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Philly airport lures New York-based travelers

PHL has become an attractive departure point for New Yorkers, drawn by the low prices and the presence of Southwest Airlines.

Airfares have been dropping faster in Philadelphia than in any other big city, fueling a boom in traffic at the congested airport there. Despite its reputation for delays and baggage difficulties, Philadelphia International is now attracting more passengers for domestic flights than any of New York's three major airports - La Guardia, Kennedy International or Newark Liberty International.

Transportation officials say they do not know how many of those travelers are being lured away by lower fares, but they concede that New Yorkers are not immune to what is known in the travel industry as the Southwest effect. When Southwest Airlines, the king of the low-fare carriers, arrives in a new city, it drives down airfares and adds traffic.

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

High speed rail is great fit for Philly and its neighboring cities

A recent conversation about the potential of high speed rail led a Slate writer to argue that converting a few key corridors would be more efficient than a nationwide system. The northeast corridor (and Philadelphia) made his list.

Corridors that couldn’t attract sufficient numbers of riders would likely detract from the potential economic and environmental benefits gained from the more sensible routes. “If newly built high-speed rail services do not attract projected ridership over time, they will not only fail to deliver their promised benefits but they may waste energy, resources, and require excessive operating subsidies,” the America 2050 report concluded.
Experts who study light rail often mention a “sweet spot” of between 100 and 600 miles for high-speed rail corridor trips. Shorter than 100 miles, and a rider is more likely to want to take a conventional train, a car, or a bus. Longer than 600 miles and a rider is better off flying.

Original source: Slate
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Philly cracks Saveur's 50 Best Donuts list

These days, if there's a donut list, local favorite Federal Donuts will earn a spot. This Saveur run-down of the country's 50 Best Donuts is no exception.

The donuts at this ambitious newcomer include the Appollonia, served hot and rolled in cocoa and orange blossom powder. The other specialty? Fried chicken.

Original source: Saveur
Read the complete list here.

The New York Times analyzes school closings in Philly

The School District recently decided to shutter 23 Philadelphia schools. It's a heartbreaking decision, and the New York Times spent some time parsing the reasoning and the reactions.

Around the country, districts including Chicago, Newark and Washington have been echoing that rationale, with officials citing budget gaps as they draw up lists of schools to close at the end of the school year. District officials also say they need to close underperforming schools so that students can move to schools where they have a better chance of succeeding.

But critics say that while the spreadsheets or test scores might say one thing, even lower-performing, underused schools can serve as refuges in communities that have little else.

"The school is one of the foundations of the community," said Rosemarie Hatcher, president of the Philadelphia Home and School Council, which represents local home and school associations. "It’s like a village. The schools know our kids and they look out for our kids."

Original source: The New York Times
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British travel writer hard falls for Philadelphia

A travel writer from the Telegraph (UK) came to Philadelphia for the museums and the history, and fell instead for its walkable, understated charm.

Dizzy with images, I felt ready for more trivial pursuits. Like shopping, along elegant Walnut Street and Rittenhouse Row; exploring the independent boutiques and galleries of 3rd Street in the Old Town; trawling the renowned vintage shops of Fabric Row and shops of Antiques Row; and sampling Amish farm produce at Reading Terminal Market.

Compact and human in scale, friendly in atmosphere, Philadelphia is a city made for walkers, divided into contrasting neighbourhoods and dissected by the Delaware and Schuylkill rivers, whose banks sport the boat houses of the city's six proud universities, prettily illuminated at night (a scene popularised by the paintings of Thomas Eakins).

Original Source: Telegraph (UK)
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Vera Wang redesigns Philadelphia Eagles cheerleaders' uniforms

Score one for cognitive dissonance: the famous wedding dress designer Vera Wang has been tapped to redesign the Eagles cheerleaders' uniforms. Think she has a lot of experience with lycra?

Original source: Glamour
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The Washington Post visits the Flower Show

The Washington Post's Adrian Higgins visited the Flower Show, PHS's big annual event, and came away impressed. (Check out Flying Kite's pics from the shindig here.)

Historically, big-city flower shows are like big cities themselves: They either change or decline but cannot stay the same. By all appearances, the Philadelphia show is in the midst of healthy change: Attendance climbed from 235,000 in 2010 to 270,000 last year and is on track to exceed 300,000 this year. The number of competitive entries in a feature called the horticultural court — the horticourt — is about 11,000, and the entrants’ enthusiasm has been rewarded with a new $1 million setting for the competitions that includes a fabric roof and new show benches and display backdrops.

Original source: The Washington Post
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Philly nabs spot in Travel & Leisure's list of best pizza cities

The City of Brotherly Love (and pie!) claimed the number four spot on Travel & Leisure's list of "America's Best Cities for Pizza." Personally, I think Santucci's and Gennaro's Tomato Pie also deserved a mention.

Pizza may not have been part of the founding fathers’ diet, but it is the voters’ favorite food in present-day Philly, which ranked in the top 5 for its great museumsand cultural attractions. History meets pie at Pizza Brain, the “pizza museum” in Fishtown that serves thin-crust pies and houses more than 500 pizza-related artifacts. Meanwhile, at purist favorite Nomad Pizza, they slice your pie at the table, to prevent sogginess, and show a movie every Sunday night.

