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The New York Times' Travel section takes a ride on Indego

After naming Philadelphia one of its 52 places to visit in 2015, the New York Times checks in on its latest tourism asset.

With the April launch of IndegoPhiladelphia’s 24-hour bike share program, the city now has a network similar to New York’s Citi Bike; Washington, D.C.’s Capital Bikeshare; and bike programs in other cities. (Philadelphia is also on our list of 52 Places to Go for 2015.) A bike can be rented with a credit or debit card at any Indego docking station for $4 per half-hour, an ideal option for neighborhood trips. There is also an option to find open bikes at individual stations online.

Now, it’s time to explore the city.

Center City Philadelphia would be an excellent place to begin, given the density of docking stations in the neighborhood...

With Independence Day quickly approaching, it’s only natural that American history will play an oversized role in any summer trip to Philadelphia. Traveling east from City Hall, Old City has the Independence National Historic Park, which includes Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell and the Benjamin Franklin Museum. Christ Church Burial Ground, the final resting place of Benjamin Franklin and four other signers of the Declaration of Independence, is near the park.

Continue east and you’ll discover Elfreth’s Alley, a collection of 32 brick rowhouses on what is considered the oldest continuously occupied residential street in America.

Original source: The New York Times
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Legendary Philly-born photographer dies at 75

Mary Ellen Mark, a Philadelphia native, became one of the most iconic photographers of her generation.

Mary Ellen Mark, whose unflinching yet compassionate depictions of prostitutes in Mumbai, homeless teenagers in Seattle and mental patients in a state institution in Oregon made her one of the premier documentary photographers of her generation, died on Monday in Manhattan. She was 75...

Mary Ellen Mark was born on March 20, 1940, in Philadelphia, and grew up nearby in Elkins Park. She had two main ambitions in high school, she told The New York Times Magazine in 1987: to become the head cheerleader and to be popular with boys. She succeeded at both.

She studied at the University of Pennsylvania, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in painting and art history in 1962 and a master’s degree in photojournalism in 1964. She was particularly interested in the work of documentarians like Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Frank and Dorothea Lange.

Original source: The New York Times
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WIP compiles the dumbest comments in Philly sports history

In honor of Ruben Amaro Jr.'s recent stumble, WIP compiled some of the city's biggest sports blunders. My personal favorite: 

The Eagles tied the Bengals late in the 2008 season. Donovan McNabb had no idea an NFL game could end in a tie.

The quote: “I’ve never been a part of a tie. I never even knew that was in the rule book. It’s part of the rules, and we have to go with it. I was looking forward to getting the opportunity to get out there and try to drive to win the game. But unfortunately, with the rules, we settled with a tie.”

Original source: WIP via CBS
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Philadelphia International Airport eyes expansion

The Philadelphia International Airport has its eyes on International Plaza, a 27-acre parcel.

Councilman Kenyatta Johnson introduced the legislation, calling for the city to buy the office buildings and the 27 acres and lease them to the Philadelphia Authority for Industrial Development.

Officials said the buildings could be demolished to make room for some combination of new facilities for the airport and possibly for United Parcel Service.

"If you had asked me 20 years ago, does it make sense for the airport to acquire International Plaza, my answer would be the same as it is today: absolutely," said James Tyrrell, deputy Philadelphia aviation director of property and business development.

Original source: Associated Press via Lancaster Online
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Khyber Pass named one of the country's top bars

The Old City watering hole has earned a spot on Esquire's annual list of the country's best bars:

Back in the 1980s, the Khyber was where all the punk bands played. Nowadays the bands are gone and it's a lot cleaner. But there's still a great rock 'n' roll jukebox, decent New Orleans food (and cocktails), and a whole lot of craft beer on tap.

Original source: Esquire
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Amtrak crash raises huge questions about transportation and infrastructure spending

The train disaster, which happened only a few miles from 30th Street Station, raises a lot of questions about the state of our country's infrastructure. 

Investigators into the Amtrak crash in Philadelphia are focusing on excess speed, but there is a related issue: the overall condition of Amtrak and the nation’s infrastructure. One of the reasons that American trains should not travel 100 miles an hour in many places is that the state of our rail system — like the state of our bridges, highways and airports — is not good...

Much of the problem of crumbling infrastructure has existed for years. There is, however, a new development that has made things worse. The combined money that federal, state and local governments spend on construction has dropped significantly, relative to the size of the economy, in the last five years. And only part of the decline stems from the end of the stimulus program, which temporarily lifted infrastructure spending.

Such spending now represents about 1.5 percent of total economic activity, down from about 1.8 percent on average from 1993 through 2008. It’s at its lowest level in at least 22 years. (A hat-tip to Joe Weisenthal, of Business Insider, who calculated this statistic in 2013, after the collapse of a bridge near Seattle.)

