.

“There are a lot of houses being built and houses being refurbished too that have been empty for a long time,” says Erickson. While he has only belonged to Little Berlin for two years, the change to the gentrifying neighborhood in just that time became obvious.

“It’s hard to wrap my head around it,” he says, “that in one way we’re making it nicer for people already living there and in other way making it easier for real estate developers to come in and buy property.”


Original source: Hidden City
Read the complete story here.
 

Gorgeous Wyncote rain garden becomes a teachable moment

Mary E. Myers, a landscape architect and associate professor at Temple University, created a lush rain garden in suburban Philadelphia. Folks in the neighborhood have taken notice. 

"I wanted to increase biodiversity, but I wanted it to be aesthetically appealing, so that people would accept it and want to do it," said Ms. Myers, 62, standing by the sweep of blue mistflowers rolling down to the sidewalk. "People walk by and say, 'What’s that? It’s beautiful.'"

She often gives them some seeds or self-seeded native plants. And when someone from down the street longs for those blue mistflowers, she says, "Don’t worry, the wind will bring them to you."

With the shapes, colors and textures of more than 50 native species here — the elegant branching of the young black gum tree, the dogwood and shadbush turning deep red, the handsome seed heads of hibiscus, the fig-like fruits of the bottlebrush buckeye — this dynamic landscape is nothing like the scruffy patches of weeds too often referred to as rain gardens.

As Ms. Myers said, "It looks intentional and maintained..."

She counted 23 species when they moved in, 16 of them nonnative. Now the count is up to 127, most of them native.


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

Philly restaurant earns "million dollar review" from Times of London critic

Times of London restaurant critic Giles Coren came to Philadelphia to film his TV show, Million Dollar Critic, for Canada's WNetwork. The winner of his five-restaurant showdown was one of this editor's personal favorites, Kanella. (Best brunch in the city.)

"Kanella is the sort of place I wish I could review every week: a buzzing local taverna on a lively city corner, people of all ages and ethnicities sitting at outside tables, simply decorated inside, full of laughter, friends and family, and charming staff serving a cuisine rooted deeply in a foreign culture rather than just ripping it off, with a deadly serious chef at the helm."

Original source: Foobooz
Read the complete story (and check out a clip) here.

T Magazine details 'Year in the Life of the War on Drugs'

The New York Times' T Magazine publishes a "photo diary" about beloved Philly band War on Drugs.

"Lost in the Dream," the third album from the Philadelphia band the War on Drugs, has been one of the year’s most celebrated indie-rock releases, drawing near-universal acclaim for its sophisticated synthesis of classic American folk and rock influences as diverse as Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan and Sonic Youth. The band’s frontman, Adam Granduciel, is also a longtime photography enthusiast. "In high school, I was head of the lab," he says. "I dumped a whole five-gallon bucket of D-76 on my head once. It ruined all my clothes."

Granduciel is rarely without one of his three cameras: a Polaroid, loaded with 600 film purchased from the Impossible Project; a Holga he’s had for nearly a decade; and a Rollei 35 he found at a camera shop in Brighton, England. Over the past year, in the run-up to and the wake of the March release of “Lost in the Dream,” the band has traveled the world, and Granduciel has documented the sights its members have seen — from giraffes on a Dutch safari to Portuguese palm trees to his own 82-year-old father on his first trip to Europe.


Original source: T Magazine
Check it out here.

Want a 'Lord of the Rings'-style map of Philadelphia?

PA resident Stentor Danielson creates super-cool maps of major American cities -- including Philadelphia -- in the style of fantasy author J.R.R. Tolkien.

In addition to his de riguer Etsy store, a seeming must for endeavors of this nature, Danielson also maintains a densely-illustrated Tumblr called Mapsburgh, where he showcases his own work as well as that of other fantasy-minded artists and creators of odd, impractical things. There, brave travelers will get some brief, telling glimpses into the mapmaker’s creative process, which seems to exist at the nexus of fandom and fetishism. A specifically-cited source of inspiration for Danielson, for instance, is this map of Middle Earth from the Ballatine paperback edition of Tolkien’s Lord Of The Rings.

A faculty member at Pennsylvania’s Slippery Rock University, Danielson works with pen and ink and, on occasion, cut paper to create his otherworldly "cartographic art" of quite-worldly places like Boston and Washington, D.C. The artist, who describes his work as "delicate" (read: alarmingly fragile), also takes requests.


Original source: The A.V. Club
Read the complete story here; and click here for Danielson's Etsy store.

Swimming the Cooper River in South Jersey

Baron Ambrosia swam the Cooper River through Camden in an act of civic good will. (Be sure to check out the slideshow.)

So began one man’s quest to paddle through Camden, known more for its high crime rate than its verdant waterways. With his five-mile swim along the Cooper, a tributary of the Delaware River, Baron Ambrosia aimed to change that.

“I’m trying to do something good for the city,” he said, highlighting urban exploration and environmental renewal. Born Justin Fornal, he has made a career of celebrating the gritty, most prominently as his alter-ego Baron, a fancifully attired Bronx foodhound with his own eccentric cable series (recently spotlighted by Anthony Bourdain on his CNN show). Last year, Mr. Fornal, 36, swam the Bronx River to promote his home borough, the first person recorded to do so. This year, asked by friends where he might take another dip, he settled on Camden as a similarly unsung landscape.


He completed his swim despite resistance from the city.

Undeterred, and without fanfare, Mr. Fornal decided to do the swim anyway, earlier than expected last week. “I just want to get in the water as quickly as possible,” he said, as he prepared to enter the river with three support canoes on Wednesday. They pushed off from a park in Collingswood, N.J., heading northwest through Camden toward Philadelphia. Even before the sun rose, they were spotted by some fishermen. “I was surprised to see them,” Mr. Fornal said, his head bobbing out of the water in a red Y.M.C.A. swim cap, “but I’m guessing they were more surprised to see us.”

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

Upcoming Fishtown restaurant earns 'Weekend Update' quip

Soon-to-be-opened Fishtown restaurant Girard Brasserie & Bruncherie and its no-tipping policy earned a decidedly un-P.C. joke on Saturday Night Live's "Weekend Update." Check it out here.

It's been a big month for tipping in Philadelphia.

Original source: Saturday Night Live (NBC)
 

'Finding your tribe' on review sites

A New York Times writer looks at the different travel-and-review sites, and emphasizes the importance of "finding your tribe." Yelp helped her find a hidden Philly gem.

When searching for a hotel or restaurant, you don’t want everybody’s opinion. You want opinions from people who share your taste and travel goals. But how to cherry-pick those travelers from the multitudes of citizen-critics on sites like TripAdvisor, Yelp and Hotels.com?

...More often than not I agree with Yelp reviews. Take a recent afternoon in Philadelphia. Craving a Mexican snack yet deterred by unenthusiastic restaurant reviews, I ended up in the Italian market area in Bella Vista where inside the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it Tortilleria San Roman, Yelpers advised picking up “dirt-cheap” hot tortillas, fried chips and, as one reviewer put it, “mean fresh green salsa.” Delicious — and I got to stroll through the market.


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

Reading Terminal named one of the country's great public spaces

Reading Terminal Market has been named one of the "Great Public Spaces" in the nation by the American Planning Association.

World-renowned as an enclosed public market, Reading Terminal Market is conveniently located in downtown Philadelphia. The market is situated in a complex of buildings formally known as the Reading Terminal Train Station, occupying the basement and ground floor of the building underneath the old train shed. The market is organized in grid system spanning 78,000 square feet (1.7 acres) and is home to 76 independent small merchants. All of the merchants are locally based, selling fresh foods, groceries, prepared meals, and merchandise. The market is easily accessible to residents and tourists via public transit facilities, including nearby rail stations, seven subway and trolley lines, bus stops, a Greyhound bus terminal, and over 50 bike racks on the perimeter sidewalks...

Over 6 million people visit the market each year, generating upwards of $50 million in annual sales. Because the vendor businesses are 100 percent locally owned, the market's revenues are recycled within the Philadelphia region. The majority of patrons live in the Philadelphia region, and tourists make up about one-quarter of the shoppers.


Original source: American Planning Association
Read the complete list here.

Stunning Schuylkill Banks Boardwalk earns national praise

The spectacular new Schuylkill Banks Boardwalk, connecting Locust Street to South Street, is a big hit. (And not only with Inga Saffron.)

The winding, gray concrete pathway gives visitors the unique sensation of having water on both sides of them, Joseph Syrnick, president and CEO of the Schuylkill River Development Corp., said Tuesday as he walked the 15-foot-wide boardwalk prior to its opening.

"You feel like you're on the river," Syrnick said, noting the similarity between the scoring of the concrete and traditional New Jersey shore boardwalks. "This becomes a destination spot."

The $18 million structure serves as small but crucial link in what planners hope will be a 130-mile trail from Schuylkill County to Philadelphia. About 60 miles of the trail are finished, according to the Schuylkill River Trail Association.


Original source: The Associated Press; via Huffington Post
Read the complete story here.

Philly's Springboard Collective, warriors against the 'summer slide,' featured in New York Times

This awesome Philadelphia ed startup earns praise in the New York Times.

Last summer was the second one Tayonna Taylor, an incoming second-grader, spent working with a reading tutor: her mother. Tayonna, who wears glasses and had the sniffles, sat with her mother, Tasia Carlton, in late July in Emily Roggie’s classroom in Wissahickon Charter School in northwest Philadelphia...

[Alejandro] Gac-Artigas founded Springboard in 2011, when he was just 22. He was teaching first grade with Teach for America, horrified by the summer slide. That summer he set up a four-teacher pilot with 42 children and their families. By the end of the summer, the children had gained 2.8 months in reading.

This past summer, Springboard worked with 1,200 students in 20 schools — public, charter and parochial — in Philadelphia and Camden, N.J. In Philadelphia, Springboard is the only summer learning program the school district pays for. Springboard trains teachers for the summer program, and has now started to help them coach parents to help their children during the school year. The full cost of the summer program is about $900 per child, including the teacher’s salary, which is paid by the school.


Original source: The New York Times
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.
 

Philadelphia to host Forbes' '30 under 30'

In October, the City of Brotherly Love will host a major event for young entrepreneurs. 

Philadelphia will play host to Forbes Magazine’s “30 under 30″ summit in mid-October, not only a brain-storming session by those who’ve made it, but a springboard for those who want to.

From October 19th to the 22nd, the Convention Center will host a who’s-who list of millenial entrepreneurs, inventors, celebrities and more than a thousand others looking to make their big mark. Randall Lane of Forbes says attendees will get a chance to grab for the gold ring.

“We’re calling it the $400,000 pressure cooker,” Lane says, “where we’re going to have a pitch contest on stage in front of a thousand people, and the winner take all, winner gets $150,000 in investment and a quarter-million dollars in prizes, and we promised Mayor Nutter that one Philly entrepreneur gets a fast track to the finals.”
Lane says Philadelphia is abuzz with millenial energy.

“Based on what we’re seeing you’re doing great,” he says. “Stats we’ve seen show the rise in millenials in Philadelphia is outpacing the rest of the nation.”


Original source: CBS
Read the complete story here.

Philly physicist is this year's youngest MacArthur 'genius'

Danielle S. Bassett, a 32-year-old physicist at the University of Pennsylvania, is the youngest recipient of a 2014 MacArthur Genius Grant. Pennsylvania had a strong showing overall: other winners include Steve Coleman, 57, a composer and alto saxophonist in Allentown, and Terrance Hayes, 42, a poet and professor at University of Pittsburgh who won a National Book Award for his collection Lighthead.

The fellowships, based on achievement and potential, come with a stipend of $625,000 over five years and are among the most prestigious prizes for artists, scholars and professionals...

The oldest fellow this year is Pamela O. Long, 71, a historian of science and technology in Washington, whose work explores connections between the arts and science. The youngest is Danielle S. Bassett, 32, a physicist at the University of Pennsylvania, who analyzes neuron interactions in the brain as people perform various tasks. She seeks to determine how different parts of the brain communicate and how that communication changes with learning or in the aftermath of a brain injury or disease.

When she received the call informing her of the no-strings-attached windfall, Ms. Bassett recalled being stunned into silence.

“Halfway through, I said, ‘Are you absolutely sure you got the right person?’ ” Ms. Bassett said in a telephone interview. “Then they read my bio to me. It’s an unexpected honor and sort of validation.”


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

Friction over bike lanes in Fairmount

The Philadelphia Inquirer's Inga Saffron weighed in on a bike lane controversy brewing in Fairmount.

Unlike so many of Philadelphia's polar-vortex-ravaged streets, the stretch of 22d between Spring Garden Street and Fairmount Avenue is as smooth and dark as a chocolate bar. It was repaved in August, and yet no white lines ruffle its silky surface. The way things are going, there won't be any for a long time.

Perhaps if the Streets Department had simply presented the roadwork as an effort to calm traffic, reduce crashes, and make the street safer for pedestrians, those stripes and glyphs would have been painted on long ago. Instead, the department's traffic engineers made the mistake of mentioning the B-word - as in bike lane - and now the worthy improvement project is ensnared in the web of City Council politics...

What opponents don't understand is that bike lanes can be a tool to make conditions better for all users. By clearly delineating space for cars and bikes, all players know their place. On Spruce and Pine Streets, which were turned into major bike corridors under Nutter, accidents have fallen by 30 percent, says Andrew Stober, who runs the Mayor's Office of Transportation and Utilities.

The explanation for the drop is simple. The two streets have been reduced to one car lane each, forcing motorists to drive more slowly. Cyclists feel safer, too, so they're less likely to ride on the sidewalk. That increases the chances that pedestrians will have the space all to themselves.


Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
Read the complete story here.

Training dogs to detect cancer with their noses

The Penn Vet Working Dog Center trains canines to detect cancer using their remarkable sense of smell.

McBaine, a bouncy black and white springer spaniel, perks up and begins his hunt at the Penn Vet Working Dog Center. His nose skims 12 tiny arms that protrude from the edges of a table-size wheel, each holding samples of blood plasma, only one of which is spiked with a drop of cancerous tissue.

The dog makes one focused revolution around the wheel before halting, steely-eyed and confident, in front of sample No. 11. A trainer tosses him his reward, a tennis ball, which he giddily chases around the room, sliding across the floor and bumping into walls like a clumsy puppy.

McBaine is one of four highly trained cancer detection dogs at the center, which trains purebreds to put their superior sense of smell to work in search of the early signs of ovarian cancer. Now, Penn Vet, part of the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine, is teaming with chemists and physicists to isolate cancer chemicals that only dogs can smell. They hope this will lead to the manufacture of nanotechnology sensors that are capable of detecting bits of cancerous tissue 1/100,000th the thickness of a sheet of paper.


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

The reinvention of Conshohocken

The New York Times takes a look at Conshohocken, a steel town turned office hub -- and millennial magnet.

The recent increase in development plans reflects the geographical advantages of Conshohocken, which is near the intersection of Interstates 76 and 476, its accessibility to central Philadelphia by commuter rail and the availability of its land, in contrast to some nearby western suburbs where land for development is scarce.

With its location at the intersection of interstates, Conshohocken could become the region’s new “Main and Main,” said Jeffrey E. Mack, executive managing director at Newmark Grubb Knight Frank, an international real estate firm that provides brokerage and other services.

He argued that the town was poised to take the title from an area at Route 1 and City Line Avenues on Philadelphia’s western outskirts, which has been heavily built. That location, in Lower Merion Township, “ran out of land,” he said.

The prospect of a big addition in local office space also reflects a desire by companies to attract educated employees in their mid-20s to mid-30s who are expected to seek jobs in industries such as technology, finance or health care but who do not want a traditional suburban lifestyle.

“Those folks want to live in new urban-type environments where the amenities and the urban setting and the transit orientation are also important,” said Steve Spaeder, senior vice president for development at Equus Capital Partners, developer of the 400 West Elm project. “Conshohocken has all of those elements.”



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

Philadelphia provides model for LGBT-friendly senior housing

The recently-opened John C. Anderson apartments could provide a national model for housing LGBT seniors.

The project, affectionately called “the gay-dy shady acres” by residents, is being hailed as a model for similar federally backed housing projects in the District and more than a dozen other cities across the country.
 
This initiative is part of a broader campaign by the federal government to address what officials say is growing housing discrimination based on sexual orientation. The trend is due in part to more gay Americans being out of the closet, officially married and more aware of their rights than ever before, said Gustavo Velasquez, assistant secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at Housing and Urban Development...

The Anderson apartments already have a 100-person waiting list. And that number is likely to grow. About 1.5 million Americans who are 65 or older identify as LGBT, with that number expected to double by 2030, according to the Institute for Multi­generational Health...

Every floor is decorated with framed black-and-white photographs of the 1969 Stonewall riots — demonstrations following a police raid on a gay bar in New York’s Greenwich Village that helped launch the gay rights movement — and other protests with activists bearing signs that read, “Homosexuality is not a sin” and “Gay Power!”

Susan Silverman said that even though she’s 65 and walks with a cane, she’ll always be the “radical lesbian feminist” who protested against the Miss America pageant and worked alongside Segal with the Gay Liberation Front.
She moved here from a walk-up studio apartment in Brooklyn that she had rented for 40 years, attracted by the lesbian-friendly atmosphere and affordable rent — not to mention the elevators and on-site laundry.


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

Market East to become 'Jefferson Station'

The naming rights for Market East station have been sold to Jefferson.

Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals will pay $4 million for a five-year deal to put the Jefferson name on SEPTA's Market East commuter rail station in Center City.

For an extra $3.4 million, Jefferson can keep the naming rights for an additional four years - a decision it will make at the end of its initial term.

SEPTA will get 85 percent of the money, and its New York-based advertising agency, Titan Worldwide, will get 15 percent, officials said.

The new Jefferson Station name was unveiled in ceremonies Thursday morning at the 30-year-old subterranean rail hub...

SEPTA will use the Jefferson money to make customer improvements at the station, including upgrading entrances and restrooms, SEPTA assistant general manager Fran Kelly said.


Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
Read the complete story here.

Two Philly spots top national 'Best Fried Chicken' list

Two beloved Philly eateries make Food & Wine's list of the "Best Fried Chicken in America."

Federal Donuts’s simple, wickedly great business model—superb fried chicken and doughnuts—has proven so popular that five outposts now dot the city. The 24-hour-cured chicken is double-fried for extra crispness and come spiced or glazed, depending on the location, in flavors like chili garlic and buttermilk ranch...

Pickles could be a required side for fried chicken. Chef Mitch Prensky of Supper agrees. His Jewish Fried Chicken has a spear or two of garlic pickle alongside the chicken, which is cured with a pastrami-spiced brine, then coated with a mixture that includes more pastrami seasoning, then fried. On the side: Fried matzo balls.


Original source: Food & Wine
Read the complete list here.

Could 'America's Best Restroom' be right in our backyard?

Longwood Gardens is a finalist in Cinta's 'America's Best Restroom' contest -- vote now!

The public restrooms at Longwood Gardens, the most visited public garden in America, deserve a double-take as you walk by. That’s because the 17 restrooms themselves are part of the largest indoor "Green Wall" in North America!

The staff at Longwood worked with artist Kim Wilkie on an unprecedented feat of bathroom architecture. Take a look at the photos, and you’ll understand. Aside from the restrooms’ lush greenery, they also feature domed, naturally lit lavatory cabinets hidden within the "Green Wall." In addition, each restroom contains etched translucent glass at the top of the dome to provide natural light, reduce electricity and minimize the need for light fixtures.

Longwood Gardens traces its roots to the famed du Pont family and has become preeminent for its grand collection of plant life. Now, its restrooms also share in the spotlight.

"The restrooms at Longwood have become a ‘must-see’ for our one million annual visitors, and we even have docents nearby to share the story of their creation," says Patricia Evans, communications manager at Longwood Gardens. "To be named America’s Best Restroom would be a testament to our creativity and environmental stewardship."


Via Curbed Philly; check out their coverage of this amazing bathroom.

Original source: Cinta
 

Every bike shop in Philly, mapped

Hotpads has put every bike shop in Philly on a handy map. Check it out here.

Original source: Hotpads.com.

New York Times details transformation in Camden

The New York Times adds to the changing narrative about Camden, lauding increased security and community engagement.

It has been 16 months since Camden took the unusual step of eliminating its police force and replacing it with a new one run by the county. Beleaguered by crime, budget cuts and bad morale, the old force had all but given up responding to some types of crimes. Dispensing with expensive work rules, the new [police] force hired more officers within the same budget -- 411, up from about 250. It hired civilians to use crime-fighting technology it had never had the staff for. And it has tightened alliances with federal agencies to remove one of the largest drug rings from city streets.

In June and July, the city went 40 days without a homicide -- unheard-of in a Camden summer. The empty liquor bottles once clustered on the porches of abandoned houses as memorials to the murdered have disappeared. There are fewer killings to commemorate. The city is beginning to brush up its image...

“It’s absolutely a different place,” said Tim Gallagher, a social worker who works with students. “You feel safe walking the streets now. The police officers aren’t afraid to come out of their cars and interact with the community, and that’s changed how people feel about them...”

There are other signs of life. The county has put millions into park improvements. The state has paid to knock down some abandoned houses. Charter schools are rising, and a ShopRite, the city’s first new supermarket in three decades, is to begin construction next year.


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

Historic property where George Washington camped up for sale

A 9-acre property outside Philadelphia where George Washington and his troops are said to have camped during the Revolutionary War is available for $14 million.

The property is located on Lewis Lane in Whitpain Township, about 25 minutes outside of Philadelphia. It includes a six-bedroom, five-bathroom house built in 1913 but extensively renovated and restored, according to owner Steven Korman, founder of Korman Communities, a Pennsylvania-based developer of hotels and apartments. Mr. Korman said he added about 9,000 square feet to the original 5,000-square-foot house, incorporating a century-old stone wall that had been in the garden and adding modern touches like a movie theater, gym, wine cellar, saltwater pool and elevator. Between buying the house and the renovation, he said he spent about $13 million. The house is being sold fully furnished.

Washington's troops camped in the Lewis Lane area in 1777 after the Battle of Germantown, on their way to Valley Forge, according to Marie Goldkamp, president of the Historical Society of Whitpain.

A self-described "history buff," Mr. Korman said the history of the property, which had been owned by the same family from the 1700s until Mr. Korman bought it more than four years ago, was "a huge thing for me." He added that one room in the house displays his collection of letters written by U.S. presidents, including Washington, Lincoln and Jefferson. These aren't included in the sale price.


Original source: The Wall Street Journal
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.

Taney's miracle run ends in Williamsport

Philadelphia fell in love with the Taney Dragons, and loved them even through defeat in the Little League World Series. We weren't alone.

This was my first Little League World Series, and the two-week event was defined by two great story lines: Mo’ne Davis, a 13-year-old girl from Philadelphia who struck out the boys, and an exciting team from the South Side of Chicago that validated Major League Baseball’s urban initiative and held the promise of a widening pipeline of young players from urban areas.

“We saw teams that we haven’t see around here before,” said Mike Mussina, a former Baltimore Orioles and Yankees pitcher. “To see them come here and succeed and do well — people loved them. People grab a hold of whatever the thing is and this year, they were the thing.”

The Times'
Frank Bruni also took the time to reflect on Mo'ne and the Dragons:

It was here, at the Little League World Series, that Mo’ne Davis captured the country’s hearts. A 13-year-old wunderkind from Philadelphia, she was believed to be the first black girl to play in the series. She was definitely the first girl ever to pitch a shutout. She landed on the cover of Sports Illustrated, exploded stereotypes about women and sports and did it with a poise and grace that most people twice or even four times her age struggle to muster.

The City of Philadelphia plans to hold a parade in their honor on Wednesday.

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

Diner en Blanc lures 3,500 diners to Broad Street

The pop-up dinner, a global phenomenon, was a big hit last week in Philly.

An estimated 3,500 people attended this year’s Dîner en Blanc on Thursday, gathering en masse (and en blanc) on Philadelphia’s Avenue of the Arts.

After a year of planning, anticipation and speculation (and a little help from Project Runway winner Dom Streater), the secret location of the pop-up soiree was finally revealed: Broad Street between Chestnut and Pine streets.

Since the event has a French theme, the Avenue of the Arts was a natural choice, given its Parisian-inspired architecture, from City Hall to the lampposts on Avenue of the Arts...

“Philadelphia isn’t that big of a city, but we’re so busy that we tend not to stray outside of our own neighborhoods or where we work,” Philly native Streater said. “It’s nice to have that surprise, and just not even knowing where it’s going to be — you show up and experience new surroundings and see a part of the city you never saw before, which is helpful.”


Original source: Philadelphia Business Journal
Read the complete story and check out video here.

Actor George Takei versus Wawa

Actor George Takei took to Facebook with some questions for Wawa -- namely a perceived discrepancy between the dates on their cups. Fortunately, the Wawa-loving hordes were ready for him.

As it turns out, Wawa began its existence in 1803, moving into dairy production in the 1890s and giving rise to the notion that people have enjoyed their products "for over 100 years." 

The first retail store, located in Delaware County's Folsom neighborhood, wasn't opened until 1964, which gives us the whole "smiling 50 years later" thing. Tough to smile at someone without a storefront to do it in, it seems. 

So, at best, Takei's issue with Wawa's cup advertising ultimately can be chalked up to confusion—at worst, misleading language. However, it is good to know that someone is out there waiting, watching for the convenience stores of America to slip up on their disposables. After all, everyone needs an editor.


Original source: Philly.com
Read the complete story here.

Chef Michael Solomonov comes clean

Noted local chef and philanthropist Michael Solomonov opened up to the New York Times' Frank Bruni about his struggles with addiction.

People who don’t know the full truth about Mike Solomonov judge him by his fried chicken at Federal Donuts, a cult favorite in this city, and by his hummus at Zahav, an Israeli restaurant here of national renown. They’re the signposts in a career that has burned bright in recent years and seems destined to burn brighter still.

But they’re not his real success. They’re not what his wife and best friends look at with so much gratitude — and so much relief. Those closest to Mike realize that his crucial achievement is staying clean. And it’s measured in the number of days in a row that he’s drug-free...

Until now he hasn’t gone into detail about this publicly. But with two new restaurants about to open and a PBS documentary about his culinary love affair with Israel in the works, he found himself haunted by the sense that he wasn’t being wholly honest, wasn’t owning up to how easily all of this might have slipped away, wasn’t sounding the warning and sharing the lessons that he could.


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

Philadelphia schools will open on time after all

Despite budget woes, Philadelphia's schools will open on time.

After having warned that schools might not open on time in Philadelphia, Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. said Friday that a series of temporary spending cuts would help administrators to close an $81 million budget deficit and that classes would start as scheduled next month....

In a news conference on Friday morning, Mr. Hite said he hoped cuts of about $32 million in transportation, school police, building cleaners, purchases from vendors and other areas would be temporary. Pennsylvania lawmakers are considering a Philadelphia-only cigarette tax that would raise an estimated $49 million for city schools in the current academic year.

Cuts in transportation funding, totaling $3.8 million, will mean that high school students who live within two miles of their schools will no longer be entitled to get there by bus.
 
Helen Gym, who has three children in the public schools and who was a founder of the advocacy group Parents United for Public Education, said that about 7,500 students would be affected by the changes.

Mr. Hite said he decided in favor of the cuts rather than delaying the opening of schools because to do so “punishes students for the failures of adults.”


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

The success of urban baseball teams at the LLWS starts a conversation

Teams from Chicago and Philadelphia have brought exciting energy to this year's Little League World Series.

Along with a team from Philadelphia led by a phenomenal young pitcher, Mo’Ne Davis, Jackie Robinson West became an early World Series story line. A similar sentiment surrounded a team from Harlem in 2002...

Even as baseball preaches diversity, the game continues to spiral economically out of the reach of an increasingly larger pool of potential players after Little League. The cost of participation, especially with travel teams becoming the norm before players reach high school, can reach thousands of dollars a year.

To reverse the decline in black participation, Granderson said, Major League Baseball could copy the Amateur Athletic Union model in basketball, in which major shoe companies provide financial support that allows talented teams to travel to tournaments. Baseball also needs to do a better job of putting black players in front of young people, he said.


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

RJ Metrics moves into larger space, extolls lean startup principles in New York Times

Robert J. Moore, founder and CEO of RJ Metrics, wrote about his company's move to a bigger office on the New York Times' 'You're the Boss' blog, reflecting on lean startup principles. 

We had learned years ago that company culture isn’t about perks. Ping-Pong tables, funny posters, and free lunches are outputs of culture, not inputs to it. If any of our team members ever say they work at RJMetrics because of the chairs, I should be fired.
I admire those bigger companies that have been true to their lean roots during periods of extreme growth. Amazon famously provided employees with desks made of old doors, even as its headcount grew into the hundreds. To this day, Wal-Mart has its traveling executives sleep two to a room at budget hotels.

Just like the perks, however, these lean-minded policies are only healthy if they are the outputs of culture, not inputs meant to shape it. A team that is aligned on a core mission and values will wear them as a badge of honor. A team that isn’t will go work somewhere else.

As we grow, the balancing act of “lean success” will only get more complex. After all, being lean is not the same as being cheap, and separating these two can be hard when you’re in uncharted territory. We will invest heavily in building an inspired and empowered team – but we will check our egos at the door. Easier said than done? Definitely.


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

Lenny Dykstra, out of prison and still talking

Oh, Lenny Dykstra, keep singing us your tales of woe and redemption. The erstwhile Phillies legend, fresh out of prison, spoke to the New York Times.

He started his website, Nails Investments, in 2010, selling subscribers on his formula for buying stock options.

Five years earlier, he began picking stocks on TheStreet.com, an astonishing career detour for Dykstra, an aggressive and often reckless former Met and Philadelphia Phillie.

The site continued unabated while Dykstra served a six-and-a-half-month sentence in federal prison for bankruptcy fraud and other charges in 2012. His partner and editor, Dorothy Van Kalsbeek, already knew his system and wrote his column and picked his stocks, with his oversight. They consulted about the market in letters and during her visits to the penitentiary in Victorville, Calif.
 
On the day of his release, he called her to pick him up rather than use the prison-issued Greyhound bus ticket. "I’d never been on a Greyhound bus before, and I had $5 to spend," he said...

Dykstra then shifted to the autobiography that he is planning with the author Peter Golenbockthe movie that might be made about his life, the present state of the Phillies and the book he read in prison, John Grisham’s “King of Torts,” which he claimed was the first one he had ever read.


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

Exercise equipment arrives at Philadelphia International Airport

As Flying Kite witnessed on a recent trip out west, Philadelphia International Airport is now home to exercise equipment for antsy travelers. When we walked through, many of the stationary bikes were occupied.

Sitting on an exercise bike in Terminal D on a recent morning, Ms. Donofree was cycling at a leisurely pace, wearing jeans and checking her phone as jets taxied outside.

Without becoming sweaty, changing her clothes or paying fees to an airport gym, she was able to exercise while remaining near her departure gate, thanks to a set of newly installed workout machines.

In late June, the airport became the first in the United States to provide three types of low-impact stationary bikes for travelers to use in the terminal, free of charge, while waiting for their flights.


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

Philadelphia named 'best place to retire without a car'

Philadelphia named the top city in the country to retire in without a car.

If downsizing the empty nest, ditching the car and diving into vibrant, tightly packed city life are on a retiree's agenda, there's no time like the present to make that move. However, many of Walk Score's top cities -- New York, San Francisco, Boston, Washington and Chicago -- are also among the nation's most expensive. With an eye toward cutting costs, we took a look at some of the less expensive options listed. They're still near some of the costlier locales, but aren't quite as spendy...

[Philadelphia's] most walkable neighborhoods in Center City, the Old City and along the riverfront near Penn's Landing are pleasant enough, but the combination of easy transit access and building amenities such as markets, shops, bars and restaurant are bringing folks into Fishtown, Northern Liberties and South Philadelphia. Except for the extreme northeast, southwest and northwest corners of the city, about 95 percent of the city is easily accessible by means other than a car.

Transit ridership still has a way to go before it catches up to other cities along the Northeast Corridor, but retirees are joining young newcomers in places such as Manayunk and Kensington to take advantage of a city where the options are growing and the options for getting there are ample. Oh, and as is the case in Pittsburgh, the lottery keeps all public transit here free for seniors.


Original source: The Street
Read the complete list here.

'Virtuous fast food' is on the rise in urban centers, including Philadelphia

The rapidly-expanding fast casual market is trending towards local, healthy, sustainably-sourced food. Philadelphia is now home to some of these national chains, in addition to homegrown examples such as Pure Fare

A handful of rapidly growing regional chains around the country — including Tender GreensLYFE Kitchen, SweetGreen and Native Foods — offer enticements like grass-fed beef, organic produce, sustainable seafood and menus that change with the season. Most promise local ingredients; some are exclusively vegetarian or even vegan. A few impose calorie ceilings, and others adopt service touches like busboys and china plates...

SweetGreen, which has 27 outlets in and around the cities of Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Washington, was started in 2007 by three Georgetown University seniors and is tightly connected to that younger demographic; its founders, Nicolas Jammet, Nathaniel Ru and Jonathan Neman, are all still under 30. (Mr. Jammet grew up in the kitchen, the son of André and Rita Jammet, who owned La Caravelle, the luxe New York restaurant that closed in 2004.)


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

T Magazine shines a light on food halls, including the legendary Reading Terminal Market

Food halls -- like the wildly-popular Eataly in New York -- are a growing trend. Philadelphia's own Reading Terminal is undergoing a renaissance.

After a $3.6 million renovation to this historic indoor market in a former train station last year, its longtime merchants, including Pennsylvania Dutch farmers, have returned. The 80 vendors include 34 restaurants. Post-renovation newcomers include Wursthaus Schmitz, a German grocery and sausage stand that serves sandwiches ($9-11); the Head Nut, which offers spices, teas, nuts and candy; and the Tubby Olive, a gourmet olive oil ($16-31 a bottle) and vinegar shop.?

Original source: T Magazine
Read the complete story here.

Bastille Day, Philadelphia-style

The annual Bastille Day festivities at Eastern State Penitentiary have become a Philadelphia tradition.

Twenty years ago, Terry Berch McNally and a few fellow Philadelphia restaurant owners ran down to the stone walls of the nearby abandoned Eastern State Penitentiary. “Let’s storm the Bastille,” Ms. McNally said, Champagne and French bread in hand. Then it dawned on her. “Oh my gosh,” she said, “this sounds like an event. We could do this.”

Two decades later, Philadelphia’s take on France’s Bastille Day draws thousands to the prison walls in a wildly inaccurate recreation of the event that set off the French Revolution.

