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Temple wins the battle for William Penn High School

The School Reform Commission has sold William Penn High School to Temple University for $15 million. The decision was not without controversy.

Part of the property will be razed and turned into athletic fields and recreation space for Temple students. The school building fronting Broad Street will remain, and will house a job-training academy run by the Laborers' District Council Education and Training/Apprenticeship Fund. It will offer training in construction crafts and general education topics.

The sale happened over the strong objections of some community members - who had been promised a new life for the high school when it "temporarily" closed in 2009. Then-Superintendent Arlene C. Ackerman said at the time that the school would reopen within five years as a career and technical academy for district students.

Commissioner Sylvia Simms was the lone vote against the closure and transaction, saying after the meeting that she thought the community had been "bamboozled."


For more background on the sale, check out this feature from Flying Kite.

Original source: Philadlephia Inquirer
Read the complete story here.

President Obama steps in to halt transit strike

President Obama ordered an emergency mediation process, halting the SEPTA transit strike in southeastern PA.

The Presidential Emergency Board will now beginning hearing arguments from the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority and two unions representing about 400 electrical workers and engineers. The unions want a compensation plan similar to what bus drivers agreed to a few years ago, but the agency hasn't met their demand, they say.

The workers went on strike after midnight Saturday, and Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett, a Republican, soon requested that Obama intervene.

Under the Railway Labor Act, the governor of any affected state may ask the president to appoint an emergency mediation panel to settle a union's dispute with publicly funded commuter rail services. Obama recently created such a board to help with a labor battle at the Long Island Rail Road, and employees have about a month left in the process before they may strike. 


Original source: The Los Angeles Time
Read the complete story here.

Local artists team up on new opera

Local visual artist Christopher Cairns and composer Michael Hersch collaborate on a new opera.

The visual artist Christopher Cairns’s sprawling studio near Philadelphia is filled with installations that include piles of skulls and forlorn figures slumped despairingly in chairs. Sculptures that evoke the victims of Pompeii are strewn across the floor near the white wall, which is made of crumbling bricks and shards of glass and will be replicated in the sets for “On the Threshold of Winter,” Michael Hersch’s new opera. Mr. Cairns’s eerie art seems an aptly somber pairing for the dark-hued monodrama, which will receive its premiere at the Brooklyn Academy of Music on Wednesday, Mr. Hersch’s birthday, with Tito Muñoz conducting the ensemble Nunc.

“I hope the audience feels some kind of connection,” Mr. Hersch said, “and that a potentially unfamiliar musical framework doesn’t obscure the human drama the music attempts to serve.”

Mr. Hersch, 42, weathered several traumas before composing the opera. In 2009, his friend Mary O’Reilly — a historian he met in 2001 in Berlin — died at the age of 45 from ovarian cancer. And in 2007, he received his own cancer diagnosis. “It seemed so implausible in light of our relationship,” he said. “I found the whole thing like a bad joke, and I told her."

He is now healthy, “but there is always that fear that hangs around and over you and never goes away,” he said.


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

Philly public pools open for business (well, for free)

The city's plethora of (underappreciated) public pools is opening this week. Click here for a complete run-down of which swim-spot is opening when. See you at Ridgway!

Original source: NBC 10

Yoga, with a beer chaser

A growing trend has a session of bending and stretching followed by a session ale.

Detox Retox is part of a growing trend of yoga paired with post-practice beer. These classes, often placed in breweries, are popping up across the country, and some have cheeky names like Happy Hour Yoga with Joe Sixpack in Philadelphia, BrewAsanas in Colorado (Boulder and Denver) and Three Sheets to the Warrior Pose in Wilmington, Del.

The trend was started two and a half years ago in Charleston, S.C., by Beth Cosi, a restaurant worker turned yoga instructor. Ms. Cosi regularly invited her friends to take her class, but few actually made it to the studio. After connecting with a local brewery, she extended another invitation to her non-yoga-practicing friends to attend a beginner’s class that was followed by a beer tasting.

Ms. Cosi, whose friends showed up, learned that beer is an effective carrot on a stick.


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

NYC's beloved Big Gay Ice Cream coming to Philadelphia

This New York institution is opening up a location on Broad Street. Oh, happy day!

Last night Douglas Quint and Bryan Petroff announced that they were bringing their beloved NYC ice cream shop Big Gay Ice Cream to Philadelphia....

