February 9, 2014 |
The federal government says a new designation as a "Promise Zone" holds the possibility of transforming a big, ailing chunk of West Philadelphia. Robert Morris Skaler can remember when the area didn't need a zone to have promise. He was born there, grew up there, and forever after remained interested in the place and its potential. As a boy, he lived on the boundary of Mantua and Belmont, an area that in the 1940s held not just a healthy middle-class population but something that to him was more intriguing: a stock of big Victorian and Italianate houses, the envy of any in Philadelphia.
January 28, 2014 |
James Dupree says city officials are trying to pave paradise and put up a supermarket. Dupree, a renowned Philadelphia artist, is embroiled in a bitter back-and-forth with the city over the fate of his art studio, an 8,600-square-foot building that takes up nearly a block along Haverford Avenue in the Mantua section of West Philadelphia. The property was seized in December 2012 by the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority. The authority condemned a two-block stretch through eminent domain, a legal process that allows government to take private property, pay the owner, and develop the land for public use. When the authority seized the Mantua property, it said the surrounding neighborhood was in desperate need of a supermarket.
January 14, 2014 |
It's a part of West Philadelphia known mostly for hardship and hard tries. The infamous Lex Street massacre occurred there, when gunmen lined up 10 people in the dining room of a crack house and opened fire, killing seven in 2000. It also was the home turf of the late, fearless antidrug activist Herman Wrice, whom President George H.W. Bush called "the John Wayne of Philadelphia. " Now, government officials and community activists say this stricken stretch of the city has a chance to become known for something else: revival.
January 11, 2014 |
PITMAN It's time to make the doughnuts. The landmark Pitman Bakery is scheduled to reopen in the spring after closing more than a year ago, leaving a void along South Broadway storefronts. Retired Deptford Police Chief Dan Murphy, 47, and his wife, Veronica, 48, a registered nurse, are starting a new career and family business. They say they will carry forward some of the traditions of the former bakery while they merge it with their vision for a modern shop. "We're going to do our best to live up to the old standards and hope to see the same success," said Dan Murphy, who will oversee maintenance and finances, while his wife will be in charge of baking.
January 11, 2014 |
MANTUA President Obama pointed to one of Philadelphia's most depressing statistics - nearly four in 10 children live below the poverty line - as one of the main reasons the city's Mantua section was chosen as one of the nation's first five Promise Zones. The president officially announced Thursday that West Philadelphia, in particular the Mantua neighborhood, would receive federal help from the new Promise Zones program, aimed at cutting unemployment, poverty, and crime, enhancing education, and attracting private-sector investment and jobs.
November 25, 2013 |
IF YOU WERE to drive past Dupree Studios on a bombed-out block in Mantua, you'd never imagine that a wonderland lies behind its nondescript red facade. An empty, weedy lot sits at one end of the block. And the handful of decrepit homes near Dupree Studios look like they'll collapse the next time a school bus rumbles past. So you might think it's no big deal that the building owned by artist James Dupree was seized last December by the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority, which condemned a two-block area through eminent domain for commercial development.
November 21, 2013 |
The Locust Moon Comics shop and art gallery at South 40th and Ludlow Streets is a welcoming environment, lined with couches and cast in bright lighting, topped with a tony, tin ceiling, and filled with everything comics geeks could desire, from Little Nemo tchotchkes and Dark Knight ephemera to a happy cat named Rooster. Locust Moon is just a dozen or so blocks from "The Bottom," the bombed-out 42d and Ogden Street area of illustrator/storyteller Rob Woods' childhood, where hard crime has run rampant for as long as anyone can remember.
November 12, 2013 |
WHEN RYAN KUCK pulls up in front of the Older Adult Sunshine Center in West Philadelphia in his converted bread truck each Wednesday, he's like the ice-cream man on a 95-degree day. Seniors line up to cradle Kuck's cucumbers, inspect the onions and pore over the potatoes. "These are people who are used to cooking," said Sandi Ramos, the center's director. "They're used to living off the land. They want to get all the parts and pieces that go in it. " Kuck's truck - better known as the West Philly Fresh Food Hub - gives them the opportunity to do that in an area that he and Ramos consider underserved.
November 2, 2013 |
SEWELL Buying ghost-shaped cookies Thursday from the Ghost Chasers' Club didn't mean - ha-ha - that you believe in ghosts. But for the students selling those cookies at a table in Gloucester County College's student center, disembodied voices and sourceless shadows and floating lights are no laughing matter. "I started it last fall," founder and club president Justin Leach said shortly after lunch. "I figured a lot of people have had paranormal experiences that they're afraid to talk about or can't explain.
September 30, 2013 |
MANTUA TWP. Six-year-old Daniel Konkle ran up to the head paleontologist and held out a circular clump of dirt. "What's this? Is this something?" "That's a consolidation," Kenneth Lacovara, director of Drexel University's paleontology and geology department, said. "What's a compstilation?" Daniel asked, looking up from under a baseball cap, a roaring T-Rex emblazoned on the front of his shirt. "It's a packed-together bunch of soil," Lacovara said. " With that, Daniel threw his find to the ground and sprinted back up the mountain of sediment where 65 million-year-old fossils were waiting to be unearthed.