Every year since, Ms. McNally has played Marie Antoinette, the French queen who famously said, “Let them eat cake,” before losing her head to the revolutionaries. The performances change from year to year, addressing topical issues like the underfunded Philadelphia schools and the Hobby Lobby Supreme Court decision.


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

University of Pennsylvania wins contract to treat memory deficits

The University of Pennsylvania was one of two institutions to win a Department of Defense contract to develop brain implants for memory deficits.

Their aim is to develop new treatments for traumatic brain injury, the signature wound of the wars in Iraq and in Afghanistan. Its most devastating symptom is the blunting of memory and reasoning. Scientists have found in preliminary studies that they can sharpen some kinds of memory by directly recording, and stimulating, circuits deep in the brain...

“A decade ago, only a handful of centers had the expertise to perform such real-time experiments in the context of first-rate surgery,” said Michael Kahana, a neuroscientist at the University of Pennsylvania and the recipient of one of the new contracts granted by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or Darpa. “Today, there are dozens of them, and more on the way; this area is suddenly hot.”


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

Ride-share legislation introduced in Pennsylvania Senate

State Sen. Wayne Fontana, D-Allegheny, has introduced legislation aimed at allowing ride-sharing services like Uber Technologies Inc. and Lyft Inc. to operate in the state permanently.

“My legislation resolves outstanding issues and would enable the ride-sharing companies to continue operating,” Fontana said in a statement. “The bill includes provisions that promote safety and security for riders while compelling companies to maintain sufficient insurance coverage for contingencies.”
Provisions of Senate Bill 1457 include:
  • requiring ride-sharing companies to maintain detailed records;
  • establishing driver-training programs;
  • enforcing a zero-tolerance policy on alcohol use and the crafting of a complaint reporting system;
  • implementing a background check system and the developing specific driver guidelines that deal with past criminal, moving violations or driving under the influence history.
The legislation also requires drivers to have an updated photo in plain view. The driver would not be permitted to pick up passengers who "hail" the vehicle while in use. It also specifically identifies vehicles that may be used for ride-sharing and a detailed inspection protocol to alleviate safety concerns. The company must also maintain specific levels of insurance for liability, medical payments, comprehensive, collision and uninsured/underinsured coverage.

Original source: Pittsburgh Business Times
Read the complete story here.

Funeral for a Home earns national press

Funeral for a Home, a project Flying Kite has covered extensively in the past, earned some national praise for its mission to memorialize a demolished home in Mantua. The Atlantic's CityLab attended and snapped some pictures.

The voices of the Mt. Olive Baptist Church choir echoed off the buildings on Saturday along the 3700 block of West Philadelphia’s Melon Street.

Their usual pulpit sits around the corner at 37th and Wallace. But this past weekend, they sang at the funeral of an unusual neighbor: a small, dilapidated rowhouse at 3711 Melon, torn down that night.


As the choir sang the gospel hymn, the words seemed fitting – “Precious memories, how they linger.” Soon, memories would be all that’s left of the two-story home, a narrow rowhouse that long ago lost its partners.

Original source: The Atlantic's CityLab
Read the complete story here.

Monell scientists examine the perfumes of the animal world

Scientists at Philadelphia's Monell Chemical Senses Center take a look at how scents dictate behavior.

This effect of inducing others to drop everything and pay attention to me-me-me is apparently what we hope for with our own perfumes and colognes, at least to judge by the advertising. But scientists and perfumers seem to know remarkably little about which scent compounds — noxious or otherwise — produce particular effects, or why. We don’t seem to respond like those species in which a specific scent automatically elicits a fixed behavioral response, said Pamela Dalton, a scent researcher at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia.

Or at least we’re not aware if something like that is happening. A 2003 study at Monell found that scent samples from human males caused a neuroendocrine response in women, changing the length and timing of the menstrual cycle. Male scent also made the women less tense and more relaxed, at least when they didn’t know that what they were smelling was a man. (More predictably, a study this year reported that the scent of male, but not female, experimenters left lab rats feeling a stress level roughly equivalent to being restrained in a tube for 15 minutes.)

Ms. Dalton theorized that early perfumers might have adapted the sometimes unpleasant odors of other species as a way of taking on their power. Something like that certainly happens in the animal world.


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

The New York Times highlights beloved regional ice cream parlors, including Bassets

The New York Times pens a love letter to local ice cream parlors.

In some circles, the nostalgic beauty of a quart of Yarnell’s Ozark Black Walnut in Arkansas or a scoop of Bassetts from Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia beats out any fancy high-fat, chef-spun ice cream.

"The best ice cream is what comes with experience," said Troy Moon, 47, a resident of Portland, Me., who holds a special fondness for pistachio ice cream from the regional brand Gifford’s, preferably eaten during a road trip though Maine.

It would be difficult to argue that any other food holds a stronger connection to memory than ice cream does. Ask most Americans about their favorite childhood ice cream and the descriptions will be vivid and specific.


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

Philadelphia Zoo welcomes four lion cubs

The Philadelphia Zoo is now home to a family of lions -- four cubs were born to a four-year-old mother. 

According to zoo staff, mother and cubs are doing well. Like newborn humans, lion cubs are essentially helpless, relying on their mother for care. Tajiri has been in almost constant physical contact with her cubs since their birth, and appears confident and relaxed as a first-time mother. Zoo staff continues to monitor them by video camera during this crucial time, giving Tajiri almost complete privacy in her off-exhibit den.

“We’re very excited to welcome Tajiri’s new cubs, the first lions born at Philadelphia Zoo in 18 years,” said Kevin Murphy, Philadelphia Zoo’s general curator. “We work with the Species Survival Plan® (SSP) breeding program of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), whose goal is to manage populations of threatened, endangered and other species across AZA zoos, to maintain long-term genetic and demographic viability. This birth, Tajiri’s first, is a significant contribution to the lion population in the U.S., and we are cautiously optimistic as Tajiri continues to be a fantastic mother.”


Orginal source: Newark Star-Ledger
Read the complete story here

Temple wins the battle for William Penn High School

The School Reform Commission has sold William Penn High School to Temple University for $15 million. The decision was not without controversy.

Part of the property will be razed and turned into athletic fields and recreation space for Temple students. The school building fronting Broad Street will remain, and will house a job-training academy run by the Laborers' District Council Education and Training/Apprenticeship Fund. It will offer training in construction crafts and general education topics.

The sale happened over the strong objections of some community members - who had been promised a new life for the high school when it "temporarily" closed in 2009. Then-Superintendent Arlene C. Ackerman said at the time that the school would reopen within five years as a career and technical academy for district students.

Commissioner Sylvia Simms was the lone vote against the closure and transaction, saying after the meeting that she thought the community had been "bamboozled."


For more background on the sale, check out this feature from Flying Kite.

Original source: Philadlephia Inquirer
Read the complete story here.

President Obama steps in to halt transit strike

President Obama ordered an emergency mediation process, halting the SEPTA transit strike in southeastern PA.

The Presidential Emergency Board will now beginning hearing arguments from the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority and two unions representing about 400 electrical workers and engineers. The unions want a compensation plan similar to what bus drivers agreed to a few years ago, but the agency hasn't met their demand, they say.

The workers went on strike after midnight Saturday, and Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett, a Republican, soon requested that Obama intervene.

Under the Railway Labor Act, the governor of any affected state may ask the president to appoint an emergency mediation panel to settle a union's dispute with publicly funded commuter rail services. Obama recently created such a board to help with a labor battle at the Long Island Rail Road, and employees have about a month left in the process before they may strike. 


Original source: The Los Angeles Time
Read the complete story here.

Local artists team up on new opera

Local visual artist Christopher Cairns and composer Michael Hersch collaborate on a new opera.

The visual artist Christopher Cairns’s sprawling studio near Philadelphia is filled with installations that include piles of skulls and forlorn figures slumped despairingly in chairs. Sculptures that evoke the victims of Pompeii are strewn across the floor near the white wall, which is made of crumbling bricks and shards of glass and will be replicated in the sets for “On the Threshold of Winter,” Michael Hersch’s new opera. Mr. Cairns’s eerie art seems an aptly somber pairing for the dark-hued monodrama, which will receive its premiere at the Brooklyn Academy of Music on Wednesday, Mr. Hersch’s birthday, with Tito Muñoz conducting the ensemble Nunc.

“I hope the audience feels some kind of connection,” Mr. Hersch said, “and that a potentially unfamiliar musical framework doesn’t obscure the human drama the music attempts to serve.”

Mr. Hersch, 42, weathered several traumas before composing the opera. In 2009, his friend Mary O’Reilly — a historian he met in 2001 in Berlin — died at the age of 45 from ovarian cancer. And in 2007, he received his own cancer diagnosis. “It seemed so implausible in light of our relationship,” he said. “I found the whole thing like a bad joke, and I told her."

He is now healthy, “but there is always that fear that hangs around and over you and never goes away,” he said.


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

Philly public pools open for business (well, for free)

The city's plethora of (underappreciated) public pools is opening this week. Click here for a complete run-down of which swim-spot is opening when. See you at Ridgway!

Original source: NBC 10

Yoga, with a beer chaser

A growing trend has a session of bending and stretching followed by a session ale.

Detox Retox is part of a growing trend of yoga paired with post-practice beer. These classes, often placed in breweries, are popping up across the country, and some have cheeky names like Happy Hour Yoga with Joe Sixpack in Philadelphia, BrewAsanas in Colorado (Boulder and Denver) and Three Sheets to the Warrior Pose in Wilmington, Del.

The trend was started two and a half years ago in Charleston, S.C., by Beth Cosi, a restaurant worker turned yoga instructor. Ms. Cosi regularly invited her friends to take her class, but few actually made it to the studio. After connecting with a local brewery, she extended another invitation to her non-yoga-practicing friends to attend a beginner’s class that was followed by a beer tasting.

Ms. Cosi, whose friends showed up, learned that beer is an effective carrot on a stick.


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

NYC's beloved Big Gay Ice Cream coming to Philadelphia

This New York institution is opening up a location on Broad Street. Oh, happy day!

Last night Douglas Quint and Bryan Petroff announced that they were bringing their beloved NYC ice cream shop Big Gay Ice Cream to Philadelphia....

As reported by Philly.com, Quint and Petroff will be opening at the SouthStar Lofts. They liked this location for the fact that it made them part of a "culinary neighborhood." "Something that we always try to do when we choose locations is make sure that we're amongst good company ... [In Philadelphia], we'll be in walking distance to Marc Vetri's restaurants, Kevin Sbraga's, and Jose Garces' restaurants." They've been working on securing the lease for the Philadelphia shop since the beginning of the year.

With an August or September opening, the Philadelphia location will be opening around the same time as the upcoming Los Angeles location. Petroff says that project got delayed due to some trouble with the city, but that construction will soon be underway. Petroff, who moved to Los Angeles recently, will be overseeing the LA build out while Quint works on getting the Philadelphia shop open.


Original source: Eater
Read the complete story here.

'So You Think You Can Dance' comes to Philadelphia, Mummers crash the party

The yearly FOX network dance competition aired its Philadelphia auditions last week. Art Museum steps? Check. Murals? Check. Mummers? Check. You can watch the whole thing here. 

Original source: FOX
 

Philadelphia hotels are best rated in the U.S.

When it comes to major U.S. destinations, Philadelphia's hotels come out on top.

Hotels in Philadelphia are the best rated among all major destination in the United States. This finding is the takeaway of a recent survey conducted by TravelMag.com. The survey compared 30 destinations in the United States based on the customer reviews their hotels have received over the past 12 months.
 
Specifically, the survey compiled all 3- and 4-star hotel ratings awarded by guests after their stay on the hotel booking site Expedia. These ratings, which run from 1 to 5, were then categorized into positive (4 or 5), neutral (3) or negative (1 or 2).

Original source: Travel
Read the complete story here.

Auction settles ownership battles at the Philadelphia Inquirer

An auction has finally settled the matter of the Philadelphia Inquirer's ownership.

The legal battle over the ownership of The Philadelphia Inquirer ended on Tuesday when its minority owners, Lewis Katz and Gerry Lenfest, prevailed in an auction for the newspaper.

Mr. Katz and Mr. Lenfest agreed to pay $88 million for The Inquirer and its affiliated properties, which include The Philadelphia Daily News, the website Philly.com and a printing plant.

The purchase signals the end of a battle between the wealthy, politically connected men who teamed up to buy the publications in 2012 and then fell out over accusations of inappropriate influence exerted on the newsroom, which threw the papers into turmoil.


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

Philadelphia Inquirer co-owner killed in plane crash

Lewis Katz, a co-owner of the Philadelphia Inquirer, was killed in a plane crash in Massachusetts. 

At the last minute on Saturday, Lewis Katz, a philanthropist and co-owner of The Philadelphia Inquirer, invited Anne Leeds, a longtime friend and neighbor from Longport, N.J., to accompany him and two others on a quick day trip to Concord, Mass. They were going up to help support a nonprofit education effort.

The day before, Mr. Katz had also invited Edward G. Rendell, the former governor of Pennsylvania. Such spur-of-the-moment invitations from Mr. Katz were common, a function of his access to a jet and his spontaneous personality.

While Mr. Rendell could not make the trip, Ms. Leeds could, and she was ready to go within a couple of hours.
But on the way home on Saturday night, the trip ended in disaster when the plane exploded in a fireball in suburban Boston. Everyone on board — four passengers, two pilots and one cabin attendant — was killed.


Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here; or click here for the Inquirer's reporting.

Adaptimmune to develop early-stage cancer drug with GlaxoSmithKline

Adaptimmune, a local company Flying Kite has covered in the past, has reached a $350 million deal with GlaxoSmithKline, a pharmaceutical giant with a presence in the Navy Yard, to develop new cancer treatments.

Founded in 2008, Adaptimmune, which is privately held, is developing cancer treatments designed to strengthen a patient’s white blood cells. The company’s research arm is based in Oxford, England, and its clinical operations are based in Philadelphia.

Under the agreement, Adaptimmune could receive more than $350 million in payments from Glaxo over the next seven years. It would receive additional payments if Glaxo exercised all of its options under the deal and if certain milestones were met.


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

Can 30th Street become a hub for a 'livable' neighborhood?

Can the area around 30th Street Station be transformed into a mixed-used community? Next City investigates.

The first hurdle that the planners will have to overcome is the area’s zoning. Most of the parcels immediately adjacent to the station are zoned for industrial use only, essentially limiting their use to Drexel or Penn, since the area is too expensive for real industrial uses and the zoning also allows institutional uses. While the universities are no doubt the area’s anchors and will remain the most important employers, a truly urban neighborhood is hard to fashion out of an “eds and meds” monoculture.

Farther from the station, extending down Market Street to 34th Street and the streets farther south, the blocks are zoned for institutional use, again excluding office and residential uses not affiliated with a university or hospital.

Only in select locations — for example, on the block south of the old post office, where Brandywine is building the apartment building — are general residential and office uses allowed. This building is proof that there is a residential market in this location (and why wouldn’t there be, with the easy access downtown and to suburbs for reverse-commutes by regional rail or the highways?), and the first order of business must be changing the zoning so that developers can build housing and office space. This approach would complement the universities rather than allowing the neighborhood to be totally subsumed by them.


Original source: Next City
Read the complete story here.

GQ spends a season in Camden's Little League

GQ sent a writer into Camden to chronicle the power of youth baseball in a struggling city.

Three years ago, Camden ranked as one of the poorest cities in the country and the single deadliest, with a murder rate twelve times the national average. That was also the year that Camden, faced with a mounting deficit, decided to lay off almost half its police force. Ah shit,everyone was thinking, this is when all bloody hell breaks loose. Some drug dealers printed up T-shirts proclaiming January 2011: It's Our Time.

And Bryan Morton? He had an idea: "Let's start a Little League."

...For Bryan, baseball is a multipurpose tool: It can unify the neighborhood, and it pits the diamond against the corner. Since the dealers recruit kids at about the same age as the coaches do, Bryan's in a tug-of-war for the souls of these 12-year-olds, some of whose parents are out there slinging, too. "Look," Bryan says, "we can all agree on children, you know? That they should be free to be kids. And if Dad or Mom is at a game for a few hours a week, they're not hustling. They're at a game."

Bryan's philosophy in a nutshell: Don't let circumstances dictate your behavior. Reverse that dynamic. Fill the parks with kids and families and eventually the junkies and the dealers will drift away. Pretend that you live in a safe place and maybe it will become one.
 
Original source: GQ
Read the complete story here.

At Haverford College, drama surrounds (ex) commencement speaker

Protests at Haverford College forced the planned commencement speaker, Robert J. Birgeneau, to withdraw. Protests from the left have had similar impact at schools across the country.

Some students and faculty members at Haverford, a liberal arts college near Philadelphia, objected to the invitation to Mr. Birgeneau to speak and receive an honorary degree because, under him, the University of California police used batons to break up an Occupy protest in 2011. He first stated his support for the police, and then a few days later, saying that he was disturbed by videos of the confrontation, ordered an investigation.

Those at Haverford who objected to his being honored asked Mr. Birgeneau to apologize and to meet a list of demands, including leading an effort to train campus security forces in handling protests better; he refused.

Mr. Birgeneau bowed out a day after Smith College said that Christine Lagarde, head of the International Monetary Fund, had withdrawn from its commencement because of protests. Condoleezza Rice, the former secretary of state, said this month she would not deliver the address at Rutgers University after the invitation drew objections. Last month, Brandeis University rescinded an invitation to Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the Somali-born activist, over her criticism of Islam.


