31 May 06: Rise of the Bourgeois, see?

The art world's favorite nonagenarian reigns her spiders down on Philadelphia, and we don't even know it yet! Louise Bourgeois (whose spiders have adorned London's Tate Modern and Bilbao's Guggenheim) has installed Crouching Spider on the terrace of the Art Museum. It'll be there till next April, so take yr time, but get scootin' if you want to see the Wyeth exhibit, which closes in July. In other PMA news, Philly Skyline realizes the Perelman Building is being converted, so it'll be covered once we get those description jawns imported to the New Skinny.

Just about every blog in Philadelphia covered yesterday's celebration of the neon festooned island of xenophobia that is Geno's Steaks . . . but we didn't! We've spoken in the past about those "this is America, speak English signs" -- unfavorably, natch -- as have Philebrity and others. That the Inquirer ran the story, though, in relation to the immigration debate is interesting. Joey Vento's smiling pose next to his eagle-and-Old Glory adorned sign is a little unsettling. (Nothing says "love thy neighbor" like driving through the hood in your orange hummer blaring through bullhorns that illegal immigrants are bad.) As we've said here, we're all immigrants (except for the Indians, who we mostly killed). Anyway, never mind all that -- this is just a heads up that Great Cheesesteak Debate is in full effect, and we're over halfway done on our, er, research. Look for a launch later this summer, but suffice it to say that Geno's will not win. Still, if you need your Pat's or Geno's fix, look no further than HERE, the latest Philly Skyline photo essay: East Passyunk Avenue.

And now for the Philly Skyline Events Calendar. Listen up!
June 1: Hate the waterfront casino proposals? Of course you do. Join NABRhood at the State Office Building (the cool looking white square shaped building with the checkerboard windows at Broad & Spring Garden) at noon to rally against them.

Right now till June 3rd: The Devon Horse Show. If you're the type who isn't offended that the local news is bombarding you with news about Barbaro two weeks after the goddamn Preakness, go get your Grace Kelly on out on the Main Line and watch Olympic equestrian type events. Hey man, The Boss was there last year, so maybe just go for the chance Springsteen sighting? It's in Devon -- check the web site for directions.

June 1-4 (tomorrow-Sun.): Rittenhouse Square Fine Art Show. Seventy-five years strong, the Square supports the local arts scene. Check the web site for artist info. It's at . . . get this: Rittenhouse Square!

June 3 (Sat.): The annual NoLibs art-a-thon rolls full steam, with heavy drinking and loud music in the forecast. Yards will have the $10 all-you-can-drink special, Liberty Lands will have the stage featuring neighborhood house band Gildon Works (they're scheduled to go on at 6:45), and Art Star will rock their annual Bazaar, which again features the work of Philly Skyline house designer Ladies Auxiliary Club. Liberty Lands is along 3rd St above Poplar and Art Star is between it and 2nd St.

June 5 (Mon.): Philly Fiction reading. If you're into Old City hookers (and who isn't?), get yourself down to Old City (hookers cost extra) to the Voices & Vision bookstore (at the Bourse, 4th St just below Market) at 7pm on Monday for readings by Josh McIlvain and his Philly Fiction cohorts. More info's found on their Myspace.

Finally for this Hump Day, we'll leave you with the latest Philly Skyline mailbag entry: Philadelphia is spoken of in the Book of Revelation and he believed this was a blessed land. Our tallest buildings right now all have pyramids on them which is a symbol of the Illuminati, and when the capital of our govt was moved to DC and the capital of industry to NY it was to protect the true significance of the land of Philadelphia. The Order of the Quest is coming.......

Then it had better involve ?uestlove!

–B Love

30 May 06: Productivity is up 40%
It's true -- we derived an algorithm that tracks internal productivity, and we're proud to share the results. Big stuff later, but first . . . Dang. It is HOT. It's not even June and we're into the sticky white haze already. Keep your smog masks handy, it's gon' be a long summer.

This week's Monday Morning Looking Up comes on Tuesday because we were busy remembering fallen soldiers, honoring troops, grilling sausages and drinking beers for the USA. Don't be thrown off -- the only change is the Philadelphian pronunciation: "MUNdee" is now "TOOSdee." Let's go let's go let's go.
  1. JAM ON IT: The boys from New Hope tore it up at Penn's Landing's Great Plaza for the second time in three years on Sunday. After playing classics like "Tender Situation" and "Puerto Rican Power," and dedicating "Wavin' My Dick in the Wind" to Monica Malpass, Ween closed out the night by pandering to the hometown crowd with "Freedom of 76." (The "Fairmount Park in the summer" line drew the biggest ovation.) But, this was not without an incident where the frat guy on the left jumped on stage and yelled "Ween sucks!" Gener bit back "dude that was so punk rock" and then fans began pelting him with bottles. (The picture on the left was taken just after one got him square in the sac.) Several bottles later, he was finally dragged off stage and Gener joked that "that must be [A.D.] Amoroso [sic] from the Philadelphia Inquirer." (It wasn't, but it was a funny comment.) That picture was taken by Mr Feces Pants from the Ween Forum, where one can find other great pictures of the show.

  2. COMCAST CENTER: In case you'd forgotten, Philadelphia is getting a new tallest building in the form of a 975 foot glass tower with Comcast's name on it. The hometown cable behemoth is about to changing the skyline, yet still only urban geeks are aware of it. Comcast Center is this close to surpassing 1650 Arch across the street. People will really start to notice at that point, but when they ask you about it, tell 'em you saw it HERE first. (That's not a typo -- there are now 68 May update pictures of Comcast Center -- Philly Skyline is a thorough bunch.) Also, please note: the Murano section is coming soon, and Residences at the Ritz is not too far behind that.

  3. BUILDINGS: Yes, Philly Skyline has been making promises to update the Buildings section. It's happening -- new features are being developed, including those for oft-mentioned Rittenhouse Square, and now Society Hill Towers and the Divine Lorraine Hotel. Look for those soonish. Oh, and! It's about seventeenth in the current queue, but we're doing a Skinny-style thing for all buildings in Philly, not just those proposed, under construction and renovation.

  4. THE SKINNY: Speaking of, did I mention The Skinny has been redone? To reiterate: it's not entirely finished yet, as descriptions and links to official web sites have to be imported over to the new version, but they're coming.

  5. PITCH POOR: This was an actual segment title on Daily News Live before the Phillies game. And so true! While Philly Skyline couldn't be happier to make a game back on the Bravos with a divisional shellacking of the Nats, we have to say: Jon Lieber probably did the Phillies a favor by leaving the game in the 2nd inning on Monday night. And Cory Lidle is a scrub. And Ryan Franklin is the worst player in all of baseball. Gavin Floyd . . . ehh, I want to like the guy but he keeps giving reasons not to. Even Cole Hamels -- The Future himself -- took all of two starts to make the disabled list. It's been said a million times, but we need to fire Charlie Manuel and package either Lieber or Lidle in with David Dellucci and Bobby Abreu for a quality starter (preferably a lefty). Pat the Bat is having a great season and Abreu would seem to have a higher trading leverage. Shane Victorino has proven a quality everyday player, and Dellucci also needs to play every day -- somewhere else. The current Phillies are doomed for upper mediocrity, so just a couple of tweaks would do the trick. On a related note: Citizens Bank radio commercials make me want to murder. Maybe we should have done this remote in Center City. Shut UP. DIE. Ah well, Ryan Howard -- though still a bit raw in the field -- is every bit the beast this narrator has said he would be since he was killing 'em in Reading. Y'HEARD.

  6. PASS-A-YUNK: Oh, baby. When someone says "Souphilly," chances are the first images that pop into your mind are those of Bobby Clarke, or of the SS United States, or of Beanie Sigel's Thanksgiving Day turkey handouts. You FREAK. You should have thought of Passyunk Avenue! It's only been the bread and butter of South Philly since even before families set sail from the old country and set up the shops you recognize today, jeez. It's ok, Philly Skyline is here to help. With our latest photo outing, we bring you East Passyunk Avenue -- that's The Avenue, from Broad Street to South Street.
–B Love

27 May 06: Somebody got the memo: it's summertime, yo

Yep! Memorial Day to Labor Day, let's do this like Buddhists. In celebration, Cecily Tynan hooked up a weekend of sunny and 80+. Just another reason we love Cecily. Now if someone would hire her a stylist and buy her a new wardrobe, we'd be all set. This weekend's Yankin' on YouTube rolls from Overbrook to the Parkway:

Thanks for all the comments on The Skinny, y'all. They're being collected and will be referenced for the next round of Skinny updates, which will likely come mid-next-week. The Boyd, Uptown and Royal Theatres, all duly noted on the cultural tip.

