Friday, October 3, 2014

Want a Philly Bike Share station anywhere near Pennsport? SPEAK UP!

Here's the map of potential Philly Bike Share locations that was recently released by the City of Philadelphia and one thing should immediately stand out. It ain't lookin' pretty for Pennsport or Whitman. That is, of course, unless you speak up and have your voice heard.

It's pretty simple, almost the entirety of Southeast Philadelphia has been left off of the map. It's like the world ends at Morris Street. Sure, there are a few stations that are close. Take the one at Front and Washington, for example. Or the three conveniently located on East Passyunk Avenue. That's great - except none of these stations are located within Pennsport.

What can you do about it?

Visit the website, click on the location (I chose the one located at Front and Washington) and complete the short survey if you'd like to see one placed in Pennsport, like along the rapidly development Delaware River Trail, Dickinson Square Park or even Snyder Plaza. It's quick, relatively painless and could end up being the difference in whether our neighborhood gets a bike share station the first go-around.

The question is simple: Would you use the new Philly Bike Share in Pennsport? Then let it be known!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Meet The Authors of "Philadelphia's Old Southwark District" This Sunday at DSP's Farmers' Market

Stella approves of the Farmers' Market
I know your Sunday ritual already includes a visit to the Farmers' Market at Dickinson Square Park. Be sure not to miss it this Sunday, September 14th, as fellow Pennsporter's Mehron Moqtaderi and Heather Gibson Moqtaderi will be on hand from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to show off, sign and answer questions about their new book entitled "Philadelphia's Old Southwark District."

As you can tell by the title, the book highlights the South Philadelphia neighborhoods of Pennsport, Whitman, Queen Village and Dickinson Square West - an area formerly known simply as Southwark.
Here's what the book looks like
The Moqtaderi's, who hail from nearby Tasker Street, offer splendid sepia-toned images of a bygone era from our slice of Philadelphia that hand its hand in shaping the city. Some of these rare photos have never been published.

So stop by on Sunday. You can say hey to some neighbors, grab some awesome produce and get your hands on a wonderful book that visually tells the tale of our area's rich history along the Delaware River.

Can't make it on Sunday? You can easily purchase the book on Amazon.

Here's more info from the press release:
Telling a story in pictures is Philadelphia's Old Southwark District, the newest addition to Arcadia Publishing's popular Images of America series. The book by local authors Heather Gibson Moqtaderi and Mehron Moqtaderi boasts 200 vintage images, many of which have never been published, and showcases memories of days gone by.

The area along the banks of the Delaware River originally known as Philadelphia's Southwark District encompasses the present-day neighborhoods of Queen Village, Pennsport, and Dickinson Square West. Southwark's deep history is tied to its relationship to the waterfront and the multitude of immigrant communities that settled its streets. The Washington Avenue Immigration Station, Southwark's counterpart to Ellis Island, was a testament to the waves of immigrants reaching America's shores in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Many of the immigrants who stayed in Philadelphia found inexpensive housing in Southwark and employment along the waterfront.  

Today, the neighborhoods of old Southwark continue to embrace diversity. Many of the area's historic houses still stand alongside newly built homes. While the construction of high-volume roadways cut off the neighborhoods from the waterfront, new efforts are reconnecting Southwark to the river through improved access points and attractive waterfront recreation areas.
Highlights of Philadelphia's Old Southwark District include:  
  • Numerous photos come from private collections and have never before been seen by the public. 
  • The book provides views of several buildings that are no longer standing, such as the grand Southwark Commissioner's Hall that stood at Second and Christian Streets.
  • A chapter is dedicated to the Pier 53 Washington Avenue Immigration Station, which was recently renovated to create a public park.

Mehron Moqtaderi and Heather Gibson Moqtaderi

Friday, August 29, 2014

Federal Donuts is back open on Two Street

These are free today. 

Good morning! Remember how Federal Donuts surprisingly closed up shop a few weeks ago for some maintenance issues? Well, it's back open and this time, they're debuting new "Mini Jimmies" - a mini, vanilla glazed donut with rainbow jimmies.

The best part? FedNuts is giving them out today as part of their grand re-opening of sorts. In true Federal Donuts fashion, it's first-come, first served and one per person - so you best get there early.

I'll shut up now and just show you the pictures of your future free donut. Enjoy!

Federal Donuts is at the corner of 2nd Street and Manton, just south of Federal Street.

Images via Federal Donuts. 

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Reminder: The 2Stock Music Festival is not for another 50 days!

Here's a quick hitter. 2Stock, Pennsport's awesome music festival, will be held at EOM on September 27, 2014. You're not going to want to miss it.

Check out our 2Stock coverage from last year and give them a follow on Facebook for all the most up-to-date info.

Also, check out this video of New Sound Brass from last year that's sure to get you pumped for September:

Friday, August 8, 2014

An Explanation and a Plan for Moving Forward with Pennsporter

Yuckin' it up at the sneak peek of Pier 53
"Where did you go?"

