Rain or Shine, These Festivals Are Happening

Italian Market Festival will go on all weekend | M. Fischetti for Visit Philadelphia

Italian Market Festival will go on all weekend | M. Fischetti for Visit Philadelphia

We were pretty excited when we put together our compilation of May festivals, and then May happened. It’s been gray skies for much of the month with a good amount of rain mixed in (you know, except for today). And now we’re at the final pre-Memorial Day weekend and the fear-mongering weather people are predicting more rain. But if you’re like me, you’re like, “whatevs, It’s my weekend and I’ll party if I want to, weather be damned. So it’s good to know that at least some of the weekend’s outdoor events are happening regardless.

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It’s Preview Week at the Saint Benjamin Brewing’s Tap Room

Saint Benjamin Brewing's Tap Room | Photo by Kelly Alderfer

Saint Benjamin Brewing’s Tap Room | Photo by Kelly Alderfer

About a month ago, we wrote about Saint Benjamin Brewing Company’s expansion, including a new taproom in the works. Well, that taproom is finished up, and the St. Ben’s team is softly opened this week for Craft Brewers Conference—and it’s pretty sweet.

This past Saturday, I was lucky enough to stop in to check out the taproom at 1710 North 5th Street, while on a Liberty Brew Tour as the finishing touches were being done. Quite possibly the coolest feature of the taproom is the retouched exposed brick and plaster walls, a labor of love by co-owner Christina Burris. She wanted the walls to be as close to the state as they were originally back in the 1800s when the three story building was built.

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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 »

Philly Block Project Wants to Show a Truer Portrait of Kensington

Hakan Ibisi carries a photograph of his grandfather in his wallet. Ibisi was photographed for the Philly Block Project, a collaboration between the Philadelphia Photo Arts Center and Hank Willis Thomas. Photo by Wyatt Gallery/Hank Willis Thomas Studio. 

Hakan Ibisi carries a photograph of his grandfather in his wallet. Ibisi was photographed for the Philly Block Project, a collaboration between the Philadelphia Photo Arts Center and Hank Willis Thomas. Photo by Wyatt Gallery/Hank Willis Thomas Studio.

A smile creeps onto Fada Ahmad‘s face as she passes around a photo of the newest member of the family, her 1-year-old granddaughter. In the picture the young girl clutches onto her grandfather and a wide smile covers her face.

“She loves him more than anyone,” says Ahmad, laughing softly, as she talks about how the girl’s grandfather spoils her with gifts and candy. This is only one of the cherished photographs Ahmad has to share. Ahmad is the self-proclaimed photographer of her family. She has two suitcases full of photos at home. Today, she’s brought several snapshots and a cellphone packed with pictures.

“You are the keeper of your family archive,” remarks Lori Waselchuk, the coordinator of the Philly Block Project.

Ahmad’s archive is joining with another archive — actually quite a few other archives. Ahmad is at the Al Aqsa Islamic Society for a photo scanning event. Her photos along with the photos of many Kensington residents are being collected by the Philadelphia Photo Arts Center for something called the Philly Block Project. The aim of the project is to create a “visual narrative” of South Kensington that will be comprised of photos submitted by Kensington residents, in addition to photos of present day Kensington which will be taken by photographer Hank Willis Thomas and several other collaborating artists. Read more »

Skeletal Human Remains Found in West Kensington Lot

A city work crew this morning came across skeletal human remains in an empty lot in the city’s West Kensington section.

A Philadelphia Police Department spokesperson said the city workers found the bones at 10:13 a.m. in a vacant lot in the 400 block of East Cambria Street. Read more »

Field Guide: The Best Places to Eat and Drink in Fishtown and Kensington

Fishtown-frankford-ave-photo-jeff-fusco-940x540

We hope you’re hungry, and thirsty Photo by | Jeff Fusco

Maybe you think you know Frankford Avenue. You’ve met friends for table tennis, jenga and liters of German beer at Stephen Starr’s Frankford Hall. You’ve gotten the high score on Asteroids at Barcade. Maybe even checked out the pizza and pizza museum that is Pizza Brain. But even 12 years after William Reed took over Johnny Brenda’s and made it the Avenue’s shining welcome beacon, the best days for the corridor are still ahead of it.

Our field guide takes you on an eating and drinking tour of the rest of the best on the food mecca that is the Frankford Avenue — a full day’s worth of delicious debauchery.

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Eight Charged With Selling Heroin Near Kensington School, Playground

Children line up at the Lewis Elkin Elementary School in Kensington (Photo via Google Maps)

Children line up at the Lewis Elkin Elementary School in Kensington (Photo via Google Maps)

Just weeks after the Drug Enforcement Administration released a report claiming that heroin availability is up in Philadelphia when it’s down in most other parts of the country, another branch of the Department of Justice has announced charges against eight people for allegedly dealing drugs in Kensington, including at locations within 1,000 feet of a neighborhood school and playground. Read more »

Martha Set to Wow Kensington

Martha is coming to York Street in Kensington.

Martha is coming to York Street in Kensington | Photo via Facebook

Martha is opening in Kensington, just off of Frankford Avenue at 2113 East York Street. The bar is fronted by Philadelphia restaurant/bar alum Jon Medlinsky (Chifa, Khyber Pass Pub, the Yachtsman) and backed by Marathon Grill co-owner Cary Borish and Mike Parsell. The eye-opening space takes over an old cube of a building with soaring ceilings, an intimate mezzanine, a warming fireplace and long bar.

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Street Artist WRDSMTH Drops New Typewriter Stencils in Fishtown and Kensington

L.A.-based street artist WRDSMTH was in Philadelphia yesterday, where he left behind a couple of his iconic typewriter stencils in Fishtown and Kensington.

The works range in size, and carry different messages that sort of recall Steve Powers’ feel-good Love Letter murals in West Philly. One six-foot tall work on West Master Street in Kensington reads, “The only lie I ever told you is that I liked you when I already knew I loved you.”

Photo by Conrad Benner via Streets Dept.

Photo by Conrad Benner via Streets Dept.

Another smaller one reads, “Truth told, the odds are not in your favor. But that’s what will make it such a great story.”

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NKCDC Kicks Off Renewal of Kensington’s Withering Orinoka Mills

Photo credit: Deborah Huber

Photo credit: Deborah Huber

Kensington residents and veteran Market-Frankford Line commuters who continue on past Huntingdon know well the blighted and tagged hulk standing just off Somerset Station at the corner of East Somerset and Ruth Streets: the Orinoka Mills Factory (map).

For those not in the know, the last decade or so has seen Orinoka Mills, once a busy textiles production complex, empty out and deteriorate, even with a short-lived neighborhood effort to keep it going in the late 1980s. By 2007, Philadelphia Weekly called the area adjacent to its neighboring El stop one of the top ten drug corners in the city.

And now? Well now, significant changes are afoot thanks in large part to the New Kensington Community Development Corporation (NKCDC), which is spearheading the Orinoka Civic House project. That project, which broke ground on Tuesday and involves plans to convert it into a 51-unit apartment complex with commercial and community spaces, is anticipated to not only kick off a new era for the property, but to jumpstart a wonderful and long-desired neighborhood renewal plan.

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