Till then, have a smashing Memorial Day weekend, check back for a Passyunk promulgation and a spin around Rittenhouse Square, and see yous tomorrow at Jam Ween on the River.


Ladies and gentlemen, when Philly Skyline makes a promise, Philly Skyline keeps a promise. It may take a few extra weeks (thank the Bartons and their Yards for that), but that promise will be kept. The new Skinny is live. There are a few gaps to be filled, yes, but it's live all the same. Before you visit it, please read this course syllabus -- there are important questions which will be answered.
  1. DESCRIPTIONS ARE FORTHCOMING: The all-text version of The Skinny (which will be saved for our friends on dialup internet connections) has popup descriptions of each project. These descriptions will be imported in the coming weeks to the new version, but they will be supplemented with additional images and new information. Right now, it's just fancy pants graphics.

  2. SORT IT OUT: Another new function of The Skinny is that you will be able to sort by height figures, floors, location (neighborhoods) and so forth. Right now, the default setting is by status (complete, construction, etc) and then by floor count. (Which, admittedly, is tricky when you have blah buildings with short floors like the Barnes Tower -- 47 stories but only 475' -- and stunning buildings with tall ceilings like Mandeville Place -- 41 stories yet 607' tall.)

  3. CONVERSION ARCHITECTS: This one's tough. Most of the residential conversion buildings have original architects and renovation architects. For example, Two Liberty Place was designed by Chicago's Helmut Jahn, but the condo renovation is being handled by Philadelphia's Agoos-Lovera. I'm trying to work out a way that will allow each to be displayed; shouldn't be hard, so look for it soon.

  4. WELL . . . that's really all you need to know for now. The Skinny will be further amended, but as of now, it's ready enough for primetime. As always, if you have any info that is missing (i.e. floor counts and especially height figures) or if you're a developer whose project is not listed, please CONTACT ME.

So here then is The Skinny, v 2.0. Seems as good a time as any, since The Skinny was born in May 2005 (five months before Philly Mag ripped it off). Stick with the original. Love your Philly Skyline. Love your city. Love life.

Now that this months-long journey has reached a plateau, a few new features will be unraveled, such as the Rittenhouse Square architecture exposé (finally), the parking garage study (even bigger finally), a look at East Passyunk Avenue, and all sorts of other goodies. Also gonna see if the archives can be made more accessible. OH -- Fairmount? I hear you out there. Soon. Promise.

A real quick couple of Thursday throwaways, take em or leave em:
1. Muck the Fets. Starting with Billy Wagner and working downward.

2. I totally forgot about the Penn Praxis slots forum Wednesday night while I instead enjoyed a medium rare londonbroil with veg-kabobs on the deck. My bad.

3. Our freedom of speech is freedom or death, we got to fight the powers that be. FIGHT THE POWER! Not fight the tower. People. Good citizens of Fairmount and Spring Garden. You live in a city. People with more money than you buy big properties and want to build big towers there. For the 717th time, stop whining about traffic because of some new tower. The Delaware Ave gripe seems somewhat legit, given the casinos and around 3,000 potential living units, but a 47 story tower on a site where there's already a motel? Let's choose our battles here. I will agree with you that the Barnes Tower leaves a lot to be desired -- 10 Rittenhouse Square, Bridgeman's View Tower and Mandeville Place all blow it away in looks, urban design and general appeal -- but when you CAPITALIZE things like GHASTLY MONSTROSITY and SHOCK and CANNOT (that one even got a font="red"), you liken your cause more to a Saturday Night Live skit than any real grassroots NIMBY organization.

