A crowd fills the Independence Mall as Pope Francis speaks in front of Independence Hall, Saturday, Sept. 26, 2015 in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Follow Philadelphia magazine’s live coverage of Pope Francis’s historic visit all weekend long.
Independence Mall was a chaotic, bizarre, beautiful place on Saturday. Pope Francis delivered a rousing speech on immigration and religious freedom there in the afternoon, but that was far from the only memorable thing that happened. Here are five takeaways from a day at the historic site:
1. Philadelphia is truly an international city right now.
Before the pope showed up to deliver his speech, Chinese dancers, African drummers and salsa musicians entertained the crowd for hours. Walking around, I heard more non-English languages than I heard English, and officials who took to the stage always got a bigger applause when they spoke in Spanish. People were waving flags from loads of different countries. Seeing this all near Independence Hall, where our country got its start, was pretty special. Read more »
Public Ledger building, Photo by Beyond My Ken via Wikipedia
Whether now or later, the Independence Mall area seems destined for “hot neighborhood” status. What with new constructions and building redevelopments germinating in the quarter, the latest area real estate purchase drives our hopes even further: Carlyle Development Group has bought the Public Ledger building at 6th and Chestnut for $58 million.
According to the Inquirer’s Jacob Adelman, the New York-based investor acquired the ole’ P.B., listed for sale last year, this past Thursday and plans to revamp it with “open floor plans and other contemporary touches.” Adelman also provides this gem of a quote from Carlyle CEO Abdi Mahamedi that pretty much anticipates our hopes coming true if executed properly:
“We want to make it an environment with cool tenants,” Mahamedi said. “You cannot have cool tenants if you do not have cool retail.”
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The Independence Beer Garden was a gamble that paid off on Independence Mall
In just a few short days, droves of people will descend on Independence Mall to celebrate the birthplace of America. But what if that shot of life to an otherwise sleepy tourist center were to stick around all year round?
Thanks in large part to a few people who saw some serious potential in the massive buildings surrounding America’s “most historic square mile,” it’s actually starting to happen. According to The Inquirer, it kicked off with the purchase of the Dow Building in 2013.
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For many, it was the close to a long, momentous day: This evening’s Decision Day Rally at Independence Mall celebrated the Supreme Court’s decision to legalize gay marriage across the country. Hundreds showed up on the lawn across from the National Constitution Center to join in fellowship and hear remarks from William Way Community Center Executive Director Chris Bartlett, GALAEI Executive Director Elicia Gonzales, Mayor Michael Nutter, Mayoral candidate Jim Kenney, Executive Director of the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations Rue Landau, and many, many more. We were on hand to capture some of the gorgeous moments from the early evening gathering.
La Colombe at the Dow Building | Rendering: La Colombe
La Colombe is set to open a new space in Independence Mall July 1st. The cafe, situated next to the Independence Beer Garden, will open just in time for summer. It promises to be a mid-century modern space with outdoor seating. The architects responsible also designed La Colombe’s flagship cafe in Fishtown.
This La Colombe will be the fourth Philadelphia location, and will be located on the first floor of the Rohm and Haas building at 6th and Market. For more on the architecture and design, check out our sister blog Property.
La Colombe [Official]
Back in December, La Colombe made your coffee-soaked, history-loving heart flutter with happiness when they announced plans to open an outpost in the Dow Building on Independence Mall. As evidenced by the tweet above from Keystone Property Group, those plans are coming along nicely. Crews are busy putting in the stairs, though we still don’t know when exactly it will open. According to Foobooz, La Colombe will eventually be leasing a 1,700-square-feet corner in the building that also contains the highly-popular Independence Beer Garden. Here is rendering of what the outdoor seating area will look like once it’s complete. Read more »
The 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]
Images of bloody, dead fetuses will be projected on a 10 foot by 12 foot screen at Independence Mall on Friday, as part of an anti-abortion protest. The group received a permit for all day, but the images are scheduled to run on a constant loop from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Created Equal, an Ohio-based anti-abortion group that compares its stance to Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement on its website, is holding the rally. “It seems fitting to me that we are launching this campaign in the very place where our nation’s founders penned those words, created equal,” Mark Harrington, Created Equal’s national director, told the Inquirer. “We are still battling for equal rights. In this case, it is the pre-born who are being discriminated against.”
The group also said it would project videos of “abortions in progress” on the screen.
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Saturday night, more than 5,000 people filled Independence Park to watch Opera Philadelphia‘s free broadcast of Gioacchino Rossini’s The Barber of Seville.
Concertgoers began arriving as early as 4 p.m. to get prime, front-row blanket seats near Chestnut Street where the screen was located. Midway back was the chair section. The entire block was full by the time a screening of the Warner Bros.’ cartoon “Rabbit of Seville” starring Bugs Bunny started at 7 p.m.
Bugs was followed by the The Barber of Seville, which had been recorded live the previous evening. Many of the actors were in the audience, as they had the day off. I learned that opera singers need to rest their voices after a performance, so shows are scheduled every other day.
David Devan, General Director of Opera Philadelphia, told me that this was the fourth annual Opera on the Mall, and it was great opportunity for people to experience an opera if they’d never been to one previously. The Barber of Seville, is playing at the Academy of Music this weekend and there are still tickets available.
Photos from Opera on the Mall »
The wait is over, Michael Schulson‘s Independence Beer Garden will be opening this week.
UPDATE: No, it won’t. The project has been delayed again. The new projected opening date is July 15.
To hold you over, we have an exclusive first look at chef (and former Top Chef contestant) Travis Masar’s menu for the highly anticipated garden.
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