Twenty years ago, Philadelphians awoke on Christmas Eve to dreadful news: A fire overnight in the World of Primates building at the Philadelphia Zoo had killed 23 animals, all of them members of endangered species. The tragedy made international headlines. Here, in memory of John, Snickers, Samantha, baby Maandazi and all the rest, are 11 things you might not know about the nation’s first zoo, courtesy (again) of James McClelland and Lynn Miller‘s new book, City in a Park. Read more »
Remember back when Emily, our fearless Be Well Philly leader, rappelled down 31 stories in the middle of Center City one weekday afternoon? Yes: 31 stories. Well, she did it for the experience, but the other 100 folks making their way down the building like Spiderman did it to raise money for Outward Bound. And when Emily chatted with the folks from Outward Bound about what they had coming coming down the pike, they mentioned the awesome Discovery Center — complete with an out-of-this-world high ropes course — they were at the tail-end of fundraising upward of $16 million for, to be built in the East Park section of Fairmount Park, by Strawberry Mansion.
And now fundraising is done, and it isn’t just the students of Outward Bound who will benefit: Mayor Nutter announced the plans to build the education-based Discovery Center, a partnership between Outward Bound and the Audubon Society, yesterday, the Philadelphia Business Journal reports. And once the Discovery Center is completed, hopefully by the summer of 2017, Philly residents, along with students getting their outdoor education on at the center, will have access to 50 acres of land that’s been fenced off since 1970, including trails (hey, runners!) and a giant reservoir-turned-lake surrounded by wildlife and migratory birds. Sounds lovely, doesn’t it? Read more »
A new book by James McClelland, executive director emeritus of the Philadelphia Art Alliance, and Lynn Miller, professor emeritus of political science at Temple University, landed on our desk recently with a resounding thud. City in a Park: A History of Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park System is a thick and terrific compendium of everything that’s in our city’s biggest green space and how it came to be. It includes fodder for a ton of future “Things You Never Knew” posts, but we’ll start with this one, chock-full of obscure facts about the lovely, historic Fairmount Park mansions, whose names are familiar but whose stories may not be. Special holiday note: The mansions “dress up” for Christmas and are open for tours; this year’s version, which begins on Thursday, has “The Twelve Days of Christmas” for its theme. You can visit six historic houses — Mount Pleasant, Lemon Hill, Strawberry Mansion, Cedar Grove, Woodford and Laurel Hill — for just $20 with a holiday pass. Read more »
I don’t know about you, but I’m having a really hard time even thinking about the holidays right now, considering it’s 65 degrees and rainy outside. But considering Christmas is just five weeks away (!!!), it’s time to start making the mental shift to all things Yule log and Christmas trees and fireplaces and eggnog. Read more »
Turns out you won’t be able to camp out for Pope Francis’ visit to Philadelphia after all.
On Wednesday, the World Meeting of Families announced the creation of the Francis Fields Campgrounds, a segment of Fairmount Park where campers would be able to sleep for the Papal visit on September 26th and 27th.
(Philadelphia magazine’s Victor Fiorillo wrote about the camping proposal in July.)
For $199, people could get access to a fenced-in, secure area in Fairmount Park. Then it was another $99 to $109 if you wanted to keep your car nearby. For $999, you could get a pass for an RV plus four camping wristbands.
Sounds a little expensive, right? All the bad parts of a concert festival and none of the good for pretty much the same price! This seems like a logistical nightmare, so the high cost is understandable — but that’s still a lot of money to go camping.
It turns out a lot of people thought it was indeed a lot of money to go camping. Today Endless Summer Productions, the company running the Francis Fields Campgrounds, canceled the idea. After about two days! Read more »
I’m sure plenty of you reading this have run a bazillion races in your lifetime, but how many of you have ever gotten to run alongside Olympic runners? Well, come August 30th, you’ll have the chance to do just that at the inaugural Belmont Plateau Hall of Fame Classic.
In 2013, the Post Brothers bought the prestigious Presidential City and are underway with a $100 million renovation of the highly visible complex on the edge of Fairmount Park and the drives. Last week they held a party to celebrate the first of the four buildings renovated, which already has tenants moved in. The Presidential was built in the 1950s, and maintained that style of living all the way down to the window air conditioning units that dotted the building’s exterior. Since the renovation, the Post Brothers installed central air in the units, expanded some of the windows to create a floor-to-ceiling effect, replaced the wiring, upgraded the piping and completely gutted each unit, installing top-of-the-line appliances. The Presidential offers studios to two-bedroom penthouses with wrap-around views of Fairmount Park, soaking tubs and showers. There are plenty of amenities that make the Presidential apartments very attractive as a new home, including the Sora Pool Club with its pool, saunas, massage rooms and a state-of-the-art fitness center.
We’re trying our hardest to forget all about this long, cold, dreary winter. (Yes, yes, despite all the snow predicted for tomorrow.) So we’re thrilled when we get to post things that get us amped for springtime, sunshine and warmer weather.
Today, it’s this bit of news: The Fairmount Park Conservancy is bringing back its popular guided trail-running series this spring — the series has been on a winter hiatus since late fall — with six upcoming runs now on the roster beginning March 14th. Read more »
The snow may be on its way out, but Don Harrison, the man responsible for that stunning Shiva the Ice Queen sculpture in Fairmount Park last week, has found enough ice to complete another gorgeous sculpture at the Swann Fountain in Logan Square. This time he’s carved out Greek god Poseidon, riding on a wave and carrying his three-prong spear—the whole nine yards. Here are some snapshots he shared on his Facebook page:
Imagine taking a snowy morning walk through Fairmount Park and suddenly encountering what appears to be a life-sized queen made of ice under a bridge.
I’m not sure if I’d run and scream or watch it in awe, but one Instagrammer, @moiety12, captured the mysterious piece of frozen art via a fabulous picture: