Independence Mall Rises from the Dead

Independence Mall in 2011. The mall’s redesign brought people back to it and has stimulated a wave of redevelopment that has given new life to the buildings that surround it. | Photo: Courtesy National Park Service

Even as the Center City District (CCD) and its parent, the Central Philadelphia Development Corporation (CPDC), sound warnings every now and then that Center City’s current good fortune remains vulnerable to economic shifts, the organizations still find plenty of cause for celebration, or at least tub-thumping, in the space between the rivers from Vine to Pine.

At the most recent CPDC meeting at the Union League on June 27th, the tub-thumping concerned the subject of reattaching Independence Mall to the city that surrounds it.

Center City District Executive Director Paul Levy opened the meeting by describing the wound opened by the mall. “The mall was the creation of the urban renewal movement of the 1950s,” he said. At the time, the area around the mall was the center of the city’s garment industry: “Today we call it the maker community, but back then we called it sweatshops,” he added. Many of the 500 buildings that were razed to create the mall housed garment-industry firms, some of which were moved to the Callowhill Street area by the brand-new Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation starting in 1958.

What took their place, Levy continued, was a space that was “symmetrical but not well used.” Part of the reason for the lack of use was the mall itself, but another main contributor was the government, corporate and institutional offices that rose on its edges. Read more »

Beer Garden Madness Continues as Independence, PHS Drop Opening Dates

Photo by Neal Santos

Photo by Neal Santos

It’s the time of year when the deets on soon-to-open beer gardens fly fast and furious. Today, Independence Beer Garden in Old City dropped its start date, drinks list, and menu. And the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society announced its plans for two pop-ups: its flagship near 15th and South and a new University City spot at 36th and Filbert.

Read more »

Where to Find the Best Food During Center City Sips

Sky Garten will be open tonight and serving

Sky Garten will be open tonight and serving potato pancakes, brats and pretzel sticks

We are now a little over a week into Center City Sips. The drinks ($3 beer, $4 wine and $5 cocktails) are flowing and when the threat of unyielding downpour subsides, the weather should be great.

The true beauty of this event though is not just the drinks, but the endless half-price appetizers to soak it all up. While it is easy to find snacks to accompany the booze, it can be hard to track down the places with great appetizers. Nachos, mozzarella sticks, and wings are a dime a dozen during Center City Sips. It takes time and dedication to weed out the duds.

We’ve helped you out by narrowing down the list of a few places that are going to give you more than a warm plate of mozzarella sticks for your hard earned dollars.

Read more »

Two Beer Gardens Debut This Weekend

Last minute prep work at Independence Beer Garden

Last minute prep work at Independence Beer Garden

The first two beer gardens of the season open this weekend. Today, Michael Schulson’s Independence Beer Garden softly opens at 6th and Market and tomorrow marks 8th anniversary and beer garden opening at Memphis Taproom.

Memphis is celebrating inside with some great beers from their cellar plus some of the newest beers in the state. The bar will be pouring four beers from Highway Manor Brewing of Camp Hill, PA. The beers are all all open fermented and barrel aged. The beers will be Mr. Blueberry, Taste My Place, Mr. Strawberry, and Sayjohn Saison.  There will also be bottles on hand for takeout, with labels illustrated by Memphis Taproom’s own Keith Warren Greiman.

About those beer gardens »

New Happy Hours Offer Alternatives to Sips Crowds

Late afternoon wine enjoyed outdoors at Fitler Dining Room.

Late afternoon wine enjoyed outdoors at Fitler Dining Room.

Whether you’ve tired of Center City Sips, your go-to bar, or simply drinking at home, here’s a round-up of the newer additions to the list of Philadelphia’s happy hours this summer. With the heat of August on the horizon, we’re probably all going to need a drink (or three), so let these newcomers reinvigorate your weekday drinking.

We’ll accept a cocktail as thanks.

Read more »

Independence Beer Garden Adds Happy Hour, Yards Exclusive

yards-ibg-wheat-400

New beer from Yards at IBG Wheat.

Michael Schulson’s Independence Beer Garden at 6th and Market has added happy hour. The happy hour includes $4 beer, wine and cocktail specials from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., Sunday through Thursday. There’s also a $4 happy hour menu of food like corn croquettes, beef sliders and spit roasted chicken wings.

Also new is a new beer offering, IBG Wheat is a summer wheat brewed with Yards Brewing. The flavor is described as “candied sugar, orange peel, banana, clove, pepper, grass, lemon” and comes in at 6.5% alcohol by volume.

Independence Beer Garden has already gotten into our heavy rotation this year, the shuffleboard to the addictive popcorn has made us fans. And a special shoutout to Brooke, a server at IBG who might just be the nicest person in Philadelphia.

Check out the happy hour menu »

New La Colombe Planned for Independence Mall

dow-building-940The former Rohm and Haas building at the corner of 6th and Market Streets will be the home of a new La Colombe coffee cafe in 2015. La Colombe is leasing 1,700 square feet of ground-floor space at on Independence Mall. This will not be a mega La Colombe like the 11,000 square foot cafe recently opened in Fishtown.

The building has seen a rebirth of its public spaces since the joint venture of Keystone Property Group, Mack-Cali Realty Corporation and Parkway Corporation took over the building. Over the summer, the building’s plaza and breezeways were the home of the successful Independence Beer Garden.

La Colombe has been focusing on expansion since raising $28.5 million in backing this summer. No exact word on an opening date.

La Colombe [Official]

Philadelphia Is Getting Crabby

steamed-crabs-940

Philadelphia is getting crabby and it isn’t because the Eagles lost (thank goodness). We’ve been spotting crab specials pop up around town. Corner Foodery is offering snow crabs for $9.99 per pound or three blue crabs for $9.99. Each order of blue crabs gets a free 12-ounce draft. And tonight, from 5 to 7 p.m. tonight, the deal works in reverse. Buy a beer and get an order of free crabs.

More crab specials » 

Cheese Curd Redemption at Independence Beer Garden

independence-beer-garden-night-940

Adam Erace reviews the pop-up Independence Beer Garden and offers tips for where and when to hang out but skewers the food, save what comes with cheese curds.

But don’t miss the cheese curds, light little poufs of tempura-fried Vermont goodness served with sweet, smoky tomato jam, the marinara to these new-school mozzarella sticks.

At Independence Beer Garden, a democratic menu of bar fare [City Paper]
Independence Beer Garden [Foobooz]

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