Why the Wissahickon Looks Radioactive This Week


Courtesy of Temple University/The Academy of Natural Sciences

Parts of the Wissahickon Creek will look a lot greener and grosser than they usually do this week – but it’s because of science.

As PhillyVoice first reported on Monday, researchers with Temple University and the Academy of Natural Sciences at Drexel University are using fluorescent dyes to test the health of the stream ecosystem this week.  Read more »

The Most Picturesque Fall Fitness Challenge Ever: Trek Across All of the Wissahickon’s Trails

Wissahickon Park | Photo via Flickr user Josh Delp

Dear friends stuck in the deepest depths of the August Blues, we have something for you to look forward to: The Friends of the Wissahickon‘s second annual All Trails Challenge. The All Trails Challenge invites folks of all ages (and fitness levels) to take on the challenge of covering all of the over-50 miles of leaf-laden Wissahickon trails between September 7th and November 28th, in whatever mode they so desire —hiking, biking, running, or even by horseback — to help raise money for the park. Enjoying nature on the regular to benefit a good cause? Now, that’s a pastime we can get behind.

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William Penn Grant to Help Chestnut Hill Preserve What’s Special About It

Wissahickon Valley | By InSapphoWeTrust from Los Angeles, California, USA (Wissahickon Valley, Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Wissahickon Valley | Photo by InSapphoWeTrust from Los Angeles, California, USA, via Wikimedia Commons, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

With a new name and fiftieth anniversary to celebrate, the Chestnut Hill Conservancy (CH Conservancy) is having quite the new year.

And now, the CH Conservancy has even more to be happy about: the center just received funding from the William Penn Foundation’s Watershed Protection program for its joint project with the Chestnut Hill Community Association (CHCA).

The grant will support CH Conservancy and CHCA in their “Residential Conservation, Preservation and Development Study,” which aims to determine issues and priorities for preserving privately owned residential property and open space in the Chestnut Hill community, particularly the Wissahickon watershed.

“The watershed is really beautiful, but it’s also not a healthy strain with the development we have now,” says CH Conservancy executive director Lori Salganicoff“There is a great deal of new development that is possible within the watershed, and in order to protect its health, we are seeking to moderate the amount of new construction.”

According to Salganicoff, there is a lot of interest in the Chestnut Hill area as a whole because it has remained relatively free of development thus far.

“Chestnut Hill is a part of Philadelphia that is unique in its architectural integrity and its integration of open space with this architecture,” Salganicoff says. “The development that has happened here over time has been about thoughtful architecture integrated with green space. The work that we’re doing is to help understand what is significant architecturally and from the perspective of the Wissahickon watershed. We want to protect that and help manage change.”

CH Conservancy and CHCA hope that this study will allow for a community-wide conversation about what residential issues exist in Chestnut Hill, and which of these issues should be prioritized most.

The study is currently underway and will continue through May. It is being headed by a Steering Committee made up of volunteers chosen by CHCA.

CH Conservancy and CHCA are not alone in their venture, either. They have assistance from the Natural Lands Trust, Philadelphia University, the University of Pennsylvania, and Friends of Wissahickon.

Salganicoff hopes to identify private properties that are currently unprotected from developers.

“The grant is meant to help us protect privately owned space,” she says. “Rather than have our organization run after people who don’t do what we think is ‘the right thing,’ we want to help shape what is significant and character-defining here, protect it, and help create tools around managing future development.”

On April 21, CH Conservancy will hold “Visionaries’ Roundtable: Preservation & Change in Chestnut Hill,” a public program where some of the project’s results will be revealed. On May 11, the Steering Committee will have its final meeting.

This collaborative study is happening prior to and in preparation for the Upper Northwest District Plan, a part of the Philadelphia2035 development plan set to begin in the fall of 2017 affecting Chestnut Hill, Germantown, East Germantown, Blue Bell Hill, West Mount Airy and East Mount Airy.

“We want to understand what we have here and what we value, so we can begin to educate the community about what is vulnerable before this city-led public planning process happens,” Salganicoff says. 

Only time will tell how this project will benefit the Chestnut Hill community.

First Time Find: Suburban Comfort, City Address in Roxborough for $275K

7371 Valley Ave., Philadelphia, Pa. 19128 | TREND images via Long & Foster Real Estate

7371 Valley Ave., Philadelphia, Pa. 19128 | TREND images via Long & Foster Real Estate

Are you one of those people who don’t want to leave the city but want a home with all the comfort of a suburban pad?