4. Congrats to both the Inquirer and especially the Daily News on the Philadelphia Media Holdings purchase. What I want to know is: why did Brian Tierney shave off the moustache? I mean yeah, it came out of nowhere that Sunday a couple weeks ago on Inside Story, but with an event this big, the stache seemed more than appropriate. Yo Bri, re-grow the stache!

5. For all your patience, we bring you the latest Yankin' on YouTube, a jewel from the Cult of Mitch:

This show's goin' all right I guess. I'm tryin' to feel it out. Go check out The Skinny, why don'tcha?

–B Love


It's true, Ryan Madson pitched a hell of a game. Um. That is: Ryan Madson came in in relief and threw seven scoreless innings before Carlos Beltran took him deep. Who can blame Madson at that point? Why does a middle reliever with an ERA over 6 pitch seven innings? Ask Charlie Manuel. Why do you pull David Bell -- who has 5 RBIs (and 6 left on base) -- in favor of Abraham Nuñez, who's batting a shiny .173? Ask Charlie Manuel. Why does Ryan Franklin even exist in this town? Ask Pat Gillick. His $2.6 million aside, why does he pitch? Why, ask Charlie Manuel. Ryan Franklin is the suckiest suck that ever sucked. Ryan Franklin is the only person for whom the steroids didn't work.
It's getting old, the aw-shucks-ity of Uncle Chuck. The man is a bad coach. The Phillies have lost four games in the last week because of him, and as such are now four games behind the Mets, only one ahead of the Braves, and 23-21, which right about now looks like it'll pan out to, oh, 86-76 and just missing the playoffs for the sixth straight year. (And you can't help but think the Mets will blow their lead and the Braves will win their 14th straight division title.) I like Pat Gillick a hundred million times better than Ed Wade, but here are some humble suggestions for Pat on how to correct what's wrong:
1. Fire Charlie Manuel, Rich Dubee and Ramon Henderson.
2. Trade David Dellucci (I like the guy, but man, he deserves to be starting somewhere and we already have sixty-three outfielders).
3. Break Ryan Franklin's legs. Seriously, Tonya Harding style. Then trade him and his wheelchair to Milwaukee for a Polish sausage and a six-pack of Blatz.
4. Trade Cory Lidle, Abraham Nuñez and one of the ten million dollar outfielders to Tampa Bay for Scott Kazmir and Tomas Perez.
Ararrrrgh. Very simply, FireCharlieManuel.com.

Let's see. Oh yeah, The Skinny! Got it open in a separate window, putting the final touches, the Turtle Wax polish, the glistening sheen, as we speak. In the meantime, go check out Dominic Mercier's Eastern State Penitentiary photo essay, for it is excellent. Back atcha in two shakes. What.

–B Love

22 May 06: This week, Philly Skyline goes next level

That's the triple truth, Ruth. This week is going to be insane. Keep it locked on phillyskyline.com and get your refresh-clickin' finger ready. Explanations in this week's Monday Morning Looking Up. (Thank Mark at All Proper dot com for the winning entry.) Mondays just got a whole lot better. Check check below below.
  1. GET WELL GRANDMA: First and foremost. Get out of that dang hospital and save some jokes for us.

  2. THE SKINNY: Oh man. I know I've been saying it for going on two months, but this is the week. It's time. Thousands of images, scores of hours, the tedium of html tables . . . the hour is nigh, stick a needle in my eye, I promise it's true. Check back for the giant announcement right here.

  3. DOMINIC MERCIER: Riding the wave of Philebritydom, Dominic is debuting his fantastic Eastern State Penitentiary photo essay on Philly Skyline this week. It is HERE.

  4. THE MURANO: Another 'coming this week' new feature will be that of a dedicated Murano section (à la Comcast Center, Cira Centre, The St James, etc). Piles have been driven, so it's officially under construction now. Also gonna try to make a general updates section for smaller scale projects like 101 Walnut and Independence Mall's renovation.

  5. PHILLIES: Um yeah, nice to stop the bleeding of a five game losing streak by salvaging the last of three against Red Sox Nation, but these next three at Shea are going to be huge. Memo to Charlie: DON'T PUT RYAN MADSON IN IN RELIEF OF COLE HAMELS. Jeezus.

  6. YOUTUBE: The sweetheart of blogs, the Napster of video. I mean I've checked out stuff here and there, but only in the past couple weeks have I come to terms with the fact that YouTube is, in fact, probably the greatest of all web sites out there. With this in mind, enjoy this, the first installation of Philly Skyline's Yankin' On YouTube, Dylan and Cash from 1969.

  7. THIS WEEK: I really believe it's going to be bananas. I hope by Friday that you'll agree.
–B Love

19 May 06: Next to myself, I like BVT best

Now parking podium free: Agoos-Lovera's Bridgeman's View Tower, tweaked for the better.
From: B Love
Date: May 19, 2006 10:07:26 AM EDT
To: your mom
Subject: Fw: NLNA meeting

Hey [your mom],

Sorry I didn't send this review earlier. The meeting went till 10 and I was starving, so I went to the Tap and had a burger (since lamb sandwiches weren't on the menu last night) and a coupla Philly Pale Ales. Plus I'm still plugging away at The Skinny trying like hell to get that thing finished. Anyhow, the meeting . . .

Matt Ruben, the NLNA guy, needs to smoke a joint and RELAX. That guy, jeez. I think overall the meeting went really well, and all sides got a fair share so in that sense Matt knows how to run a meeting, but you know, Woody Allen is totally the guy who would play him in an NLNA film. Frank DiCicco spoke for 10 minutes at the beginning and managed to get a shot in at Rick Mariano when someone asked him about the picture Philebrity posted recently -- he laughed and said "no, I passed the lie detector test; the other guy's going to jail in July." Someone asked him why this (meeting for Bridgeman's View Tower) was happening and why there weren't meetings for Trump Tower and Waterfront Square, and he didn't have a good answer other than to remind everyone that this (the BVT meeting) was a good thing and that he wasn't impressed with Trump and the parties he throws at the Union League.
Trump, of course, still has to procure riparian rights before his project can move ahead, despite the current pier clearing going on. (And again I say, GEE, I wonder if this is all a bluff considering four out of the five proposed casinos are on the waterfront -- each one needing riparian rights -- and the one proposal which is not is . . . Trump's!) The developer Marc Stein gave a brief introduction of himself and his team before handing it over to Ted Agoos of Agoos/Lovera Architects. The team has purchased the next lot to the north of BVT, and has moved the parking OUT of the tower altogether (e.g. no parking podium). The tower now comes all the way to the street, still at 900 ft (symbolic of 900 N Delaware Av), only now 66 stories. The parking structure will be on its own and will be one of those high-tech fully automated robot jawns. It will have 1100 spaces, which is to say it will have nearly twice as much parking for the public as it does for its residents/hotel guests -- and you know how goddamn important parking is. Because the parking has moved, there will now be a glass galleria between the parking and the tower, and it also clears up space for a new mini-park, green space with landscaping and lighting. Agoos has refined the renderings too -- I'll send copies once I scan em.

The neighbors were the most civil of any of these civic association meetings I've gone to, seriously. The first woman to speak stood up and blurted out "these are JUST TOO TALL," and said that HBrownstone's 700 Delaware towers were too tall. She said she lived on Front Street and didn't want to live in the constant shadow. Well. First of all, the tower is tall and slender so as to minimize shadow (unlike HBrownstone's), and more importantly, she LIVES SOUTH OF BVT. Meaning, uh, her house will never, ever, ever be in shadow since, you know, we live in the northern hemisphere and shadows don't face south. From there, however, things really took a turn for the positive, and as it went around the room and people voiced their concerns, there seemed an air of positivity. I actually spoke too, disclosing that I was from G-Ho, yo, but I illustrated how important this project could be for NoLibs (and how I like to go out drinking there and ride my bike and how Delaware Ave sucks and yada yada). Delaware Avenue is going to have traffic whether this is built or not. The casinos are a whole other ballpark and could really fuck up the neighborhood (at least with regard to traffic) -- and everyone can agree that that's terrible. But casinos aside, when you look at the other stuff proposed there -- Waterfront Square (which is STILL the only one actually under construction), Trump Tower, Marina View, 700 N Delaware, World Trade Square -- BVT is the only homegrown project (not to mention far and away the best looking of the bunch). The developers are local (one of them lives IN NoLibs), the architect is local, the builders are local, and though the engineers are from NY, they're the best in the world (Arup). I also made a point to say that the developers have no obligation to present this stuff to the neighborhood -- see WFS, Trump -- and that the BVT team really seems genuinely interested in neighborhood input. Community input has already moved the garage out of the tower.

What's left? Well, after the developers left, NLNA took a straw vote (in which I could not participate, since I don't live in NL) on the height of the building, since it was a major concern, and a straw vote on whether or not to give the BVT team the chance to designate the zoning of the site C5 (mixed use?) from its current G2 (industrial?). The vote on the height was 35-6 in favor of the height. The vote on the zoning was 33-4 in favor of the change. That's pretty effin great. (And, I'll add, one of the dissenters was the woman afraid of the southern shadows, another was a guy who spent the entire meeting reading a newspaper and then a magazine, and yet another was from a 'rival' architect.)

So yeah, it all sounds pretty good like it's gonna move ahead. The neighbors will keep it under close scrutiny, but that's ok -- I think at least a couple of the developers want it that way. Hey, when are we gonna get a drink???

–B Love

18 May 06: Chuck Chuck bo buck . . .

Dear Uncle Charlie: I know you seem like a nice man, and I appreciate the fact that you're from West Virginia and that you're well loved in Japan. But please, Chuck, give the team over to Gary Varsho and take Rich Dubee and Ramon Henderson with you to wherever it is you go. Ed Wade is gone. Jim Thome, the reason you are in Philadelphia, is gone. Now you too should be gone.
For the second straight start, potential phenom Cole Hamels pitched very well and left the game with a lead. And, for the second straight time, Ryan Madson -- you know, the fellow bumped from the rotation to make way for Hamels -- came in in relief and blew the lead. Yeah, good karma there, Charlie.

We just got SWEPT BY THE MILWAUKEE BREWERS. The Mets were stumbling and we had momentum coming out of Cincinnati, but Chuck blew three straight games with bad calls to the bullpen. Ryan "I got busted for steroids and still suck" Franklin, Arthur "doesn't my portrait look good on Phillies Franks hot sausage packages" Rhodes, and Ryan "Mad Dog 20.20 (ERA)" Madson all only gave up the losing runs they did because Charlie Manuel put them in the game. Charlie Manuel gets his tips from pitching coach Rich Dubee and handsome devil Ramon Henderson. What do we have to do to make this happen? FireEdWade.com seemed to help get Ed Wade out of town.

Well, leave it to the fine folks at The 700 Level to come up with FireCharlieManuel.com. Co-signed Philly Skyline, fellas.

–B Love

17 May 06: Look North for the Classy Broad

You might have to squint, but you'll see her. Come out of the northern corridor of City Hall, and you've got 72 city blocks between you and Cheltenham Ave, the northern border of the city. Start walking and you'll pass such architectural landmarks as Frank Furness's Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Horace Trumbauer's Inquirer Building, H2L2's underrated State Office Building, Temple's campus and the North Philadelphia railroad station. You'll also run across terse reminders of urban decay in handsome shells, such as the Uptown Theater, the Metropolitan Opera, the Beury Building and the Divine Lorraine Hotel.

I should probably amend my FAQ to include the Divine Lorraine, because building wise, it is easily the most commonly addressed item in the emails I get. Built in 1894 and designed by Willis Hale in the Victorian style as an apartment building, it's the undisputed champ of North Broad Street (if I could borrow a term from other North Broad friends Joe Frazier and the Legendary Blue Horizon). Surely one can imagine spending a night there in the roaring 20s (after it was already converted into a hotel) after a night at the Metropolitan Opera. While the Opera looks bombed out and is used minimally by a church group, the Divine Lorraine is ready for a redo. Or so we think.
The Inquirer's Bob Fernandez reported the other day that the Divine Lorraine has yet again been sold. This is the third time it's changed hands since Father Divine's Peace Mission sold the building in 2000, but its doors are still closed and North Broad Street is still waiting for a savior. I know nothing about the Sunergy Housing Group, but I know that it's going to be a risk to spend the money it's going to take to renovate the building, scrape the lead paint out, do the rewiring and so forth. And, you know, it's not really the greatest neighborhood around Broad, Ridge and Fairmount, so buyers might be slow to drop cash and move in. But someone's got to sooner or later, right?