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

The Atlantic's CityLab also highlights Mural Arts' Amtrak installation

With support from Mural Arts, Berlin-based artist Katharina Grosse has tackled seven sites between 30th Street Station and North Philadelphia Station.

Using the train as a central vehicle, psychylustro is meant to be seen in motion.

This stretch of track into downtown sees 34,000 riders every day, including travelers heading to and from New York on Amtrak plus commuters on two lines of SEPTA Regional Rail and one New Jersey Transit line with service to Atlantic City.*

The installation, curator Liz Thomas says, is intended "an experience that asks people to think about this space that they hurdle through every day." The moving trains allowed Grosse to play with a wider number of variables: the viewer's perspective will change based on which direction they're traveling, how fast the train is going, and which track the train is using. The goal, Thomas says, is to create "a beautiful disruption into a daily routine."

The installation also asks travelers to think more critically about the history of this stretch of Philadelphia, which includes sections of downtown and huge swathes of formerly industrial neighborhoods. The sites include the sides of an occupied office building, an old railroad trestle, and an abandoned warehouse, which once housed a textile factory but now has trees growing up through its collapsed roof. The brilliant colors -- vibrant whites and oranges on that warehouse side -- draw attention to these contrasting pieces of Philadelphia's past.


Original source: The Atlantic's CityLab
Read the complete story here.

The Los Angeles Times looks at Philly's innovative blight management strategies

The Los Angeles Times covers our city's latest creative strategies for combatting neighborhood decay.

After decades of ignoring the blight that has spread through its neighborhoods, Philadelphia is trying to reclaim its vacant homes through aggressive initiatives designed to compel negligent owners to fix their properties or see them seized and torn down.

In just a few short years, the city has made impressive progress; experts say some of the tools used in Philadelphia may help other post-industrial cities coping with decades-long population decline and the neglected space left behind.?..

The door and window ordinance allows community groups to take over dilapidated properties and repair them. Another will establish a land bank for the city so it can begin to redistribute abandoned properties to people and groups who want to build something new.

Neighborhoods where the new strategies have been applied have seen home prices rise 31% over four years, compared with a 1% rise in comparable areas, according to a study by Ira Goldstein of the Reinvestment Fund. The initiatives increased home values by $74 million throughout Philadelphia, Goldstein said, and brought in $2.2 million more in transfer tax receipts.


Original source: The Los Angeles Times
Read the complete story here.

'America's first queer jazz festival' coming to the City of Brotherly Love

Philadelphia will host Outbeat, the country's first "queer jazz festival."

OutBeat, a four-day event that organizers are describing as the first jazz festival with a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender focus (its subtitle is America’s First Queer Jazz Festival), will be staged in Philadelphia from Sept. 18 to 21. The festival, which was announced by its sponsor, the William Way LGBT Community Center, at a news conference in Philadelphia on Wednesday, will include panel discussions and receptions as well as performances at several clubs and halls around the city.

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

Slate dubs PA 'the most linguistically rich state in the country'

A writer for Slate investigates our state's status as a "regional dialect hotbed nonpareil."
 
A typical state maintains two or three distinct, comprehensive dialects within its borders. Pennsylvania boasts five, each consisting of unique pronunciation, vocabulary, and grammar elements. Of course, three of the five kind of get the shaft—sorry Erie, and no offense, Pennsylvania Dutch Country—because by far the most widely recognized Pennsylvania regional dialects are those associated with Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

The Philadelphia dialect features a focused avoidance of the “th” sound, the swallowing of the L in lots of words, and wooder instead of water, among a zillion other things. In Pittsburgh, it’s dahntahn for downtown, and words like nebby and jagoff and yinz. But, really, attempting to describe zany regional dialects using written words is a fool’s errand. To get some sense of how Philadelphians talk, check out this crash course clip created by Sean Monahan, who was raised in Bucks County speaking with a heavy Philly accent. Then hit the “click below” buttons on the website for these Yappin’ Yinzers dolls to get the Pittsburgh side of things, and watch this Kroll Show clip to experience a Pennsylvania dialect duel.

Original source: Slate
Read the complete story here.

Details on Philly's upcoming bike share released

B-Cycle will run Philly's upcoming bike share. Curbed Philly has some details:

According to B-Cycle's website, all of their bikes are equipped with lights in the front and back, a bell, a built-in lock, and a basket. They are also equipped with technology that tracks how many emissions each cyclist saves, and how many calories they burn.

The docking stations used by B-Cycle are solar-powered, and come equipped with a kiosk for unlocking bikes. Though the website says that a B-Cycle membership card cannot be purchased without a credit card, there will be cash payment options in Philly so that the bikes will be accessible to low income riders. Annual B-Cycle memberships in other cities cost from $30 to $80 (the least expensive memberships appear to be for students), and entitle the holder to unlimited free trips that last 30 minutes or less. Every additional half hour costs the user $4.
 

Original source: Curbed Philly
Read the complete story here.

Philly chef Michael Solomonov earns mention in trend piece on Middle Eastern flavors

Middle Eastern flavors are invading high-end kitchens, including those in Philadelphia.

Today Ms. Oliveira is one of many chefs, with and without roots in the Middle East and North Africa, who are pulling those regions’ rich and ancient culinary traditions into the limelight...

Elsewhere in the nation, chefs like Michael Solomonov in Philadelphia, Mourad Lahlou in San Francisco and Alon Shaya in New Orleans are delving into the Middle Eastern pantry. And some chefs who have no connection to the region but who embrace a global, nowhere-but-everywhere cooking style are rifling through the cupboards of Middle Eastern kitchens, then riffing on what they find there: new grains and syrups, cheeses and pickles, fresh herbs and dried beans.


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

City schools face new round of cuts

Budget issues continue to inflict pain on Philadelphia's public schools.

A $216-million budget shortfall could force Philadelphia’s public schools to make further staffing cuts next year, school officials said on Friday.

The superintendent of schools, William R. Hite Jr., said the 131,000-student district would not have the money it needed to maintain existing levels of education that he said were already "wholly insufficient" after a $304-million budget cut at the start of the 2013-14 school year.

The district, which has had chronic budget problems, laid off some 3,800 employees as a result of that cut. Although about a quarter of those employees were rehired as some funding was restored, about 2,350 jobs could be eliminated next year unless the district finds funding to bridge its new shortfall, Dr. Hite said...

The district is also looking to the private sector for financial help, but corporate or individual gifts tend to be for specific projects, not recurring revenue, he said. The district’s sale of some two dozen vacant school buildings is expected to raise $25 million by June 30, said the district’s chief financial officer, Matthew E. Stanski.


Original source: The New York Times
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.

Curbed Philly seeks new editor

The real estate-centric site Curbed Philly is hiring a new editor.

We're looking for a real estate obsessive to keep Philly apprised of all the good neighborhood news and development gossip on a daily basis. While you don't need to be a real estate expert, it helps to be completely fixated on architecture, city planning, and all the only-in-Philly weirdness that makes this place so great. Think you're up to the task?

Click through for more details.

Original source: Curbed Philly


 

The New York Times shines a light on Comcast's David Cohen

David Cohen, former chief of staff to Mayor Ed Rendell (and star of Buzz Bissinger's A Prayer for the City), takes a leading role at Comcast. The New York Times profiled this behind-the-scenes institution.

Mr. Cohen is well known in Philadelphia from his time as chief of staff to former Mayor Edward G. Rendell in the 1990s, a six-year tenure that established his reputation as a master of big-picture strategy, fine detail and just about everything in between.

"Whatever the issue is, David learns more about it than anyone, and he can keep it all in his head," Mr. Rendell says. "With me, he knew all about municipal pensions, and he knew about picking up trash — I mean the actual routes of the garbage trucks." 

...Mr. Cohen oversees Comcast’s robust lobbying operation and sets the strategies to shepherd its acquisitions past antitrust questions and other regulatory concerns. It’s a big job — and one that would fully occupy almost anyone else — because Comcast’s appetite for expansion is large, and it needs to be fed with a frequency that some find alarming...


Mr. Cohen has, as well, gotten into the weeds of Comcast’s cable and broadband customer service — a fraught subject since surveys have consistently shown that the industry in general, and Comcast in particular, are held in low regard by consumers. He has even gone on talk radio shows in Philadelphia to take calls from customers, a duty that few executives at his pay grade — Mr. Cohen pulled in just short of $30 million in compensation over the last two years — would seek.

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

Grantland writer Chris Ryan takes a delightful look back at a woeful Sixers' season

It was a rough season for Sixers fans, but Philly native Chris Ryan sees signs of hope. (Plus, that GIF of Iverson stepping over Tyronn Lue will make any local's day.)

With all due respect to the obvious and well-documentedcharms of Malik Rose and Marc Zumoff, the Sixers, especially post–trade deadline, have been a tough watch on TV. Life is too short and Kevin Durant is too good to spend all your time watching Henry Sims learn to crawl. This is specific to the NBA, I think. You can drift away from your team now. Baseball is a months-long, religious experience (or so I’m told), and football is a one-day-a-week committment, where only the truly putrid teams are out of contention early on. The NBA is different. With League Pass, national games, and players that you want to be able to tell your kids about, it’s tough to stick with a bad team. And the Sixers are bad.

But live? Live, the Sixers are punk-rock bad. The Sixers are gloriously, three-chords-and-a-beat bad.

Live, you feel it. You feel how fast they are trying to play, you can see that Brett Brown has removed the restrictor plate on this team, you can see a bunch of guys desperately playing for their lives, or at least their livelihoods. If you just watch the game, and don’t look at the scoreboard, and don’t think about how Rajon Rondo must wonder what he did to deserve this … well, it’s kind of awesome.


Original source: Grantland
Read the complete story here.

Philly aims for 'World's Largest Bar Crawl'

On Saturday, May 3, organizers in Philadelphia are aiming to launch the 'World's Largest Bar Crawl.'

"What makes this event unique is being able to be compliant with the Guinness Book of World Records," explains Ray Sheehan, president of Philly2nite and one of the event’s organizers. "Anyone can throw a bar crawl, but here there are some rules and regulations and certain things that we need to do in order for Guinness to be able to validate it as it being a true bar crawl."

To officially rewrite history, each consumer has to go to ten venues within an eight-hour window. To keep track of everything, "we built a sophisticated app specifically for this event," says Sheehan.

In order to be counted as part of the crawl, the consumer has to drink at least five ounces of alcohol, or a non-alcoholic beverage, at each of the ten venues they enter, between the hours of noon and 8 p.m., all throughout the city.

"Basically you’re going to have people as far south as South Philadelphia, as far west as University City, as far north as Fairmount/Northern Liberties and as far east as the Old City section and a bunch of bars participating right downtown," Sheehan says. "People are circulating from neighborhood to neighborhood, and essentially what you have is just a full day of festive activities, going from bar to bar to bar."


Original source: CBS News
Read the complete story here.



Philadelphia hosts world's largest game of Tetris

A Drexel professor and his students hacked the lighting system of the 29-story Cira Center, allowing them to play Tetris on the building's facade.

 Check out the video here.

Original source: The New York Times

New tools for detecting cancer come out of Thomas Jefferson

New blood tests -- or "liquid biopsies" -- are making the cancer detection process more painless.

Telltale traces of a tumor are often present in the blood. These traces -- either intact cancer cells or fragments of tumor DNA -- are present in minuscule amounts, but numerous companies are now coming to market with sophisticated tests that can detect and analyze them.

While the usefulness of the tests still needs to be proved, proponents say that because liquid biopsies are not invasive, they can be easier to repeat periodically, potentially tracking the disease as it evolves and allowing treatments to be adjusted accordingly...

"You will have a chance to identify a treatment sometimes and sometimes not," said Dr. Massimo Cristofanilli, director of the breast care center at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, who is treating Ms. Lewis and is a leading expert on liquid biopsies. Still, he said, "you are certainly much more advanced than going blindly." 


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

Qatar Airways comes to Philadelphia International Airport

Qatar Airways has started daily service out of PHL.

Qatar Airways launched service to Philadelphia on Wednesday, kicking off daily round-trip service to its hub in Doha.
Philadelphia becomes the carrier's fifth city in the United States, joining New York JFK, Washington Dulles, Chicago O'Hare and Houston Bush Intercontinental.

"This is a huge deal for us," Mark Gale, CEO of Philadelphia International, says to CBS Philadelphia. "Tied with the merger of US Airways and American Airlines and this airport becoming a oneworld Alliance hub, an East Coast gateway. We think there's just a tremendous amount of positive impact."

With the debut of its Doha flights, Qatar Airways becomes the first new foreign-flag carrier start service to Philadelphia since Swissair in 1990, Gale adds to The Philadelphia Inquirer.


Original source: USA Today
Read the complete story here.

Redefining 'elevator music' as a community booster

Inspired by the development of Muzak, Artist Yowei Shaw, a freelance public radio reporter and producer, has been working on "elevator music" that actually improves the community.

Shaw has been grappling with questions of engaging listeners in public spaces as part of her residency with the Philadelphia-based Asian Arts Initiative's Social Practice Lab. Muzak's social engineering history, she says, gave her an idea: "What if we could make our own kind of elevator music, but do it with pro-social intentions, to promote community?"

And so her project, Really Good Elevator Music, was born. Shaw asked six local musicians from Philly's Chinatown North/Callowhill neighborhood to produce tracks that would help "foster community" in the area. The result is the 13 track album of "really good elevator music," which is playing in the elevators of the nearby, mixed-use Wolf Building for the month of March.


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

Philadelphia's population continues to rise

According to recently-released census data, Philadelphia's population continues to rise -- though the rate has slowed slightly.

The city's population as of July 1, 2013, stood at an estimated 1,553,165 people, an increase of 4,518 residents, or 0.29 percent from the previous year. It marks the seventh consecutive year of growth for the city, according to the Census Bureau’s population estimates. So the turnaround continues, but not as dramatically.

Philadelphia saw steep declines in the latter part of the 20th century as it continued to struggle with the loss of its industrial base. That trend continued into the new millennium. Indeed, the city’s population declined every year between 2000 and 2006, losing nearly 26,000 residents during the span. But since 2006, the city has added more than 64,000 people.


Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
Read the complete story here.

The city simplifies rules for farmers' markets

PlanPhilly reports on changes to how the city regulates farmers' markets.

Last week City Council approved changes that eliminate the farmers’ market licensing fee, simplify the rules for operating a market and require a simplified registration with the Philadelphia Department of Public Health...

“There’s been a real growth in farmers’ markets in recent years, and so these rules were kind of updated to reflect their popularity, and folks in public health have come to view farmers’ markets as good sources of fruits and vegetables for people, so the code kind of reflects the changing times,” said Nicky Uy, senior associate of the farmers’ market program at The Food Trust, which operates 25 farmers markets in Philadelphia and has plans to open four more this year.

 
Original source: PlanPhilly
Read the complete story here.

Citizens Bank named one of the best ballparks for craft beer

The Phillies' home stadium came in No. 6 in a list of the country's best ballparks for craft beer. (In fact, a local microbrew will run you the same cost as a Miller Lite.)

It comes as no surprise that two Pennsylvania cities (the only two with major league teams) made it into the top five. The state is well represented by a number of great breweries and both stadiums felt it only right to serve that amazing beer. At Citizens Bank, Phillies fans drink beer from Tröegs Brewing, Victory Brewing, Flying Fish (in nearby New Jersey), Sly Fox, Yards Brewery, Prism Brewing, and Philadelphia Brewing. The list continues with several out-of-state breweries, like Goose Island, Long Trail, Otter Creek, Allagash, Anchor, Dogfish Head, Lagunitas, Ommegang, Samuel Adams, 21st Amendment, Oskar Blues, and Sierra Nevada.

Original source: The Daily Meal
Read the complete list here.

Drop in traffic on local highways speaks to broader societal changes

A drop in traffic on local highways indicates a change of habits in the metro area -- and could lead to a changes for infrastructure planners.

Before beginning a $2.5 billion project to widen the New Jersey Turnpike, turnpike officials said the construction was necessary to reduce existing congestion and to cope with future traffic.

"Turnpike traffic is on the rise," the state Turnpike Authority said in its justification for the project. "By 2032 northbound traffic volume is expected to increase by nearly 68 percent [above 2005 levels]; southbound traffic is forecasted to increase by 92 percent."

Now, one-third of the way through that 27-year forecast, turnpike traffic is actually about 10 percent lower than it was in 2005...

"The millennials are really changing the world dramatically," Hughes said. "We have a younger generation that is driving less and doesn't want to live in Valley Forge. They want to live in Center City Philadelphia."

"We had a 50-year period of unrestricted suburbanization, and now there's a dramatic shift."

Cars and driving are less important to young adults, who find that trains and buses allow them to work and socialize on mobile electronic devices, he said. That may mean fewer cars on future roads.

"Nobody was really anticipating this," Hughes said. "The models have to be recalibrated."

Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
Read the complete story here.


A Vancouver Sun writer falls for the City of Brotherly Love

A travel writer for the Vancouver Sun is surprised to find himself "smitten" with Philadelphia. 

It is a city that has taken me by surprise and made me happier than I imagined with its innate spirit of creativity, inventiveness, progressive thinking and generosity. I love, love, love its unswerving focus on freedom and tolerance. I think it is a city that deserves more attention...

