30 April 06: Immigrant Song

Ah-ah-ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh-AHH! 'Member them immigration rallies out west? You know, that one in LA with 500,000 people? Well don'tcha know, we had a pretty nice turnout right here in Philly at Love Park. Only problem was, I slept on this. Just like the blue & green CoreNetGlobalBusinessSolutionsWhatever laser show last week, Philly Skyline dropped the ball by staying out of the loop. Well, enter Albert Yee.

The should-be committeeperson of many talents finally makes his Philly Skyline debut by kicking us up into some photojournalism. Albert was there at Love Park on April 10 to reel it all in. We're all immigrants here, and if you think otherwise, go tell it to the Iroquois up on Kinzua dam and see what they think, redneck.
Though Philly lags severely behind other immigrant hubs like New York, New Jersey, Washington and the obvious Southwestern and Californian cities, we do have some proud little enclaves here. Brotherly love is a way of life for the Vietnamese commiunity in South Philly (itself wedged between more famous Irish and Italian descendants), and El Centro de Oro up in North Philly is home to the area's greatest Puerto Rican heritage. Each is forthcoming on Philly Skyline. As are, mind you, Dominic Mercier's view of Eastern State Penitentiary, Chiara Lattanzio's paintbrush stylings, and my own walk down East Passyunk.

And yes, the New Skinny. And an archive. And a search function. And advertising. And architects and more buildings and neighborhoods and contributors and faces and Rittenhouse Square and garages and reviews and cheesesteaks and ahhh, 24 hours a day is not enough! Stay closely tuned.

–B Love

26 April 06: Adam's Mark comes a-tumblin' down

In so many words, anyway. It seems a bit odd that Target wouldn't just implode the Adam's Mark on City Line Ave to speed up the process, to get the new City Line Target open ASAP. Besides, everyone loves a good implosion, and with a hilltop building as tall as the Adam's Mark, you could watch from as far away as Center City. But they're not, they're gingerly taking the thing apart bit by bit, and they're not gonna put it back together as with the old Liberty Bell Pavilion, which is already a-goner. It's not like the Adam's Mark will be greatly missed, but Target's approach seems off. For more, click the image over there.

25 April 06: Jane Jacobs, 1916-2006

RIP, y'old rabble rouser

23 April 06: Philly Skyline Shafts Philly Skyline Dot Com

Blue & green blues

Gee, THANKS A LOT you big stupid buildings that essentially drove me to build a web site. I noticed on Thursday night that Mellon Bank Center was blue & green. Then the next night, One and Two Liberty Place had joined them. Odd, I thought, but cool all the same. Well then out of nowhere on Sunday, I read about a laser show(!) held over Center City. HELLO? Why was Philly Skyline not informed about this???

Yeah yeah, we know now that there's some convention of commercial real estate or what have you, but since we missed the laser show (despite attempts to catch it the last two nights), it's a little late to learn of and present via photo gallery said laser show. Oh well, at least there's still Laser Floyd at Franklin Institute. (At least I think there is . . . anyone?)
Still, we got a handful of snaps from the past few nights we'll make live sometime in the next few days. We've also got some shots of the immigration rally from my man Albert Yee, who's finally hopping on board the Philly Skyline train. Right behind him in line is my other man Dominic Mercier, who's been shooting Eastern State Penitentiary like you've never seen. And don'tcha know, right behind the both of them is a lineup of local collegians who have taken to shooting their respective campuses, from Penn to St Joe's and back up to La Salle. Speaking of shafts, where are you Drexel volunteers? Even Chestnut Hill College has volunteered for chrissakes. We're all busy, Dragon Heads, but you could really make some Philly Skyline time, ok? If you're interested, click the banner below. That goes for you, too, Villanova.

Elsewhere, the New Skinny is almost a fait accompli, so check back next week or so for that. We're doing some major major behind the scenes stuff right now, so pardon us if we're a little sloppy between now and then. Remember, Thrilladelphia's going on all week, you should be cheering for Doobies Softball, and really, just get out and enjoy the spring weather, wouldja? Right after checking out the current role call of photo essays (just below the Yo Students banner).

–B Love

22 April 06: DARRELL CLARKE: my height limit will be a fait accompli!

Stupid. Typical. A moratorium on highrises on the Parkway? Or rather, a height limit? Here's an idea, let's have a moratorium on moratoriums. (Moratoria?) Isn't it already true that there is a height limit of sorts on the Parkway? That buildings can't be taller than they are far away from the Parkway? And that's why the Bell-Atlantic Tower is the height that it is? It's something like that anyway, not unlike Washington DC's. DC's limit is not, as popular myth would have it, the height of the Capitol's dome, but rather it's that buildings can't be taller than the width of the street plus 20 feet. Or something convoluted like that; I'm sure the bureaucratic documentation explains it better. (Cough.)