That's a phrase I've been hearing a lot recently. As you've probably noticed, posts to the site have stalled over the past couple of months. At the risk of burying the lead, the simple answer is that I've been named the new Editor of Curbed Philly -- the popular real estate development and Philadelphia neighborhood website. It's an exciting challenge to take what I've honed here at Pennsporter and spread it throughout the Philadelphia landscape. You'll continue to find all of the development news of the neighborhood, it'll just be on a larger, better looking and properly organized site. So, shoot over any tips and feedback to the Curbed tip line and I'll be sure to check them out. Also, be sure to follow Curbed Philly on Twitter, like us on Facebook and sign up for the daily newsletter for all of your Philly development news, with great tidbits from Eater Philly as well. I'd greatly appreciate it!

I'll also be continuing to report on neighborhood news in Pennsport, Whitman and Queen Village for The Passyunk Post. The relationship between the Pennsporter and The Passyunk Post has been a great way for me to get news to all of South Philly. For instance, have you heard the news about Bell's Delly? Well, there you go!

As for the Pennsporter, I love this 'hood and the people that I've been able to meet because of it. Seriously, you guys and gals are awesome and I appreciate all of the love you've shown to me and the site over the year and half of its existence. There is still nothing more humbling and thrilling than meeting readers in real life. It's awesome. While you won't get breaking news, the blog will still live on. I really want to try and continue to to build a community of game-changers in the neighborhood. There are a ton of amazing people doing extraordinary things to help further Pennsport and Philadelphia -- it's my goal to feature those efforts to help inspire the neighborhood to get involved. For me, the most important thing for this blog is to be a platform for community involvement. Let's try and make it happen together.

So yes, you'll still see posts to Pennsporter. While they may be in a different scope and probably less often, they will be featuring the things YOU care about. The Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts will live on as well. Aside from being addicted to them, it's the best way for me to get the pulse of Pennsport and speak directly with you awesome Pennsporters.

Hope you keep reading and again, feel free to shoot me over any tips for all things Philly!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Dickinson Square Park Farmers' Market Opens for Biz Sunday, June 1st

Get 'em started early on the goodness of fresh fruit and veggies (Instagram)

Admit it, you've had a hankerin' for some fresh, green local veggies. Well, you're in luck! The Dickinson Square Farmers' Market opens this Sunday, June 1st from 10am to 2pm. Located at the corner of Moyamensing Avenue and Morris Street, the market will run every Sunday from June through October - weather permitting, of course.

Here's a list of who you can expect:
    • Beets, asparagus, scallions, strawberries and Boston, red lead and romaine lettuce
    • Red and green butter head lettuce, baby romaine lettuce, salad mic, swiss chard, beets, spinach, kale, radishes, yukina savoy, baby pac choi, hakurei turnips, collard greens, dandelion greens, spring garlic and RAW HONEY (!)
    • Classic, Mango salsa and Raw tomato salsa
    • Whole bean coffee available by the bag 
    • Hot and iced coffee while you shop
    •  Artisan bread and cheese
 Be sure to follow DSP Famers' Market on Facebook for all of the lastest updates, ya'll!

Also, if you have any recipes made with farmers' market goodies, share them over at our Facebook page as well.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Scrap Metal Joint Moving to Weccacoe Avenue

F&J Scrap has packed up shop and looks to be in the process of moving to an unknown location on Weccacoe Avenue. While that's probably bad news for John's Roast Pork (and IKEA's shopping carts), it's music to the ears of neighbors looking to rid the area of transient scrappers, litter and stray shopping carts. Check out this list of recent violations.

A sign hung on the fence mentions the move, which points to an opening date (?) of July 1st.

This news will hopefully mean less transient scrappers in the neighborhood and underneath I-95, as well as less stray carts from Target, Marshall's, ShopRite and even as far as IKEA.

This cart was found at Moyamensing and McKean - that's a haul from F&J

Open House for Abigail Vare Elementary School is Today

Reminder: The open house for Abigail Vare Elementary School is today from 9am to 12pm. Listed at $2.5m, it's one of the highest valued properties in school district's most recent portfolio of 20 shuttered schools. The Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation is in charge of the sales.

For an idea about what the process looks like, check out the live-blog for the open house of William Penn High School I did yesterday for Curbed Philly. Before you ask -- yes, waivers are involved.

Please be sure to let us know if you happen to stop in. We'd love to see what Vare looks like on the inside.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Pennsport Listed as One of the Top Cycling Communities in the Entirety of America

Do you bike to and from work or school? Or maybe you bike to the grocery store? How about when you go out with your friends or family?

Student at Furness High love to ride their bike to school
If you do, then you've apparently contributed to Pennsport being listed as one of the "Top 10 Cycling Communities in the USA" -- so, thanks for that!

I have to admit, something seems slightly off with this story. Perhaps they're using a broad definition of "community' and encompassing multiple South Philly 'hoods within Pennsport. Either way, it's awesome news for the neighborhood and Philadelphia as well. As you know, Philly is getting a bike share next Spring and it's a pretty big deal.

The usual scene outside of The Industry
So keep biking anywhere and everywhere, Pennporters - we have a reputation to live up to now.You might want to check out this app that tracks your bike ride in order to create better and safer bike lanes. And if you see a parked car blocking the bike lane, report it to the PPA using the hashtag #UnblockBikeLanes on the Twitter machine.

