Saturday, November 23, 2013

"Everything Must Go" - Norman's Juvenile Furniture is Closing

Sad news from Two Street: Norman's Juvenile Furniture is going out of business.

"Everything Must Go" after 60 years on Two Street

Situated on the corner of Second and Watkins Streets, Norman's has been in business since 1953 - almost 60 years. In talking with owner Jim Pratt, who has been with Norman's around 45 years and took over the business from his father, the tanking economy and difficulties with suppliers made the past year and a half a trying time at the shop.

"It was nuts," he explained. "I would place an order and track it's progress and dates would just keep being pushed back." Larger stores like Target and Walmart combined with the ease of buying childcare products online also meant an uphill battle. It often meant his orders were easily pushed back. "It's much different that it used to be. Now they just want to keep the big guys happy."

The good news is that Jim wants to see something become of the large corner property that housed a few grocery stores back in the day. "We were originally across the street (corner of 2nd and Pierce Sts.) and this used to be an ACME," he said. "Believe it or not, these few blocks were mainly storefronts but things change."

Yup, things change and it's certainly sad to see Norman's close up shop. Look for them to be open "about a week or so" before they officially put 60 years in the rear view mirror. In the meantime, everything is priced to sell and if you're in the market for children's furniture and products, you'll be hard pressed to find a better deal.

Here's a look at what is left:


If you've ever walked past Norman's, the first thing that stands out is the size of the building. It's quite large for Two Street. Checking in at around 5,600 sq. ft - this could be a really nice spot for someone looking to hang out their shingle. A few things that come to mind: a daycare, children's gym, or even a smaller music venue in the mold of Boot & Saddle. Given that it's zoned a CMX-2 (commercial/mixed-use), future plans could theoretically include a housing element as well. That is simply my opinion, although Jim did mention he's had a bunch of interest in the property.  

My two cents, keep a close eye on this building.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Things You See While Walking Down Moyamensing Avenue

BRUNCH ALERT: This Sunday is the kickoff brunch down at Moonshine (Moyamensing Ave and Sigel St.) - if it's anything like the rest of the menu, it's sure to be good. Don't look now but the brunch options in Pennsport are starting to kick some ass. Check it out from 10am to 2pm. 

NOSTAGLIA ALERT: Rascalians toilet papered a few trees around Moyamensing Avenue and McKean Street. It's been a long time since I've seen this form of vandalism but hey, maybe it's street art. C'mon people, don't waste perfectly good TP and please don't litter.

All photos courtesy of Ryanne Jennings. 

Friday, November 15, 2013

Anchorman 2 Midnight Private Screening Ticket Offer Collabo Between The Industry and The P.O.P.E

One thousand one *grunts*, one thousand two *groans*, one thousand three, oh, my guns - they burn! Oh, hello there. I wasn't expecting anyone in this post.

While you're here friend, you should probably know that The Industry and The P.O.P.E have teamed up for one impressive offer -- tickets to a special midnight showing of Anchorman 2 (with a pint at each pub) for $20 a piece.

Here's proof:

Tickets are for a midnight showing on 12/19 at the Riverview at Columbus Blvd. and Reed Street. Don't act like you're not impressed because to top it off, those who purchase tickets will be entered in to a raffle to win "swell" prizes.

To recap: $20 gets you a ticket a private midnight showing of Anchorman 2, two pints (one at The Industry and one at The P.O.P.E), a raffle entry and an evening chock full of memorable quotes and 70s Polyester Suits. It all starts at 7pm on 12/19.

You love Anchorman, you love The Industry, you love The P.O.P.E, you love lamp - so what are you waiting for? Head to either bar to pick up your tickets soon, these won't be available for long.

Still not convinced? Here's the trailer to change your mind.

GIANT LEAF-SUCKING TRUCK, Ribbon Cutting, and History Walks - It's LOVE YOUR PARK 2013

As you may know, we here at Pennsporter are huge fans of the community coming together to help out and beautify the neighborhood. You may remember we recently highlighted the work being done at Manton Street Park & Community Garden - it's awesome, check it out.  The Pennsport area is blessed with amazing amounts of green space. The people who actively maintain these spaces should be applauded. Our guess is that they don't want applause, but rather for you to consider lending a hand.