As reported by Philly.com, Quint and Petroff will be opening at the SouthStar Lofts. They liked this location for the fact that it made them part of a "culinary neighborhood." "Something that we always try to do when we choose locations is make sure that we're amongst good company ... [In Philadelphia], we'll be in walking distance to Marc Vetri's restaurants, Kevin Sbraga's, and Jose Garces' restaurants." They've been working on securing the lease for the Philadelphia shop since the beginning of the year.

With an August or September opening, the Philadelphia location will be opening around the same time as the upcoming Los Angeles location. Petroff says that project got delayed due to some trouble with the city, but that construction will soon be underway. Petroff, who moved to Los Angeles recently, will be overseeing the LA build out while Quint works on getting the Philadelphia shop open.


Original source: Eater
Read the complete story here.

'So You Think You Can Dance' comes to Philadelphia, Mummers crash the party

The yearly FOX network dance competition aired its Philadelphia auditions last week. Art Museum steps? Check. Murals? Check. Mummers? Check. You can watch the whole thing here. 

Original source: FOX
 

Philadelphia hotels are best rated in the U.S.

When it comes to major U.S. destinations, Philadelphia's hotels come out on top.

Hotels in Philadelphia are the best rated among all major destination in the United States. This finding is the takeaway of a recent survey conducted by TravelMag.com. The survey compared 30 destinations in the United States based on the customer reviews their hotels have received over the past 12 months.
 
Specifically, the survey compiled all 3- and 4-star hotel ratings awarded by guests after their stay on the hotel booking site Expedia. These ratings, which run from 1 to 5, were then categorized into positive (4 or 5), neutral (3) or negative (1 or 2).

Original source: Travel
Read the complete story here.

Auction settles ownership battles at the Philadelphia Inquirer

An auction has finally settled the matter of the Philadelphia Inquirer's ownership.

The legal battle over the ownership of The Philadelphia Inquirer ended on Tuesday when its minority owners, Lewis Katz and Gerry Lenfest, prevailed in an auction for the newspaper.

Mr. Katz and Mr. Lenfest agreed to pay $88 million for The Inquirer and its affiliated properties, which include The Philadelphia Daily News, the website Philly.com and a printing plant.

The purchase signals the end of a battle between the wealthy, politically connected men who teamed up to buy the publications in 2012 and then fell out over accusations of inappropriate influence exerted on the newsroom, which threw the papers into turmoil.


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

Philadelphia Inquirer co-owner killed in plane crash

Lewis Katz, a co-owner of the Philadelphia Inquirer, was killed in a plane crash in Massachusetts. 

At the last minute on Saturday, Lewis Katz, a philanthropist and co-owner of The Philadelphia Inquirer, invited Anne Leeds, a longtime friend and neighbor from Longport, N.J., to accompany him and two others on a quick day trip to Concord, Mass. They were going up to help support a nonprofit education effort.

The day before, Mr. Katz had also invited Edward G. Rendell, the former governor of Pennsylvania. Such spur-of-the-moment invitations from Mr. Katz were common, a function of his access to a jet and his spontaneous personality.

While Mr. Rendell could not make the trip, Ms. Leeds could, and she was ready to go within a couple of hours.
But on the way home on Saturday night, the trip ended in disaster when the plane exploded in a fireball in suburban Boston. Everyone on board — four passengers, two pilots and one cabin attendant — was killed.


Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here; or click here for the Inquirer's reporting.

Adaptimmune to develop early-stage cancer drug with GlaxoSmithKline

Adaptimmune, a local company Flying Kite has covered in the past, has reached a $350 million deal with GlaxoSmithKline, a pharmaceutical giant with a presence in the Navy Yard, to develop new cancer treatments.

Founded in 2008, Adaptimmune, which is privately held, is developing cancer treatments designed to strengthen a patient’s white blood cells. The company’s research arm is based in Oxford, England, and its clinical operations are based in Philadelphia.

Under the agreement, Adaptimmune could receive more than $350 million in payments from Glaxo over the next seven years. It would receive additional payments if Glaxo exercised all of its options under the deal and if certain milestones were met.


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

Can 30th Street become a hub for a 'livable' neighborhood?

Can the area around 30th Street Station be transformed into a mixed-used community? Next City investigates.

The first hurdle that the planners will have to overcome is the area’s zoning. Most of the parcels immediately adjacent to the station are zoned for industrial use only, essentially limiting their use to Drexel or Penn, since the area is too expensive for real industrial uses and the zoning also allows institutional uses. While the universities are no doubt the area’s anchors and will remain the most important employers, a truly urban neighborhood is hard to fashion out of an “eds and meds” monoculture.

