On June 14 at 11am, the Rail Park was officially opened in a ribbon cutting ceremony held at the Noble Street entrance to the quarter-mile linear park. Following 19 months of construction and $11 million in funding, the existing stretch from 1300 Noble Street to 1100 Callowhill may some day constitute just a fraction of…… Continue reading Phase 1 grand opening ceremony
Philadelphia’s Early Mummers
Philadelphia’s famous New Year’s Day parade featuring the Mummers has roots dating back to colonial America, and the festivals that inspired our local tradition date back much, much further. The Fitzenheimer band during the same parade. Philadelphia’s Mummers are said to be primarily Swiss in origin, although other neighborhoods and immigrant communities surely contributed their…… Continue reading Philadelphia’s Early Mummers
The Beatles, Live in Philly
Thanks to reporting over the years, we know much about what led to the Beatles epic September 2, 1964 concert at the Convention Center in Philadelphia. DJ Hy Lit (legally Hyman Aaron Lit) was the top DJ at WIBG-AM, known as Wibbage. Lit had been introduced to the Beatles shortly before their famous February 1964…… Continue reading The Beatles, Live in Philly
The Philly women who helped win World War II
As the simmering crisis preceding World War II boiled into total war, customs preventing certain professions from women were set aside as America’s economy was mobilized for a war effort the likes of which the nation had never seen before. Hundreds of thousands of women served in the armed forces, and many times more found…… Continue reading The Philly women who helped win World War II
Connie Mack, a legendary Philly baseball manager
“Slats” to his friends on the baseball field, Cornelius McGillicuddy to the government, and Connie Mack to the world, Philadelphia’s legendary baseball manager left a mark on the sport, the city, and the country. Connie Mack on a 1910 baseball card printed by Nadja Caramel Company. Mack began his career as a ball player for…… Continue reading Connie Mack, a legendary Philly baseball manager
Ben Franklin’s bifocals – an invention
Reading Philly.com’s review of the best documents in a recently released Library of Congress database of Franklin documents, the bifocals were the standout item to me. From a letter sent the winter of 1784 to his friend George Whatley we have this terrific sketch of the bifocal design. Translated here into a more legible illustration. In…… Continue reading Ben Franklin’s bifocals – an invention
Capturing Shawmont Station before its $1,000,000 preservation begins – the oldest extant passenger rail station in America
Originally a 18′ by 36′ stone house (Wissahickon Schist), the structure wouldn’t have stood out from the other country homes in this part of Philadelphia, at the tip of the Manayunk Reach, situated at the end of today’s Manayunk Canal Towpath, along the 19th-century megastructure that tamed the wild Schuykill into a placid waterway conducive to…… Continue reading Capturing Shawmont Station before its $1,000,000 preservation begins – the oldest extant passenger rail station in America
A remarkable love story in a least expected time & place: Eastern State Penitentiary during the Civil War
Featured in the latest Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, a story so rapturous I’m amazed it hasn’t been widely shared before. The scene: Eastern State Penitentiary during the Civil War. Located on Cherry Hill at the outskirts of town, the prison was the first true “penitentiary”; that is, the first to emphasize reform over…… Continue reading A remarkable love story in a least expected time & place: Eastern State Penitentiary during the Civil War
Best map of Philly in the Rumsey collection
Stanford University Libraries just launched the Rumsey Collection, a historic archive of thousands of maps. Here’s the coolest map of Philadelphia I found in the archive. See full image. Some details I enjoyed… Apparently there was a water works at the central square? (Then called the “Public Square”.) The Navy Yard was quite literally a…… Continue reading Best map of Philly in the Rumsey collection
Prince Albert shows off stunning renovations of East Falls’ Kelly House
The TODAY Show’s Hoda Kotb visited the Kelly house in East Falls recently to see the just-completed renovations to the historic home, completed by Kelly’s son, Prince Albert II. Watch the video below. https://twitter.com/TODAYshow/status/994915033653051392 See more photos from the TODAY visit here. Albert bought the house in 2016 for $755,000 after it had been originally…… Continue reading Prince Albert shows off stunning renovations of East Falls’ Kelly House
The hidden history of Philly’s Navy Yard as League Island
One might be tempted to take for granted today the massive corporate campus down by the Navy Yard – 1,200 acres of tax preferred land, seven miles of frontage, adjacent the sports complex, home to great restaurants and major businesses. But this area of the city (especially FDR Park) once was a swampy sprawl, and…… Continue reading The hidden history of Philly’s Navy Yard as League Island
“Sylvan artist” Frederick Law Olmsted: Comprehensive list of his firm’s works in and around Philly
Frederick Law Olmsted and his eponymous firm were prolific for a century, especially in progressive cities like Philadelphia where parks movements had taken hold. Olmsted kept meticulous records of correspondence and plans, and although not all projects would end up realized, the scope of contacts demonstrates the firm’s prominence. Some of the files are in…… Continue reading “Sylvan artist” Frederick Law Olmsted: Comprehensive list of his firm’s works in and around Philly
Rail Park History
Why are we here? No, I don’t mean existentially, I mean here at the beginning of Phase 1? What’s special about this spot? The reason lies beneath the surface. Across Philadelphia, ancient waterways branching from the Schuykill and Delaware Rivers lay buried in culverts and sealed off as sewers and drainage pipes. Some geologists believe…… Continue reading Rail Park History
Fairmount Park Trolley Tour
Nestled within West Fairmount Park–at times mere feet away from the Schuykill Expressway–there exist the remains of a sprawling and once-vital transportation system of the 20th century. The Fairmount Park Transit Company had incorporated as a New Jersey corporation in 1894 as the Fairmount Park Transportation Company (the name change to come a couple decades later).…… Continue reading Fairmount Park Trolley Tour
Publishing, privilege, and noblesse oblige
H.L. Mencken’s “Life of Kings” quote does the industry a disservice and in this column I argue that publishers should use an older framework, noblesse oblige, to better understand their social obligation.
It’s time for Philadelphia to put a Lenfest statue in the Courtyard at City Hall
A statue should be erected in Gerry Lenfest’s honor at City Hall to remind future generations of this man who made it his mission to give away as much wealth as possible before he died.
Translation of Ben Franklin’s 1731 Apology for Printers into modern vernacular
Ben Franklin’s 1731 Apology for Printers, translated into modern vernacular.
Slope fields and community alignment
Motivation requires direction to achieve an outcome. In other words, a vector, a quantity containing both magnitude and direction.
News coops and supporting indy publishers
I wrote recently about why ownership matters in media. This post is a followup.
I’m excited and frustrated. The promise in news tech has never been greater. But neither have the challenges.
There’s an idea that’s been percolating in the news industry for a while now, The Platform. Trying to pull it out of the ether.
I might be changing my metric
At Thunderdome, I proposed a core metric that could guide Digital First Media: The cumulative number of years our newsroom have been serving their communities.
How Jeff Bezos _might_ eventually takeover local news
Local doesn’t scale, been true for a while now but not so in the historical sense. Frank Gannett, Walter Annenberg, and William Randolph Hearst would all have contended otherwise. Have you ever wondered whether Jeff Bezos might want the same?