LOVE YOUR PARK? You've got some choices this Saturday

Enter LOVE YOUR PARK Week from the Fairmount Parks Conservancy and Philadelphia Parks & Recreation. Starting Saturday, November 16th, it's an entire week of celebrating the parks in the city (and your area) and a call to get involved - so head on over to the volunteer page, throw on your old pair of jeans, and grab a shovel because you've got yourself plenty of options in Pennsport to do just that.

Here is a list of what's happening on Saturday:

  • Dickinson Square Park: GIANT LEAF SUCKING TRUCK
Giant Leaf Sucking Truck, no lie! (via Friends of Dickinson Square Park Facebook Page)

From 9am to 1230pm, volunteers will be helping the Friends of Dickinson Square Park clean up the park. Here is an excerpt from the email, masterfully written by Bob of the "Friends" group: 
"And for the 4th year in a row.....

Yes, this great and mighty and outstanding machine will return to the Park once again.  The GIANT LEAF SUCKING TRUCK is our friend.  All we need to do is to rake the leaves onto tarps, and drag them to the sidewalk on Moyamensing Avenue where the you-know-what will work the magic.  


  • Manton Street Park & Community Garden: Ribbon Cutting Event and Party
The Ribbon Cutting, with speeches from Mayor Nutter and Councilman Mark Squilla, will take place from 1215pm to 1pm. An impressive block party will follow from 1pm to 3pm featuring Federal Donuts, Guerilla Ultima, games, entertainers, and more.  

From Mark Berman:
"We all met at the vacant lot where the park is now, in June 2011, and continued to meet every week without fail for about 5 months straight, in the evening, with shovels, spades, clippers, brooms, axes and a power washer. We enlisted the help of neighborhood kids; old timers and newcomers worked side by side to remove piles of dirt, a carpet of ivy, glass bottles and demolition debris."
  • Washington Avenue Green: History Walk, Park Cleanup, and Birding Event
The event at "WAG" kicks off at 10am with Susan McAninley leading the group on an "Autumn Walk" on the trail. As you know, the trail is going to see some major (read: wonderful) changes in the next year or so - get a first-look before construction begins. Also, if you're in to briding, you won't want to miss this one.

Here is the agenda:
Image via Susan McAninley

  • Howard Street Park: Clean up the best kept secret in Pennsport
When you think of parks in Pennsport, it's usually Dickinson or Jefferson Square that come to mind. As you well know, Pennsport has some incredible "pocket parks" - one being Manton Street Park. While Titan Park has been in the news a lot recently, it's Howard Street Park that's been impeccably maintained and it actually, you know, a park (no offense Titan Street). 

Come on out and help out Howard Street Park with some leaf raking, general clean up and bulb planting from 11am to 1230pm. Look for it on Reed Street between Front and Second Streets - you'll be glad you did!

Image via, well, Pennsporter


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Community Spotlight: Don't Miss These Meetings (UPDATED)

One of the main goals for Pennsporter is to provide you with the information necessary to get involved in neighborhood activities and hopefully meet some of your neighbors in the process. 

Last week, we profiled the amazing work by concerned Pennsporter Mark Berman at Manton Street Park and Community Garden. This week's "Community Spotlight" offers your the chance to attend some meetings that not only shape the neighborhood but Philadelphia as well.

Here's the run down:

Pennsport Civic Association General Membership Meeting:
The November General Membership meeting will be help this Wednesday, November 13th, starting at 7pm. It will be held, as always, in the hall at the EOM located at 138 Moore Street.

Due to scheduling conflicts, the October meeting was postponed -- a bummer because the fine folks from the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation (DRWC) were going to speak on the latest developments on the Delaware Waterfront, specifically Washington Avenue Green, Pier 68, and the Tasker Street Connector.

Turns out that they will be in attendance on Wednesday as well. If you have any interest in learning more about the development on the Delaware Waterfront, I highly recommend attending the meeting -- the DRWC has provided great information at past meetings and usually do a great Q&A session.

Also, there will be more information on the Alley Clean Up, which takes places on November 16 (more on that later).

UPDATE from Pennsport Civic: 
Good Afternoon, at this evening's general membership meeting at EOM, 138 Moore Street, we will be distributing the supplies for the Alley clean-up.  The brooms and shovels are on loan to us
from the City and do have to be returned, but you can sign one out tonight.  If you and your neighbors want to get together and clean your alley we are attaching a list of trash pick-up
sites.  The trash will be collected Saturday afternoon. 
If you do not have enough participation from your neighbors, please make sure that your alley is un-locked and the clean-up will begin at the southern point of Pennsport, Front & Snyder and work north.  We do not expect to get all of Pennsport done in one day so this will be on-going.   A future date will be scheduled to complete this project. 

