Bucks County Woodworker’s Complex Gets National Landmark Designation

chair1 George Nakashima left an internment camp in Idaho and came to Bucks County. There, he created iconic, influential wood furniture — including the straight-backed chair, a modern take on the classic Windsor chair. The U.S. Department of the Interior on Wednesday named Nakashima’s woodworking complex in New Hope a national landmark.

Born in 1909 in Spokane, Washington, Nakashima — who died in 1990 — traveled around the world after earning a masters in architecture from MIT. When World War II began, he returned to the U.S. and married. In 1942 he was sent to an internment camp, the Minidoka Relocation Center in Idaho. With the sponsorship of Antonin Raymond, a Czech architect who had worked with Nakashima in Japan and India, Nakashima was freed from the camp and settled on Raymond’s farm in Bucks County. He subsequently settled on a farm on Aquetong Road in New Hope and built his studio there.

At his Bucks  studio, Nakashima produced furniture for Widdicomb-Mueller and Knoll — which has re-introduced his straight chair — and became a father of the post-war American craft movement. He received numerous awards for his work, including the Third Order of the Sacred Treasure from the Emperor and Government of Japan in 1983. His foundation is attempting to accomplish his dream of installing “Altars of Peace” — carved from an enormous black walnut tree — on all the continents.

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Report: Pennsylvania’s Bridges Are Worst in Nation

A report released Thursday from the American Road & Transportation Builders Association names Pennsylvania’s bridges the worst in the nation. ARTBA — the country’s largest transportation construction trade group and advocates for more spending on road infrastructure — says Pennsylvania has both the most (5,218) and the highest percentage (23%) of “structurally deficient” bridges of any state in the union. Pennsylvania has 22,660 bridges in all.

The full state rankings put Pennsylvania just ahead of Iowa. New Jersey (29th, 624 bridges, 10%) and Delaware (49th, 56, 6%) fare much better than the Keystone State in the rankings.

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72-Year-Old Busker: Cops, Security Guards Beat Me

The Daily News’ Helen Urbinas on Thursday reports the tale of Felix Wilkins, a 72-year-old Philadelphia busker. If you work downtown East of Broad, you’ve probably seen him — he’s the old man in the suit who plays the flute with an orange crate near the Reading Terminal Market. And on April 9th, Wilkins says he was beaten by market security and Philadelphia police.

Wilkins, who studied at Panama’s Conservatory of Music and Brooklyn College and taught at the latter,  has a background in jazz but is happy to play anything. He was previously arrested at Rittenhouse Square by police in 2007, but won a $27,500 judgment from the city. As part of the settlement, then-police commissioner Sylvester Johnson had to issue a memo telling police “that the ability to play a musical instrument or sing in a public place and solicit funds are forms of expression that are protected by the First Amendment.”

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Cool New Map Shows Where Phillies Fans Live by ZIP Code


Upshot, a new data-driven journalism site from the New York Times with a cringe-worthy name, released a really cool map detailing the preponderance of baseball fans by ZIP code. It’s based on data from Facebook. The Times has helpfully colored the Yankees areas an evil, dark gray.

The site also released draw-down maps based on some of baseball’s biggest rivalries. Say, Phillies and Mets!

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Washington Post Seems Kind of Enamored of Well-Organized Drug Ring

An important out-of-town newspaper has written an article about Philadelphia, and it’s not the New York Times! On Tuesday, the Washington Post ran an article on the Main Line preppie drug bust, complete with mugshots of the young suspects.

The story, “Philly preppies accused in ‘Main Line take over’ drug operation aimed at cornering supply to fancy schools,” is a solid story for the paper. Many of the Post’s readers must be familiar with the Philadelphia Main Line, and drug busts involving $35,000-a-year prep schools like the Haverford School allow the paper to print the doe-eyed mugshots in the paper. Schadenfreude for those who hate the rich; horror for upper-class readers. It’s sure to be a hit.

Anyway, the paper compared the teens to Mark Zuckerberg:

They called the operation the “Main Line take over project.” In terms of intricacy and ambition, it appears more suited for the business pages than the crime blotter. [...] On Facebook, he and the accused sub-dealers’ play lacrosse, pose for family photos, hug cats, fence and wear lots of button-downs. In all, they look like everyday, if wealthy, teens and 20-somethings — perhaps characters out of “The Social Network,” the movie about Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook’s birth.

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Bike Share Coming to Philadelphia — But Not Until Next Year

The city is poised to announce a bike share program at 2, according to a media advisory released by the city. Mayor Michael Nutter and other city officials will appear at the steps of the Art Museum today to announce the “dream team” — the city’s words, not mine — it has selected to run the bike sharing program. Let’s hope the bike share program goes better than 8-8.

This “dream team” is not the 1992 Olympic basketball team, steamrolling opponents with ease — it needs time to create. The Inquirer’s Amelia Brust reports the bike share program won’t be hitting Philadelphia until spring of next year.

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Newspapers to Lose Lobby as New Retail Headed to 801 Market Street

In a memo sent to all Inquirer, Daily News and Philly.com employees yesterday, publisher Bob Hall announced some new retail for 801 Market Street! He didn’t disclose what, exactly, was coming to the old Strawbridge & Clothier building in Market East, but the Inquirer reports it’s Century 21 — no relation to the real estate company — a discount designer department store with seven locations in New York and New Jersey. Hall told employees at the newspapers and website that they will “be pleased with the flagship retailer that PREIT has secured and will soon announce as our new neighbor in the coming weeks” — oh, and also, they’ll now have to enter the building from Eighth Street.

The memo contains lots of classic corporate speak — the closing of the Market Street lobby, which people who work at 801 Market generally use, is presented as a great opportunity for the company — and also notes that “deconstruction of the space will at times be loud and somewhat messy.” Unfortunately, Hall uses two spaces after a period — argh!

More deatils on the Century 21 announcement at Shoppist.


The full memo follows:

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Flyers Lose, Fans Flip Off Former Flyer


My grade school was terrible at basketball. The St. Martha’s teams I played for did not win a game in either 7th or 8th grade. I was not yet five feet tall and not very good, so I didn’t play much. One night we were losing big to St. Dominic’s; I remember it well because it was played in a gym where some parts of the sideline were concurrent with a radiator. There was not much to be excited about. On the bench I asked a teammate what he was doing after the game. “We’re going to Joe’s house,” he said, “to make fun of the other team until we feel like we’ve won.”

When your team loses, moral victories are important. It’s good to have a coping strategy. The Philadelphia Flyers have not won the Stanley Cup since 1975 — a drought so long even St. Martha’s has won a title in that timeframe. Last night, the Flyers lost to the New York Rangers, 4-1, in Game 3 of the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. The Rangers lead the best-of-seven series, two games to one, and they’ve outplayed the Flyers for most of it. Last night’s 4-1 Flyers loss was the best the team’s played all series! If you handle Philadelphia’s perennial sports failures by giving up as soon as you just know, now’s a good time to start giving up.

But, oh, what a moral victory Flyers fans had Tuesday night.

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Poet Walks Through Bensalem, Avoids Being Hit by Car

neshaminy inn

One of Bensalem’s best known spots. Photo: MerchantCircle.com

I grew up in Far Northeast Philly but went to high school in the suburbs. Add in trips to the Neshaminy Mall and time spent in Wawa parking lots and the place I’ve probably spent the second-most time in my life is Bensalem, Pa.

The township doesn’t seem like the ninth-largest municipality in Pennsylvania -— it barely feels like a singular town at all, with various communities of the township retaining different characteristics. If I want to make my high school sound fancier, I could say it was in Cornwells Heights.

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