Norman's on Two Street is For Sale

Back in November, we brought you the sad news that Norman's Juvenile Furniture on Two Street had closed after nearly 60 years in the baby furniture business. Well, much like Abigail Vare School up the street, it looks as though the building is now officially up for sale. Whereas Vare is looking to net a cool $2.5m, Norman's in on the market for a shade under $600,000 -- or just slightly less than the entire Rudolph Wilson Elementary School near 28th and Leigh.

Norman's is for sale for just under $600k
The listing on Redfin offers a glimpse at the current condition of the large commercial space, officially located at 1714 South 2nd Street -- Second and Watkins for most of you. While the outside remains intact, the interior of the old shop (which was originally a grocery store) has been stripped, leaving an expansive open floor plan just yearning for a vision.

The shelving units are gone. All this place needs is a vision -- and someone with $600k. (via Redfin)
Hopefully, the building can be sold and turned in to a useful commercial property. As you are probably well aware, houses are going up left and right. Two Street could really use the foot traffic that typically comes from the emergence of a new business in the neighborhood. Here's what we wrote back in November:
The good news is that Jim [Pratt, the owner] 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." 
Oddly enough, it could be Norman's that sparks a commercial turnaround on Two Street.  The opportunity is certainly there: the old Wise Guys pizza place is still on the market, as is the commercial property located directly up the street at 1708 South Second Street. The short-lived Brown Chicken Brown Cow, which didn't survive the winter, is still available to rent. Add the untapped potential at the Pennsport Mall to newer shops like Federal Donuts and CrossFit 2Street and you've got yourself the making of a fine commercial corridor from Washington Avenue down to Moore Street to help service current neighbors and those who purchase one of the many new town homes in the area.

1708 S. Second Street is still for rent - it's three doors north of Norman's (via Google Maps)

Wise Fries is also still for rent since it's closing in June of 2013
What would you like to see happen to the old Norman's space? Shoot us your ideas in the comments, on Facebook or Twitter and, who knows, maybe we'll look back at your ideas in five years times and tell you how much you nailed it! 

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Former Ugly American spot will soon get new owners, new life as restaurant

It looks as though the former Ugly American spot will soon be a restaurant again.

We don’t have many details yet but this Fox Roach listing notes that the large, three-story property at Front and Federal streets has recently been sold for $450,000, though city records still list its last sale as being in 2007 for $541,685. The former Pennsport gastropub closed in early 2013 and the space at 1100 S. Front St. had seen little action since being put on the market.

However, after the listing had recently been removed from Zillow, we decided to contact Donna Santore, listing agent with Berkshire Hathaway/Fox & Roach Realtors to see if the pieces were starting to fall in to place.

Santore didn’t comment on specifics of the sale but did say that new owners are taking over and will be in settlement on the property in under 30 days. She went on to mention that they’re looking to open a new bar/restaurant that also features a brunch menu in the mold of For Pete’s Sake, located a few blocks north at Front and Christian Streets. Word on the street is that the restaurant could be open as soon as July/August, although that hasn't been confirmed.

Prior to Ugly American, this location was home to La Vigna, an Italian restaurant that was well-liked, according to multiple neighbors.

With the coming addition of Pub on Wolf (and the aforementioned For Pete’s Sake), it looks as though South Front Street will be soon be dotted with brunch-serving gastropubs from Queen Village all the way down through Whitman.

As always, we'll have the details as soon as they become available.

Big ups to Ryan, a loyal reader who gave us a heads up on a bit of this news. 

Abigail Vare is Officially For Sale, Open House Scheduled for May 20th

Abigail Vare School has officially been put up for sale for the hefty price of $2.5m. The school district sold eight of the vacant school buildings last March for less than $30m and announced this week that 20 more buildings will be sold, this time with the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation (PIDC) at the helm.

The buildings start at $700k and go all the way up to the astronomical price of $15m for William Penn High School on North Broad Street. Vare is the second smallest building square footage wise at 54,000 sq. ft. but the is listed as the fifth priciest out of the 20 properties up for sale. After all, many of these vacant school buildings are located on a landmark park like Dickinson Square and smack-dab in the middle of a burgeoning neighborhood like Pennsport.

Through their new website,, the PIDC will look to offload the properties as soon as possible in order to raise the necessary funds to help ease the school district’s financial crisis, according to Superintendent William Hite and School Reform Commission Chair Bill Green testified to City Council on Monday that the district is $261m short.

As you can see from the listing, the open house is scheduled for Tuesday, May 20th starting at 9am.

The school was apparently added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1986.

Here are a few wonderful pictures of Abigail Vare School over the years. All pictures are via
From 1906

From 1927

From 1927, Morris Street in the background

From 1927, from Morris Street - note the trolley tracks
Here is one I recently posted to Instagram:

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The Path to Glory at the Philly10K Runs Through Pennsport

It looks like the Philly10k Race on September 6th will run through the heart of Pennsport. According to the official course map, the race will start on East Passyunk Avenue, travel through the Italian Market up through Center City, head towards the Delaware River until Fourth Street and head down Fourth through Pennsport at Tasker St. The race will end at 10th and Tasker Street area.