Central Delaware Advocacy Group (CDAG) November Board Meeting:
This is a special "one-off" meeting that has made its way to Pennsport. CDAG rotates the location of their meetings and this one will take place in the Parson's Building (the lone building within the park, enter on playground side) at Dickinson Square Park this Thursday, November 14 from 6pm to around 730pm.

Topics to be discussed include an update on City Council Legislation changing Waterfront overlays as well as the DRWC's Penn's Landing design plan. Nominations for 2014 CDAG Officer positions will also take place.

Click here for more information on CDAG.

Via MyPhillyAlive

Second Street Parade Safety Meeting:
As we all know, Pennsport is the epicenter of the Mummer's and throws a New Year's Party unlike any other. Admittedly, the celebration had "gotten out of hand" and a more organized effort was needed in order to make the area more secure (and thus enjoyable) for visitors and residents alike.

Do you like that idea? Well, you can help out to make it happen again this year. The Second Street Parade Safety meeting will be held on Monday, November 18th at 7:30pm at the Mummer's Museum on Second Street and Washington Avenue.

According to the memo, the meeting "will include a quick review of last year's execution and an outline of the game plan for the 2014 Second Street Parade." Councilman Mark Squilla will be in attendance as well as Mummer's and Philadelphia Police leadership and, of course, concerned neighbors of 2nd Street (cough cough YOU cough).

Please contact Ed Kirlin at 267-234-1401 with any questions.


Did we miss your group's meeting? Drop us an email,, and we'll make sure it gets on the list. Please provide as much information as possible.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

"Waterfront Winterfest" is Coming to Penn's Landing

Look for it November 29th through January 5th (via)

Halloween is over, people. If you haven't swapped your 15-foot, rowhome-hangin' spiders out for Thanksgiving cornucopias and Peanut's related inflatables Christmas decorations, you're seriously slacking. Winter is nigh, so get on that. With the change in season comes the time for one of Philly's wonderful holiday institutions -- ice skating on Penn's Landing. 

In celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Blue Cross RiverRink, The Delaware River Waterfront Corporation is taking one of your favorite holiday past times and ramping it up big time. 

Behold, Waterfront Winterfest, and it's going to be something to see.

Waterfront Winterfest will run from November 29, 2013 through January 5, 2014, 7 days a week from 11am to 1am and become the hub of Philadelphia's winter activities. While the ice skating rink will still be the centerpiece of the Penn's Landing area, the parking lot will be transformed in to a winter garden and forest offering "majestic views of the Delaware River and Ben Franklin Bridge." (Pro tip: follow the official Instagram account, @PhillyWinterFest, and you'll have your spot for holiday pictures mapped out before you get there.)

You won't need to bring a bagged lunch, either. An indoor warming tent called The Lodge will house a pop-up restaurant from Chef George Sabatino (formerly of Stateside and currently at Morgan's Pier) as well as the Art Star Holiday Market, a "completely unique retail experience" featuring shops laid out in chic'd up shipping containers. If you happened to visit the PHS Pop-Up Garden on Broad Street this summer, you have an idea of how amazing these shipping containers are going to look.

Topical layout of Waterfront Winterfest (via )
So yes, Waterfront Winterfest is going to be way cooler than trudging out to the King of Prussia Mall for some crowded holiday shopping and a long wait for a table at the Cheesecake Factory. Do yourself a favor and keep it local this holiday season while having fun and attempting to ice skate. If that doesn't work for you, grab some of Chef Sabatino's "Thanksgiving Leftover Hot Pockets" and caramelized pumpkin donuts. You may be sore but you'll be well fed, that much I know.

In reading the press release, the events should really put the experience over the top:
"Waterfront Winterfest will also be home to the best holiday light show in Philadelphia, featuring Klip Collective’s patented projection-mapping technology under the direction of Ricardo Rivera, a visual artist, filmmaker, and pioneer of video projection mapping. Playing every evening on the hour from 5 – 11PM, this musically synced light show will feature a festive mash-up of color, lights, hip hop beats, and dancing elves projected onto the winter garden. In addition to annual special events like Skating with Santa, a blow-out Opening Day celebration, and of course, the TWO SugarHouse Casino New Year’s Eve Fireworks on the waterfront, the entire winter festival space will have daily rotating entertainment curated by Jess Conda of Brat Productions."

