It all started with a dam.
In 1821, the City of Philadelphia dammed the Schuylkill River as part of a complex plan to provide clean water to the city. The dam, the longest in the country at the time—its walkway was 235 feet long and 26 feet wide—and the Water Works on a bluff above it called Fair Mount, became famed tourist attractions. Perhaps more importantly, the dam created an enormous stretch of calm water on which citizens could practice and observe what soon became the most popular spectator sport in the country: the racing of rowboats. In her forthcoming photo-packed book Boathouse Row: Waves of Change in the Birthplace of American Rowing (Temple University Press), former Inquirer reporter Dotty Brown delves river-deep into the history of the city’s rowing culture and the landmark clubhouses built to further it, as well as some of the city’s most enduring characters. Last Saturday night, in conjunction with the first-ever Philly Free Streets festival, Boathouse Row celebrated an upgrade to its LED lights with an Instagram-worthy light show. Here, some of the history behind Boathouse Row and how those lights wound up there. Read more »
The thought of venturing into the quiet, green, EL-less land that is Fairmount Park can seem a bit intimidating when what you’re used to traipsing around in is an environment made up of grey concrete, confidently dodging speeding SEPTA buses and those clipboard-holding people who are always, without fail, planted along Walnut Street. (You know, the ones who force you into saying awful things like “No, I don’t have a minute for dying otters. SORRY.”)
After all, what’s one to do with all that obstacle-free nature?
But it’s time to get over your fears: This summer, the Fairmount Park Conservancy put together an awesome, pretty detailed map of Fairmount Park, identifying Indego stations, key trails, bike lanes and SEPTA bus stops speckled throughout its 2,050 acres. And along with that map, they’ve compiled a list of 50 Fairmount Park activities worth experiencing — a bucket list, if you will — from fitness-related activities, like playing tennis at Chamounix’s hard courts, getting your downward dog on at Lemon Hill and running Boxers’ Trail, to more Instagram-worthy (and leisurely) activities like picnicking in the Azalea Garden and enjoying the views from the bluffs in Laurel Hill Cemetery.
When was the last time you climbed a tree? Personally, I can’t remember, but I’m guessing it was at least a decade ago. I’d actually completely forgotten about tree climbing as an activity (these days, climbing the mountain that is my Netflix “My List” is more my priority, you know?) until I stumbled upon the Instagram videos of Emile Sorger, co-owner of Brewerytown’s Yoga and Movement Sanctuary and, it would seem, avid tree climber.
Lately, Sorger has been posting Instagram videos of himself climbing up, swinging on the branches of and jumping from limb to limb (yes, this does inspire gasps) of Fairmount Park trees. And let me tell you: All that tree climbing looks like quite the workout — and after watching one of Sorger’s videos, you’ll be itching to abandon your Netflix marathon and take to the closest tree you can find for a sweat session, too. (Just please, be careful.)
A few of our favorite tree-climbing (and branch-swinging) videos from Sorger’s Instagram collection, below.
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Police have made three arrests in the June 14th murder of 26-year-old Toy Charda Bryant of Chester, whose body was found handcuffed and stabbed in Fairmount Park, with a gunshot wound to the back of her head. Two of the suspects are boyfriend and girlfriend, and all three were people Bryant called friends.
Two weeks later, homicide Captain James Clark has told Philadelphia magazine that he believes 28-year-old Shintele Smith orchestrated the murder.
“She did all the violence. She beat her, she stabbed her several times, and she ultimately shot her in the head,” said Clark, who described the case as “the most brutal murder that I’ve ever seen in my eight or night years in homicide by a female on a female.”
It is believed that an $800 debt is the reason that Bryant was allegedly tortured at the hands of friends during the final hours of her life. Police believe Keith Bullock drove the vehicle that transported Bryant, Smith and Shavon Armstrong from Chester to Philadelphia. Bryant was allegedly handcuffed and stabbed repeatedly by Smith during the ride over, but was ultimately killed by a gunshot wound in Fairmount Park, near the Mann Performing Arts Center, where her body was found hours later. Defensive wounds on her hands suggest she tried to defend herself.
The Fairmount Park Conservancy announced in a statement today that it has hired Rick Magder as its new executive director effective September 1st.
The position became vacant when Mayor Jim Kenney recruited then-executive manager, Kathryn Ott Lovell, to be Commissioner of Philadelphia Parks & Recreation.
Lauded as a “nationally recognized leader in conservation and urban renewal” by the Conservancy, Magder currently serves as the founding Executive Director of Groundwork Hudson Valley and the Executive Director of Groundwork USA in Yonkers, NY. Magder also launched the Yonkers River Trail that connects New York City to downtown Yonkers, and seeks to “[reclaim] miles of vacant brownfield sites through one of the [New York] region’s most underserved communities.” He has received many prestigious awards including the Conservation Hero award from the National Park Service and the Partners in Conservation Award. Read more »
Police have identified the woman who was found dead in Fairmount Park early Tuesday morning as Toy Charda Bryant, age 26, of Chester. Police say there are no updates at this time on the investigation of who killed Bryant.
Bryant was found face down and handcuffed, approximately 10 feet from the road. At a press conference yesterday afternoon, Homicide Capt. James Clark ran through a list of injuries the woman had sustained: one stab wound in her upper left torso, multiple stab wounds in her back, defensive wounds on her hands, and a gunshot wound on the back of her head. She also has three tattoos: the word “Loyal” on her chest, “Ka$h” on her right wrist, and a rose on her right thigh. Read more »
Philadelphia police found the body of a woman in Fairmount Park Tuesday morning.
The victim, who was found near a wooded area on Georges Hill Drive near the Mann Center, was face down and handcuffed, with a stab wound to her upper left torso, according to police. She was pronounced dead at 8:30 a.m. and no weapon has been recovered. Read more »
Earlier this year, we told you that Philadelphia’s Parks & Recreation Department and the Fairmount Park Conservancy were accepting proposals to operate a rotating series of beer gardens in the city’s green spaces. It has now been announced that Avram Hornik and his FCM Hospitality will be the operator of these pop-up beer gardens known as Parks on Tap.
Hornik is the operator of the hugely successful Morgan’s Pier along the Delaware River and in the past has run Winterfest at Penn’s Landing and the 2013 PHS Pop-Up Garden on Broad Street. This summer, he will try to recreate those magical spaces at 14 locations around the city. Up first is the Schuylkill Banks. The pop-up along the river will run from Wednesday, June 29th through the 4th of July, before heading to 13 other locations in city parks.