Amtrak Announces Pope Plan: Beefed-Up Service, Reservations Required

Amtrak | Shutterstock. Pope Francis | giulio napolitano /

Amtrak | Shutterstock. Pope Francis | giulio napolitano /

Amtrak is beefing up its service into Philadelphia for the pope’s visit, the agency said Friday, but there will also be temporary restrictions on travel, and the ripple effect is expected to be felt throughout the Northeast Corridor between New York and Washington D.C..

Also, they’re closing the bathrooms at 30th Street Station that weekend. (Don’t worry: There’ll be some portable facilities positioned outside.)

According to Amtrak: Read more »

JG Domestic Partners with Fair Food on New Lunch Menu


Sandwich of the Month: JG Domestic BLT with 1732 Meats Jalapeno Bacon

JG Domestic is now pairing with Fair Food Philadelphia to celebrate local produce and purveyors in a new summer menu. The partnership aims to support local farmers and celebrate the region’s bounty of produce.

JG Domestic especially showcases the local farmers in its $12.50 Blue Plate Specials, which vary with the day of the week.

Blue Plate Specials and the rest of the menu »

Headlines: Big Plan to Cap the Railyards at 30th Street Station Needs You

30th Street Station. Photo | Jeff Fusco

30th Street Station. Photo | Jeff Fusco

After the planning process for the 175-acre area surrounding 30th Street Station officially kicked off in January, the Philadelphia 30th Street Station District Plan is starting to take shape.

A team lead by Amtrak, Brandywine Realty Trust, Drexel University, PennDOT and SEPTA (plus additional public stakeholders) will release three conceptual diagrams at an open house scheduled for tonight from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at 30th Street Station.

Each one is an ambitious view into what one of the busiest transportation hubs in the nation could look like in the not-too-distant future. Amtrak gave PlanPhilly’s Jim Saksa a sneak preview of the trio of concepts, which call for capping parts of the railyards or the highway in some fashion.

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The Porch 2.0 Is Here

The Porch 2.0 | Photo by HughE Dillon

The Porch 2.0 | Photo by HughE Dillon

Michael Schulson’s food truck and booze wagon are now set up at the Porch next to 30th Street Station. Rotisserie at the Porch will serve lunch seven days a week. Wednesday through Saturday, a beverage trailer will offer beer and liquor from 4 p.m. until 9 p.m. On those days, the Rotisserie at the Porch will serve food till 9 p.m., Sunday through Thursday lunch will be served til 2 p.m.

The Porch 2.0 solidifies an experiment to breathe life into what was a parking lot next to 30th Street Station. The University City District teamed with Groundswell Design Group and Gehl Studio to enhance the space with new planters, seating and lighting. The UCD also partnered with Michael Schulson as the food purveyor.

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Get Ready for The Porch 2.0


Rendering of the Porch 2.0

When the Porch opened at 30th Street Station in late 2011, it was designed to be a low-cost test run at place-making. Could some colorful chairs, planters, shade, and a rotating cast of food trucks convert what was a blah parking lot, into a gathering place where people would linger? Turns out that the answer was a resounding yes.

And now the Unviersity City District has announced plans for The Porch 2.0. With commitments from Groundswell Design Group (Spruce Street Harbor Park and Independence Beer Garden), Gehl Studio and a new food and beverages partnership with restaurateur Michael Schulson, the new Porch will make permanent the ideas tested over the previous couple of years.

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Should 30th Street Station Follow the Lead of D.C.’s Union Station?

Photo by B. Krist for GPTMC

Photo by B. Krist for GPTMC

The revamped West Plaza at one of Philadelphia’s busiest–as a matter of fact, one of the country’s busiest–stations was only a taste of the larger transformation planned for 30th Street Station, as the Inquirer‘s Paul Nussbaum reminds us. Senator Bob Casey, Nussbaum reports, recently pointed to Union Station in Washington D.C. as an example of what 30th Street could be, calling on the upcoming papal visit and Philadelphia’s selection as the next city to hold the Democratic National Convention in 2016 to inspire “new urgency into planners’ visions for it and its University City environs.”

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Morning Headlines: What Will 30th Street Station Look Like in 2040?

30th st station

We already know that our beloved 30th Street Station–yes, we’re still calling it that–is one of the busiest hubs in the nation. But what will it be like in the year 2040? As Jim Saksa of PlanPhilly points out, that’s partially up to you, boss:

The district plan is a joint effort by Amtrak, Brandywine Realty Trust, Drexel University, SEPTA and other stakeholders to create an implementable vision for the 175-acre area surrounding the station.

In the coming months, the team will develop three different scenarios for the district come 2040. Following another round of public feedback and feasibility studies, those three scenarios will be synthesized into a single District Plan, which will be fully implementable the day it’s released (sometime around fall 2016).

So, do you really want to see the rail yards north of 30th Street Station capped and turned into a platform for the next office and residential towers in a confluence of transportation, residential and commercial activity? Then you kind of have to get involved.

In order for the rail yard cap to happen, that land (technically, the air rights above it) needs to be worth enough to justify the tremendous cost of covering it. Just as the development of Hudson Yards is covering the price of putting a lid on the West Side Yard, burying the rail yard would be effectively paid for with the rent from the skyscrapers built on top.

Here’s to get (and stay) involved in the process. You can also take this handy survey to help out even more!

Will plans for 30th St. Station District include capping rail yards? That’s up to you [PlanPhilly]

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Tale of the Tape: Train Wreck at Beck’s Cajun Cafe


As Serious Eats pointed out in its rundown of Philadelphia cheesesteaks, under seasoning is a big issue. Even spots that aren’t just phoning it in often lack adding any salt or pepper. Under seasoning is not an issue on the Train Wreck at Beck’s Cajun Cafe. This Philadelphia take on the Po Boy adds Andouille sausage and salami to the traditional cheesesteak.

Today we take the Train Wreck for a spin and see how the Creole take on the cheesesteak stacks up.

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Bearded Ladies and Philadelphia Gay Men’s Chorus Team Up for Edith Piaf Cabaret [UPDATED]


If at 6 p.m. on Monday, October 13th, you suddenly find yourself surrounded by a singing ensemble of Edith Piafs as you head for the train home, don’t be alarmed. You’re simply being led to a very special performance by queer-centric performance cabaret troupe The Bearded Ladies and Philadelphia Gay Men’s Chorus (PGMC) on The Porch at 30th Street Station. Pull up a seat and let that train go by. Trust us, you’ll want to stick around for this.

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Proposal: Bring Amtrak Trains to Center City


It’s the easiest thing in the world to board an Amtrak train in Philly and be in New York barely an hour later. Would it be an even better process if Philadelphians could board that train in Center City?

Bob Previdi thinks so. A transit expert — and former spokesman for retired Council President Anna Verna — Previdi points out in an opinion piece for Philadelphia Business Journal there’s already a tunnel from 30th Street Station to Suburban and Market Street stations used by SEPTA. Just let a couple of Amtrak trains per hour use that tunnel, he says, and the results might be startling:

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