Bringing Times Square to Philadelphia

A rendering of a digital display on South Broad Street

A rendering of a digital display on South Broad Street via a promotional video for the displays.

Times Square is great, or else too crowded and touristy and not nearly as authentic as Williamsburg, Brooklyn, depending on your point of view. But what about Times Square, Philadelphia? More specifically: what about the newly unveiled plan to turn a large swath of Center City around City Hall into a “digital district” with giant “urban experiential displays” at strategic locations?

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A Lesson on Gemütlichkeit in Haddon Heights

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When words fail us, German usually comes in handy. In this case, it has a word for the rush of feelings that overcomes us when we browse through the listing photos for this very quaint four-bedroom home in Haddon Heights: Gemütlichkeit.

Absent an adequate English translation, the word roughly equates to a sense of coziness and calm. It usually refers to home design, but you may also be familiar with the excellent toasting anthem, Ein Prosit der Gemütlichkeit, which basically means “a toast to your well-being” and has been repeated at Oktoberfests near and far forever.

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Inga Saffron vs. Mural Arts: The T-Shirt Edition

mural arts t-shirt

A t-shirt made by Mural Arts in the wake of a column by Inga Saffron. Modeled by Emily Goulet.

This year marks the Mural Arts Program (MAP)’s 30th anniversary, and it should surprise no one that the Inquirer‘s Inga Saffron — a longtime critic of the city arts agency — would have something to say about it.

In a recent Changing Skyline column, the architecture critic did indeed take the opportunity to say a few words about MAP, some of them almost kind:

During those three decades, the city agency has left its mark on some 3,600 walls, mostly in the bleaker corners of the city where a little paint isn’t the worst thing that can happen.

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One Year on the Market: Frank Palumbo’s Former Main Line Home

palumbo house

The house is secluded behind tall trees and a fence, as this 2012 Google Street View capture shows.

There are a slew of properties on the Main Line worth more than 204 Merion Road’s $1,399,000 asking price, but those houses with their gaudy price tags — well, they’re just houses.

This house is different. This is where the legendary nightclub owner Frank Palumbo and his “vivacious” former Hollywood starlet wife, Kippee Valez, lived. That means the new owners of 204 Merion Road will be acquiring a home that comes with a story.

In 2004 the Inquirer’s Matt Blanchard said the home “is probably the closest thing to Graceland in Pennsylvania, and the last remnant of a once-great hospitality empire.”

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Morning Headlines: Civic Design Review Committee Gives Thumbs Up to Comcast & Foster

Rendering of CITC. Photo courtesy of Comcast Corporate.

Rendering of CITC.
Photo courtesy of Comcast Corporate.

The Civic Design Review Committee may not have the final say as to which projects get the go-ahead, but yesterday their approval of Comcast’s proposed Innovation and Technology Center, designed by London architect Norman Foster, ended the regulatory process for the building. Developers are now permits away from commencing construction this summer.

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Suit Corner Is Engulfed By Fire

suit-cornerFirst it was Shirt Corner, the iconic clothing retailer at Third and Market. The retailer went out of business, the building was slated for redevelopment, the redevelopment was scrapped due to structural issues, then it (unexpectedly?) collapsed during demolition. Fans of historical buildings and classic type mourn.

Now, across the street, Suit Corner — which also had a similarly iconic facade, but was still serving customers after 50+ years — has gone up in flames. The fire started this morning, and has apparently destroyed the business, according to news reports.

For more on this story and for updates as it develops, head over to Philly Mag News & Opinion: Suit Corner Fire Is Under Control (Updated)

Image of Suit Corner via Google Street View.

Get a Home Makeover From IKEA

home-tour-squadIKEA calls itself the Life Improvement Store, and it’s now expanding its services to make good on that moniker. Taking a page from the book of home-makeover shows that have become so popular, the Swedes have launched the “grassroots” IKEA Home Tour, which will send a team of experts to different cities to work with desperate homeowners (design-desperate, that is. This ain’t no Extreme Makeover).

The IKEA “Home Tour Squad” is composed of five IKEA employees (pictured, left) who are leaving their store-bound jobs and going on the road to provide two makeovers in each city they visit. So far the cities on that list include Atlanta, Charlotte, Baltimore/D.C., New York and Philadelphia.

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Mary Sheridan’s Lambertville Home and Saloon For Sale

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Let’s go back in time for a moment. To 1988. Mary Sheridan is the matriarch of sleepy Lambertville, New Jersey. She has been working as a Democrat in city politics since she was hired as city clerk in 1937. And our own beloved Inga Saffron is but a staff writer at the Inquirer. State investigators are sorting through a financial quagmire in the city’s books and Saffron is detailing the discovery that Sheridan has been running the city as something of an anachronistic autocrat. This March 13, 1988 delight sums up the situation in Lambertville:

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