The announcement comes hot on the heels of the momentum built up by the Broad Street run. While the BSR is a 10 miler, this Philly10k is a little over 6 miles. We all know that runners love themselves a party and there will be a post race after party to be announced in the coming months - so stay tuned!

For more info, please visit the Philly10k website and good luck to all of those runners who sign up for the race, we won't be running alongside but we will be there to cheer you on!

Big thanks to Matt Stanley for the heads up on this awesome race!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Broad Street Run Special at Moonshine is Worth a 10 Miler

You may have heard about this little race called the Broad Street Run. It's no big deal really, just 40,000 people running the length of Broad Street from Einstein Medical Center all the way down to the Navy Yard.

Seriously though, the Broad Street Run starts at 830am this Sunday. It's ten miles and it's amazing for runners and spectators alike - go cheer on the runners because they deserve it and it really does push them on. Outside of the Mummer's Parade, it's probably the best people watching event Philly has going for it.

Tell all your runner friends (or strangers, too!) to come on down to to Moonshine in good old Pennsport after the race for a pretty ridiculous special - $5 and your bib gets your one of their insanely delicious burgers and a beer.

Not familiar with the Broad Street Run? Our pals at Philly Love Notes have an inspirational post dedicated to the run that features some incredible pictures as well.

Good luck runners and don't forget your bib!

Don't believe us about the amazing special at Moonshine? The proof in is the pictures:

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Ball of Confusion: AAA Presents Plan for Auto-Centric Development Along the Delaware River

A community meeting was held Tuesday night in Pennsport to discuss the Plan of Development regarding the AAA project located at 1601 S. Columbus Boulevard, the corner of Columbus Boulevard and Tasker Street. Representatives from the Pennsport Civic Association, the DRWC, and concerned neighbors were on hand as representatives from AAA presented their case.

AAA will present their final Plan of Development before the Philadelphia City Planning Commission on May 20th - where they will take action in either approving or disapproving AAA's plan.
Representatives from AAA go over the project at 1601 S. Columbus Boulevard, Brad Murr (L) and Andrew DeFonzo (R)
Here are some of the key points the emerged from the meeting:

1) It's not AAA, it's the location of the site and use of the project

Dr. James Moylan, President of the Pennsport Civic Association prefaced the entire meeting by stating that he loves AAA and would love to have them become part of the neighborhood. "AAA is not the issue here at all," he said. One of the main points of opposition in this instance comes from the use of the site as an auto-repair center along the Delaware River.

Later on, during the question and answer session, Dr. Moylan expressed concern about the possible precedent set by allowing such an auto-oriented development along the riverfront. He mentioned the fact that AAA, for all their good intentions for the location, could decide to move the business, potentially opening up the space for another auto related business to move in due to the now allowed land use. "If this should come to fruition," said Moylan. "You guys can all go home -- we have to live with it."

Carl Primavera, Attorney for the AAA project, explained that this is along term lease and that AAA thinks this market (mid-level auto service) is going to grow. The project is not meant to be a "short-term thing" for AAA.

Multiple neighbors also expressed their affinity for AAA, one woman going so far as to say that they've "saved my ass" more than once. However, they too disagreed with the location of this project while offering up ideas on alternative locations in Pennsport and Whitman.

Rene Goodwin, who is a board member of the Pennsport Civic Association, was concerned that due diligence wasn't met throughout the process and wanted to protect commercial viability riverfront development. "This is not a tree-hugger thing," said Goodwin while pointing out the potential economic impact of the plan to cap I-95 at Penn's Landing. She went on to note that this plan is "absolutely contrary" to the goals of making development along the Delaware River more pedestrian and bicycle friendly and less auto-centric.

Neighbors expressed their interests in simply getting it right with regards to waterfront development, citing false promises, failed projects and even lamenting the ones that are currently in place - including strip clubs, large swaths of parking lots, and even a "waterfront Walmart."

2) "Procedural miscue" fuels confusion over how permits were issued in the first place
[Editor's note: I would highly recommend you read this article from PlanPhilly and watch the video at the end. It's AAA's first Plan of Development presentation to the Planning Commission and will give you a better idea of the entire process.]

The original AAA plan was submitted for approval during a temporary version of the Central Delaware River Overlay which allowed the auto repair land use but required a Plan of Development to be presented to the Planning Commission. After approval, AAA made revisions to the plan to make it a more urban experience. However, these revisions were submitted under the current Central Delaware River Overlay, which doesn't allow for auto repair as a land use but also didn't require a Plan of Development to be submitted.

Because permits were granted under the temporary version of the overlay, it is subject to those rules and regulations. Therefore, a Plan of Development was needed after all.

How did it happen? Carl Primavera mentioned that it was a "procedural miscue" on the part of L&I that caused the confusion and apologized that AAA did not get involved [in the outreach] earlier on in the process. He also noted that the permit is good (due to the temporary overlay being in affect at the time) but that the procedure is the issue. That is why AAA met with the Planning Commission earlier in April, the Pennsport Civic Association on Tuesday, and will meet with the Planning Commission again on May 20th.