Admit it, winter in Philadelphia rocks and you can't wait to bust out the cable knit sweaters, ear muffs, and Andy Williams (I see you, BEN FM).

Rendering of Waterfront Winterfest (via)

Manton Street Park & Community Garden Ribbon Cutting Chosen as the "Signature Site" for LOVE YOUR PARK Kickoff Event

The progress seen at the Manton Street Park & Community Garden is a testament to hard work, will power, and most importantly, caring about and helping your community. One of my hopes for this blog is to inspire you to lend a hand, recognize the amazing people that make a difference and begin to participate in building a place you're proud to call home. 

The redevelopment of the park is a shining example of community engagement and offers you a perfect opportunity to get involved.

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, connected citizens can change the world; indeed it's the only thing that ever has." 

-Margaret Mead

The following is a guest post from Mark Berman, President of the Manton Street Park & Community Garden and fellow Pennsport resident. 


Join the Friends of Manton Street Park & Community Garden at the signature site for the Department of Parks & Recreation’s LOVE YOUR PARK event on November 16th – Manton Street Park & Community Garden, 4th and Manton Streets. From 12:15 – 1 pm there will be a ribbon cutting and press conference with Mayor Nutter, Councilman Squilla, and speakers from the Department of Parks & Recreation, Pennsylvania Horticulture Society, Fairmount Parks Conservancy, and the Office of Housing and Community Development. Following the press conference there will be a block party from 1 – 3 pm – free and open to the community – featuring Federal Donuts, Guerrilla Ultima food truck, Bujee Magoo (hula hoops and stiltwalking), Philly Face Painting, Fleisher Art Memorial’s ColorWheels (crafts for kids), South Philly Food Co-Op (cider and hot chocolate), Healthy Foods Green Spaces, Dickinson Square West Civic Association, a DJ…and more!

Manton Street Park, at 4th and Manton streets, was originally a pocket park in the 1960s – it was buried under a foot of debris for decades. When I fliered the neighborhood in 2011 to gauge interest in cleaning it and discuss potential uses, the response was surprising – I received 15 phone calls in two weeks from neighbors I’ve never met and some I’ve never even seen before, and I’ve lived in Pennsport since 1999. We all met at the vacant lot where the park is now, in June 2011, and continued to meet every week without fail for about 5 months straight, in the evening, with shovels, spades, clippers, brooms, axes and a power washer. We enlisted the help of neighborhood kids; old timers and newcomers worked side by side to remove piles of dirt, a carpet of ivy, glass bottles and demolition debris. Five months later we were surprised to see surveyors on the land. After a painfully intense two weeks of Internet research and phone calls to about five city agencies, we discovered that the lots had been included in an ordinance to be sold at auction. When the developer read our story in the Daily News, they offered to forego the purchase of two lots because they were not aware that the land was a park and because there was such a strong community interest in preserving it.

Thanks to Fairmount Parks Conservancy who awarded the Friends of Manton Street Park & Community Garden (501C3) the Grow Your Neighborhood grant and Pennsylvania Horticulture Society (PHS) who provided additional funds from the Office of Housing and Community Development, the Friends didn’t need to raise funds on our own to make the park a reality. This all happened very quickly - I wish I could say it was easy – but the amount of work involved in connecting the agencies that needed to communicate with each other was immense and overwhelming – it was a full time job for about two weeks of our lives. There was no support and no advocacy group that was readily available to assist us. There was no support and no advocacy group that was readily available to assist us. Thankfully Councilman Squilla and Amy Laura Cahn of Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia stepped in to be the middle persons between our Friends group and RDA, Public Property, the developer, and Parks & Rec. It's fortunate for communities that find themselves in this situation now that in the past year a coalition formed called Healthy Foods Green Spaces to promote citywide advocacy for gardens and green spaces.

In a very short amount of time, it became overwhelmingly clear that inviting neighbors to reclaim these lots was more than just an effort to increase neighborhood safety and beautification - it was the perfect vehicle to unify and activate a very diverse community. Today, you might walk by and just see a beautiful park (immaculately designed by PHS and whose construction was overseen by Fairmount Parks Conservancy), but what is not obvious to the eye is that this park is much more than a new, bright green spot on the block. One of the greatest benefits has been seeing parents walking their kids to school in the morning as they pass this garden where once they had to walk their kids past a hideous, foreboding vacancy. Imagine what that change of scenery does for the morale of a neighborhood…well, you don’t have to imagine it! Because of this park, local neighbors have met each other, there are constantly eyes on the street, there’s a community of people that want to maintain our neighborhood, and who support each other in dealing with local issues such as zoning, crime and litter. Plus, volunteering for the park continues to be an incredible opportunity to develop professional skills.  Most of all, neighbors are connected to each other in a new way and have their voices acknowledged. This is one reason why we need a Land Bank in Philadelphia – because well cared for lots maintain and strengthen communities and the prosperity of the city.

