Bookmark These: Running and Hiking Routes to See Fairmount Park’s Historic Mansions on Foot

Mount Pleasant Mansion | Photo by R. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia

Mount Pleasant Mansion | Photo by R. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia

This past weekend, the Fairmount Park Conservancy hosted their third annual Jingle Jog, which takes runners on either a five-mile or 8.2-mile route through Fairmount Park to see the park’s historic mansions all decked out for the holidays. If you missed it because too many Friday happy hour margaritas (hey, it happens), not to fear: The folks at the Fairmount Park Conservancy posted the two routes from the Jingle Jog, which you can tackle running or hiking, on their blog today.

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Tour the Historic Houses of Fairmount Park During ‘A Very Philly Christmas’

Laurel Hill Mansion. Photo by Lauren Schwarz

Laurel Hill Mansion. Photo by Lauren Schwarz

It’s the 45th year for the holiday house tours in Fairmount Park and the six historic homes known as the “Park Charms” are all decked out and ready for visitors. They open Thursday, December 1st, with new events tied to this year’s theme, “A Very Philly Christmas,” taking place over two weekends.

Saturday, December 3rd, is Sounds of the Season day, with Philly musicians playing in different houses throughout the day, including the Mummers All Stars in Lemon Hill Mansion and Cedar Grove, the Clef Club in Mount Pleasant, the Quiet Storm doo-wop group in Laurel Hill Mansion, Opera Philadelphia Victorian carolers in Woodford, and the Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra string quartet in Strawberry Mansion. The roving beer garden Parks On Tap will be popping outside of Strawberry Mansion. Read more »

11 Things You Might Not Know About Boathouse Row

Ben Yanis | Flickr

Ben Yanis | Flickr

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 Ultimate Fairmount Park Bucket List

Photo via Fairmount Park Conservancy

Photo via Fairmount Park Conservancy

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.

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The Philly Fitness Instagrammer Who Turns Fairmount Park Trees Into Workout Equipment

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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Homicide Captain: Victim Was Killed in Fairmount Park

Photo | Google Maps

Photo | Google Maps

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.

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Fairmount Park Conservancy Lands Award-Winning Executive Director

Rick Magder | Photo courtesy of the Fairmount Park Conservancy

Rick Magder | Photo courtesy of the Fairmount Park Conservancy

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 »

Victim of Fairmount Park Slaying Has Been Identified

The victim in the Fairmount Park murder has been identified.

The area of Fairmount Park where police found a murder victim Tuesday morning. Photo | Google Maps

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 »

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