Anyway, a height limit on the Parkway? Gee, this wouldn't be because he and Vince Fumo felt undercut from the out-of-nowhere announcement that was the Barnes Tower (unrelated but near to the Barnes Museum, which is also in announcement-only existence), would it? Like I've said before, the greatest tragedy in all this Barnes Tower hoopla is the potential loss of the B&W Lounge, the home of the best drink specials during NFL football broadcasts. Or maybe they don't even have good specials, it's just that you feel really good leaving the place when it's still light out, I don't know. The point is that the Best Western would be no tragic loss, and that if people in Fairmount lose their views because of a new condo tower, well . . . tough TITTIES, how do you like your big CITIES, let's roll up to BK with our BITTIES blasting FITTY.

Build the Barnes! (Both of them!)

21 April 06: Yo.

Philly Skyline wants YOU.

Yo Penn Mutual employees, how do you do? It's your pal B Love, from Philly Skyline. I used to work across the street in the Independence Building (which you can see from your view, since there isn't a condo tower there blocking it). I'm familiar with your building(s), the classic juxtaposition of new and old, where in your case the new is already old and that's kind of cool. Edgar Viguers Seeler designed the original eight story building along 6th & Walnut, then Ernest Matthewson took its white terracotta neoclassical design and stepped it up to 20 stories. And of course, in the 70s, Philadelphians Mitchell/Giurgola brutalized the view from Independence Mall, the classic view of Independence Hall seen in the picture to the left. Mitchell/Giurgola also designed the excellent Liberty Bell Pavilion which just this week completed its sad demolition.

So yeah, Penn Mutual. If you're an employee there, specifically on a higher floor, I need your help. Philly Skyline will this summer be launching a "Before and After" series of photos based on vintage postcards. We have one that has a view of Independence Hall from presumably the roof or a top floor of the Penn Mutual Building. I stopped by there Thursday to discuss this project with the building manager. Only problem was, the guards at the lobby desk are paranoid fascist freaks, and their buddy (a maintenance guy?) a real tough guy. I'm a polite and tolerant person, but these guys were neither. The conversation went something like:

B Love: Hi, is there a building manager on duty?
Security Guard: What do you need to see a building manager for?
B Love: I'm a photographer and I have this project I'd like to discuss with him. Wouldn't take more than five minutes.
Security Guard: I'm gonna tell you right now the answer is no.
B Love: I haven't even told you what it is.
Security Guard: It doesn't matter, he's going to say no.
(Curious/nosy maintenance guy walks up to desk.)
B Love: Well can I at least talk to him about it?
Maintenance Guy: Did you think you were going to come in and take pictures?
B Love: Well I'd like to take A picture, but I'd like to talk to the manager about it.
Security Guard (getting angry for no reason): Look, we don't let people take pictures because you never know where they're going to end up.
B Love: That's what I want to talk to the manager about, why I want to take A picture.
Security Guard: It's been our policy for thirty years, we don't even let Channel 3 up there.
B Love: Can I at least have the manager tell me no?
Security Guard: No!
B Love: Well can I have his name?
Maintenance Guy: Hey, the answer is no, so you don't have to get a bone up your ass about it.

Ahh yes, the ol' bone up the ass. From the tough guy maintenance man. Whatever, douche. Go drink a Coors Light and watch the Flyers lose in the playoffs. I wasn't even giving any attitude -- I really wanted to talk to the manager!

Now, it sucks that we live in an age driven by fear, fear of terror, fear of gas prices, fear of missing a market, fear ratcheted up by a less than half wit "decider" of a monkey president, but I do my best to get past it and live with a positive outlook. A lot of private security personnel, I've learned, does not. No, they're out to keep their lobbies and garages and parking lots as safe and scum-free as possible. And who could blame them?

Being a photographer in a city, you're bound to run into minor incidents and be questioned by authority types. Most of them are cool. The Philadelphia police? Totally cool. They understand what's important. Septa, Amtrak and DRPA police? Well, they're a little more aggressive but they have big infrastructure to protect, not just citizens. I'm sure I'm in most government databases for this web site alone, but the DRPA police has "taken my info" on the Ben Franklin Bridge, Amtrak police did the same over near Cira Centre, and Philly cops have stopped to chat before in places like Spring Garden Bridge (over 76) and the North Philadelphia train station. Septa cops have wondered what I was up to near the BF Bridge and at 69th Street Station. Fair enough.