When I came to Philly for the first time to see the flower show, which is an amazing work in itself, I was not expecting to be dazzled also by the quirkier side of the city’s personality, such as walking into the shoe department at Macy’s and finding the world’s biggest pipe organ or the Magic Garden of Isaiah Zagar, a whimsical mosaic garden built on a back street, composed out of tens of thousands of pieces of found art and ceramics.


Original source: The Vancouver Sun
Read the complete story here.




Layover Lift: The Free Library opens outpost at the airport

Bored travelers now have an exciting new distraction -- the Free Library has come to Philadelphia International airport.

The Free Library of Philadelphia recently opened an outpost in the Philadelphia International Airport in the form of a book-themed lounge with free Wi-Fi access to the library’s digital catalog.

Passengers are encouraged to relax in the reading room, in the concourse between the D and E terminals, and download books or author podcasts from the library’s collection of nearly 30,000 titles.

"We brought our high-speed line out to the airport in that little area. That Internet connectivity is extraordinarily robust, it matches what we have in the library," said Siobhan Reardon, president and director of the Free Library.

The idea was inspired in part by an especially snowy winter, she said.

"We were having extensive blizzards here in Philadelphia, and we knew that there were thousands of people camping in the airport," Ms. Reardon said. "We thought, 'What if we put a library in?'"


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

Public transit use at highest level since 1956

According to the New York Times, ridership on public transit is higher than its been in a generation.

More Americans used buses, trains and subways in 2013 than in any year since 1956 as service improved, local economies grew and travelers increasingly sought alternatives to the automobile for trips within metropolitan areas, the American Public Transportation Association said in a report released on Monday.

The trade group said in its annual report that 10.65 billion passenger trips were taken on transit systems during the year, surpassing the post-1950s peak of 10.59 million in 2008, when gas prices rose to $4 to $5 a gallon.

The ridership in 2013, when gas prices were lower than in 2008, undermines the conventional wisdom that transit use rises when those prices exceed a certain threshold, and suggests that other forces are bolstering enthusiasm for public transportation, said Michael Melaniphy, the president of the association.


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

High tech gadgets improve quality of life for urban dwellers

New high-tech solutions are changing the way renters and homeowners interact with their environments.

In San Francisco, a homeowner gave his house a Twitter account that posts an update when there is unanticipated movement on the first floor, and welcomes him home when he walks through the door. A tech-savvy renter in Philadelphia programmed a gadget to chart how often the temperature in his apartment changed, and proved to his incredulous landlord that the air-conditioner was not, in fact, functional...

Still, it seems that as long as consumers are on the winning end of the cost-benefit analysis, the Internet of Things will continue to bulldoze its way into America’s living rooms. Especially if the rest of us can make the technology work as well for us as it did for Thomas Murray, a tech-savvy designer who tinkered his way into a brand-new apartment.

Mr. Murray, 34, configured a rubber box filled with sensors to take the temperature in his home regularly, record the results on an online chart...For weeks he and his wife, Heather, watched as the chart zigged and zagged through temperatures in the low 80s and back down. The landlord sent maintenance workers in by the droves. But every time they declared victory, Mr. Murray showed them a chart bearing unequivocal proof that the apartment was still an inferno.

Eventually, the landlord gave up, and moved the couple into the apartment down the hall, which was almost twice as big as their old place, didn’t cost any more, and had a working air-conditioner to boot.


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

2014's greatest battle: Fox 29 weatherman versus the snowplow

An epic moment between one Philadelphia man and one plow goes viral. Click here for all the GIF-goodness.

Original source: Fox 29 (via The Atlantic Cities)


Hidden City tackles the 'complicated' CHOP expansion

Hidden City takes an in-depth look at CHOP's expansion to the eastern banks of the Schuylkill.

Doug Carney, CHOP’s senior vice president of facilities, said his hopes were that CHOP would continue to “be attractive to the world-class researchers we compete for.”
 
Carney’s invocation of “world-class,” however, left an opening for those in the audience unhappy with CHOP’s plan for a 23-story, half-a-million-square-foot tower right next to the low-rise neighborhoods of Graduate Hospital and the Devil’s Pocket, which would bring 1,000 CHOP researchers to the site each day. (Note that this is not going to be a place for patient care, as with CHOP’s complex across the river, but an office building for research.) “Is it world-class,” a follow-up questioner asked the CHOP team, “to drive 76 then take a ramp into a parking garage?”

It doesn’t seem that CHOP’s institutional ambitions and the city’s ideal planning needs will coalesce. But CHOP, which is currently undertaking a remarkable amount of expansion, has goodwill on its side -- it is, after all, devoted to the care of children -- as well as, frankly, considerable leverage to do what it wants. The Graduate Hospital Area project serves as a good insight into CHOP’s role in the city and illustrates the influence it wields.


Original source: Hidden City Philadelphia
Read the complete story here.

Al Jazeera looks at transportation funding via SEPTA

Flying Kite contributor Jake Blumgart writes about transportation funding struggles in Al Jazeera, using SEPTA as a prime example.

In late November, after two no votes, a transportation bill scraped through the state legislature. It allows for baseline repairs and vehicle replacement, including, finally, trolleys that are accessible for handicapped riders. SEPTA pleaded for $454 million in 2014, with increases to follow. Instead, the bill will ramp up to giving the agency $345 million annually, an amount that will not be reached until 2018. The message from Harrisburg was clear: Preservation, not expansion, is the name of the game.

Philadelphia’s brush with disaster is typical of the perpetual crisis of public transit in the United States. Ridership levels spiked during and after the recession, but local and state budgets were forcibly contracted, forcing almost 80 percent of the nation’s transit systems to raise fares or cut back operations. In 2012, Boston suffered fare increases and service cuts, and ridership fell, and Pittsburgh faced a transit crisis similar to Philadelphia’s. In 2013, Detroit lost $7 million in funding for its buses.


Original source: Al Jazeera
Read the complete story here.



SEPTA mulls extending subway service to 3 a.m. on weekends

SEPTA is considering a return to late-night service on the Broad Street and Market-Frankford lines.

Because of increasing nightlife and residential activity in Center City, SEPTA may continue service after midnight, when subways now are replaced by "night owl" buses, general manager Joseph Casey said.

The service might continue until 3 a.m., officials said. Initially, it would be limited to Friday and Saturday nights, in a pilot program to test the response.

Chief financial officer Richard Burnfield said his staff was still assessing the costs - for security, operators, cashiers, and maintenance - to determine if a resumption of some late-night subway service would be included in the agency's proposed budget that will be released next month.

 
SEPTA halted late-night subway service in the early 1990s because of security and cost concerns. About 3,600 riders a day were forced to shift to nighttime buses.

Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
Read the complete story here.


Huffington Post lists reasons Philly is 'most underrated city in America'

The Huffington Post has put together a list of the reasons Philadelphia is "the most underrated city in America." Sure, it's click-bait, but it's also kinda great -- soft pretzels, Eastern State, beer! And even a couple of things to snark about -- the Citywide Special is actually $5.

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

A loving ode to the Philadelphia regional accent

A wonderful piece in The New York Times' Sunday Review looked at our city's unique accent:

"The Philadelphia regional accent remains arguably the most distinctive, and least imitable, accent in North America. Let’s not argue about this. Ask anyone to do a Lawn Guyland accent or a charming Southern drawl and that person will approximate it. Same goes for a Texas twang or New Orleans yat, a Valley Girl totally omigod. Philly-South Jersey patois is a bit harder: No vowel escapes diphthongery, no hard consonant is safe from a mid-palate dent. Extra syllables pile up so as to avoid inconvenient tongue contact or mouth closure. If you forget to listen closely, the Philadelphia, or Filelfia, accent may sound like mumbled Mandarin without the tonal shifts....

Da prom here, we might say as we order our cheesteaks, is we don’ ave enuff akkers hew are willen to masser da Filelfia acksin. Nonsense. Offhand, I can name two native sons, Bruce Willis (Salem County, N.J.) and Kevin Bacon (Center City Philadelphia), who, at least in interviews early in their career, before accent reduction training kicked in, let their diphthong freak flags fly. And Upper Darby, Pa., native Tina Fey’s shout-outs and occasional youzes are encouraging, as are stories of her singing “You Light Up My Life” in full Brotherly Love voice ('Yew loight up moy loif')."

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

The New York Times visits Midtown Village's Little Nonna's

The New York Times' travel section visited Philadelphia's thriving Midtown Village neighborhood, checking in on Little Nonna's, Marcie Turney and Valerie Safran's latest.

The menu is packed with classic dishes as they might be prepared by a modern-day nonna — Italian for grandmother — using ingredients from local farmers: an antipasto board of roasted veggies, parmigiana with Japanese eggplant and Thai-basil pesto, Concord grape water ice.

But on a chilly evening in November, I couldn’t resist the Sunday gravy. A heaping portion of “gravy” (marinara made with San Marzano tomatoes) and paccheri (the macaroni of the day) arrived on one platter, and on another were assorted meats — pork braciole, spicy fennel sausage, meatballs stuffed with fontina. Other memorable dishes deviated from the traditional tried and true, like bruschetta with roasted figs, Gorgonzola dolce, celery hearts and crunchy hazelnuts. And a standout pasta dish featured braised duck, pecorino and turnips atop chestnut ravioli stuffed with roasted heirloom squash.


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

Comcast makes a move to buy Time-Warner Cable

Comcast makes another big move, making a play for Time Warner Cable.

Already the dominant player in providing pay television services to American consumers, Comcast announced on Thursday a deal to buy Time Warner Cable, which will create a behemoth that will dominate the media industry.

It is the second transformative deal for Comcast in recent years, coming just months after it completed an acquisition of NBC Universal, the TV and movie studio. And the deal, if completed, could have impacts on consumers across the country, though it is unlikely to reduce competition in many markets.

Describing the deal as “a friendly, stock-for-stock transaction,” Comcast will acquire 100 percent of Time Warner Cable’s 284.9 million shares outstanding, in a deal worth about $45.2 billion in stock value.


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


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.

Philly designers want to manufacture locally, but challenges abound

The Philadelphia Inquirer dives into familiar territory -- local designers (like Sarah Van Aken) want to manufacture locally, but the roadblocks are manifold.

The city may tout its creative community and the growing retail scene - it even hosts a version of fashion week in September - but retaining that talent is a challenge, now reaching critical mass, when Philadelphia lacks skilled sewers, cutters, and patternmakers. "Everyone knows the quality is just not here," said Karen Randal, director of the office of business attraction and retention in Philadelphia's Commerce Department. "[It's] not what you expect to find at a good retailer."

Olubodun, like many young apparel designers, wants one day to present Philadelphia-made collections during New York Fashion Week, now underway at Lincoln Center through Thursday.

But current conditions - too few workers and manufacturing facilities that accommodate smaller orders - means they're stuck either sewing their own wares or spending money for larger runs they don't need. Either option makes it difficult to fill accounts with larger retailers - the road to brand recognition. Forget about affording a New York runway presentation.


Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
Read the complete story here.


New York Times takes note of new Comcast tower

The big Comcast tower news got Philadelphia some national press, including in the New York Times.

The influx of young technology employees to a building designed by a prestigious international architect is likely to encourage boosters of a city that has long harbored an inferiority complex because it lacks either the financial power of New York or the political clout of Washington.

“This new development really speaks to a more favorable outlook for the city,” said [Michael Silverman, managing director in the Philadelphia office of Integra Realty Resources].

The $1.2 billion building will create 20,000 direct and indirect jobs during construction, adding $2.75 billion to the local economy, according to Gov. Tom Corbett of Pennsylvania, who announced the project, along with Comcast officials, on Jan. 15.


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


Opera Philadelphia commissions work based on saxophonist Charlie Parker

Opera Philadelphia has commissioned Daniel Schnyder to create a chamber opera about the jazz saxophonist Charlie Parker.

The opera, “Charlie Parker’s Yardbird,” is set on the day Parker died — March 12, 1955 — but takes place in his imagination as he is dying. The tenor Lawrence Brownlee will play Parker; Angela Brown, the soprano, will portray his mother, Addie, and Will Liverman, the baritone, will play Dizzy Gillespie, a frequent collaborator. Casting has not been announced for the other roles, which will include Parker’s patron, Baroness Pannonica de Koenigswarter. Corrado Rovaris, the company’s music director, who suggested Mr. Schnyder for the commission, is scheduled to conduct the premiere.

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

Innovative Philadelphia clinic offers healthcare to undocumented immigrants

Puentes de Salud, a Penn-funded clinic, provides health care to those outside the system, including undocumented immigrants.

Puentes de Salud, which in English means “bridges of health,” was founded to provide low-cost but quality health care and social services to the growing Latino population in South Philadelphia and began treating patients in 2006. A co-founder, Dr. Steve Larson, said the organization distinguished itself from other community-health groups by addressing the underlying causes of illness, like poor nutrition, illiteracy or urban violence.

"It’s not about me writing prescriptions," said Dr. Larson, 53, a professor of emergency medicine at the University of Pennsylvania who said he began to develop his approach to community medicine while working in rural Nicaragua in the early 1990s. "This is an underground health system."


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

Keeping a brewery small can reap dividends

Small-production breweries can create demand for their products -- it might be a good lesson for future craft brewers.

Hill Farmstead, in the hamlet of Greensboro, produces just 60,000 gallons of beer annually. The beer is available for purchase only at the brewery and in roughly 20 Vermont bars. In addition, Mr. Hill sends 12 kegs to distributors in New York City and Philadelphia a few times a year...

From the start, his philosophy has been to make the best beer possible without pursuing what he calls “infinite, boundless growth.” He operates under the belief that beer is a perishable item, “just like lettuce or broccoli,” he says, and should be consumed locally, not shipped long distances.


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

Do animals have a sweet tooth? Monell scientists are on the case

How do animals experience sweetness? And what does that tell us about how sugar effects the brain? These are just a few of the questions being examined at the Monell Chemical Senses Center.

Some mammals have lost the capacity for sensing either sweet or savory: In 2012, a team led by Peihua Jiang of the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia found this to be the case among marine mammals like Asian otters, bottlenose dolphins and sea lions — species that tend not to chew their food. “It kind of makes sense,” says Paul Breslin, another taste physiologist based at Monell and Rutgers University. “If it looks like a fish and swims like a fish, and it’s hard to catch, they’ll swallow it whole. So they don’t need to taste.”

But what about substances that mimic sugar, like the noncaloric sweeteners many of us depend on? The human flytrap clamps down on sugar, but it also grabs Sweet’N Low and Splenda and lots of other chemicals — both artificial and natural — that approximate the flavor. Do other animals have the same response? If a dog likes the taste of Coca-Cola, will it show the same response to Diet Coke?


Original source: The New York Times
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.

Hope for redevelopment at the SS United States?

People are working hard to save the SS United States; the behemoth has been docked in South Philly since the mid-'90s.

Donors from around the world contributed at least $205,000, and another $116,000 was raised by scrapping obsolete pieces of the ship that would have had to be cleared eventually by a developer, said Susan Gibbs, the conservancy's executive director.

The influx of cash should cover the ship's upkeep bills for the next six months or so. By that time, Gibbs said, there's hope that a redevelopment deal will finally be close at hand.

"We aren't yet able to make an announcement about a final deal, but we're very hopeful 2014 is going to be the year for the SS United States," she said.

Unfortunately, that future might happen outside of Philadelphia -- perhaps in New York. Time will tell.

Original Source: Philadelphia Daily News
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.

Huge Mount Sinai plan revealed at public meeting

Developers have let the public in on their plans for the massive, abandoned Mount Sinai campus in Pennsport. 

Jeff DiRomaldo, Project Manager and Architect for Barton Partners out of Norristown, provided some background on the "urban repair project" and went over the early plans and designs. The key theme he wanted to stress -- filling the "voids" in the street scape that plague the area. The hope is to construct the town homes as a border around the property that "re-integrate those edges" of the site back in to the neighborhood.

As usual, parking was a major concern for neighbors:

The plan calls for the site to contain 137 spaces, all but five will be within the interior of the development and that number includes the garages in the town homes. However, as Developer Gagar Lakhmna explained, the existing curb cuts will be reduced from ten to nine in the process as a different curb cut at 5th and Dickinson will be necessary to accommodate a front-loading garage for those units due to space. Basically, the fewer curb cuts means more street parking. He also mentioned that they drew up plans for an interior parking deck but it would have only given them about 10 more spaces. They will look to have "80 bike spaces and two car share spots" as well. 

Original source: Pennsporter
Read the complete story 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.

SEPTA gets into the holiday spirit, with help from their operators

As we personally witnessed on a recent Broad Street Line ride, some SEPTA trains have gotten super festive this holiday season. CBS looked into the story behind these cheery decorations.

The company is decking out several trolleys, buses and even a Norristown High Speed Line train car for the holidays with lights, ornaments and boughs of holly. Riders should keep an eye out for the decorated “sleighs” on certain routes, including Trolley #9052, which operates on Route 10, and Bus #9253, which runs on Route 35. Routes 101 and 102, the Media/Sharon Hill Line, will also have decorated trolleys, and the Norristown High Speed Line will feature a decorated car.

Original source: CBS Philly
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.



Drake building recording studio at Strawberry Mansion High

The recording artist (and notable Canadian) Drake has committed to funding the construction of a recording studio at Strawberry Mansion High.

The rapper and singer said that after watching a Diane Sawyer special about the school which ran last May, he wanted to help: "by the end of it I was so heavily affected that at the end I started questioning like major aspects of my life."