Original source: Travel & Leisure
Read the full list here.

Fond named one of the country's most underrated restaurants

Eater put together a list of the country's most underrated dining spots, and Passyunk Square favorite Fond (fresh of its move to a new corner location) made the cut at number 22.

You hear about Marc Vetri's places, you probably hear about Zahav and about Sbraga, but you should give what Lee Styer has been doing at Fond for the past three years a look. It's "sophisticated French-influenced seasonal cooking" and is less expensive than most places in its category. Just last year, local critic Craig LaBan upgraded the restaurant from two to three bells, ranking it among some of the city's best.

Original source: Eater
Check out the full list here.

Olney's Bilenky Cycle Works profiled in short film

Bilenky Cycle Works, the legendary Olney custom bike builders headed up by Steve Bilenky (and his beard), is the subject of a wonderful short film by Bicycling magazine, directed by Andrew David Watson.

Long before the resurgence of "handmade everything" Stephen Bilenky started a career as a custom bicycle builder. 30 years later, Stephen is still creating works of art in his gritty north philadelphia workshop.

Original source: Bicycling magazine
Click here to watch the mini-documentary.

Historic PA farm opens its lands up to fracking

The owner of Dennis Farm, a historic farm in Susquehanna County, has signed a lease to allow fracking (a method of natural gas extraction) on the property. She hopes the funds will help her rehab the historic farmhouse, but critics have remained skeptical. Philadelphia’s City Council has held hearings on whether public water supplies could be contaminated by gas drilling in other parts of the state.

The owner, Denise Dennis, initially rejected an approach from Cabot Oil and Gas to lease part of her 153-acre farm in gas-rich Susquehanna County in northeastern Pennsylvania. But late last year she changed her mind and signed a lease that allows the company to drill horizontally below her land without sinking any wells within its boundaries.

Ms. Dennis is a direct descendant of Prince Perkins, a free black veteran of the Revolutionary War who came to Pennsylvania from Connecticut and bought the farm in 1793, beginning a continuous record of family ownership that is now in its eighth generation. Part of that legacy is a trove of historic and archaeological materials, including rare records from the Revolutionary and Civil wars as well as evidence that the farm was a stop on the Underground Railroad for slaves fleeing Southern states.

Original source: The New York Times' Green blog
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Could Philadelphia host the 2024 Olympics?

The United States Olympic Committee has sent letters to the mayors of 35 American cities hoping to gauge their interest in hosting the 2024 games. Philadelphia was included in the USOC's wide net.

The U.S.O.C. says it has not decided whether to pursue a bid in 2024, but it has begun the decision-making process in unusual fashion. The selection pool of potential United States bid cities is usually limited to the very largest, for logistical reasons as well as the need to compete with major international cities to win the Games. The last two American bid cities, New York (2012) and Chicago (2016), each spent more than $10 million, only to be eliminated early in the voting by the International Olympic Committee.

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

Granola (with foie gras!) shines at Talula's Table

Granola is having its moment in the sun. Local oats maven Aimee Olexy (of Talula's Garden and Talula's Table) earns special mention in this New York Times trend piece tackling the erstwhile hippy fare.

Granola has traded in the bulky sweater for a little black dress. All over the country, small-batch entrepreneurs see granola as a booming growth sector, while chefs view it as an elegant and wide-open canvas for culinary experimentation... [Aimee] Olexy runs a restaurant in Philadelphia, Talula’s Garden, and Talula’s Table, a country store in Kennett Square, Pa., that morphs into a showcase for an expertly wrought tasting menu in the evenings. At both spots you’ll find "lots of granola," she said. She might make it with coarse black pepper or chunks of bittersweet chocolate; she might marry it with goat cheese or a torchon of foie gras.

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

First Round Capital expands to New York City

First Round Capital's Dorm Room Fund is going national, starting in New York City. The program funds student-run startups selected by students. Flying Kite reported on its local success in December. 

"We’ve heard from several entrepreneurs claiming that it was 'much harder to raise our first $25,000 then our next $2 million,'" wrote [founder Josh] Kopelman."Given this, I just wonder how many amazing companies we would be talking about today had they received that first small check. Instead, I hear stories about how amazing students, under the giant burden of college debt, abandoned their startup dreams and chose to take full-time positions at established companies."

Original source: The Epoch Times
Read the original story here.

Peter Serpico and Bon Appetit stir up controversy in interview

A Bon Appetit interview conducted in conjunction with a collab dinner between Philly transplant Peter Serpico and Chris Painter managed to ruffle some feathers. Local blogs and Twitter hummed with complaints about Serpico's characterization of his new city -- he is preparing to open a restaurant on South Street with Stephen Starr. Zagat tackled the controversy, which involved comments about Philadelphians' knowledge of Asian cuisine and the city's dining landscape.

"In Philly, there are those huge, big-box restaurants," one question began. Um, what big-box restaurants? We don't even have a Cheesecake Factory yet (though one is planned). The writer later clarified on Twitter he was referring to Stephen Starr restaurants. He also noted in his article that he'd never eaten in Philadelphia - or even visited Philadelphia - until the one-night collaboration dinner Serpico put on recently at Il Pittore (which happens to be a decidedly non-big-box Starr restaurant, one designed around a chef with seating for just 80).

Original source: Zagat.com
Read the original story here.

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