But private security? The WORST. These tough guys clearly flex their muscles to take their frustration of not being real cops out on easy targets like photographers. I cut across one of the many giant parking lots in Camden a little over a year ago and was nearly assaulted by the large man who came out of the booth to scream and spit at me. (Not spit like hock a loogy but spit like Bill Cowher when he's yelling.) That particular incident was, unbeknownst to me, on Lockheed Martin's property. Oops. But others include the alley behind the Blue Cross Tower (when I was standing in the street!), a lot at Rutgers in Camden and PPG Place in Pittsburgh (which is such a photogenic complex that it's asinine they'd even confront people).

I respect private property and don't trespass when I'm told not to. If I'm on private property and they don't want me taking a picture, I don't take a picture. But: photography is not a crime, nor is it giving away a trade secret (usually), nor is it a weapon of mass destruction. These rogue security guards have got to get a grip. Photographers, make sure you know your rights and your limitations. Portland attorney Bert Krages has a good guide (which you should print and carry with you, just in case) here. You're allowed to take pictures of bridges and trains and buildings -- unless you're on private property or if there's some corny code orange.

Penn Mutual tenants and employees? I didn't even catch the building manager's name because of the guards. Would anyone like to buzz me up to your office for ten minutes -- tops -- to take an "after" picture looking down on Independence Hall for a "before" postcard? If so, I'd be most grateful if you contact me.

B Love

Good God almighty, they done skipped G-Ho for F-town! It's true -- we've got the hangover to prove it. Check out Fishtown by clicking below.

To the Cira Centre tenants who've read this site and left your lights on out of spite: not funny. You're only hurting yourself. Take right now, for instance. The lighting scheme is a swirling red-yellow-green that could look really good . . . but no, the interior lights are still on and you can only kinda sorta see it. It's so bad that I've gotten email from people claiming to be starting a campaign against Cira Centre's lights.

Look, my point is that I want the lights ON -- the exterior lights. I know no one's working at 9pm on a Sunday night up there, and if you are up there shredding documents, you ought to at least play the shady part and turn the lights off. Do it for your city.

Now this Cheesesteak Eddie thing . . . a moratorium on waterfront development? Something is fishy here, and it's not Fishtown, within loogy distance from these development sites. Why did the state just now decide they need to enforce collection on riverfront development? Does this also apply to Waterfront Square, two towers into a five tower project? Does it also apply to Bridgeman's View Tower, on the land-side of Delaware Avenue? Does it have anything to do with Rendell's pal Donald Trump, who has stake in this very issue, what with a proposed condo tower on the waterfront AND a Nicetown casino, a casino from which 54% of its revenue will be taxed back to Harrisburg? What in the holy hell is going on?

–B Love

. . . and also:


That's right, due to popular demand, Philly Skyline has gone high on the resolution to bring you, kind reader, computer wallpaper. Clicking that link on the left will take you to an easy-to-use page of Philly wallpaper. It may or may not be updated frequently. If it is, it will join the ranks of Quick Links, yet another forthcoming feature of this expanding web site, just behind the New Skinny, advertising, and a search function. Oh my! We're aiming large because we live large. That's how we roll at Philly Skyline and in G-Ho.

This week's gonna see a whole buncha updates, including Albert Yee's take on last week's immigration rally at Love Park, (finally) the Rittenhouse Square architecture exhibit, and at last a Philly Skyline foray into Fishtown. It's gonna be real large, son. (I know this update is lame -- I was outta town late Thursday till last night. Will make up for it this week, promise.)

–B Love


Follow me follow me follow me down down down down . . . turn off the light, turn off the light. (The inside ones, not the outside ones.)

Do you think maybe you could turn the lights off on the way out? We think the nighttime lighting scheme is great -- really a bangup job. But uhh . . . when you leave the lights on overnight, it ruins the effect. Doesn't ruin it, I guess, but the product of the evening is not the intended optimum LED zaniness. Never mind the electricity that's being wasted. It's always the same block of lights that's on, so one or a couple tenants of Cira Centre are shining an unnecessary halogen office light down on the others who aren't. We want to love the Cira lights. Help us love them. Save electricity. Turn off the lights.

To see more images from Sunday night at 9 (you know, when there are like zero people working in offices), click the image to the left. You can resize the window when it pops open; I'm not sure where I f'd up the html.

