April 7, 2014 |
Neighborhood volunteers first began cultivating the idea of converting the ruins of the Reading Viaduct into Philadelphia's own elevated park more than a decade ago. After years of organizing, raising money, and drafting proposals, their efforts - and those of the politicians and professional planners who joined the cause - finally appear ready to bear fruit. Without fanfare, the city and the state have included millions of dollars in their latest budgets toward the first phase of the project: transforming the quarter-mile railroad "spur" that curves through the city's burgeoning Loft District and dead-ends onto North Broad Street.
April 5, 2014 |
For eight hours a day, Angel Perez sits in front of a screen as a troubleshooting computer technician. His free hours are spent juggling friends and family, leaving him little time to relax. "I'm doing 25 things at work and 125 things in my personal life," said Perez, 38, of North Philadelphia. "There are all the stresses we all have. " But every April, Perez finds peace under the blooming cherry trees in Fairmount Park during the annual Subaru Cherry Blossom Festival. Perez, who began volunteering at the event about five years ago, said he can feel the tensions of work and everyday living melt away when he joins others in celebrating these signs of new life.
March 23, 2014 |
Another balloon is on its way to the Philadelphia Zoo and the city's skyline will again be graced, albeit for a short while. Mayor Nutter, along with representatives from the Philadelphia Zoo and 6ABC, announced Friday that a balloon is en route from England and should arrive in the next few days. "I'm honored to make this announcement and thrilled we'll all have the opportunity to fly the ZooBalloon, including myself," Nutter said. The iconic balloon was put out of commission Feb. 4 after it suffered irreparable damage resulting from the five to 10 tons of snow that accumulated on it this record-setting winter.
March 22, 2014 |
Unless you've been doing field research in Antarctica, you've probably heard that this is the 30th anniversary of Philadelphia's community-engagement juggernaut, the Mural Arts Program. It's being celebrated with a show at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, a lavish coffee-table book, symposia, and a greater-than-usual deluge of media coverage. Not that the murals have ever been something Philadelphians could ignore. During those three decades, the city agency has left its mark on some 3,600 walls, mostly in the bleaker corners of the city where a little paint isn't the worst thing that can happen.
February 14, 2014 |
MILE AFTER MILE they run in local gyms, going nowhere on the treadmill, staring blankly at a television, unable to outrun the icy doom we've come to call the winter of 2013-14. And on that television, there's either a meteorologist pointing to some nightmarish vortex swirling around us, a reporter standing in a bread aisle as barren as our souls or a governor dishing out the latest state of emergency. All the harbingers of spring - the Phillies' home opener, the yoga pants and bare midriffs in Fairmount Park, or even 50 degrees - seem so far away now, an oasis clouded by a haze of rock-salt grime no amount of windshield-wiper fluid can clear.
January 8, 2014 |
IF THERE WAS something that Tony Woods wasn't into, it probably wasn't worth bothering with. Tony was an exceptional handyman who could fix anything. He did plumbing, electricity, painting, drywall, carpentry, TV, electronics - you name it. Tony was an excellent artist, a painter of landscapes and still lifes treasured by family and friends, and a sculptor working in wood that he wrested from the forests of Fairmount Park. Tony was a writer who published pieces on the Tuskegee Airmen, the Buffalo Soldiers and other subjects in the Philadelphia New Observer.
January 3, 2014 |
DESTINY - that would have been her name - died inside Jennifer Pennington's womb after the woman was shot in the face near a stone bridge in Fairmount Park in 2005. Harold Murray IV, 36, of Philadelphia, was one of three men charged in the revenge-murder case that originated in Montgomery County. He received a death-penalty sentence for killing Pennington and her unborn child. Prosecutors, according to local news accounts after the verdict, said the "death-penalty verdict for the murder of the unborn child sends a strong message about the importance of human life in Montgomery County.
December 30, 2013 |
ONE COULD argue that 15 years is a long time to fight for something, especially when the "thing" in question is overgrown woodland. But, then, one never spoke with Arlene Bennett and her neighbors in East Mount Airy. "We're a special community here," Bennett said. "We don't see each other every day, but you let something threaten our land and we gather instantly. " That drive is what led the Wissahickon East Project, for which Bennett is the treasurer, to succeed in its founding principle: To bring a six-acre plot of land between Cresheim Valley Drive and Anderson Street near the Cresheim Creek back into the city's fold from the developers who owned it. That fight began in the late '90s, when local residents got wind that developer DeSouza Brown was looking to build a condo complex on the creek and the land around it. It ended Dec. 7, when a group of about 70 volunteers held the space's first official cleanup, blazing the first trail in its new use as a "passive park.
December 3, 2013
Garden-style reform We need the land-bank proposal under consideration by City Council because garden groups, farmers, and open-space advocates have no viable path to purchase the privately owned, debt-burdened parcels they have stewarded for years ("Land bank can reduce blight," Dec. 2). Without a land bank, deeply rooted community spaces like the Central Club, Sloan Street, and St. Bernard gardens unnecessarily face a sheriff's sale every year without an alternant pathway to permanence.
November 18, 2013 |
PHILADELPHIA Some people jog for exercise, some for fun, some to lose weight or sleep better. Nicole Duchman runs for her health - physical and mental. For her, the steady movement of legs and torso across pavement is a way to allay the emotional trauma of war, experienced as an Army specialist in Iraq. Diagnosed with post-traumatic stress syndrome that can cause her to become irritable and frustrated, running offers respite and freedom. "It calms me down, lets me focus, lets me settle," Duchman said.