Saturday, November 26, 2011

Reason #8 (Unique & mysterious urban graffiti)

Most Philadelphia city dwellers, and even tourists who've explored around the Art Museum, will admit glancing down at the asphalt at a Center City intersection and noticing seemingly nonsense tiles and yellow or red robots.

I first noticed them on a trip to the Art Museum my first year in Philly and thought they must be markers for a walking trail, but later found out they were just "graffiti", made more permanent by the constant passing of cars pressing them farther into the street. (They're actually not permanent: see deterioration in photos below (and new paving, of course!)).

Upon further research (i.e. a Google search titled 'Philadelphia asphalt graffiti'), I read all about the mysterious Toynbee tiles found in many U.S. cities, even Buenos Aires, Rio, and Santiago de Chile! In Philly, at least, Toynbee robots are even more rampant than Toynbee tiles.

I took these photos of tiles around my neighborhood, but there are thousands in a Google image search. Most tiles are similar, with references to resurrection and Jupiter and lacking grammatical sense. What do you think? One person? A group of people? A bunch of copycats?

Check out some of the news articles and other info I've found: (if you don't like Wikipedia as a source, check out this post by Teach Paperless)

Woah! There's even a documentary!

So, thanks to you, Mr. Toynbee or Mr. Morasco, or whoever who are, I love Philly because of mysterious street robots!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Reason #7 (Seasonal Farmer's Markets)

Philadelphia's city dwellers may have access to more fresh, local, seasonal produce than our suburban and rural-living friends, thanks to a wide variety of seasonal farmer's markets in Center City.

Headhouse Farmer's Market is my personal favorite because it's close to my apartment and stays open into the winter (some are even year round!). It's been a huge learning experience for me to learn what fruits and vegetables are seasonal in our area, when.

Gone are the days of shopping for produce in the supermarket (except when an avocado craving hits, or maybe in February), thanks to Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, my favorite summer read. Glossy, perfectly round tomatoes no longer look real to me, and I know that carrots don't naturally grow straight. Okay, I may be becoming a food snob, but isn't this the best kind of snob? One who respects farmers and their profession? One who rejects pesticides and artificial growing environments? who enjoys a Sunday morning out in the community and who really just wants her food to be real?

While the late summer tomato canning tradition is still in my future (Sorry Mrs. Kingsolver, I need a normal-sized kitchen first), I did freeze home-made tomato sauce and green beans, and there is a lot of winter squash coming my way. Small step by small step, we can all make a difference in our communities, our country and our world by supporting sustainable agriculture.

So, thanks to Headhouse Square and Farm to City (and MM for all the photos), I love Philly because of seasonal farmer's markets!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Reason #6 (Reading Terminal Market)

The historical Reading Terminal Market was one of the first places my mom and I visited on our job interview/tourist visit to Philadelphia in 2007, when we didn't even know how to correctly pronounce 'Reading'. I fell in LOVE with this place (yes, Dad, I know I'm only supposed to love people, not things) from our first visit and have taken almost every visitor there to peruse and eat our way through the blocks of stalls of cheese, local meats, produce, soaps, and lots of Amish (Mennonite?) goodies!

After taking photos at my favorite year-round public market for this post, I did a little research to understand its history a bit more... so let me enlighten you briefly---

1. Yes, it has SOMETHING to do with a railroad (Reading TERMINAL), being the first indoor public market in Philadelphia that was the result of the neighborhood markets moving indoors, and located conveniently along a railroad and near a port.

2. During the Great Depression it served as an escape from rationing, as the vendors did a great job continuing to bring in produce, meats, and cheese, regardless of the economic situation of the times.
(#1 and #2 paraphrased from the Market's website)

3. Then, even after I decided to post about RTM, I was introduced to sociologist Elijah Anderson's theory on so-called 'Cosmopolitan Canopies' on an interview on NPR. Read about it here. Anyways, he describes certain places in Philadelphia, especially RTM, that exist as places were diverse people come together, " and for the most part practice getting along" (source).
I can't wait to actually read Anderson's book to find out more about his ideas on how to bridge cosmopolitan canopies throughout cities.

As for today, the Reading Terminal Market serves as a gathering place for local shoppers, tourists, and citizens serving jury duty (you get a 10% discount with your juror sticker) as many of us dive back into history, back to our local farms, and back to simpler living.

