A Brief History of the SS United States’ 20 Years in Philadelphia

SS United States - Skyline

A view of the Philadelphia skyline from the SS United States in South Philadelphia. (Photo: Dan McQuade)

The SS United States has been “saved” before.

In 2010, Gerry Lenfest donated $5.8 million to the Washington-based SS United States Conservancy in an effort to preserve the ship. “At first I said it’s impossible to do it because it costs too much money and then I thought, ‘Well it’s worth a try because it’s a great ship,’” Lenfest told the Inquirer at the time. “It was a great achievement for the United States to build this vessel, she’s worth saving.”

Search Philadelphia magazine’s SS United States tag and you’ll find lots of stories from the past few years about the ship’s fate. Two years ago, the SS United States Conservancy began a plan to clear out the inside of the ship in order to sell materials and prepare the ship for sale. “It’s a great fixer-upper,” Conservancy executive director Susan Gibbs said.

In July 2014, the ship looked like it was headed to Brooklyn. The New York Times reported the ship could be moving to Brooklyn “within four to six months.” Then in December the Conservancy entered into a preliminary agreement to renovate the ship.

Last October, the SS United States announced it was exploring the sale of the ship for scrap. “We will have no choice but to negotiate the sale of the ship to a responsible recycler,” the Conservancy said in a statement. (Susan Gibbs, the Conservancy’s director, is the granddaughter of ship architect William Francis Gibbs.) Then, last week, the Conservancy announced it would on Thursday make another announcement, this time in Manhattan, about the future of the SS United States.

Though several proposals, including a casino, had been floated for the future of the ship in Philadelphia, a 2011 report from the Conservancy “concluded that it’s not likely to work [in Philadelphia] for a variety of reasons.” So the 20-year stop of the SS United States in South Philadelphia is likely to end. But how did it get here? Read more »

WATCH: Cyclist Chased, Threatened By Angry Driver After Knocking Over Loading Zone Cone

Screen capture from a video by YouTube user Cheekflapperer.

Screen capture from a video by YouTube user Cheekflapperer.

[UPDATE, 1 p.m., January 27th]: Cameron Kline, spokesman for Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams, says that after the cyclist inquired about pressing charges, the police contacted the D.A. “In terms of the evidence available, we decided at that point that we weren’t going to charge,” Kline said. The driver of the minivan, says Kline, faced potential charges of simple assault and harassment.

After first being turned down by the D.A., the cyclist said that he attempted to press misdemeanor charges against the driver himself, but was again refused. Kline acknowledged that the D.A.’s office decided against pursuing the case a second time. The cyclist finally appealed the D.A.’s review of the complaint to Judge Marsha Neifield, who ruled in favor of the District Attorney.

[ORIGINAL]: By now, you’re all aware of the Philly Police’s #NoSavesies movement, but what happens when people get territorial over a loading zone?

The video below, which was made public yesterday but filmed about nine months ago, shows what a cyclist says is him intentionally knocking over a traffic cone in front of the Monti-Rago Funeral Home on South Broad Street, and that the cone was one of several being used to save a spot in a 20-minute loading zone. The video had more than 89,000 views at the time of writing.

Read more »

WATCH: MLK Speaks at Philadelphia Middle School in 1967

On October 26th, 1967, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. came to Philadelphia for a “Stars for Freedom” show at The Spectrum featuring Harry Belafonte, Aretha Franklin, Sidney Poitier and Nipsey Russell.

But before that, he visited Barratt Junior High School in South Philadelphia and gave a rousing 20-minute talk that’s a version of his famous “Street Sweeper Speech.”

“If it falls to your lot to be a street sweeper, sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures. Sweep streets like Beethoven composed music,” King says in the speech. “Sweep streets like Leontyne Price sings before the Metropolitan Opera. Sweep streets like Shakespeare wrote poetry. Sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will have to pause and say: ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who swept his job well.’ ” Read more »

Brewery ARS Lands on West Passyunk

The brothers

The brothers, Sean and Andrew Arsenault

After a year long search, twin brothers Sean and Andrew Arsenault have locked down a home for their Brewery ARS. The brothers, who are both engineers by day (Andrew, an environmental engineer used to work for Victory Brewing), just got the keys for 1927-1929 West Passyunk Avenue. The old double-wide garage will be transformed into a 10 barrel, 1,600 square foot brewery and tasting room.

The brothers are now diving deep into paperwork for state and federal brewing licensing plus the paperwork to convert the old garage into a brand new brewery.