Lawrence Summers, the former Treasury secretary and Harvard president, sent an email to us today making an argument similar to Mr. Weisenthal’s: More infrastructure spending would both make accidents less likely and bring economic benefits.

Original source: The New York Times
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A 'Cambodia Town' in South Philly?

An influx of Cambodian immigrants changes the face of South Philly -- should the designation become official?

On sunny weekend afternoons, in the shadow of an ornate, golden Buddhist temple, Mifflin Square in South Philadelphia is dotted with charcoal grills, chile-lacquered chicken wings, and thin-sliced fatty beef heavily seasoned with lemongrass sputtering over the coals. Women pound chilies, garlic, and dried shrimp to a paste to season the snappy unripe papaya for the lime-drenched salads they sell to passersby.

This is what some people call Cambodia Town, where these authentic street foods sell for $1, and where there's an effort afoot to make the title official. Though there are other places throughout the city that are rich in Cambodian culture - similar vendors sell snacks in Franklin Delano Roosevelt Park, and there's a new temple under construction in Southwest Philadelphia - the area around Mifflin Square is the heart of this community. Business owners, city officials, and Cambodian Americans think it's time to raise the profile of their culture - especially its bold, bright, and balanced cuisine.

Original source: Philadelphia Inquirer
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76ers rebrand, showcase Ben Franklin's dribbling skills

The 76ers have revealed an updated logo that draws on the team's old vintage look. Plus, a dribbling Ben Franklin.

Rebranding is a tricky and thankless undertaking for sports franchises.

If you do a good job, people on the Internet will complain and mock you. If you do a bad job, all of the people on the Internet will complain and mock you roundly.

So it comes as a bit of a relief for me to say that the Philadelphia 76ers have redesigned their logos, and there's really not much to complain about here. 

The team tweeted out a slate of the new logo mockups. Admirably, they forwent musical festival neons and stuck to sprucing up the classic design already in place...

The franchise is also going through with the dribbling Ben Franklin secondary logo that first surfaced in 2014. It's a little goofy, but I commend Philadelphia for faithfully depicting Franklin's significant handles. Dude could cook.
Original source: The Bleacher Report
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Universities and drug companies partner to tackle big diseases

New partnerships between universities and drug companies show promises for complex diseases. 

British pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline is teaming up with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to start a research institute and a company aimed at curing H.I.V. infection and AIDS... The company and the university will each own half of the new company, Qura Therapeutics, which will have the rights to commercialize any discoveries... 

The arrangement is part of a trend in which pharmaceutical companies are working directly with university researchers. Novartis and the University of Pennsylvania, for instance, are building a research center on the Philadelphia campus to work on ways to genetically alter a patient’s immune cells to battle cancer.

But while the University of Pennsylvania partnership is already producing striking remissions in some cancer patients, the attempt to cure H.I.V. is expected to take far longer and may fall short. The $20 million being contributed is a small sum for a company like Glaxo, which spent close to $5 billion on research and development last year.

Original source: The New York Times
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Burt Reynolds hits Philly Comic-Con

The big-screen legend made a splash in the City of Brotherly Love. 

Hollywood legend Burt Reynolds showed he can still kick it into high gear as he stepped out for the Wizard World Comic Con in Philadelphia on Saturday.

"I always enjoy talking to fans and I'm usually very pleased with their curiosity about my career, what I'm doing, what I'm not doing, and why I'm not doing more,"the 79-year-old told the Philadelphia Inquirer.

The “Smokey and the Bandit” star made his debut at a comic con, where attendees included cult favorites such as “Machete” star Danny Trejo and the original Incredible Hulk, Lou Ferrigno.

Reynolds unveiled some details about his second memoir, “But Enough About Me,” which is still in the works. The actor will focus his latest memoir on all the people he worked with throughout his acting career.

Original source: New York Daily News
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Three local women get a deal in the 'Shark Tank'

Zoom Interiors, a startup run by three Philly transplants, earned a deal on the ABC show that funds promising entrepreneurs. In the end, Barbara Corcoran offered $100,000 for 33 percent of the company.

Beatrice Fischel-Bock, Madeline Fraser and Elizabeth Grover all met as students during their first interior design course at George Washington University. “We became friends instantly and worked together for the next three years of design school learning each other’s strengths and weaknesses,” Fischel-Bock said.

The company was born after friends started asking them to design their first apartments upon graduation. However, at the time they were all studying abroad, but quickly realized they were still able to assist their friends, who were all on budgets.
“It dawned on us that this is clearly an undeserved part of the market,” Fischel-Bock explained. “The design industry had just been shaken by the recession and people were very conscious about affordability. We decided to try our new formula with paying customers.”

