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Old City / Society Hill : In The News

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Brutal winter bruises the local economy

The relentless cold and snow has had a big impact on small businesses, including those in Philadelphia.

At London Grill, a restaurant in the Fairmount section of Philadelphia, revenue is down 10 percent more than in the usual January slump, said Terry Berch McNally, a co-owner. But weather can also be fickle: On Thursday, just as Ms. McNally was fretting about whether her Valentine’s Day bookings would fall through, the afternoon brought twice as many drinkers as usual because local employers had closed early.

When weather strikes repeatedly, losses can build up. Valentine’s Day was blissfully sunny, putting an end to the immediate worries of both Ms. McNally, who got a flurry of last-minute reservations, and Susan McKee, at Old City Flowers in Philadelphia.

Thankfully, Ms. McKee said, the biggest day of the year for florists would not be a bust. But her revenue for 2014 is down about half from what it would usually be. Inventory has been hard to get because of grounded planes. Walk-in sales have been slow.

“It’s crushing me,” she said on Thursday, when Philly was blanketed by snow and ice. “I have thousands of dollars invested in perishable gorgeous flowers that I can’t get anywhere. I have three trucks parked outside the store, and I can’t move the trucks. This day is lost. There was no revenue today.”


Orginal source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.


Huffington Post Travel calls Philly a 'City of Makers'

Philadelphia gets props for its proclivity for hands-on activities -- many of them available to tourists.

Philadelphia's diverse neighborhoods have been the bastion of artisans and craftspeople since their very beginnings. In the early 1700s, immigrants sought their fortunes in the one colony that didn't require a tithe to the Church -- Pennsylvania. By 1740, Philadelphia was the largest city in the colonies -- an engine of industry. One German observer wrote in 1754: "Pennsylvania is heaven for farmers, paradise for artisans and hell for officials and preachers." This "paradise for artisans" has gone through a rebirth in recent years, revitalizing Philadelphia's flagging neighborhoods and bringing a distinctive creative energy to each.

Original source: The Huffington Post
Read the complete story here.



World's first selfie taken in Philadelphia?

A local photography pioneer turned the camera on himself:

The above self-portrait (that’s apparently what selfies used to be called), which resides at the Library of Congress, was taken by Robert Cornelius in Philadelphia in October 1839, 174 years before Jim Gardner would post a selfie. The first-generation American, born to Dutch immigrants, is considered a pioneer of photography. He took the photo–a daguerreotype–while standing outside of his family’s Philadelphia lamp store. Experts say that Cornelius had to remain still for several minutes to obtain the final product.

Written on the back of the photograph: "The first light picture ever taken. 1839."


Original source: Philadelphia Magazine
Read the complete story here.



The Benjamin Franklin Museum gets a facelift

After two years under the knife, the Benjamin Franklin Museum has debuted its fresh new look. Gone are the outdated exhibits, in are interactive activities.

Franklin is Philadelphia’s icon, no less than Elvis Presley is Memphis’s. There is no shortage of Franklin impersonators who attend events and are willing guides to the city’s historic area. The city prides itself on its diversity, and Franklin is without doubt the polymath of his generation. Philadelphians particularly love him for his warts — his supposed womanizing, his love of drinking, his illegitimate son, his offbeat experiments, his sardonic aphorisms.

Dr. Talbott and Cynthia MacLeod, the superintendent of Independence National Historical Park, of which the museum is a part, say they believe Franklin would love modern Philadelphia and its residents as well. He would no doubt be rooting for the bedraggled Phillies and Eagles and holding court at its many sidewalk cafes.


Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.

A New York Times interactive feature takes a closer look at Old City

The New York Times took a deep dive into four square blocks of Old City, noting the rise of galleries, boutiques and condos, and the continued resilience of historic sites and wholesale businesses. Click through to check out the in-depth video and graphic elements of the interactive piece. 

Things took a turn for the better around 1976, the year of the Bicentennial, when interest flared up in Philadelphia’s federal past. "There was a sense of a reconnecting with the earliest history of the city," said Nathaniel Popkin, a local urbanist writer and the editor of the Web site Hidden City Philadelphia. Mr. Popkin believes that the term "Old City" was coined in those days. "It had an 'e' on the end of 'Old' originally," he said.

Today, Old City's narrow brick buildings house an assortment of design and fashion boutiques, along with some remaining wholesalers of textiles and heavy-duty kitchen equipment. Factories are now condominium complexes with names like the Castings to acknowledge their manufacturing heritage.


Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete feature here.

Benjamin Franklin Museum opens on Independence Mall

A museum dedicated to Benjamin Franklin, one of Philadelphia's favorite sons, has opened on Independence Mall.

In an underground space originally built for the 1976 bicentennial, the 9,500-square-foot museum covers the life and times of the founding father, including his contributions to science, diplomacy and politics. It is next to Franklin’s original home, indicated by a skeletal "ghost house."

Extensive computer animation covers Franklin in aspects from active to reflective; for example, flying a rooftop kite to test electrical conductivity and writing his autobiography. Personal artifacts include a chess piece and the hand-carried "sedan chair" he used during the 1787 Constitutional Convention when he was too ill to walk. Matching games, touch objects and flip books encourage interaction.


Original source: The New York Times
Read the full story here.

Legendary Philadelphia clockmaker profiled in new book

Peter Stretch, a renowned and visionary 18th century clockmaker, is the subject of a new book by Frank L. Hohmann III.

Peter and Margery became role models for Philadelphians. They gave advice to unmarried Quakers about maintaining "moderation or modesty" in budding love affairs. The couple donated money to widows, orphans and victims of house fires and kidnappings by Indians. For elite customers, Peter Stretch built brass clocks with multiple dials that tracked the time and moon phases. The dials were surrounded by metal cherubs and crowns. The carved wooden clock cases mostly came from the Philadelphia cabinetmaker John Head, a fellow English Quaker émigré. (Head’s account books, rediscovered in a Philadelphia archive in 1999, have page after page listing transactions with Stretch.)

The clockmaker’s workshop was so renowned that its address, at the intersection of Second and Chestnut Streets, was known as Stretch’s Corner. His buyers flaunted the clocks in their finest parlors, and the survival rate is high. A few of the antiques still belong to his clients’ descendants, and two-thirds of perhaps 200 made in Stretch’s career have been identified, sometimes with handwritten notes attached describing their travels over the centuries.


Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.


Franklin Fountain brothers featured in Sweet Paul mag

The team behind the Franklin Fountain has transformed Shane Confectionery.

For the Berley brothers, it’s not just the candies that are nostalgic–it’s the experience, too. A look around the pristine storefront shows an antique cash register and pay phone, walls lined with memorabilia and ephemera of eras gone by, and apothecary jars stocked with penny candy (think Abba Zabba and Bit-o-Honey). The duo, along with head confectioner Davina Soondrum, use period tools and equipment like hand-fused copper kettles and bowls heated over a manually-fired gas stove, to keep the production experience as authentic as possible.

Via The New York Times.

Original source: Sweet Paul 
Read the complete story here.




Momofuku hosts Zahav for pop-up dinner

Middle East meets East as Philly chef Michael Solomonov takes Zahav's modern Israeli cuisine to Momofuku Ssam bar for a late-night dinner.

After teasing us earlier this week, we now have confirmation: Momofuku Ssäm Bar will be hosting Zahav for the first in a quarterly late night dinner series at the East Village hot spot. Tickets are $85 per person for the 11 PM dinner, inclusive of food, drink and gratuity. No word on menu yet, but looks like at least some of the drinks will come from Singapore brewery Tiger Beer. Reservations are available via e-mail only, and the likelihood is they’ll sell out quickly (if they haven’t already).

Eater Philly had more details:

Solomonov said that David Chang & Co. requested an all-Zahav menu, so they're going all out with the "Mesibah" option that includes his legendary lamb shoulder (which is almost as famous as Solomonov himself). As for dessert, the Federal Donuts crew is whipping up a special fancy doughnut created specifically for the event, as well.
 