We’ve found a place for you in upper Roxborough, close to both the Ridge and the Wissahickon Valley.

This is one of those homes you can’t judge by its cover, for its unassuming exterior covers a beautifully renovated, bright and airy traditionally-styled modern home. Read more »

Jawdropper of the Week: A More Stately Manor in Lafayette Hill

741 Thomas Rd., Lafayette Hill, Pa. 19118 | Photos by Herb Engelsberg via The Sivel Group

731 Thomas Rd., Lafayette Hill, Pa. 19118 | Photos by Herb Engelsberg via The Sivel Group

Does the home whose rear portico you see above call to mind images of country clubs or mansions from the movies?

If it doesn’t, maybe you haven’t been watching the right movies, for this beautifully restored 1920 center-hall Colonial is so photogenic it hurts.

Designed by Robert McGoodwin and built for Andorra Nursery owner William Harper, “Andorra House” is the beneficiary of a top-to-bottom renovation that has both restored and renewed its original historic details and updated it for today’s way of life, with plenty of gracious spaces for everyday living and entertaining. Read more »

Hard Hat Tour: The Rebirth of Alden Park

Work on replacing the leaded casement windows in the Manor building lobby is under way. All of the windows in the complex will be replaced by its end. |Photos: Sandy Smith

Work on replacing the leaded casement windows in the Manor building lobby is under way. All of the windows in the complex will be replaced by its end. |Photos: Sandy Smith

The three buildings that together comprise the Alden Park apartment complex are without a doubt the most photogenic apartment buildings in the city. Begun in 1926 on the former estate of department store founder Justus C. Strawbridge, they began life as the city’s first cooperative residences, attracting an exclusive community of residents during the Depression.

Sometime between World War II and the 1980s, the original cooperative dissolved and the complex became a trio of rental buildings. But their parklike setting and their picturesque English Tudor Revival architecture, the work of architect Edwin Rorke, has kept the buildings among the most popular apartments in the city. The Manor building, which terminates the view down Chelten Avenue, may well be Germantown’s most iconic apartment building. Read more »

My Top Five: Best Spots to Run to in the Wissahickon

Photo via Flickr

Photo via Flickr

Taking on the trails of the Wissahickon is an easy way to upgrade your boring running routine: There’s the freshest of air, natural obstacles, and the soundtrack of nature humming away while you run. But if you still aren’t convinced, here’s some more incentive: The Wissahickon offers lots of cool spots to discover while you get your run in.

We asked Wesley Celestino, the one of the brains behind local running group Chasing Trail — they run the Wissahickon every Sunday morning — to clue us into his favorite spots to run to in the Wissahickon (Note: some of them easily double as resting spots. #Winning). Read up, say goodbye to your boring running routine and get exploring!

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Love Hiking Around Philly? Bookmark This Awesome New Hiking Resource 

John Heinz Wildlife Refuge | Photo via @bewellphilly

John Heinz Wildlife Refuge | Photo via @bewellphilly

The Wissahickon is to my hiking life as Sweetgreen is to my work-lunch life: It’s great and it’s my  go-to because it’s great. But, like I fear I’ll Sweetgreen myself out because I go there more than anyone with 7,839 lunch options within a block of their office should, I am often afraid that I will someday Wissahickon myself out. After all, one can only hike past Devil’s Pool so many times before they stop thinking it’s beautiful and cool and start wondering instead why (oh, whyyyyy) anyone with a brain would willingly jump into that oh-so-gross water, right? And that’s where the new online Philly hiking resource Philly Day Hiker comes in. Read more »

Alden Park: To the Manor Reborn


Alden Park's three English Tudor-inspired towers are a Northwest Philly landmark. Their grandeur is now being restored. | Photos from At Media

Alden Park’s three English Tudor-inspired towers are a Northwest Philly landmark. Their grandeur is now being restored. | Photos from At Media

Alden Park, the three-building complex of Tudor-style high-rise apartments located where Germantown and East Falls meet, has had dynamite curb appeal ever since it opened in the 1920s on the site of the former Strawbridge estate, but of late, residents had noted that inside, its glory had faded somewhat.

Its new owners are restoring that glory with $60 million inside-and-out renovation of the complex that includes upgrading the apartments, restoring lobbies and common areas, and adding new indoor and outdoor amenities. Read more »