Drake surprised students at Strawberry mansion high during a taping of a follow-up to the original ABC special. He told them that "over the next few months," he would build a recording studio there. He said, "This about you. This about your principal. This about your future. I love you. I care about you. I want to see you succeed."

Original source: Curbed Philly
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.



Transit-oriented development Paseo Verde dedicated in North Philly

Paseo Verde, an exciting community-supported project in North Philadelphia, was recently completed. It is hopefully a standard-bearer in transit-oriented development.

Paseo Verde, a super green, mixed-use, mixed income community hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony this morning. The complex is the country's very first Platinum LEED certified Neighborhood Development, a distinction that it earned by creating an eco-friendly, transit focused project with the goal of "providing a healthy living environment for residents through sustainable practices, as well as cost savings through effective reduction in energy use."

Even Paseo Verde's most expensive apartments wouldn't fall into the luxury price range, but it does seem that they'll be offering quite a few luxury amenities: residents will get access to a fitness center, community rooms, a technology center, gardening plots, and green roofs.

Original source: Curbed Philly
Read the complete story here.

Inventing the Future: Researchers at Monell tackle the roots of obesity

Monell Chemical Senses Center, a nonprofit research organization in University City, is at the forefront of research into how eating habits during pregnancy and infancy impact obesity.

The Monell researchers have identified several sensitive periods for taste preference development. One is before three and a half months of age, which makes what the mother eats while pregnant and breast-feeding so important. “It’s our fundamental belief that during evolution, we as humans are exposed to flavors both in utero and via mother’s milk that are signals of things that will be in our diets as we grow up and learn about what flavors are acceptable based on those experiences,” said Gary Beauchamp, the director of the Monell Center. “Infants exposed to a variety of flavors in infancy are more willing to accept a variety of flavors, including flavors that are associated with various vegetables and so forth and that might lead to a more healthy eating style later on.”

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

Martin Luther King High School emerges from school closings turmoil with success on the gridiron

Earlier this year, The New York Times reported on the absorption of Germantown High School's football team into that of rival Martin Luther King High School. Despite the heartache of the merger, the team had a triumphant season.

Martin Luther King High School had one victory in 2012. And that was by forfeit. This fall, a $304 million budget shortfall in the Philadelphia school district forced a merger with archrival Germantown High. Many doubted the merger would work...

Then something wonderful happened. Defeat became liberating. Desperation forged unity. Coach Edward Dunn, 27, embroidered a team from a ragged collection of players. Each game became a kind of playoff and King went more than two months without losing.

The Cougars won nine straight games and their first Public League championship. Quarterback Joseph Walker was named the league’s most valuable player. Delane Hart became the league’s career leader in receiving yards (1,932) and the first with more than 1,000 yards in a season. He sometimes wore socks with a Superman logo and little red capes that fluttered as he ran pass routes.


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

Science reporter sparks tough conversation about women in STEM

This might not be as Philly-centric as our usual Buzz posts, but Flying Kite has written extensively about efforts to engage women in STEM fields, so we thought we'd share this awesome video from Emily Graslie. Speaking from the Field Museum in Chicago, Graslie addresses the strange internet conversationt that often errupts when women enter the conversation on scientific topics. As she demonstrates, we have a long way to go. From an NPR story on the video:

Many of the folks who write her, write not about the science, but about her body, her looks, her clothes, and do so without any apparent embarrassment. She's a science reporter who happens to be a young woman, and her woman-ness is the thing they focus on. The science, to her chagrin, often takes second place.

Original source: NPR
Check out the video here.

Hot Stuff: Sriracha plant coming to Philadelphia?

According to the Philadelphia Business Journal, what once sounded like a joke -- the beleaguered Sriracha factory moving to Philadelphia -- is gaining some traction. Now that's some spicy news.

Philadelphia Councilman at-Large Jim Kenney is hoping to entice the company to move its plant to Philadelphia. When he heard that Huy Fong Foods was facing backlash from its Irwindale, Calif. neighborhood, Kenney made some headlines by saying the plant would be welcomed with open arms here in Philadelphia.

But now his invitation seems (at least a little bit) more serious. A judge ordered a partial shutdown of the Huy Fong Foods plant because of the stinky odors it emits into the neighborhood. In response, Kenney said he's looking for potential sites in the area where they can make sriracha sauce without the smell bothering neighbors.


Original source: Philadelphia Business Journal
Read the complete story here.

Rust Belt cities often prefer to demolish than to rehab

Cities like Baltimore, Cleveland and, yes, Philadelphia, have often adopted a policy of razing blighted neighborhoods as opposed to rebuilding. Philadelphia's vacant land policy also enables neighbors to take over adjacent vacant land.

Today, it is also about disinvestment patterns to help determine which depopulated neighborhoods are worth saving; what blocks should be torn down and rebuilt; and based on economic activity, transportation options, infrastructure and population density, where people might best be relocated. Some even focus on returning abandoned urban areas into forests and meadows...

Philadelphia, which has 40,000 vacant lots, has promoted the benefits of lower-density living by allowing people in largely vacant neighborhoods to spread out to the lot next door — where a neighbor’s home once was. The city has been studying a plan to sell $500 leases to urban farmers. One such farm, Greensgrow, which was built on a former Superfund site, sold $1 million in produce in 2012.


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

The District puts vacant schools on the market

After shuttering dozens of local schools this fall, the Philadelphia School District has placed many of those buildings up for sale. Quite a few have serious residential development potential -- Passyunk Post reports on the buildings in its purview, including Bok, Vare and Smith.

Bok Technical, an imposing art deco monster, is 338,000 square feet over eight floors on a 2.2-acre site. The information provided notes its proximity to Passyunk Avenue and the Snyder Avenue subway stop (about half a mile each). "Surrounding the Avenue is a surging residential and development market." True.

The New York Times 
also covered the school properties:

But Drexel University has said it wants to buy University City High School for an undisclosed price, and restore it as a public school. Temple University has expressed an interest in the former William Penn High School, close to its Temple campus on the north side of central Philadelphia. Buyers interested in the eight properties undergoing an expedited sale have until Dec. 17 to respond to a request for qualification, the district said. For the other properties, buyers must submit an expression of interest by that date.

Original source: Passyunk Post
Read the complete story here.

PlanPhilly mulls ambitious project at 30th Street Railyards

The 30th Street rail yards could be ready for a big change.

Bounded by the Schuylkill on the east, JFK Boulevard on the south, 32nd Street to the west and Spring Garden Street to the north, the rail yards are the most significant piece of real estate in the city. The parcel sits astride the booming high-tech education-and-medicine hub of University City and the ready-to-pop potential energy of West Market Street. Falling more than 80 feet in elevation from Powelton Village to the river, the site accommodates Amtrak's Northeast Corridor, the Penn Coach Yards (a service yard for the railroad) and SEPTA's Regional Rail tracks.

This dusty, noisy, obstructed remnant of the industrial age is poised to be reimagined. Amtrak, along with Drexel University, Brandywine Realty Trust and other partners, will receive bids Monday from professional teams vying to prepare a master plan for the rail yards and environs. They are to be applauded for tackling this project.


Original source: PlanPhilly
Read the complete story here.


Local venture capital at a five-year high

Venture capital in Philadelphia is on the upswing, especially compared with national trends. 

Nationally, the number of venture capital deals has decreased, according to a joint report released last week, yet Philadelphia is defying this trend. Philadelphia saw a 17-percent increase in total financing deals in 2012, while the national number of deals declined by 3 percent with an 18-percent decrease in total dollars invested. During the past 18 months, $1 billion has been invested in the Greater Philadelphia region companies by venture capitalists, angel funds and seed funds... Philadelphia’s status as a mecca for pharmaceutical and biotech companies as one impetus for venture capital firms to be interested in investing in the city. This years-long trend is making way for more venture capital investment in other fields as well.
 
Original source: The Daily Pennsylvanian
Read the complete story here.

Philadelphia Magazine profiles the city's 20 'coolest' startups

Philadelphia Magazine put together a great list of the area's "coolest" startups. Flying Kite readers might recognize, well, most of them from our coverage of Philly's entrepreneurship scene.

Something big is happening. It’s not obvious, and it’s nothing tactile—but it’s most definitely a shift in the way we normally do things around here. It’s spurred on by a group of people who, above all else, want to create something that is their very own. With a whole lot of passion and tireless energy, they’re dreaming up new uses for technology, coming up with problem-solving products, and sketching out websites on napkins at coffee shops. Our research turned up more than 100 start-ups (whittled down here to the 20 coolest) that are happening right now. And while those companies may be small, what they’re part of is something huge: They’re changing the way business and culture look in Philadelphia. They’re ushering in an era in which our city is suddenly smarter, hipper, younger, more communal, more energetic and more creative than ever before. And this is just the beginning.
 
Original source: Philadelphia Magazine
Read the complete list here.

Local nonprofit music program Rock to the Future featured in the New York Times

Rock to the Future, a local nonprofit after-school music program for underprivileged children, was recently profiled in the New York Times as part of a trend piece on "giving cirles."

[Rock to the Future] received start-up financing of $15,000 in 2010 from Women for Social Innovation, a nonprofit philanthropic "giving circle" with a membership of around 20 women, providing seed money to social innovators seeking to help women, girls and families in the Greater Philadelphia area. Such giving circles are on the rise. Members pool their money to make grants to local nonprofit groups, realizing that one hefty contribution can have an immediate influence in a community. Rock to the Future, for example, has expanded to 35 after-school students from 13. It expects to work with 300 students this year via additional weekends, summer workshops and a pilot mobile unit, with an operating budget of $204,980.

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

GPTMC revamps as Visit Philadelphia

The Greater Philadelphia Tourism and Marketing Corporation (GPTMC) has enacted a long-needed rebranding -- they will now operate under the moniker Visit Philadelphia.

"The name Visit Philadelphia focuses on the relationship between our destination and the visitor. It’s a strong call to action that tells people exactly what we want them to do — visit Philadelphia," said Meryl Levitz, president and CEO of the newly renamed company. "Visit Philadelphia is also more in line with one of our strongest assets, visitphilly.com. And, it is increasingly how people are referring to us." 

Last year, the region had 38.8 million visitors — 12 million more than 1997, when it had its first year advertising campaign.


Original source: Philadelphia Business Journal
Read the complete story here.

GQ's latest city guide takes an in-depth look at Philadelphia

GQ details "Philly's awakening," describing the city as a hotbed of killer food, top-flight beers and accessible culture. Highlights include The Foodery, Modo Mio and Johnny Brenda's.

Philly has a rep as the capital of eighth-grade field trips and binge-drinking b-school bros doing their best Situation impressions, but this place has bigger ambitions if you know where to look. You'll find all the buzzy trappings of Brooklyn --pitch-perfect menswear shops in Old City, straight-shooting restaurants and microbrew-soaked nightlife in Northern Liberties --without all the Brooklyn smugness. Here's how to navigate the new Philly revolution.

Original source: GQ
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.

The Atlantic asks tough questions about urban public schools

An effort to keep middle and upper-middle class residents in cities by getting them involved in their local public schools has produced mixed results. In Philadelphia, a growing Center City population has not mitigated the district's budget crisis, despite the Center City Schools Initiative. There are also race and class issues.

The areas targeted by the initiative (Center City and its surrounding gentrifying neighborhoods) were largely white and middle- and upper-middle class. Proponents believed that if these parents became invested in their local public schools, all of Philadelphia would benefit from higher property tax income, increased downtown revitalization as more affluent families continued to live and spend in the city, and—eventually—a better school system.

The marketing worked: According to my analysis of School District of Philadelphia data, by 2009 the number of Center City children enrolled in first grade in the three most desirable public schools had increased by 60 percent, from 111 to 177. Through fundraising and the activation of social and professional networks, these new families helped bring resources to the schools, including new playgrounds, libraries, and arts programs. But these Center City children weren’t taking empty slots. When they enrolled, they left fewer spots for low-income students from North and West Philadelphia, who had for years used those schools to escape failing ones in their neighborhoods. During this period, the number of first graders in Center City schools from outside the neighborhood decreased by 42 percent, from 64 to 37. Not surprisingly, this shift had racial dimensions: The percentage of white students in these schools in the early grades increased by 30 percent, and the percentage of African American students decreased a corresponding 29 percent.


Original source: The Atlantic
Read the complete story here.

Chinatowns gentrifying across the nation, and Philadelphia is no exception

Chinatowns are experiencing radical gentrification, speaking to wider trends in cities. Check out the infographics.

Restaurants are a good indicator of Chinatowns' ability to "serve local and regional Asian immigrants," the report says. Right now, just under half of the restaurants in New York's Chinatown are Asian; more than half are Asian in Boston and Philadelphia. But that's changing quickly, as these neighborhoods get gutted by gentrification.

The findings are based on a year of gathering data, block by block, on how space in the communities is being used, and by whom. Researchers say the neighborhoods are rapidly getting more expensive and less useful to the people who need them most. From 2000 to 2010, the share of the Asian population fell in all three Chinatowns. In Boston, it dropped from 57 percent of the population in 2000 to 46 percent in 2010; in New York, it shifted from 48 percent to 45 percent. In Philadelphia is fell from 49 percent to 42 percent.

Housing values and rents have soared; the average apartment in New York and Boston Chinatowns is now much more expensive than in the cities overall. High-end condos, businesses, and hotels have encroached heavily on places traditionally occupied by affordable housing, small businesses, and immigrant services.


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

Detroit can look to Philadelphia as a model of economic recovery

According to Bloomberg, Detroit can look elsewhere for models of recovery, including Philadelphia. In the near northeast, zoning changes paved the way for development.

The city also can promulgate new land-use rules to foster development, an idea demonstrated by Philadelphia, which in 1991 itself teetered on the edge of bankruptcy. Take, for instance, once-blighted Frankford Avenue.

Sandy Salzman says that even though she promoted the idea, she doubted the thoroughfare in the New Kensington and Fishtown neighborhoods would become an art corridor when it was proposed in 2000.

“It didn’t even have a coffee shop,” said Salzman, director of the New Kensington Community Development Corp. “Now we have a ton of coffee shops. We have art galleries.”

The transformation will get additional support from the first zoning changes in half a century, which make it easier to convert abandoned industrial areas to residential or commercial uses, urban gardens and farms or allow artists to have a shop next to their homes, said Eva Gladstein, who was the executive director of the commission that developed the changes.


Original source: Bloomberg
Read the full story here.

New York Times reviews new Fernand Léger show at the Philadelphia Museum of Art

The New York Times takes a look at "Léger: Modern Art and the Metropolis," a group show disguised as a single-star vehicle.

The exhibition includes numerous mediums: painting but also film, stage design, posters and several forms of printed matter. Orchestrated around “The City,” Léger’s great clangorous mural-size ode to the metropolis of 1919, it situates his art among that of about 40 of his contemporaries. They include like-minded painters, sculptors, writers, graphic designers, filmmakers and architects who were often friends and with whom he collaborated on all sorts of projects outside of painting.

In the end, only about a third of the 180 items on view are actually by Léger (1881-1955). But even as the show quietly subverts the convention of the monographic exhibition, his work almost never gets lost — it is formally too robust, or as he might have put it, too viscerally plastic. An added benefit throughout is that the show is studded with unfamiliar works, both by him and by others from home and abroad.

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

Gov. Corbett finally releases school funds

Pennsylvania governor Tom Corbett finally agreed to release desperately needed funds for Philadelphia schools.

Gov. Tom Corbett said Wednesday that he has agreed to release $45 million for the Philadelphia schools as the district goes through its worst financial crisis in memory and questions swirl about a student’s apparently asthma-related death after attending a school without a nurse on site. Mr. Corbett, a Republican, said the Philadelphia school superintendent, William Hite, had convinced him that district officials had made enough progress toward the governor’s educational and financial goals for the district. Mr. Hite said the money would allow the district to restore sports and music and rehire about 400 people, including guidance counselors, assistant principals and teachers.

Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here; click here for the Inquirer's coverage.

Temple's new president announces ambitious $50 million plan

In his inaugural address, new Temple University president Neil D. Theobald announced an ambitious 5-year plan that should improve the city and ease the debt burden on students.

One proposal calls for Temple to become more involved in helping the city solve its problems, such as the Philadelphia School District's funding crisis. Theobald, a professor, researcher, and expert in education finance, will participate in an afternoon symposium on funding. The $50 million for research, which Theobald touted as the largest-ever investment in the university's academic program, will be used to bring in new faculty to explore problems deemed most pressing in the city and state, he said. The research will be carried out across disciplines, he said.

Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
Read the complete story here.

Curbed compiles a map of the '17 Projects That Will Change Philly in the Next Few Years'

Curbed Philly's new interactive map features development projects that have the potential to transform the city (and the neighborhoods where they will arise). A bunch of Flying Kite-featured plans made the cut, including ReNewbold, The Granary and the University City Science Center.

Original source: Curbed Philly
Click here to check out the map.

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.

Fishtown's 'creative renaissance' draws ambitious travelers

The New York Times' travel section shines a light on the "creative renaissance" in Fishtown, with a focus on ever-evolving Frankford Avenue. They highlight five businesses, including Bottle Bar East, Adorn and The Parlour.

The southwest end of Frankford Avenue is becoming an artisanal avenue, with design shops, a small publishing press, restaurants and coffeehouses moving in to this former manufacturing district. Neighborhood pride is palpable; graceful metal sculptures line one stretch of sidewalk, and a wooden sign in a community garden reads "Welcome to Fishtown: Stop and smell the roses." First Fridays, the free open gallery nights along Frankford Avenue, are also drawing newcomers.