As an organized community, we’ve arranged regular block clean ups, community activities, kids’ nights in the park, garden parties, and the planting of over half a dozen new trees. A special thanks goes to the following organizations who supported this effort from the get-go: Dickinson Square West Civic Association, Mike Toklish and the Friends of Jefferson Square Park, the South Philly Food Co-Op, Debi Richter and the Friends of Washington Avenue Green, Mike DiBerardinis, Barb McCabe and Erin Engelstad of the Department of Parks and Recreation, Tammy Leigh DeMent and Gretchen Trefny of Pennsylvania Horticulture Society, and Lauren Bornfriend of the Philadelphia Parks Alliance. A very special thanks goes to Jennifer Mahar of Fairmount Parks Conservancy and Councilman Squilla for all of his efforts on our behalf and his continued efforts to promote parks and green space in South Philly. Without the Board of the Friends of Manton Street Park & Community Garden, the park would not exist - Jessica Calter, Kathy O’Neill, Mike Oscapinski, Karen Rose and her son Philip, and Amy Papa.
Manton Street Park & Community Garden prior to the efforts of concerned neighbors (via Mark Berman)

Here are some comments from neighbors:

“The revitalization of Manton Street Park has brought so many benefits to our community. The most valuable benefit to me is the opportunity it provided to work alongside my neighbors and really get to know them, beyond a simple wave hello and goodbye. The shared sense of responsibility, and ownership of the project, helped us to build friendships that wouldn't have existed otherwise. Because we have established a network of like-minded people we are now able, individually and as a team, to tackle new projects and make additional improvements in our community.”

“As a newer resident and former South Jersey gardener, I'm happy to be a supporter of the garden and park, and feel connected to our community because of this affiliation.”

“We absolutely love the new tranquil Manton Street pocket park. The park itself is impeccably designed – it’s given us a sense of community and pride, enabling us to get involved and volunteer for park- events and meet new people from the neighborhood. The addition of the park has been the perfect anchor for our little block, and is just one of the many reasons we're so pleased to be a part of the Pennsport neighborhood.”

“The garden is beautiful and adds so much warmth to our block. We have some seniors on our block that would love to have a nice place to sit and relax, my mom included, who has been on this block for about forty years... I’m so pleased with the way things have turned out. I'm just thrilled.”

The transformation is complete at Manton Street Park & Community Garden (via Facebook)



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Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Pier 53: One Last Bow for Tom Sawyer's Island

Last Wednesday during lunchtime, I was lucky enough to attend the groundbreaking ceremony for newest pier park along the Delaware River -- Pier 53. I say lucky because it offered the once in a lifetime experience of legally walking out on to the pier and experience the vast potential of the Southern Wetlands Park. Tom Sawyer's Island, as it's been called, had long been forgotten and left nature to recover the urban landscape, and oh, it did just that. As you'll see in the pictures below, gnarled trees are more common than grass, driftwood lay in heaps carefully placed by the Delaware, and even the stone (mostly man-made) looked like something out of a far away lands, naturally weathered by the river. 

The scenes of nature were enhanced by simple touches of human interaction with the pier over the years. Throughout the walk, I was reminded that this was a place where people would come to get away from it all, to be left alone, much like the pier had been. The art left on the pier looked almost prehistoric at times -- repeating patterns, shapes, and colors. Given the serene, Fern Gully-like setting I was in, it felt as though I was encroaching on some sacred land that had suddenly been left for reasons unknown. No image portrayed the feelings Tom Saywer and pre-historic artifacts than the remarkable fort, compiled of driftwood, that centrally located on the pier. It's beautifully built and certainly a highlight.

I'll be editing these photos over time and posting them to Instagram. If you're interested in that sort of thing, be sure to give @Pennsporter a follow here.

For a look in to what Tom Sawyer's Island looked like in 2012, be sure to check out this photo essay. It's pretty rad.