May 10, 2013
By B.G. Kelley The Dad Vail Regatta, the biggest intercollegiate rowing event, summons images of sleek sculls oared with precision by finely chiseled athletes. It presents an aesthetic springtime tableau on the glimmering, sun-spilled Schuylkill. The regatta, which begins today, is part of the sports DNA here. I've been going to Dad Vail since 1968. But these days I don't watch the races as much as I do the Canada geese - those birds with black heads and necks and white patches on their faces that come from Peter's Island and beyond to the banks of the Schuylkill to feed on the grass, to play, or simply to rest peacefully.
May 4, 2013
A proposal to put a zip line in a five-acre section of Wissahickon Valley Park in Upper Roxborough sounds exciting. This creative way to help residents enjoy the city's wealth of parkland represents the kind of thinking many hoped to see when the city Recreation Department merged with the Fairmount Park Commission a few years ago. The idea is getting some well-reasoned opposition. Some neighbors worry about traffic and parking, as well as losing the quiet contemplation found within the piece of the park they frequent.
May 3, 2013 |
Temple University has withdrawn its proposal to build a new boathouse along the Schuylkill after concerns were raised that the university was not providing replacement parkland as required by a city ordinance. Kenneth Lawrence Jr., a senior vice president at Temple, wrote in a letter Tuesday to Nancy Goldenberg, chair of the Parks and Recreation Commission, that the university was "not in a position to make a commitment" without further study of its options. At a January hearing, Temple was criticized for proposing to give the city $1.5 million to repair the East Park Canoe House, the university's former rowing home, instead of offering substitute green space for the now-withdrawn boathouse site near the Strawberry Mansion Bridge.
April 20, 2013 |
It has worked well in other city parks, and some environmentalists say the benefits are likely to outweigh the costs. Nevertheless, the idea of a network of zip lines, ropes, and cables allowing visitors to explore the Fairmount Park treetops has fired up opponents, who are organizing to stop the city from considering it. Worried that it will damage vegetation, disrupt wildlife, and spoil the tranquillity of an urban oasis, residents formed the...
April 6, 2013 |
Bugs and blossoms - it must be spring! Flowers first: More than a decade ago Adelaide Ferguson, cofounder of the Subaru Cherry Blossom Festival, stood in Fairmount Park pouring sake on the roots of a cherry tree. In the event's early years, the two-day "festival" featured a black-tie fund-raising dinner followed by this ritual, centered on the 1,600 trees given to the City of Philadelphia by the Japanese government in 1926. As Ferguson and dozens of others splashed alcohol on the budding trees, she looked around and said to herself: "This needs to be a lot more fun. " So she and Kazumi Teune, then newly appointed executive director of the Japan America Society of Greater Philadelphia, got to work, and 11 years later the festival has grown into an extravaganza that attracts upward of 20,000 visitors each year.
March 28, 2013 |
The 2013 Parx Casino Philly Cycling Classic will start and end at the Manayunk "Wall" but skip the Art Museum and Benjamin Franklin Parkway in favor of a more compact course. But at least the June 2 race will actually happen, surviving a threat to its existence when previous organizers could not find a corporate sponsor. U.S. Rep. Bob Brady and other civic leaders organized to save the event, recruiting Parx Casino and New Penn Financial as sponsors. The race, famed for its leg-burning ascents up Manayunk's hills, will end atop Lyceum Avenue, part of the climb known as the Wall, which organizers hope will provide dramatic finishes for the crowd.
February 1, 2013 |
ON A HOT June day nine years ago, I met up with an architect and an historian at LOVE Park and we spent the next few hours slowly making our way up Ben Franklin Parkway on foot. By the time we got to the Art Museum I had not only a sunburn, but also a new appreciation for just how much work this grand boulevard needed. While imposing institutions lined both sides, the spaces in between were, for the most part, unplanned and inhospitable. With no places for people to convene, expanses of dead space, no food offerings but a Subway sandwich shop, and constant car traffic that made crossing the street an obstacle course, the Ben Franklin Parkway fell far short of greatness.
January 8, 2013 |
A COUPLE OF YEARS ago, Strawberry Mansion activists successfully lobbied SEPTA to remodel, rather than demolish, the old Trolley Depot on Ridge Avenue at 33rd Street near Fairmount Park. Both the Strawberry Mansion Neighborhood Action Center and the Strawberry Mansion Community Development Corp. won a Community Action Award last April from the Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia for persuading SEPTA to preserve most of the old depot and to use salvaged bricks from the old shed for a new shed.
December 23, 2012
Andy Leshik first saw it at a fitness expo: a man riding around the showroom floor, standing up, on what looked like an oversize scooter. "I had to see what it was," said Leshik, director of sales and marketing of Leisure Fitness in Newark, Del. That was 2008, and now you can see that thing - an ElliptiGO - zipping through Fairmount Park. It's becoming an option for runners who want to continue training while injured, or who don't want to pound the pavement as often anymore. The ElliptiGO is an elliptical machine on wheels.