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

Drama at the Philadelphia Inquirer garners national attention

The ouster of editor William K. Marimow from the Philadelphia Inquirer precipitated a week of drama at the local institution -- publications across the country took notice. From the New York Times:

But the promise of an ownership group with deep pockets and an agenda driven by civic purpose collapsed in an unsightly heap last week. Mr. Marimow was fired, and a raucous war among the owners broke out into full view. Two of them, Lewis Katz, the former owner of the New Jersey Nets, and H. F. Lenfest, a former cable TV mogul, filed suit against the newspaper, as well as its publisher, Robert J. Hall, claiming that Mr. Marimow’s firing was a breach of contract. They and Mr. Marimow claim he was dismissed at the behest of their partner George E. Norcross III, a businessman and power broker in Democratic politics, as part of a pattern of interference.

While the battle may seem like one more bit of denouement for an industry on the wane, it is less a business story than a fight for the soul of not just an institution, but of a city as well. Philadelphia deserves better.


Philadelpha Magazine covered an ensueing change.org petition.

Original source: The New York Times; Philadelphia Magazine

Philly company institutes 'zmail' policy to keep workers off the clock

Vynamic, a Philadelphia-based health care IT company, has instituted "zmail," a system that makes work email off-limits to employees on nights and weekends. Could this be the future of work-life balance?

The policy, which the company dubs "zmail," began after employees complained about stress in the annual engagement survey. Constant email contact played a role in that. Calista describes it this way: "You get an email. You're trying to sleep. You happen to look at it right as you fall asleep, and next thing you know you're up thinking about it. All it takes is that one." And so the policy began: "Let it wait until the morning."

The roll-out required some thought. Managers had to go first. After a month, they evaluated it, and "everyone became a believer in it," says Calista. So the email blackout zone went into the employee handbook. "We're not going to fire somebody if they violate it," he says. But it's pretty effectively self-policed.


Original source: Fast Company
Read the complete story here.

Inventing the Future: Penn's new Singh Center for Nanotechnology pushes the boundaries

Hidden City takes a deep dive into Penn's innovative new nanotech center. The architecture of the Singh Center for Nanotechnology inspires, while also showcasing a slate of high-tech bells and whistles. It was especially important to Penn that the building be integrated into the urban fabric, while also protecting intensely delicate work.

Penn officials wrestled with the project’s site, on the 3200 block of Walnut Street. They wanted the facility to be centrally located, close to scientists in the School of Arts and Sciences (co-developer and operator of the Center), biomedical researchers and engineers (at Penn and Drexel), and innovating firms at the Science Center. With only a handful of similar facilities on the east coast, Penn’s competitive advantage would be the city itself. “We planned to bring Center City to our door and create an urban context for the center,” says Glandt.

But nanotechnology research requires almost complete isolation. Even the slightest air current or vibration can distort the cellular or sub-cellular matter under the microscope. Nanotechnology fabrication requires a still more sanitized environment: the removal of all UV light waves. Fabricators use UV light to etch the strands of atoms and molecules.


Read the complete story here.
Original source: Hidden City

The University City Science Center has partnered with Flying Kite to showcase innovation in Greater Philadelphia through the "Inventing the Future" series.
 

Move doc 'Let the Fire Burn' earns rave reviews

A new film detailing the Move bombing debacle -- and the surrounding circumstances that existed in 1985 in Philadelphia -- garners high praise. The New York Times gave the documentary a starred review.

Like an extended flashback or a prolonged bad dream, the film draws us into the story of Move, a separatist black organization and commune led by John Africa, which entered a cycle of belligerent resistance to authority, and suppression by the police, in the mid-1970s. Part of the achievement of the film’s director, Jason Osder, and its editor, Nels Bangerter, lies in orchestrating dual gripping dramas in constant dialogue, using footage from before, during and after the standoff.

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

Inventing the Future: Monell scientists help analyze 'new baby smell'

The Monell Chemical Senses Center -- profiled here in Flying Kite -- was instrumental in a study that examined the power of "new baby smell."

Researchers asked 30 women -- 15 who had recently given birth, and 15 who had never given birth -- to identify mystery scents while their brain activity was monitored. When given the smell of newborns taken from pajamas, the women all showed activity in the same dopamine pathways that light up after ingesting cocaine, enjoying food, or other reward-inducing behavior...

Johan Lundström, a biologist with the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia and a study author, believes that women’s brains are hardwired this way to provide an evolutionary incentive. "We think that this is part of a mechanism to focus the mother’s attention toward the baby," he said. "When you interact with the baby, you feel rewarded." A similar process may apply to men as well, Dr. Lundström said, though he lacks the data to prove it.

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

The University City Science Center has partnered with Flying Kite to showcase innovation in Greater Philadelphia through the "Inventing the Future" series.


Amazing pictures of the abandoned Spring Garden subway stop

The Atlantic Cities highlighted the local blog Streets Dept and their images of the abandoned Spring Garden subway station. The space is now covered with street art. Check out the amazing pictures. 

Riders can still get a glimpse of the old station, dimly lit and covered in graffiti, as their trains pass between Fairmount and Chinatown stations. Recently, local photographers Austin Hodges and Meredith Edlow joined Conrad Benner (who runs Philadelphia blog Streets Dept) to check out the former station as well as the portion of neighboring Fairmount station no longer in use.
 
Proclaimed by Benner on his site as a "mecca for graffiti artists and urban explorers alike," the former station was easy to find since it remains visible for SEPTA riders. "We had to walk on the tracks past a station being used," says Hodges. "Other than that it was fine."

Original source: The Atlantic Cities
Read the complete story here



Parsing the data on how people use The Porch at 30th Street Station

The Porch already feels like a local fixture after only a couple years in existence. University City District, lovers of data, have made an effort to examine how exactly people use the space -- there are infographics!

"But there are choices," says Seth Budick, the policy and research manager for the University City District. "There are a lot of choices people can make. They can decide to sit in the sun or in the shade, they can decide to sit on any one of three or four different seating elements, they can decide how to move through the space. And that’s really what we’re looking at, that’s the interesting question about a lot of urban design: What factors in the environment impact people's choices?"

Here's one example of what they learned:

Noise levels measured closer to busy Market Street were 10 times louder than those along Little Market Street immediately adjacent to the station – a partial explanation for why people tended not to linger there. The louder noise (70-75 decibels) was akin to a vacuum cleaner in your living room, the quieter sound (60 decibels) more like a conversation at close range... Instead, UCD is learning that a farmer's market doesn't quite work here, but a food truck rally does. Bistro chairs are nice, but Luxembourg chairs are even better. Also, no wants to relax right in the middle of a pedestrian highway.

Original source: The Atlantic Cities
Read the whole story and check out all the infographics here.
 
 

Philadelphia Land Bank effort could serve as a national model

Philadelphia's effort to consolidate vacant properties into a land bank could serve as a national model for cities.

If the City Council votes this fall, as expected, to establish the land bank, Philadelphia will join Syracuse, Macon, Ga., and a number of other cities that have adopted plans like it to encourage buyers who are committed to making improvements, instead of speculators, to acquire tax-delinquent properties...

Philadelphia’s neighborhoods, like those of some other older cities, are pockmarked with derelict buildings and overgrown lots that have been abandoned because of foreclosure, unemployment or the decline of manufacturing. The vacant properties cost the city millions of dollars to maintain, and they reduce the tax revenue that could come with occupancy. About 75 percent are privately owned, officials say, and many of those are tax delinquent.

If Philadelphia’s proposed land bank succeeds, its scope will become an example for other cities, like Detroit and New Orleans, that are struggling with large numbers of vacant properties and multiple city agencies that are responsible for them, said Frank Alexander, a professor of real estate law at Emory University and an author of many land-bank laws in other cities.


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


Manufacturing output in the region was up in September

According to the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, manufacturing in the region was up in September -- firms reported a pickup in new orders, shipments and hiring.

The survey’s broadest measure of manufacturing conditions, the diffusion index of current activity, increased from 9.3 in August to 22.3 this month (see Chart). The index has now been positive for four consecutive months and is at its highest reading since March 2011. The percentage of firms reporting increased activity this month (36 percent) was greater than the percentage reporting decreased activity (14 percent).

The demand for manufactured goods, as measured by the current new orders index, increased 16 points, to 21.2. Shipments rebounded from last month: The current shipments index increased 22 points. The diffusion indexes also suggest that, on balance, inventories and deliveries were near steady this month, while unfilled orders increased slightly.

Labor market indicators showed improvement this month. The current employment index increased 7 points, to 10.3, its highest reading since April of last year. The percentage of firms reporting increases in employment (21 percent) exceeded the percentage reporting decreases (10 percent). Firms also reported a longer average workweek compared with last month, and the index increased 15 points, to 12.2.


Via The New York Times
Original Source: PhiladelphiaFed.org
Read the complete report here.

Philadelphia's cultural boom has led to expensive upkeep

Philadelphia spent time, money and effort transforming downtown into a hub for culture and the arts, complete with stunning institutions. All those assets require upkeep -- hence the city's next challenge.

Thanks to the arts, Philadelphia feels different today. But now that the building boom of new facilities is over, the question is whether the city and its benefactors can muster the support to become savior to the arts.

With operating costs up and philanthropy and ticket sales failing to keep pace, stress cracks are appearing in institutions all over town. Some groups, saddled with debt payments, are adjusting offerings to become more commercial. Others have declared bankruptcy or are contemplating it.


Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
Read the complete story here.

Adam Erace reps Philly's restaurant renaissance in the Guardian

Local food critic Adam Erace wrote about Philadelphia's ascendent food scene in The Guardian -- and gave some credit to the latest wave of non-native chefs.

Formerly the chef of the trendsetting Torrisi Italian Specialties in Manhattan, [Eli] Kulp is part of a recent wave of acclaimed chefs who've moved from New York to start a new life in the city that has long lived in the Big Apple's shadow. His fellow expats can be found captaining Philly's hottest restaurantsSerpico, former Momofuku chief Peter Serpico's solo smash, and Vernick Food + Drink, a two-storey dining room in ritzy Rittenhouse Square from Gregory Vernick, a veteran of Jean-Georges Vongerichten.

The new cooks on the block are discovering what homegrown chefs such as Marc Vetri, authority on Italian cooking and owner of five restaurants, including Pizzeria Vetri have known for a long time: Philly's easy-going pace, small-town vibe and affordability make it a great place to live – and eat. Immigrants, whether from New York or much further afield, have always been the reason for this.


Original source: The Guardian
Read the complete story here.

Globe & Mail details Philly food scene

Canada's top paper took a trip to Philadelphia and had great things to say about our local eats. (Though if we never hear the phrase "more than cheesesteaks" again it will be too soon.)

But it’s at Reading Terminal Market, a city institution since 1892, that I find perhaps the finest innovation of all. I’ve been told there’s a vegetarian cheesesteak to be found, and while my low expectations feature some sort of faux meat product (or maybe cheese on bread if I’m lucky), I’m game to seek it out. An inquiry at the front desk leads nowhere, so I follow my companion to "regular" cheesesteak seller By George. There, a small sign promotes a "veggie steak": roasted peppers, mushrooms, broccoli rabe, onions, tomato, spinach and cheese on a sesame-seed bun. After a hunt for a table – it’s lunchtime on a weekday – I open the foil wrapper and take a bite. This sandwich is no half-hearted concession to the meatless crowd: The vegetables are flavourful and warm, the provolone perfectly melted, the bread chewy yet yielding. Turns out, even the humble cheesesteak is up for improvements. I think the founding fathers would be proud.

Original Source: The Globe & Mail
Read the full story here.

Mighty Writers moves into Hawthorne Hall on Lancaster Avenue

Curbed Philly reports on an exciting development: Mighty Writers is moving into Hawthorne Hall on Lancaster Avenue.

While Hawthorne Hall patiently awaits its anchor tenant, a surge of youthful creativity is bursting forth just a few doors down.

On the western edge of the building cluster is the former home of Truelight Missionary Baptist Church, where its once-abandoned pews have been replaced with collaborative workspaces, a small performance area, and the seasoned influential voice of Annette John-Hall, Director of Mighty Writers West Philadelphia campus at 3861 Lancaster Avenue.

Founded in 2009 by former Philadelphia Weekly editor Tim Whitaker, Mighty Writers is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that offers SAT prep courses, homework help, mentorships, and writing workshops to Philadelphia students between the ages of 7-17. The volunteer-rich organization has been a tremendous benefactor of academic growth in the wake of massive budget cuts to Philadelphia schools in recent years.


Original source: Curbed Philly
Read the complete story here.

Resourceful Levittown drama program earns high praise

Harry S. Truman High School in Levittown has one of the country's strongest drama programs. It was the subject of a lengthy profile in the New York Times.

[Drama director Lou] Volpe is one of those people who create astonishing success in the most unlikely of settings. Generations of his students heard him say, “If all we had was a bare stage with one light bulb, we could still do theater.” And the thing is, they believed him.

As the community was going to pieces, Volpe built Truman’s drama program into one of the best in America, and the school itself into something like a de facto high school for the performing arts. He and his assistant director, a student of his in the early ’90s, taught nothing but theater — three levels of it, plus musical theater. A third teacher, also a former student, taught theater to ninth graders....

Even though he didn’t speak in the idiom of the movement, much of what I observed in Volpe’s theater program could fit comfortably within the muscular language of education reform — with its emphasis on problem solving, standards, "racing to the top" and accountability. Theater is part of the "arts," an airy term, but the time his students spent with him was actually the least theoretical part of their day. With each production, they set an incredibly high goal and went about building something.


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

The Atlantic Cities asks why water infrastructure is so neglected; Philly is an exception

Water infrastructure has been neglected nationally in recent years; Philadelphia, with its Green City, Clean Waters initiative, is actually an exception.

On its 2013 report card, the American Society of Civil Engineers gave U.S. water infrastructure a D. Even the nation’s best water systems are ancient -- we have over 240,000 water main breaks each year -- and unprepared for a mix of current challenges that includes climate change, tightening budgets, growing urban populations, and pharmaceutical contaminants. This spring, after record-setting rains, Detroit had no choice but to pour several hundred million gallons of raw sewage into the Great Lakes...

Occasionally, the political stars align. In Philadelphia, Mayor Michael Nutter has turned a green infrastructure initiative designed to reduce combined sewer overflow -- the same phenomenon that has plagued Detroit -- into a quality-of-life issue and one of his signature achievements


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

Comcast considering additional Center City towers

The city's iconic skyline could be getting an addition -- Comcast is considering another tower.

Details about Comcast's expansion plans are being kept under tight wraps, but the company appears to be focusing on constructing the first of several towers on a long, skinny, 1.5-acre site at 18th and Arch Streets, a block west of the Comcast Center. That building could eventually be part of a vertical campus including towers at 19th Street and Arch, and 18th and John F. Kennedy Boulevard.

Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
Read the complete story here.

Tune in to see local musicians play with the All-Star Orchestra

Members of the Philadelphia Orchestra are among the 95 musicians chosen for a national All-Star Orchestra. The group's performances will be televised weekly on PBS.

Even skeptics will concede that this project offers an amazing roster of accomplished musicians from America’s leading orchestras, including many renowned principal players. About half of the musicians come from New York organizations, including the New York Philharmonic, the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, Orpheus, the Orchestra of St. Luke’s and New York City Opera. The out-of-town ensembles represented include the San Francisco Symphony, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Seattle Symphony, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Minnesota Orchestra and more.

For the players, as several explained in an article in The New York Times last year, this experience was something like a camp reunion, where old friends from conservatory days reconnected and caught up. In the introduction to the first program, Robert Cafaro, a Philadelphia Orchestra cellist, clearly speaks for many players when he says: "I had no idea it would be quite this good. This is probably the highest-level orchestra I’ve ever played with."


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

Shared Prosperity, a local poverty program geared towards transparency, gains national attention

Shared Prosperity offers "one-stop shopping" for poor Philadelphians seeking services. The program also hopes to create jobs and improve early childhood education.

But with an array of public and private agencies providing different services in different locations, many poor people here are not getting the assistance available to them that could help them find work or qualify for benefits.

In response, Philadelphia initiated an effort this summer that offers "one-stop shopping" in local outreach centers to help people get all the assistance they need — with food, housing, job training, financial counseling, child care and other services — in one place.

The effort, called Shared Prosperity, is a response to the recent growth in the number of poor people, many of whom are not benefiting from the city’s current economic recovery, said Eva Gladstein, executive director of the Mayor’s Office of Community Empowerment and Opportunity, which runs the program.


Original source: The New York Times
Read the original story 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.

Philadelphia launches new campaign to lure LGBT travelers

The Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation (GPTMC) is making a pitch to LGBT tourists using a saucy new commercial.

The new video builds on the city’s memorable 2003 “Get Your History Straight and Your Nightlife Gay” campaign by showing the flamboyant female impersonator Miss Richfield 1981 touring some of Philadelphia’s best-known sites, including Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Dressed in a red-and-white striped skirt and a tight blue bodice, Miss Richfield poses with Betsy Ross — the Betsy Ross House is in the city — and runs the “Rocky Steps” at the art museum but is distracted by the muscular torsos of a quartet of young male joggers on the banks of the Schuylkill.


Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete 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.

The Economist praises foot patrols in rough Philadelphia neighborhoods

Foot patrols can be an effective tool in neighborhoods with high crime rates, forcing young officers out of their police cars and into interactions with the community.