Farther from the station, extending down Market Street to 34th Street and the streets farther south, the blocks are zoned for institutional use, again excluding office and residential uses not affiliated with a university or hospital.

Only in select locations — for example, on the block south of the old post office, where Brandywine is building the apartment building — are general residential and office uses allowed. This building is proof that there is a residential market in this location (and why wouldn’t there be, with the easy access downtown and to suburbs for reverse-commutes by regional rail or the highways?), and the first order of business must be changing the zoning so that developers can build housing and office space. This approach would complement the universities rather than allowing the neighborhood to be totally subsumed by them.


Original source: Next City
Read the complete story here.

GQ spends a season in Camden's Little League

GQ sent a writer into Camden to chronicle the power of youth baseball in a struggling city.

Three years ago, Camden ranked as one of the poorest cities in the country and the single deadliest, with a murder rate twelve times the national average. That was also the year that Camden, faced with a mounting deficit, decided to lay off almost half its police force. Ah shit,everyone was thinking, this is when all bloody hell breaks loose. Some drug dealers printed up T-shirts proclaiming January 2011: It's Our Time.

And Bryan Morton? He had an idea: "Let's start a Little League."

...For Bryan, baseball is a multipurpose tool: It can unify the neighborhood, and it pits the diamond against the corner. Since the dealers recruit kids at about the same age as the coaches do, Bryan's in a tug-of-war for the souls of these 12-year-olds, some of whose parents are out there slinging, too. "Look," Bryan says, "we can all agree on children, you know? That they should be free to be kids. And if Dad or Mom is at a game for a few hours a week, they're not hustling. They're at a game."

Bryan's philosophy in a nutshell: Don't let circumstances dictate your behavior. Reverse that dynamic. Fill the parks with kids and families and eventually the junkies and the dealers will drift away. Pretend that you live in a safe place and maybe it will become one.
 
Original source: GQ
Read the complete story here.

At Haverford College, drama surrounds (ex) commencement speaker

Protests at Haverford College forced the planned commencement speaker, Robert J. Birgeneau, to withdraw. Protests from the left have had similar impact at schools across the country.

Some students and faculty members at Haverford, a liberal arts college near Philadelphia, objected to the invitation to Mr. Birgeneau to speak and receive an honorary degree because, under him, the University of California police used batons to break up an Occupy protest in 2011. He first stated his support for the police, and then a few days later, saying that he was disturbed by videos of the confrontation, ordered an investigation.

Those at Haverford who objected to his being honored asked Mr. Birgeneau to apologize and to meet a list of demands, including leading an effort to train campus security forces in handling protests better; he refused.

Mr. Birgeneau bowed out a day after Smith College said that Christine Lagarde, head of the International Monetary Fund, had withdrawn from its commencement because of protests. Condoleezza Rice, the former secretary of state, said this month she would not deliver the address at Rutgers University after the invitation drew objections. Last month, Brandeis University rescinded an invitation to Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the Somali-born activist, over her criticism of Islam.


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

The Atlantic's CityLab also highlights Mural Arts' Amtrak installation

With support from Mural Arts, Berlin-based artist Katharina Grosse has tackled seven sites between 30th Street Station and North Philadelphia Station.

Using the train as a central vehicle, psychylustro is meant to be seen in motion.

This stretch of track into downtown sees 34,000 riders every day, including travelers heading to and from New York on Amtrak plus commuters on two lines of SEPTA Regional Rail and one New Jersey Transit line with service to Atlantic City.*

The installation, curator Liz Thomas says, is intended "an experience that asks people to think about this space that they hurdle through every day." The moving trains allowed Grosse to play with a wider number of variables: the viewer's perspective will change based on which direction they're traveling, how fast the train is going, and which track the train is using. The goal, Thomas says, is to create "a beautiful disruption into a daily routine."

The installation also asks travelers to think more critically about the history of this stretch of Philadelphia, which includes sections of downtown and huge swathes of formerly industrial neighborhoods. The sites include the sides of an occupied office building, an old railroad trestle, and an abandoned warehouse, which once housed a textile factory but now has trees growing up through its collapsed roof. The brilliant colors -- vibrant whites and oranges on that warehouse side -- draw attention to these contrasting pieces of Philadelphia's past.


Original source: The Atlantic's CityLab
Read the complete story here.
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