Read more »

Something Might Be Happening With the Frankford Chocolate Factory

The Frankford Chocolate Factory on Washington Avenue between 21st and 22nd Streets | Image via Google Earth

The Frankford Chocolate Factory on Washington Avenue in South Philadelphia | Image via Google Earth

Oh, snap. The Frankford Chocolate Factory on Washington Avenue – between 21st and 22nd Streets if you’re unfamiliar with the site (map) – has been purchased. According to Jacob Adelman at the Inquirer, a mixed-use project is rumored to be in the works.

Although there’s no official word yet on whether or not the the 240,682-square-foot building, which is well over a century old and not historically designated, will be demolished or reused, it goes without saying that a residential/commercial development at the site would do more than a little to boost the evolving industrial corridor it sits on. Writes Adelman:

The Frankford Chocolate property’s redevelopment would provide a conduit for revitalization from the increasingly affluent Graduate Hospital area into the Point Breeze neighborhood to its south, said [CBRE executive Robert] Fahey, whose company represented a court-appointed receiver charged with selling the site.

“It’s going to have a pretty big impact on the neighborhood,” he said. “It’s just been a major blight, this dilapidated, boarded-up hulk of a building surrounded by gentrification.”

Read more »

Taproom on 19th Hosting a Block Party and Barbecue

Anniversary Burger at Taproom on 19th

What’s an anniversary without a special burger? Second Anniversary Burger at Taproom on 19th

Two years ago, owners Michael Strauss and Pete Fry took over Taproom on 19th at 19th and Ritner in deep South Philadelphia. Since then they’ve built a faithful local following. This Saturday, November 7th, from 1 p.m. to 11 p.m. they’re hosting a second anniversary block party with Pigheaded BBQ, which is an award-winning Kansas City Barbecue Society Competition barbecue team based in Middletown, Delaware.

The Taproom’s chef Chris Speero will also be showcasing his anniversary burger, quarter pound of LaFrieda brisket burger, shaved steak, pork roll, tomato, fried onions, special sauce, cheese and all served on a pretzel bun.

There will also be a live performance by the Gin Canaries and a special cocktail designed by from Hop Sing Laundromat. The South Philly Flip is maple bourbon, Cynar, egg and nutmeg.

The event is pay-as-you-go and a large tent will cover Ritner Street in front of the bar.

More on the food and beer »

Trinity Tuesday: 2BR in Queen Village Includes Superb Shoe Room

TREND images via Zillow.com

TREND images via Zillow.com

Alright, we’re gonna give it to you straight: it could do with an update or two. But like the listing points out, it’s a “diamond in the rough waiting to be polished.” Plus, all that being said, it does have several things going for it and as to its literal surrounds, its anything but rough.

Parked on a leafy block in Queen Village, the home is an expanded trinity, so the living room and kitchen are actually on the same floor. (Contrary to other trinities where the kitchen is on the lower level, which can get pretty old.) The latter has newer appliances and access to a rear patio that’s roomy enough for summer grilling and hosting guests.

Bedroom-wise, you’re in for a treat…especially if you love shoes.

Read more »

South Philly’s Ristorante Pesto Wins Rachael Ray’s Pasta Showdown

Giovanni and Maria Varallo of Ristorante Pesto on the Rachael Ray Show

Giovanni and Maria Varallo of Ristorante Pesto on the Rachael Ray Show

Giovanni Varallo and his daughter Maria of South Philly’s Ristorante Pesto competed this morning on the Rachael Ray Show for Rae’s Little Italy Showdown title for best pasta. The restaurateurs put their signature cavatelli topped with lobster, crab, and shrimp against teams from New York and San Francisco.
And the winner is »

Spotted in the Italian Market: 9th and Washington Project Inches Forward

Zoom in just a tad and you’ll recognize the spot: The Anastasi Seafood restaurant, nestled between 9th and Darien Streets, looks out to whirring Washington Avenue, all the while the plot of land to its rear and its adjacent parking lot sit quietly amid the hustle and bustle.

It’s a familiar scene, right? Well, get ready for that to potentially change if the site owners’ plans go accordingly, which so far seems to be the case.


Here is a look at the conceptual designs.

As we told you this past AugustMidwood Investment & Development is looking to build a 5-story mixed-use building at the 32,000-square-foot site. The new building, designed by Morris Adjmi, would come with 70 market-rate apartments, two levels of underground parking, plus an estimated 18,000 square feet in retail space slated to house local retailers, as opposed to a big chain. (It’s “the anti-Cheescake [Factory] project,” Midwood President John Usdan told the crowd that month to ease their worries (one of the company’s past projects was the new Cheesecake Factory at 15th and Walnut).

Now, PlanPhilly’s Jared Brey has announced the most recent news regarding the project:

Read more »

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