Ben Franklin Parkway: Philly’s Grandest Flop

Illustration by Gluekit

“The construction of the Parkway is the greatest Twentieth Century accomplishment of any city of the world.”

So wrote a breathless Andrew Wright Crawford in 1919 in the American Magazine of Art. Seeing as Crawford was secretary of Philadelphia’s Art Commission, his objectivity was a bit suspect. And the 20th century was still fairly young. But his sentiments about the Benjamin Franklin Parkway — née Fairmount Parkway — echoed throughout the city. “No Other Municipality Can Boast of Similar Accomplishment,” crowed the Inquirer, an outspoken proponent, from its front page on November 23, 1919. Read more »

Bart Blatstein’s Atlantic City

Philly developer Bart Blatstein has been playing real-life Monopoly, cobbling together parcels of property in Atlantic City — everyone’s favorite resort-town-slash-urban-metaphor. His snagging of the Pier Shops and Showboat made big headlines. And a recent set of acquisitions shows the beginnings of a plan to do, well, something in the city’s perpetually transitional South Inlet neighborhood. Blatstein is holding his cards close, so we asked Temple prof Bryant Simon, author of Boardwalk of Dreams: Atlantic City and the Fate of Urban America, to evaluate Bart’s moves. “He’s buying stuff for 10 cents on the dollar,” notes Simon. “I think in the short term it might work, and in the long term it might be great. He clearly has something big in his back pocket.” Whether that something is geared toward tourism (beach houses? A water park?) or permanent housing (a Philly telecommuter suburb?) is the question for Simon, who’s cautiously optimistic that the urbanism-minded Blatstein could get something meaningful done. Read more »

In Praise of the Philly Stoop

Two women sit on the stoop at 1308 Lombard Street in 1913. Photo from PhillyHistory.org, a project of the Philadelphia Department of Records

Over the next few weeks, as the weather in the Delaware Valley makes its slow, humid descent from gloriously sun-kissed to armpit-soakingly swampy, you, dear reader, will find yourself overwhelmed with the desire to get away. And you will have options. There will be no shortage of articles and news segments advising you of the multitudinous places you can get away to. And sure, jet off to the French Riviera, Rich Uncle Pennybags, if that’s where your bliss — and your rewards card — takes you. But I posit that this year, the best summer spot is much closer. And I’m not even talking about the Shore.

I’m talking about the stoop. Everyone has one. It’s at once impossibly ordinary — it’s the steps to your door, duh — and grand — per urbanist saint Jane Jacobs, the basic building block of community, the perch for her famous “eyes upon the street.”

In a year when social media has made us increasingly antisocial and politics have rendered us hopelessly divided, it’s time for a re-appreciation of the humble stoop and the centuries-old tradition of hangin’ out on it. Read more »

This Make-Ahead Oatmeal Saved Our Lives

If I’m going to be honest, I’ll admit that I’d always seen oatmeal as the homework of breakfast. On one hand, It’s definitely the healthiest option on the brunch menu; on the other hand, it’s oatmeal: mushy, squishy, gooey-gluey. I’d never chosen to eat oatmeal (cookies notwithstanding) without a twinge of oughta reverberating in my frontal cortex.

Then one day my pregnant wife sent me a recipe from The Kitchn for oatmeal that you can — get this — make a whole week’s worth of at once. It seemed, honestly, insane. “That’s bonkers!” I thought. “Wouldn’t it just turn into a giant cauldron of pasty gloop?” Memories of dining halls and motel breakfasts flooded into my head. I was not a believer. I ignored the ridiculous recipe. My wife rolled her eyes.

Then she and I welcomed our first child — and along with the transcendent joy of snoogling with your just-born progeny came the crippling sleep insecurity that accompanies a squalling newborn. All of a sudden, the idea of making, like, five days of hearty breakfasts in one shot was super appealing. In an act of groggy desperation, I retrieved that recipe from my chat history and prepared to disregard the laws of grain physics as I understood them. I forced myself to believe that cooked oatmeal might not turn to gruel over the course of a week. Read more »

The Case for Philly Statehood

Illustration by GlueKit

Illustration by Gluekit

Back in July, as the world was reeling from the U.K.’s Brexit vote, Harper Polling asked Pennsylvanians which part of the state they’d like to see exit the Commonwealth. Half of respondents weren’t sure, but nearly-two thirds of those who were said it should be “Philadelphia and the Southeast.”

Let’s start with the obvious: The Philly region will never become a state. Ever. Legislators in Harrisburg wouldn’t let its southeastern population center and economic engine ghost. Nor would a Republican-controlled U.S. Congress admit a new, predominantly Democratic state to the union. But that doesn’t mean Philly, and what have become its increasingly like-minded surrounding counties, couldn’t go it alone.  Read more »

Ed Rendell: Sorry About that “Ugly Women” Comment

rendell

Yesterday we told you about how Ed Rendell put his foot in his mouth while trying to explain why he thought Donald Trump‘s comments about women, particularly his observations about bosom size as it relates to attractiveness, will hurt the presumptive Republican nominee with women voters:

“Trump’s comments like ‘You can’t be a 10 if you’re flat-chested,’ that’ll come back to haunt him. There are probably more ugly women in America than attractive women. People take that stuff personally,” said Rendell, a noted Hillary Clinton supporter, to a Washington Post reporter who was probing Trump’s chances and appeal in Philadelphia’s suburbs.

The quote went super viral while Rendell was in Washington, D.C., for Infrastructure Week. Reporters were waiting for Rendell when he got off the train at 30th Street Station yesterday afternoon. Read more »

WATCH: 60 Minutes Profiles Temple Prof Wrongly Accused of Spying

Last May, the Department of Justice dropped a bombshell when it announced charges against Temple physics chair Xiaoxing Xi. The allegation: The Chinese-born scientist was alleged to be passing top-secret technology — something called a “pocket heater” — along to China. He was demoted from his position at Temple and generally shamed. Then, four months later, the DOJ quietly, and with no explanation, dropped the charges against him. According to the New York Times, federal prosecutors didn’t understand the science. Whoops!

Last night, nearly one year after federal agents with guns and bulletproof vests barged into his home around sunrise and handcuffed him, 60 Minutes profiled Xi and Sherry Chen, another Chinese-born scientist accused and then cleared of spying for China in a segment called “Collateral Damage.” Read more »

Here’s Hillary Clinton’s Philly Victory Speech

HILLARY-CLINTON-Philadelphia-940x540

Hillary Clinton won the Pennsylvania Primary on Tuesday, and she took her victory lap at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, flanked by the Pennsylvania politicians who’ve been flanking her all along. Hey, Jim Kenney! Yo, Tom Wolf! What’s up, Bob Casey! She spoke to a raucous crowd who often interrupted with chants of “Hillary! Hillary!”

The former Secretary of State delivered a speech very much in line with what she’d been saying at her Philly stops in the last week. She focused on Donald Trump, and responded specifically to his claims that she was playing gender politics.

“Now, the other day, Mr. Trump accused me of playing the, quote, ​’ woman card. ​’​ Well, if fighting for women’s health care and paid family leave and equal pay is playing the ​’​ woman card, ​’​ then deal me in,” she said to applause.

Clinton also attempted to mend fences with supporters of Bernie Sanders. “Whether you support Senator Sanders or you support me, there’s much more that unites us than divides us. We all agree that wages are too low and inequality is too high,” she said, lobbing a few grenades at Wall Street for good measure.

And, of course, she vowed to return in July for the Democratic National Convention.

Read Clinton’s full speech below: Read more »

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