So, thanks to local food, local businesses, and a rich history of urban markets, I love Philly because of Reading Terminal!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Reason #5 (Easier Travel on 2 Wheels)

My trusty point-and-shoot is spending some quality time in the Canon repair shop, but, while I'd love for that to be an excuse not to blog, I can no longer ignore this blog that I think I've been ignoring (Does that sentence make sense?). I guess my love for Philadelphia got lost in the field trips, report cards, jury duty, classroom packing, and general end-of-school-year craziness.

But, on this official first day of teacher summer vacation, here we are, looking out of my apartment window and this newly painted bike lane! With Center City Philadelphia's new bike lane on 13th Street, combined with the east and west bound Spruce and Pine Streets bike lanes, I can now get from my apartment to Kelly Drive's bike/walking trail with only 3 blocks of non-bike lane trekking.

So, thanks to the Bicycle Coalition, Bike Philly, and the Streets Department, I'm sure, I love Philly because of bike-friendly streets!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Reason #4 (Appreciation for the Arts)

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Philadelphia has surprised me yet again! Spinning bell choirs, Khmer statues, sidewalk chalk, and flying trapeze novatos are my memories of Philadelphia's International Festival of the Arts that lasted a whole month!

Philly's concrete jungle was temporarily converted on April 30 into a European wonderland, complete with a "garden" in the middle of Broad Street and a 3 story Eiffel Tower in the lobby of the Kimmel Center. While BJH and I were less than impressed with the booths offered (really?! An Aerosoles tent?!), the spirit of Frenchiness, sunshine and high spirits were enough to make Philly's appreciation for the arts my reason #4.

So, all you Arts Initiatives out there: keep the arts in our city! I love Philly because of you!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Reason #3 (Community Gardens, Part I)

My 2nd favorite Philly occurrence in spring and summer, community gardens will most definitely occupy more than one post as herbs, flowers, and veggies spring to life this year. So, in celebration of the beginning of spring, I captured one local community garden's greenery after neighbors and plot sharers have spent many hours bringing this land back to life.

Located on Locust Street in Center City, this collection of plots is nestled among historic row homes and swanky restaurants (like one of my favorites, Garces Trading Post--- will post soon). What I really love about community gardens is the neighborhood bond they create. I've heard that residents wait YEARS for a plot, all the while buying shares in a local farm's CSA.

But the most wonderful part of community gardens in Philly is their presence in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods. Transformed from trash-filled, city-owned vacant lots, these gardens promote a sense of belonging, teamwork, and a respect for healthy, local food.

Check out the Neighborhood Gardens Association for more info.

Here's to you, Spring!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Reason #2 (Valerie Safran & Marcey Turney)

While you may think that two owners running almost all of the businesses south of Market to Locust on 13th street may be a bad thing, owners Valerie Safran and Marcey Turney are responsible for transforming my once-seedy neighborhood (before I lived there) into an almost-hip couple of blocks.

Yeah, it's a little weird when I spot a cool bag in Open House, then turn around and spot the same bag in Verde, but these two ladies' 3 restaurants on the block, Lolita, Bindi and Barbuzzo are all very different and equally delicious. But FYI advice from BJH and I: a BYO in which you pay $13 for the mixer is no longer a deal.

Check out the Barbuzzo website with links to all of their businesses and an article last fall about them on

So, Valerie and Marcey, can't wait to see your next business idea take flight outside my window. I love Philly because of you.
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Saturday, February 12, 2011

Reason #1 (BJH)

While reading a blog all about BJH would only be interesting to me, his blog-savvy family, and possibly my blogging BFF, he does deserve Reason #1.

So, I love Philly because of BJH.

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Admission

Philly doesn't stink. Well, sometimes near the dumpster in the alley between my apartment and the gym. And sometimes while passing the above-ground vent of a fried-food restaurant. And also after rain. But...

It may have taken me 3 years to realize & 6 months to admit, or 3.5 years to slowly fall in love, but Philly doesn't stink--- it's actually wonderful.

This blog will (hopefully) explore many of the reasons that I love this city of brotherly love.

I'm worried about my writing being even somewhat interesting, so I think I'll focus on photos, and maybe a few guest posts. We'll see.