Speaking of F, Fishtown is on the cusp of its Philly Skyline debut. We're putting in the work now, so Fishtown will see its launch next week some time. For now, put on some Peter Tosh and let's get high. This new set of Philly Skyline pictures were taken up in the middle of the Philly Skyline. Acrophobes need not click. When you're done, be sure to check out Jeremy Burger's Powelton Village set. We already know you're in on the G-Ho revolution. It's building, and you will be hearing more about it. Count on that.
Oh, and a quick, all encompassing comment on the slots parlor proposals: they're in the news this week because they're being put to the Gaming Board, and people like Donald Trump and Pat Croce and Garry Maddox(!) are out here to TESTIFY. Philly Skyline has been dragging its feet on slots entries because, well, we just could not care less. The 54% Pennsylvania wants to collect is laughable, considering AC is down the road, and uh, they're just slots. Yeah yeah, table games are probably going to follow, but until they do, all this nonsense is over slots. Ok, here's a nutshell: Trump's got a site in Nicetown. It's terrible and it's ugly and who in the hell would go there? Foxwoods has a site next to Wal-Mart in South Philly. It's actually not bad. If the state were to consult Philly Skyline, it would get one of the licenses, and the Sugar House would get the other. The Sugar House is in Fishtown, at an old sugar (duh) factory. There's something at the incinerator site on the River near Spring Garden that is so ho-hum I don't remember whose it is. Planet Hollywood I think? Kill me now. The last of the five is Pinnacle Entertainment, and we don't know much about it. When we do, we might get around to making a big fancy slots slot on the NEW, IMPROVED Skinny. . . which is not yet complete. Soon.

–B Love

8 April 06: KONDO KRA-ZAY!

In what one might consider a preview of the upcoming revision of The Skinny, we're gonna step back for a second and talk condos. Now, everyone and their mother knows how real estate has blown up in Philadelphia over the past two years. Everyone knows how that has spawned the conversion of old office buildings into high end residences. And, everyone has heard about all the new condos that keep coming onto the market.

But to put it into perspective, the images below are just new construction. These don't include office towers like Cira Centre and Comcast Center. These don't include conversions like the Lewis Tower, 1401 Walnut and Mount Sinai Hospital. This is just new construction. And truth be told, it doesn't include still other new condo towers (Liberty Landing, New Market) that seem less likely to happen.

These 24 new construction projects -- 32 towers in all -- total over 1,000 new floors of living space, and god knows how many units. Construction costs in the billions of dollars; architects from around the planet; transplants from the suburbs, other neighborhoods and other cities; a drastically altered Philly Skyline.

Love it or hate it, you have to admit this building boom is impressive. You don't need to go any further than Northern Liberties or G-HO to see just how much residential construction is happening. But pretty soon, you're going to have to see it just by looking up.

We're gonna try to have the Rittenhouse Square architecture essay up by the end of the weekend, and we're doing our homework as we speak as we get ready to bring Fishtown to Philly Skyline. Holler at the Metro.

–B Love

3 April 06: Greetings, Metro readers

The G-Ho Revolution is growing fast enough that Revolution now gets a capital R. Philadelphia Weekly's official blog has joined. PhillyBlog has joined. And on Monday, Metro Philly has joined. These naysayers who think that "So-So" and "Anderson Yards" and "Southwest Center City" will fly just don't understand G-Ho. This is a movement, people. It's a brand, sure, but it's got substance. G's up Hoes down while you muthafuckas bounce to this. It's a G-Ho thing . . . we hope you DO understand.

–B Love

1 April 06: P is for protest! (Pee is for plumbers!)

On a daylight savings time day so beautiful, even the dullest area of Center City -- its skyscraper business district -- was teeming with people. What a fine day, then, to stage a rally raising awareness of the waterless urinals issue at Comcast Center. Granted, the awareness raised belonged to non-skating skateboarders, a group of Québécois punk rock girls and the bagpipe players who seemed to be there for the Greek Parade . . . but all the same, there was awareness raised.

There was also awareness raised at the Antiquarian Market in Bella Vista, the awareness that you dare not eat a sandwich on its spacy entrance, lest you be chased away by a CLEARLY INSANE bad-acid-trip version of Mr Greenjeans with a dyed combover. But beyond this obstacle and just down the stairs, you'll find a contingent of young Philly Skyline readers hocking original and recycled wares (t-shirts, jewelry, stuff), wicked rad paintings of Philly, and at last check, a Dave Winfield rookie card in mint condition. When you go, stop by The Coterie and mention Philly Skyline for a 0% discount. The Antiquarian is at 6th & Bainbridge, across the street eastward from Beau Monde.

Ween and the Secret Machines on the same bill at Jam on the River? How awesome is that?

RIP, Silk City. Silk City was a part of me before I even knew Philly was. I spent New Years 98/99 there and remember not much of it outside its open bar and its bread pudding. Its sweet, sweet bread pudding. We'll see you in that next life, Silk City. (And we probably won't go to whatever replaces you at 5th & Spring Garden.)

Sometime in the next couple of days, in lieu of the unveiling of the new Skinny (which WILL happen this month), we'll round up and dissect the ongoing condo craze. For now, have a look at our latest photo set, a neighborhood tour of Powelton Village by Jeremy Burger. And of course, get in on the G-Ho Revolution.

–B Love

March 2006 archive
February 2006 archive
January 2006 archive