3) A more "urban" AAA experience

Brad Murr, representative of AAA, went on to explain the thought process behind such a project at a key point of access along the river. He pointed to AAA's experience and popularity within the Philadelphia market (noting that AAA Mid Atlantic used to be headquartered in Philadelphia) and that AAA noticed a "large gap" between large auto-service providers and everyone else. He noted that while most people tend to get work on their car as a reaction to something happening to it (flat tire, body work, etc), AAA auto centers typically serve about "20 customers a week" and it's usually maintenance based work. "We are not in the quick oil change business...we do not do body or fenders."

Overview of the AAA project
As for as the project itself, the idea is to have customers drive their car to the lot and have an employee of AAA move the car in to the service center via a single auto bay on the east side of the lot near Tasker Street. From there, work will be done inside the building and the car would be driven out of one of the five bays on the south side of the building in to the main parking lot. The customer would then exit the premises on the curb cut located on the west side of the building on to Columbus Boulevard.

Tasker Street will have large windows that look like auto bays. They will be "non-operational" and offer "no vehicular access" according to Murr.

The plans were updated to move the structure to the corner of the lot and also includes new landscaping.


AAA will present their final Plan of Development before the Philadelphia City Planning Commission on May 20th - where they will take action in either approving or disapproving AAA's plan.

Pub On Wolf Coming to Whitman

Pub On Wolf, a new bar/restaurant on the corner of Front and Wolf Sts., is currently under construction and looks to be about a month away from opening, according to owner Ronan Daly.

You will soon venture in to Whitman to visit Pub On Wolf
Daly mentioned that they're looking to do something a little different than what is typically seen in Whitman. Citing the fact that neighbors generally have to head to Pennsport or Queen Village to grab a bite to eat, Daly will look to transform the former Noc's Bar into an experience similar to that of nearby pubs like The Industry, Moonshine, and For Pete's Sake.

So yes, there will be food.

While there are no specifics for the drink or food menu, crews have been working on the interior since early March and are currently in the process of restoring the large original bar. The pub will also feature high-top tables on the inside with a pool table and dart board in the back area. After a brief tour of the construction, the place is certainly larger than I expected and the bar is certainly going to be the centerpiece of the interior.

For me, it was most promising to hear that the drab exterior will be spruced up with a new corner awning and a hand-painted logo on the above concrete facade -- something Daly seemed particularly proud of as he designed the Pub On Wolf logo himself. 

Friday, April 25, 2014

Take a look at the official bike of the new Philly Bike Share program

As you know, we're huge proponents of alternative modes of transportation here at Pennsporter. What makes Philly such an amazing city to live in and visit is the fact that it's easily walkable, bikeable, and mass transit-able.

Mayor Nutter rides a sample bike back in 2008 (via)

Well, traveling around Philly is about to get easier as the Philly Bike Share program is one step closer to realization as Mayor Nutter announced today that a 60 station, 600 bike sharing service will be implemented by Spring of 2015.

Also, the official bicycles were on hand at the announcement. Take a look:

In his article for Next City, Jon Geeting explains:

Philly has the highest rate of bike commuting of the 10 largest U.S. cities, with bicycle mode share twice as high as that of the next-best city, Chicago. Neighborhoods in Center City and South Philly are in the same league as all-stars like Portland and Minneapolis for bicycle ridership. With bike share allegedly rolling out next year, and car share networks gaining popularity, it’s only going to get easier and more convenient to live car-free.
And so, we ask you again -- would you use Philly Bike Share to get around town when it is implemented next spring?

Would you like to see a station (or two) in Pennsport? If so, where and if not, why the heck not?

Drop us a line in the comments, on Faceboor of the Twitter with your thoughts on Philly Bike Share.

Resurrect Dead: Toynbee Q&A at Whitman Library April 28th

The Whitman Branch of the Free Library of Philadelphia is holding a cool event entitled "History of Toynbee Tiles" on Monday, April 28th. Starting at 6pm, the event will feature Writer/Researcher Colin Smith and Associate Producer/Researcher Steve Weinik of the award winning documentary "Resurrect Dead: The Mystery of the Toynbee Tiles."

Toynbee Tiles, described as "unauthorized, relentless, cryptic, and uniquely Philadelphia street-art" on the event's page, started mysteriously popping up in the 1980s and became an obsession for one man in particular. His name is Justin Duerr and the documentary follows his chase to uncover the meaning, and person, behind the Toynbee Tiles.

When asked to comment on Toynbee's influence, renown artist Joe Boruchow had some high praise to share:

This is a must see event if you're in to the Philly street art seen or like a good mystery. Chances are pretty darn good you've come across one of these tiles in your morning commute, as they are all over the city and easily missed throughout the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Here's a great interactive map that pinpoints the location of all known Toynbee Tiles in Philadelphia. Click on the map to see a picture and coordinates of each tile.

View Philadelphia Toynbee Tiles in a larger map

Check out the trailer below:

Thursday, April 24, 2014

AAA Makes Its Case for Riverfront Auto Repair, Community Meeting Scheduled for April 29th

Last week, AAA presented its plan to the Philadelphia City Planning Commission to transform the now-cleared parcel of land on the southeast corner of Tasker Street and Columbus Boulevard into an auto-centric repair facility with a retail component. The issue at hand is whether or not a facility primarily used for services cars would be the best use for a prime, undeveloped stretch of land that would run alongside the future Tasker Street Connector, a key point of access to the Delaware River Trail for neighbors and visitors alike.