...After starting their business in Washington DC, where they were in school, they moved to Philly after graduation. Fischel-Bock refers to the city as “the best kept secret on the East coast.” “It has the highest rate of millennials moving in to the city and just has such an authentic feel. The startup community is very close knit and supportive and continues to grow,” she said.

Original source: The Heavy
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The new Promise Zones are announced, include Camden, N.J.

The Obama administration has announced the latest round of "Promise Zones," and Camden, N.J., is on the list. It joins Mantua in West Philadelphia, part of the first group.

[The administration singled] out eight economically struggling communities for special government attention as they work together to reduce poverty and crime, increase economic and educational opportunities and attract private investment...

Under the program, communities designated as zones receive preferential treatment when applying for federal grants, benefit from more coordinated government assistance and would be singled out for possible congressionally approved tax incentives.
The federal government and local leaders in these communities work together to increase economic activity and educational opportunities, attract private investment, reduce violent crime, improve public health and address any other priorities that the communities identify.

Original source: The New York Times
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PA jazz treasure Steve Coleman plans Philly shows

The New York Times takes a long look at Steve Coleman, one of the region's jazz legends, as he plans upcoming concerts in Philly.

More than any other living jazz musician, the alto saxophonist and composer Steve Coleman seeks inspiration in unlikely places. So it wasn’t all that odd to find him here on a recent Saturday, scouting locations at Bartram’s Garden, the nation’s oldest botanical garden, near the southernmost bend of the Schuylkill.

Mr. Coleman, one of the most rigorously conceptual thinkers in improvised music, was considering potential sites for a pair of major outdoor performances, on June 21, the summer solstice, and Sept. 23, the fall equinox. Those celestial dates, like the arboreal setting, represent an alignment of his interests. Some of them, anyway.

Over the last 30 years, since his debut album, Mr. Coleman, 58, has been an indefatigable outlier in jazz, engaged in esoteric but vital work on the margins. He has also been a mentor and touchstone to many in the music’s current vanguard, like the trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire and the pianist Vijay Iyer, who once declared in JazzTimes magazine that Mr. Coleman was, for him, as important a figure as John Coltrane, someone who “has contributed an equal amount to the history of the music.”

Original source: The New York Times
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PHS announces three pop-up beer gardens for summer 2015

This year, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society will install three -- three!! -- of their wildly popular beer gardens. The transformation of these vacant lots is fast becoming a Philly tradition. Check out the full scoop from Foobooz:

Last year's South Street beer garden will return to 1438 South Street. This season will feature "Bohemian flair" as designed by designer Karen Regan of Tallulah & Bird. This year, the South Street beer garden will include wooden trellis, container gardens, large palm and banana trees and Jack-in-the-pulpit relatives that will rise five-feet tall. The space will also offer public and private spaces, a first for a PHS pop-up garden. Look for beers from Barren Hill Brewery to be offered throughout the summer. Barren Hill will also work with Wyndridge Farm, creator of PHS Cider on an exclusive beer for the garden.

The South Philadelphia location has landed at 9th and Wharton, opposite Cheesesteak Vegas. The look here will be an urban garden with a "hipster vibe." Look for recycled bike parts and reclaimed wood. A splash of color provided by a wave of Gomphrena Fireworks will spice up the beer garden. The spot will offer bean-baggy furnishings and a return of the popular stepped stadium seating that was so popular on Broad Street in 2013. Food and drink will be provided by Royal Tavern and Cantina Los Caballitos and will also borrow from the Italian flavors of the neighborhood.
The third location will be in the courtyard of Three Logan Square at 18th and Cherry Streets. Sure to be a gathering place for

Comcast employees and other Center City office workers. This space is being designed by Sargenti Architecture, a local firm. The vibe here should be beachy with sand around the fountain and palm trees, honey locusts, whispygrasses and lush tropicals dotting the area. A wood deck, white furnishings and cabanas for lounging will make this an attractive spot during the day and after work. Food and drink will be provided by City Tap House across the street.

Original source: Philadelphia Magazine
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Philadelphia rolls out Indego bike share

The city's long-anticipated bike share has launched following years of planning.

Philadelphia's bike share program is finally rolling.

Mayor Michael Nutter launched the Indego system Thursday with a ceremonial ride in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Officials in the nation's fifth-largest city say the program has 600 bikes and 70 docking stations that operate 24 hours a day.

Users will be able to get a bike at any station and return it to any other station by using a member card or a credit or debit card.

The city has invested $3 million and another $4.5 million is coming from state, local and foundation funding.

Original source: The Associated Press
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