Dîner En Blanc Philly Organizer Responds to Latest Criticism

Dinner En Blanc Philly

Photo | HughE Dillon

Dîner En Blanc Philly has garnered its fair share of controversy this year, in typical Philly fashion.

Last week, the city saw its fifth-annual DEB event, which has 50-year-old Parisian roots. If you don’t know the schtick by now, it’s as follows: One night a year, thousands of people wearing their finest whites flock to a surprise, last-minute location for a posh dinner under the stars, which they themselves are entirely responsible for providing. Tickets? $45 per person, and that’s if you manage to get past the ridiculously long wait listRead more »

What Happens When a Cemetery Dies?

Photograph by David Huisken

Photograph by David Huisken

Paulette Rhone dared the truck to run her over. She watched the white pickup pull through the front gate at Mount Moriah Cemetery, the trunk overflowing with landscape debris. The two drivers were looking to dump their trash bags, which was not an uncommon occurrence after the cemetery closed its doors. But on this warm spring day in 2012, Rhone, president of the Friends of Mount Moriah, was having none of it.
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So Beer Gardens Are Great, But the Chinese Lantern Festival Is An Outrage?

Photo from Sichuan Tianyu

Photo from Sichuan Tianyu

(Editor’s note: This is an opinion column from guest writer Sarah Yeung. Yeung is the director of planning at the Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation.)

In the discourse around the Chinese Lantern Festival (see the Inquirer and Philly Mag), we are only touching the tip of the iceberg of private uses of public spaces. To urbanists, it is a defense of what feels like something that should be as free as air, a basic right of the city. To the Chinatown community, it is a much more nuanced issue set in a framework of poverty, lack of public space, and the need for economic development.

The Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation (PCDC) was engaged as a community stakeholder in the process of coordinating the festival. We saw it as an opportunity to bring a culturally enriching event to the park during underutilized hours. It was also – equally important – an economic development opportunity for Chinatown, a low-income community where livelihoods are dependent on visitor spending. Read more »

High Line Lessons for Reading Viaduct Park

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For anyone living under a rock for the past six or seven years, there’s something called the High Line in New York City. It’s “among the most influential public works projects of the past half-century, altering our thinking about public space and urban revival,” as one outlet calmly put it. Originally a 1930s elevated railway line for industrial supply routesthen, once defunct, an enormous source of blight on the neighborhood of West Chelsea in Manhattan, it’s now an international marvel of urban green space. Read more »

Inside Take: Philly’s Next Great Public Space? Schoolyards.

A vision for the schoolyard at Horatio B. Hackett. | Plan courtesy of Community Design Collaborative.

A vision for the schoolyard at Horatio B. Hackett. | Plan courtesy of Community Design Collaborative.

(This is an opinion column from a Citified insider.)

Over the past seven years, Philadelphians have witnessed a public space renaissance. No longer are apocalyptic Hollywood movies choosing Philadelphia as a backdrop because our physical environment perfectly fits the scene (remember Twelve Monkeys?). Instead, dynamic, transformative public spaces—from Spruce Street Harbor Park, Dilworth Plaza, the Porch at 30th Street, Lovett Park in Mt. Airy, and many others—are reflecting a newfound sense of civic pride.

Now that we have built up in-house expertise in creating truly great public spaces, and developed credibility with public, private and philanthropic funders, we should harness that energy and apply it to what I call Philadelphia’s Public Space Initiative 2.0—the redesign of our public schoolyards. Our schools need to become Philadelphia’s next set of great public spaces. Read more »