Columbus Boulevard at Tasker Street from back in November 2013. The AAA proposal would be on the right

Officials and civic groups argue that the plan is not inline with the Central Delaware River Master Plan and the Central Delaware Overlay, which prohibits auto-centric development points east of Columbus Boulevard. According to Kellie Patrick Gates of PlanPhilly:
“Adding another auto-focused development at this very key intersection for South Philadelphia and the waterfront adds more cars, more congestion, and is exactly the opposite of the city's goals for Columbus Boulevard and for the waterfront,” said Karen Thompson, planner/project manager at the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation, the agency that oversaw development of the waterfront master plan...
...Thompson reminded the board that they unanimously adopted the Master Plan for the Central Delaware last year. She said that Tasker Street is an especially important street for pedestrian and cyclist access to the trail that runs behind the big box stores, and it will be Pennsport's only means of connecting to that waterfront.
She noted the site to the north that Blatstein just purchased would likely become an urban, walkable, mixed-use development in keeping with the master plan. Allowing this adjacent property to develop “in the way development happened 10 years ago” would set an unfortunate precedent and “set the Master Plan back just as it's beginning to take hold and create positive change for the waterfront.”
AAA says their permit was legally obtained through L&I and that their plans are sensitive to the Master Plan. Going so far to call it “It's extremely urban”  due to shifting the building to the street corner (instead of in the middle of the lot) and keeping access to the garage bays on the interior of the lot. More from PlanPhilly:
"Primavera [AAA's Attorney] said from either Delaware or Tasker, the business would seem like any store or restaurant, with its customer entry and windows facing the street. The travel agency/store would be located behind these windows. The 10 auto bays are located in the rear of the building, with five visible along the southern-most facade, which faces the Home Depot parking lot. The other five bays can't be seen from the outside, but a single door that provides access is located on the eastern most facade. This is the facade closest to the river, but its immediate neighbor is Home Depot's outdoor storage.
Here's what it looks like (images via PlanPhilly by way of AI Design Group):

AAA as seen from Columbus Boulevard and Tasker Street

The interior of the AAA plan
There will be a public meeting regarding this proposal on Tuesday, April 29th starting at 7pm at the EOM (138 Moore Street).

Whether you're for, against, or would just like more information about this project, the community meeting offers you a chance to get involved in a major development in Pennsport that has the potential to drastically shape the future of the Tasker Street Connector. 

If you're in to signing petitions, This Old City currently has one floating around regarding the AAA proposal:
Philly Planners are a good group of folks, and they may well want to do the right thing. But they need to hear from us that the public is strongly behind them putting the kibosh on new sprawl. This is why it's so important that you sign and share this petition.
Philadelphia deserves better.

Outdoor seating is in full bloom in Pennsport

Spring is in full swing and what's your favorite past time this time of year? No, it's not baseball -- it's eating (and drinking) outside at your favorite restaurant. You know what the best part is? You don't have to schlep up to Queen Village or Passyunk Avenue to have a nice night of outdoor dining with family, friends, or even your dog -- Pennsport has plenty of options these days.

The Veterans
Federal Donuts: There is simply nothing better than getting out of the office on a beautiful day for your lunch hour. What makes it heavenly is the chance to sit outside on "the bench" at FedNuts with your delicious fried chicken and side of honey-dipped hot donut. Seriously, if you haven't done it -- get on that and if you have, do it more often.

Ride the pine outside of FedNuts during your next lunch hour (via)
The Industry: One of the OG's in the Pennsport outdoor seating scene, The Industry is everyone's go-to joint. With killer food (Burgers and Bubbles on Monday's) and an awesome happy hour, if you haven't had an Industry Burger with a shot of Buffalo Trace while dining al fresco, chances are you're doing it wrong. Do it right during the warm weather - hit up The Industry.

Grindcore House: Everyone's favorite Vegan coffee shop has always offered outdoor seating to those who want to enjoy their vegan treats and coffee drinks. Get the horchata made with coconut milk (trust me, grab one this summer, it is delicious.)

Caffe Valentino: First and foremost, this place has tablecloths, so you know you're in for a treat. secondly, the food is wonderful and they now have brick over pizza! When they open the large windows, it feels like you're actually outside. To top it off, they have outside seating so enjoy your homemade Italian food on beautiful Moyamensing Avenue.

Warm Daddy's: Looking for a place that has a insanely cool roof deck featuring live music and soul food? Warm Daddy's next to the Riverview (and overlooking Engine 46 and the Delaware River) is definitely worth checking out.
The Newbies

Moonshine: Now offering lunch, Moonshine has plenty of outdoor seating. Featuring two tops on Sigel Street for the date crowd and larger four tops out "on the Avenue," Moonshine may be one of the newbies in the 'hood but they certainly know what they're doing -- especially with a burger that was recently featured on Thrillist's "8 Best Under The Radar Burgers in Philly." 