Such patrols work best if officers return to the same street several times in each shift, says Jerry Ratcliffe, director of Temple’s Centre for Security and Crime Science. A good officer will soon know everybody on his beat. It is important to "spend time just standing on a street corner, chatting to people, getting a feel for the tempo and rhythm of a place." Foot patrols work best in dense neighbourhoods, says Mr Ratcliffe, where many people cannot afford air conditioning and so socialise on the street. Drunken disagreements beget violence. “Half the people shot in Philadelphia are shot within two blocks of their address,” he says.

Original source: The Economist
Read the complete story here.
 

Technorati talks Philly's uptapped tech talent

Rich Gorman talked to Technorati about the great potential for startups in Philadelphia.

You can get a lot of bang for your buck in Philadelphia. It’s considerably less expensive to start a company in Philly versus NYC or San Francisco. Rent, salaries, vendors, shopping, and entertainment are a fraction of what you would pay in more common tech start up areas. cost of living among the nation’s 20 largest metropolitan areas in the 3rd quarter of 2012, according to the American Chamber of Commerce Researchers Association.
 
"In Philadelphia, there’s a TON of talented people that are competing for a great career," Gorman continues. "In places like Silicon Valley, it’s the exact opposite; it’s cut throat in competing for talent." This, he explains, is why Silicon Valley startups are forced to take outside capital. In Philly it’s easy to bootstrap a company with no outside capital, preserving your shares early in the game.

Original source: Technorati
Read the complete story here.

Mt. Airy named among best big-city neighborhoods

CNN published a list of the best big-city neighborhoods, and northwest Philly's Mt. Airy made the list.

Mount Airy pairs a racially and religiously diverse population with a neighborhood packed with historic homes and leafy streets.
Germantown Avenue, which divides East and West Mount Airy, is the backbone of the nabe and home to shops, art centers, and restaurants. Houses here start at about $200,000, roughly 30% lower than in neighboring Chestnut Hill (though you can easily pay $500,000 in the tonier parts of West Mount Airy).


Original source: CNN
Read the complete list here.

The New York Times highlights Philly school woes

The Philadelphia School District's financial crisis has drawn national attention, including a front page feature in the New York Times.

The situation is not as dire yet as Detroit’s. There is no talk of resorting to bankruptcy. But the problem is so severe that the city agreed at the last minute on Thursday to borrow $50 million just to be able to open schools on time. Even with that money, schools will open Sept. 9 with a minimum of staffing and sharply curtailed extracurricular activities and other programs.

"The concept is just jaw-dropping," said Helen Gym, who has three children in the city’s public schools. "Nobody is talking about what it takes to get a child educated. It’s just about what the lowest number is needed to get the bare minimum. That’s what we’re talking about here: the deliberate starvation of one of the nation’s biggest school districts."


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

On the Ground Redux: Shining a light on an amazing Germantown renovation

Nicole Juday's jaw-dropping renovation of a derelict Germantown home is highlighted in a gorgeous New York Times feature. Click through the slideshow and prepare to drool.

It wasn’t abandoned, but it may as well have been. A fire had destroyed much of the second floor, and raccoons were living in the attic. In the backyard was the marshy remains of what had once been a swimming pool, a cesspool that parents worried their children might fall into...

So in 2010, she and her husband bought the seven-bedroom house and all of its contents from the elderly owner for $125,000.
Even at that price, it was no bargain. “I think the house was possibly condemnable,” said Ms. Juday, 43.

It took another $400,000 and thousands of hours of labor to make it habitable. That included rebuilding it from the studs out, with new wiring, plumbing, roofing and plaster, and installing historically accurate windows and millwork. Beams were added to shore up the structure, and the brick exterior was repointed. The swimming pool was filled in, and an old caved-in Chevy was hauled out of the side yard.


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

Green development Folsom Powerhouse comes to Francisville

Postgreen Homes is teaming up with Equinox Management & Construction LLC to build the Folsom Powerhouse, a 31-unit mixed-income green housing project in Francisville.

Postgreen and Equinox are also aided by ISA Architects, who designed the project, and Studio Bryan Hanes, who is responsible for the landscaping. The development will feature energy efficient design, with solar power, green roof technology and advanced storm water management practices. It’s proximity to public transit, nearby shops and the Francisville community center will give residents great access to amenities and necessities.

"Our proposal adapted Folsom’s fabric and the City’s best practices in urban planning," explained Chad Ludeman, President of Postgreen Homes. "The Powerhouse name is indicative of our commitment to extreme energy efficiency, giving residents the power to live with community and environmental consciousness in mind."


Original source: Inhabitat
Read the complete story here.

Stogie Joe's pies earn national praise

Passyunk Square's Stogie Joe's Tavern was included on Thrillist's list of the nation's 33 best pizzas. The sauce-on-top square pies have a loyal following. 

"Red-sauced bakery pies are as much a South Philly staple as being ejected from a Phillies game, and, just like Phillies fans, Stogie Joe's takes it to the next level, serving their square pies upside-down with their signature spicy-sweet tomato sauce floating above the cheese blanketing a Sicilian-style crust."

Original source: Thrillist
Read the complete list here.

School closings create strange bedfellows on the gridiron

The closing of Germantown High School sent players to rival Martin Luther King High School. The New York Times took a close look at the blended squad.

What was once unthinkable to many players had become intimate and binding. Most of King’s current roster played last season at archrival Germantown High School in northwest Philadelphia. Few could have imagined the schools merging, the teams playing as one.

When King last defeated Germantown in their annual Thanksgiving Day game, in 2010, the players brawled with fists and helmets. The police intervened.

But austerity has trumped rivalry. Facing a $304 million budget shortfall, the chronically troubled Philadelphia School District closed 23 schools in June. The closings included Germantown, one of the nation’s oldest high schools, which opened in 1914 and closed a year shy of its centennial. Most of its students would now attend King. The two schools were about a mile apart and shared a tense history.


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

Chester County hamlet named nation's 10th best small town

West Goshen made CNN Money's list of America's best small towns to live in, based on green space, schools, economic opportunity and community. The Chester County hamlet came in at No. 10.

West Goshen Township has a lush, suburban feel, with quiet, tree-shaded residential areas, lovely parks, and a full slate of community activities.

Looking for larger-scale entertainment? The King of Prussia Mall, America's largest shopping center, is only 20 minutes away. Surrounding the town is store- and restaurant-packed West Chester, a hamlet that serves as the area's unofficial downtown.

West Goshen also boasts an array of local employers, including Comcast and QVC, and is an easy commute to the economic hubs of Philadelphia and Wilmington, Del. If your heart's set on moving into a brand-new house, keep in mind that some newer residential developments lack personality and are expensive compared with older homes.


Original source: CNN Money
Check out the complete list here.

The Atlantic Cities highlights Fishtown's 'Rust Belt Rising Almanac'

The Atlantic Cities chatted with Nic Esposito, urban farmer and founder of The Head & The Hand Press.

A small publisher and writers' workspace, The Head & the Hand Press, has just published Rust Belt Rising Almanac, a literary quarterly showcasing snapshots and essays on life in industrial American cities (including, of course, Philadelphia). The volume invites "Courteous Readers" to read about escapes, remains, and models of growth, and is at turns cheeky and earnest, with such section titles as "On Reverse Pioneering," "On the Anatomy of Coal-Fired Power Plant," and "On the Collective and the Communal."

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

'Game of Thrones' scribes pen 'It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia' episode

David Benioff and D. B. Weiss, the showrunners behind Game of Thrones on HBO, have written an episode of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia based on novella 'Flowers for Algernon." Sign us up. The episode was shot on-location in Philadelphia -- a small change from Benioff and Weiss' normal shooting sites in Northern Ireland, Iceland and Croatia.

No matter what the title of the show promises, the skies over this location shoot for “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” had offered only thunderstorms broken up by occasional periods of mugginess. Maybe that was typical weather for this recent summer morning, or maybe it was the influence of the authors of the scene about to be filmed, who were thousands of miles away, busy with their regularly foreboding duties...

In one of their few outside writing assignments, Mr. Weiss and Mr. Benioff wanted to split sides in the figurative sense, not requiring broadswords or battle-axes. They pursued “It’s Always Sunny” not only because they were fans of the show and its creator, Mr. McElhenney, but also because its humor and fast-paced half-hour format would challenge them.

Original source: The New York Times
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The Times' Frank Bruni visits Vetri, temporarily reborn as Le Bec-Fin

Marc Vetri honored the recently shuttered Le Bec-Fin by transforming his flagship restaurant into a three-nights-only homage. Former New York Times restaurant critic Frank Bruni made the pilgrimage.

Mr. Perrier opened Le Bec-Fin in 1970 and presided over it for more than four heady decades, a titan of the Philadelphia dining scene and a legend well beyond it. He was classic French cuisine personified, at least in America. The gold standard. The grand homme.

And for Le Bec-Fin’s first 13 years, before he moved it to larger, more regal digs just six or so blocks away, it occupied the brick town house that is now Vetri. That’s what gave Mr. Vetri the idea of briefly recreating Le Bec-Fin in its childhood and arguably its prime, so that food lovers who hadn’t been quite ready to bid adieu to it, himself included, could revel in its onetime glory as a way of saying a fitting farewell.

This took planning. This took preparation. In addition to the formal wear for the staff and the harp player for the vestibule, there was the matter of the sign: Mr. Vetri wanted to hang Le Bec-Fin’s original wood one out front. No one could find it. So he had a replica made...


Waiters practiced not only balletic movements and gestures but correct pronunciation.

"We've been sitting around repeating 'oeuf au caviar,' 'oeuf au caviar'," said Bobby Domenick, a sommelier and captain at Vetri, referring to one of the three amuse-bouches, an egg with caviar. He added that Mr. Perrier had linguistically tutored them, a Henry Higgins of haute cuisine.


Original source: The New York Times
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Penn doctors examine the black-white divide in breast cancer outcomes

For years, scientists and doctors have puzzled over the disparity in outcomes between white and black breast cancer sufferers. A team at the University of Pennsylvania recently published a report on the subject.

The findings were striking. Over all, white women with breast cancer lived three years longer than black women. Of the women studied, nearly 70 percent of white women lived at least five years after diagnosis, while 56 percent of black women were still alive five years later. The difference is not explained by more aggressive cancers among black women. Instead, the researchers found a troubling pattern in which black women were less likely to receive a diagnosis when their cancer was at an early stage and most curable. In addition, a significant number of black women also receive lower-quality cancer care after diagnosis, although those differences do not explain the survival gap.

Original source: The New York Times
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Vice interviews Camden street photographer Gabe Angemi, a second-generation firefighter

Vice interviews Gabe Angemi, a street photographer, skateboarder and firefighter in Camden.

Recently Camden removed its police force. Can that city, once known as the ‘City Invincible’ ever possibly recover?

Walt Whitman coined that term: “In a dream I saw a city invincible...” Who knows, man. I’d love to see it prosper, that’s what brings me to work, to try and help make that happen. The place has great energy and great people. What happened to the Camden Police is both a travesty and an injustice, but that’s a whole other interview. My answer is yes it can and will recover, but it needs help. It needs people and positivity. The stigma attached to it is perpetuated by people who never spent any time there.


Original source: Vice
Read the complete interview and check out some of Angemi's photographs here.

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia hits Comic-Con

The Philly-centric program It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia hyped its upcoming ninth season in San Diego. Sign us up for the "Flowers for Algernon" riff written by the men behind Game of Thrones.

"Always Sunny" cast members Rob McElhenney, Glenn Howerton, Charlie Day, Kaitlin Olson and Danny DeVito were on hand to answer fans' questions after screening the first episode of the new season, which is debuting on the FX spin-off network FXX in September.

Howerton said the new season will include episodes featuring Thanksgiving, "Lethal Weapon 6," a flu epidemic and an installment written by "Game of Thrones" co-creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss titled "Flowers for Charlie."


Original source: The Huffington Post
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Stand-up comedian takes aim at Philly audiences

Sure, local sports fans get a bad rap, but now, in Vice, comedian Chris Gethard claims Philadelphia is "the scariest place to do comedy." Do you agree?

I’ve had a few rough experiences in Philadelphia. At one live edition of my public access show there, I admittedly antagonized the crowd by titling the show “New York is Better Than Philly.”  I thought These guys are going to be aggressive anyway. They love being aggressive. Let’s have fun with it. The show started with an audience member lighting a copy of my book—which has my face on it—on fire, and throwing it on the stage. My first few minutes of stage time were spent franticly stomping on an image of myself, hoping I wouldn’t be responsible for comedy’s version of the Great White tragedy.

Original source: Vice
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Kensington school bets (and wins) on innovative violence-prevention ethos

The Memphis Street Academy (formerly John Paul Jones Middle School) was one of the most violent schools in the city -- until they removed all their metal detectors.

The police predicted chaos. But instead, new numbers seem to show that in a single year, the number of serious incidents fell by 90 percent.

The school says it wasn't just the humanizing physical makeover of the facility that helped. Memphis Street Academy also credits the Alternatives to Violence Project, a noncoercive, nonviolent conflict resolution regimen originally used in prison settings that was later adapted to violent schools. AVP, when tailored to school settings, emphasizes student empowerment, relationship building and anger management over institutional control and surveillance. There are no aggressive security guards in schools using the AVP model; instead they have engagement coaches, who provide support, encouragement, and a sense of safety.


Original source: The Atlantic Cities
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Neil Budde out at AxisPhilly

Shortly after Flying Kite profiled the innovative news site, CEO Neil Budde is stepping down at AxisPhilly. The fledgling media organization has had trouble securing a second round of funding, leading to changes at the top. Here's the official statement:

The board of Philadelphia Public Interest Information Network Inc. has asked CPIJ to lead a restructuring of the AxisPhilly project in light of its inability to raise sufficient second-round funding to support an aggressive initial business model. To facilitate that restructuring, Neil Budde has proposed and the board agreed to eliminate the position of CEO of PPIIN/AxisPhilly. The board and CPIJ leadership are grateful for Neil's service in developing the initial plans for AxisPhilly, incorporating and staffing the organization and overseeing significant meaningful reporting, data journalism, and community engagement efforts on a range of topics.

Budde also offered his thoughts on AxisPhilly.

Original source: Technically Philly
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Venture for America lures smart young people to startups in cities like Philadelphia

This nonprofit organization places fellows in cities that aren’t traditional startup magnets, including Philadelphia. The New York Times profiled one young man who moved to Detroit via Venture for America.

Some people might look at what Brentt Baltimore did and shake their heads in disbelief. Last year, Mr. Baltimore, a graduate of Claremont McKenna College in California who majored in economics and finance, turned down a six-figure job at a Los Angeles area hedge fund. Instead he took a $33,000-a-year position at a venture capital firm in Detroit. This, even though he has about $38,000 in student loan debt.

Mr. Baltimore, 24, is part of a small group of recent graduates who are forgoing large salaries to work for start-up businesses in Detroit, Las Vegas, Cincinnati, Cleveland, New Orleans, Baltimore and Philadelphia and Providence, R.I. He chose his job with the help of Venture for America, a nonprofit organization that selects fellows to work in cities that aren’t the usual magnets for young college graduates. By August, 108 fellows will be working at 70 companies as part of the two-year program.


Original source: The New York Times
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Penn students headline story on college hookup culture

The New York Times published a trend piece on young motivated women driving the casual dating culture on college campuses. The University of Pennsylvania provided the sources.

Typical of elite universities today, Penn is filled with driven young women, many of whom aspire to be doctors, lawyers, politicians, bankers or corporate executives like Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg or Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer. Keenly attuned to what might give them a competitive edge, especially in a time of unsure job prospects and a shaky economy, many of them approach college as a race to acquire credentials: top grades, leadership positions in student organizations, sought-after internships. Their time out of class is filled with club meetings, sports practice and community-service projects. For some, the only time they truly feel off the clock is when they are drinking at a campus bar or at one of the fraternities that line Locust Walk, the main artery of campus.

These women said they saw building their résumés, not finding boyfriends (never mind husbands), as their main job at Penn. They envisioned their 20s as a period of unencumbered striving, when they might work at a bank in Hong Kong one year, then go to business school, then move to a corporate job in New York. The idea of lugging a relationship through all those transitions was hard for many to imagine. Almost universally, the women said they did not plan to marry until their late 20s or early 30s.


Original source: The New York Times
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U.S. Open shines a light on Merion Golf Club

Last weekend's U.S. Open brought attention to one of Philadelphia's gems -- Merion Golf Club. It was a risk for the USGA that paid off.

Few would disagree that the star of the 2013 United States Open was Merion Golf Club. Merion, a 101-year-old course outside Philadelphia, disproved claims that it was not long enough or fierce enough to challenge today’s professionals.

Original source: The New York Times
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Group fasts to protest Philly public school cuts

A group of parents and employees are heading to Harrisburg to protest the radical cuts coming to the Philadelphia School District. Six members of the group are fasting to underline the severity of the issue.

The cash-strapped district is scheduled to cut more than 3,800 school workers next month, because of a $304 million deficit. Those cuts include 1,200 school lunch aides, which led to the protests in Philadelphia.

Six members of the community are fasting in protest of the potential cuts – and have gone without food for nearly a week. On Tuesday the protestors – along with hundreds of other educators – are scheduled to arrive in Harrisburg to push for more education funding as the lawmakers attempt to hammer out next year's state budget.


Original source: The Patriot News
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