May 6, 2012 |
Thanks to a lucky lunch break - or was it the power of prayer? - the four dozen happiest people in Philadelphia were introduced to an envious public Friday as they claimed a Powerball jackpot worth $107.5 million in cash. They filled rows of chairs at a late-morning news conference, telecast live from SEPTA headquarters. Most of them have worked for the transit agency for tenures of less than a year to 42 years. Ranging in age from 26 to 69, including some who were already retired, they vowed that no further media meet-and-greets would be granted.
April 2, 2012 |
GOT A VACANT house blighting your block or a vacant lot carpeted with trash? Abandoned car? Graffiti? Got a pothole putting a bruise on your Cruze and a contusion on your Fusion? How about a dead streetlight? Rosetta Lue wants you to call her at 3-1-1. "It's like 9-1-1 for all nonemergency calls," said Lue, who has directed Philly311 since 2009, its first full year. One number to call. Easy-peasy access to city services. So 3-1-1 should have gone viral here by now, right?
March 30, 2012 |
Several years after I purchased a home in Philadelphia, a tax assessor showed up at my door. After we chatted about whether I had made any improvements to the property, the lovely man disclosed that we were related and offered to freeze my tax bill. This was my introduction to Philadelphia's property-tax system. A lot has changed since. I get better city services now than in the late 1980s. Once a week, a recycling truck lumbers up the street; potholes are filled; the city helps my neighbors plant trees.
March 27, 2012
One recent afternoon, I found myself strolling across the South Street Bridge, over the Schuylkill and into West Philadelphia. The rebuilt bridge, a handsome, user-friendly example of contemporary civil engineering, opened in November 2010 to much fanfare after two years of construction and a decade of fraught planning negotiations. The result is impressive, featuring wide sidewalks, roomy bike lanes, colorful light fixtures, and ready access to the Schuylkill Banks path at its southern end. My thoughts inclined toward the symbolic significance of the bridge and its position between Philadelphia's academic nerve center and one of its most in-flux neighborhoods.
March 21, 2012
IT CONSTANTLY amazes me that people today, like Peter Garvin (letter, March 20) , are jealous of the poor! Think about that: People are constantly complaining about what the poor have been given. Have we lost all sense of perspective? Yet I don't see these same [complainers] opting to move into the crime-ridden neighborhoods where the poor live, or send their children to the same schools as those attended by the children of the poor. If indeed the life of the poor is so attractive, it would not be difficult in this day and age to change your status so that you could qualify.
March 11, 2012
Tim McGrath is the author of John Barry: An American Hero in the Age of Sail In 1958, Walt Disney aired a mini-series of Esther Forbes' classic story Johnny Tremain , introducing baby boomers to the adventurous boy who participated in the American Revolution. Weeks later, I bought a 10-cent Disney comic titled "Old Ironsides," a fictionalized account of the USS Constitution's battle with the British frigate Guerriere in 1812. The hero of the tale was the cabin boy - Johnny Tremain.
February 15, 2012 |
Mayor Nutter's job approval rating is up to 60 percent, the highest level in the last three years, but most city residents continue to describe crime, the state of the public schools, and lack of job opportunities as major problems that have improved little over the last five years. That's the conclusion of a new public opinion poll released Tuesday by the Pew Charitable Trusts, based on 1,600 telephone interviews with Philadelphia adults, from Jan. 4 through Jan. 19. Just one out of three people, 37 percent, said they felt completely safe in their homes at night, and fewer than one out of six, 16 percent, felt completely safe walking in their neighborhoods, the study found.
February 14, 2012 |
Mayor Nutter's job approval rating is up to 60 percent, the highest level in the past three years, but most city residents continue to describe crime, the state of the public schools and lack of job opportunities as major problems that have improved little over the past five years. That's the conclusion of a new public opinion poll released Tuesday by The Pew Charitable Trusts, based on 1,600 telephone interviews with Philadelphia adults, from Jan. 4 through Jan. 19. Just one out of three people, 37 percent, said they felt completely safe in their homes at night, and less than one out of six, 16 percent, felt completely safe walking in their neighborhoods, the study found.
February 6, 2012 |
In his will, Charles Dickens asked that no statues of himself ever be erected in his honor. Instead, the famed English author wanted the recognition to go to the characters in his books. Of course, Philadelphians being Philadelphians, they ignored him. In 1905, the world's first Charles Dickens statue was erected in West Philadelphia's Clark Park. Though statues have since been erected in Australia and England - with the blessing of Dickens' descendants - the renegade Philadelphia version, in which Dickens is seated beside one of his characters, Little Nell, has always held a special place in neighbors' hearts.
February 1, 2012 |
Once, when Underground Railroad agent extraordinaire John Fairfield ran out of money to take runaway slaves to Canada, he turned to Philadelphia for help, surely aware of the Philadelphia Vigilance Committee's success in aiding fugitives. Unfamiliar with him, committee members telegraphed Underground Railroad agents in Cincinnati, who vouched for Fairfield, a white Virginian who is believed to have led several thousand blacks to freedom. The Philadelphians gave Fairfield cash for the wigs and powder that would allow a group of light-skinned blacks to look white and flee to Canada.