Second Street Brew House: And you didn't think it could get any better after they tag teamed with Guerrilla Ultima to own the craft beer bar meets food truck scene, you are sadly (but happily as well) mistaken. You can now enjoy your pint and award winning barbeque outside with seating on the corner of 2nd and Morris. I don't know what these guys will think of next but I can't wait to find out.

Mekong River: I know what you're thinking -- why in the heck would I need to eat outside when it's so darn beautiful on the inside? Because you love eating delicious Vietnamese cuisine outside as well! Next time you're in the mood for Pho, take it outside. By the way, it's just a stone's throw from the soon-to-be-amazingly revitalized Titan Park.

Did I miss any outdoor dining spots? Hit me up in the comments or on Facebook/Twitter to let me know!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

History Lecture, Brass Bands and Food Trucks at Mummers Museum May 4th

The first of a series of Sunday morning history lectures will kick off in style on May 4th from 1 to 3pm at the Mummers Museum. The event, billed as a "Mini Mardi Gras," will feature Susan McAninley, of the Friends of Washington Avenue Green, riffing on Pier 53's storied history as an immigration station. Being a loyal reader of the blog, you already know that Susan is in the midst of researching the stories of the people who came through the immigration station.

Check it out:
"In addition to photos of the pier, Susan shares her research on some of the people who disembarked at the Station. She has traced genealogy records to current day descendants, many of whom will be in attendance at the lecture celebrating their ancestors’ arrival."
The history lesson will be an incredible look in to the past of the future pier park but the fun doesn't end at 3pm -- after all, this is Pennsport, we like to party.

New Sound Brass Band will kick the party in to full-gear as food trucks line the parade venue located outside the Mummers Museum for the Inaugural First Sunday Brass Band Concert.

The event is $10 and will feature food, raffles, live music, and a cash bar. So come out on May 4th and get your learnin' on before getting your party on.

Check out this clip of New Sound Brass Band shutting down EOM 2Stock last summer -- they rocked it!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Did You See The Redesign for Mount Sinai?

The proposed redevelopment at Mount Sinai Hospital has been an interesting ride. The first neighborhood meeting was a highly informative "feeling-out" type event that featured it's own soundtrack thanks to the choir at Mount Moriah Church. After more meetings, concerns of town home height, density, parking, financing, and construction helped further define the project thanks to neighborhood input and a development group willing to listen. Now, with shovels in the ground potentially starting in the near future, it looks as though Mount Sinai has gotten an updated look.
According to, the town homes are also getting a redesign and construction on the town homes could "begin in the next few weeks" with developer Gagan Lahkmna still looking to obtain historic tax credits in order to begin the adaptive re-use project on the main hospital building, which is proposed to house upwards of 200 apartments.

You may remember that the town homes looked like this during the proposal in January:
Three story town home proposal from January (via Barton Partners)
Three story town home proposal from January as seen from 4th and Reed Sts. (via Barton Partners)

Here is a new rendering featured in the piece (note that the corner property is not a part of the new Mount Sinai plans):
The redesigned town homes as seen from 5th and Dickinson Sts. (via
The redesigned town homes as seen from 5th and Dickinson Sts. (via
It certainly is a shift -- a modern, and some would say out of place, look transformed in to a more traditional, yet still dynamic, design that holds true to the spirit of the many row homes that define Philadelphia.

Note that they are still three-story town homes in this redesign as opposed to the original, which featured these four-story homes. Here is the original design for a further look at the dramatic change this project has undertaken:

So, what do you make of the new look?

A version of this post first appeared on The Passyunk Post -- which you can read here.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Design Concepts for Pier 68 Revealed at Pennsport Meeting

Three design concepts were revealed Thursday night at the second public meeting regarding the future of Pier 68. Held among the delicious smells of Vietnamese cuisine at Mekong River at Front and Titan Sts., the meeting aimed to once again get community input and feedback for potential uses and designs of the park area. Representatives from the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation (DRWC), Studio Bryan Hanes, and TEND Landscape were on hand to answer questions and meet the neighborhood.

Lizzie Woods greets the crowd at Mekong River
Lizzie Woods, Planner/Project Manager with the DRWC, explained that they are staying on track with the timeline of the project, even after the news that the tip of the pier will have to be removed -- potentially eating "a good chunk" of the current $1 million budget. Look for a few more meetings (like the one on April 28th at Settlement Music School in Queen Village) to nail down the final design and then construction to potentially begin at the end of the summer. Ms. Woods also explained that there is still the possibility of going after additional funding but they are moving forward with the current plan.

You may remember that the first meeting was similarly interactive in nature and sought to gather information from the public. Basically, this most recent meeting took that information and developed three design concepts based on that information.

Bryan Hanes, Lead Designer on Pier 68 and founder of Studio Bryan Hanes explained the vision for each design and encouraged everyone to take some time, review the concepts and present any feedback (positive or negative) as it is vital to the process. After all, they're looking to create something YOU want to use and enjoy.

Not a meeting person but still want your input to be heard? Take the design-specific surveys on the website in the near future. I would also encourage you to make your best effort to make the next meeting on April 28th.

Please click on the image to make it larger and forgive the quality of the photos.