Original source: Zagat
Read the complete post here.

Eight-acre park to cover riverfront stretch of I-95?

An intriguing vision of a waterfront park obscuring I-95 has been unveiled, and could mean a major green space achievement for Philadelphia. The Delaware River Waterfront Corporation is currently seeking designers and engineers.

A preliminary rendering of Penn's Landing Park extracted from the Master Plan for the Central Delaware, shows a sloping lawn, roughly the size of Rittenhouse Square, through which people could walk from Front Street down to the water's edge, or where they could linger to watch fireworks or concerts. The park would sit on a structure that expands the existing partial cap of I-95, which covers the highway from Front to Columbus, and from Chestnut  Street just about half way to Walnut Street.

Original source: PlanPhilly
Read the full story here.
 

GQ: Philly is top-5 beer city and home to the perfect pub crawl

GQ makes a pretty decent run at a perfect pub crawl in Philadelphia, which it identified as one of the top five beer cities in the U.S.
 
1. The Beer-Bar Brunch
Memphis Taproom 
 
Wake up with microbrews and delicious bar grub at this Kensington standby. The mellow front dining room is fine if you're a slow starter, but things are much livelier outside by the picnic tables and the former ice cream truck that's now a bar. 
 
Original source: GQ
Read the full story here.
 

Society Hill's Fame House helps DJ Shadow break new ground with BitTorrent

We reported on Philadelphia-based Fame House's groundbreaking work with DJ Shadow in February. Now CEO Mike Feibach is receiving a heap of attention for helping Shadow become the first artist to make money through BitTorrent, reports GigaOm.
 
BitTorrent has been partnering with indie musicians and filmmakers for some time to distribute authorized content bundles through its popular uTorrent client. However, this is the first time that the company has struck a revenue sharing agreement with one of those artists. “It’s a really important moment in the history of content distribution,” said Mason.
 
That sentiment was echoed by Fiebach, who told me that he doesn’t see BitTorrent as a piracy tool. “That’s the wrong way to look at it,” he argued, adding that the technology itself couldn’t be blamed if people use it to pirate content. Instead, it’s a way to get to an audience of millions, he said, adding: “(Shadow) and I just see this as a great opportunity to make history.”
 
Original source: GigaOm
Read the full story here.
 

American Revolution Center's "historical" design plans draw mixed reviews

Art Info weighs in on plans to overhaul the American Revolution Center's Museum of the American Revolution at Third and Chestnut.
 
Saffron is one of several critics and locals who see Stern's conservative Georgian reproduction to be a lost opportunity for Philadelphia. Her criticism comes up against the cheers of neo-traditionalist advocates, who argue that a "historical" style is appropriate for a building that will not only house historical artifacts but also abut landmarks dating back one, even two centuries. However, as Hidden City Philadelphia writer Nathaniel Popkin points out, the Revolution museum's surroundings are sprinkled with buildings from various time periods: the neighboring First Bank of the United States boasts a grand neoclassical façade, and the Merchant Exchange Building is likewise a tribute to white stone and Renaissance-era tectonics. Also nearby are twinned cast-iron high-rises and other buildings that visibly embrace the advent of glass-and-steel construction.
 
Original source: Art Info
Read the full story here.
 
 

Center City looking good for retailers, with annual retail demand at $710.9M

Shopping Center Business takes a stroll through Center City Philadelphia, finding a bright spot for U.S. retailers via redevelopment and growing assets.

Meanwhile, Walnut Street -- Center City’s high street shopping district -- and its surrounding streets continue to pick up additional retailers who want to capture the city’s affluent residents (Philadelphia has the third largest CBD residential population following New York and Chicago). Center City District estimates that a business located on the 1400 block of Walnut Street can expect to see an average of greater than 2,000 people per hour. The Center City District estimates retail demand within one mile of City Hall is $710.9 million per year. Center City has a population of nearly 180,000, 73% of which have at least a bachelor’s degree.

Original source: Shopping Center Business
Read the full story here.

41 Old City / Society Hill Articles | Page: | Show All
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