Concept 1: "Down On The River"

Bryan Hanes mentioned this concept as a product of the feedback of the initial neighborhood meeting. It features a lot of green and places to sit for visitors to "commune with nature." You'll notice that Pier 68 is still a fishing pier as the floating fishing pad at the tip of the pier gives fisherman a defined space to cast a line. 

Full board featuring Concept 1 for Pier 68

Close up of the overheard layout and features of Concept 1
Concept 2: "Watching The Tide"

The second concept is the most dynamic. It features large cutouts within the pier that contain "separate wetland ecologies" within each zone. As the tide rises and lowers, visitors can see the water interact with the pier and the wetland.  Designed to "embed itself with the nature of the site", this concept offers an adventure and educational element not seen in the other iterations. The tip of the pier features a fishing loop that offers visitors and fisherman alike a chance to get further out onto the Delaware.

Full Board of Concept 2 highlights the ecology of the site

Edge of the pier features a walkway with inner and outer fishing zones

Topical view shows the cutouts that highlight tidal environments

 Design 3: "Prime and Paint"

The third concept looked to celebrate the flash and glitz of the Mummers. The design calls for the pier to be vibrantly painted accompanied by other design elements and shade trees for visitors and fisherman. Bright colored furniture would also contribute to a true landmark experience. Given the minimal budget of the project, this concept looks to create "something Philadelphia has never seen before," according to Bryan Hanes. It also offers versatility for the space in the event that additional funding is obtained.

Breaking away from traditional park motifs, Concept 3 looks to create a landmark for "something Philadelphia has never seen before"

Full board gives you an idea of the flashier pier with natural elements to complement fishing spots

Sunday, April 13, 2014

What You Need To Know: Developments Along the Delaware River

What You Need To Know will be a semi-recurring feature that gives you a quick look at some of the important happenings in the area -- a quick-hitting guide on a subject with links for further reading.


There has been a lot of action along the southern section of the Delaware River recently. Here are five story lines to keep an eye on with links for further reading.

1) There are two upcoming neighborhood meetings regarding the planning of Pier 68, even after the news that the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation might have to delay its opening in order to figure out how to best deal with the dilapidated pier's edge, which could crunch the budget for the amenities in the rest of the park.

The first meeting was an amazing opportunity to interact with the designers and planners of the pier park. I would highly recommend you make it to one of these (if not both).

WHEN:                  Thursday, April 17, 7-8PM
WHERE:                Mekong River Restaurant (1120 S. Front St)

WHEN:                  Wednesday, April 23, 7-8PM
WHERE:                Settlement Music School (416 Queen St)
2) AAA is still trying to make waterfront auto-repair a thing and will pitch their plans for the site at 1601 South Columbus Boulevard to the Philadelphia City Planning Commission Tuesday, April 15th. Given that it's at the mouth of the future Tasker Street Connector and calls for "many garage doors" to face that Connector, you might want to keep a close eye on this story.

3) Bart Blatstein bought the former Foxwood's site (back) that is bounded by Reed and Tasker Sts., the River to Columbus Blvd. Some notes: although Blatstein doesn't have plans for the site as of yet, the site won't be a casino. He is also giving 100 feet of land at the rear of the property to the Natural Lands Trust to continue the riverfront trail. Blatstein is known as a guy who gets things done, so look for plans for this to come together quickly -- hopefully that means plans for his "other" riverfront property will as well. 

Crews were seen clearing the site this week.

The Delaware River Trail in the center with the new Blatstein property (former Foxwood's site) on the left

4) Eric Blumenfeld looks to develop the 20-acre Sheet Metal Workers site in to an "entire city" along the Delaware River. Here's a quote from Blumenfeld, who once had this vision for the Divine Lorraine:
"Based on the new zoning, it should turn into an entire city," with 1,000 or more apartments, stores, "waterside dining," and maybe offices on 600,000 sq. ft. between Columbus Ave. and the Delaware, says Blumenfeld. The Delaware River Waterfront Develoment Corp. has a plan to build a trail through the property that would "mimic what exists on the Schuylkill."
"Based on the new zoning, it should turn into an entire city," with 1,000 or more apartments, stores, "waterside dining," and maybe offices on 600,000 sq. ft. between Columbus Ave. and the Delaware, says Blumenfeld. The Delaware River Waterfront Develoment Corp. has a plan to build a trail through the property that would "mimic what exists on the Schuylkill."
5) Washington Avenue Green will be holding an event for the opening of Love Your Park Week on May 10th from 11am to 1pm. The event will be a great way to get outside and enjoy some time with your family along the river. For more information, please visit their Facebook page.

"Based on the new zoning, it should turn into an entire city," with 1,000 or more apartments, stores, "waterside dining," and maybe offices on 600,000 sq. ft. between Columbus Ave. and the Delaware, says Blumenfeld. The Delaware River Waterfront Develoment Corp. has a plan to build a trail through the property that would "mimic what exists on the Schuylkill."
"Based on the new zoning, it should turn into an entire city," with 1,000 or more apartments, stores, "waterside dining," and maybe offices on 600,000 sq. ft. between Columbus Ave. and the Delaware, says Blumenfeld. The Delaware River Waterfront Develoment Corp. has a plan to build a trail through the property that would "mimic what exists on the Schuylkill."