The City recently released its study called "Extending the Vision for North Broad Street" (the 52-page PDF of which is found HERE), which suggests that people really do still care, in spite of the trash that'll wrap around your shins near Erie and Germantown Aves, or the crappy pull-in shopping centers further up. The Pennsylvania Convention Center is supposedly expanding westward to Broad. PAFA recently opened the renovated Hamilton Building. Tower Investments is building Avenue North at Cecil B Moore. This stuff is already happening. The City's Vision includes minute detailing like landscaping and those Avenue of the Arts lightpole A's that are on South Broad, as well as bigger plans like establishing market-rate housing and cleaning and lighting the historic structures along the way.

It's a hefty goal to be sure, but there's no reason a little TLC (tender loaned cash) can't make it happen. And let's hope it does, because we all want the Divine Lorraine to be the centerpiece of the new masterpiece. I cruised up North Broad just hours before the Patriots deflated the Eagles' dreams in Super Bowl XXXIX. Have a looksee HERE if you're innarested. For a really nice essay on the Divine Lorraine, check out the City Paper archives, story by Mike Newall and photos by Michael T Regan.

–B Love

15 May 06: Monday Morning Looking Up

Aight, I think this is gonna be a new thing. If you have a better name than 'Monday Morning Rapid Fire,' let me know. I have my theories on how blogs are not web sites and vice versa, but at the end of the day it's really very unimportant, people appreciate familiarity, and most people don't spend their weekends online anyway. (And if you do . . .) Besides, the weekends serve up Philly Skyline's meat-n-potatoes. Using this as segue, let's go to the weekend:
  1. THE SKINNY ON THE SKINNY: It's coming. You'll like it. It'll be graphic intensive, but the old text jawn will remain available if you're still dialing in. Which reminds me: back in oh, October or so, I made a comment about hot web sites for hot condos. Now, they all look nice and all, but who, other than the proud web designer, does resizing your browser window to fit the entire screen (looking at you, trumptowerpa.com) impress? Who, other than corporate secretaries who don't know any better, is still using Internet Explorer? Yo 10rittenhouse.com, how's about making your site compatible with Firefox Mac? Oh man, and the music? I'm over here trying to enjoy the new Grandaddy record when BAM, here comes some uninvited concerto jamming my frequency. Um, symphonyhousecondo.com? I know it seems like we're picking on you, what with your pink stucco and your silly Mansard roof and your snail's pace construction, but what are you doing? Beethoven's Fifth??? That's like calling your project Led Zeppelin Place and using "Stairway to Heaven" as your intro music. If it were up to me (and it's not, to be fair), I wouldn't use a symphony that, oh, has been made into a disco song or which is used as the theme to Judge Judy. On the plus side, though, Hershey's Symphony with almonds and toffee is my favorite chocolate bar.

    But yeah, super hot condo web sites, we're all mega-wowed by the Flash navigation. Eh! Let's say I really like this one page on your web site and wanna share with a friend. Instead of sending a link to somewebsite.com/somecoolpage.html, I have to send a link to somewebsite.com with instructions: "click on clients, then projects, then location, then timeframe, then pop open the second page of images and scroll down to the fourth one. Awesome!" That's American awesome, not Eddie Izzard awesome. Rest assured, even though Philly Skyline's got some Flash in the future, you'll always have safe and easy navigation. That's the B Love pledge.

    In concolusion, The New Skinny will be live this week. Guaranteed.

  2. RYAN HOWARD: Jim Thome is leading the American League in homeruns and that's great -- we all wish dude well -- but Ryan Howard came off the bench with a stomach flu, hit a solo pinch-homerun to tie the Reds at 1, hit another in the 12th to give the Phils the lead, and stabbed a hot line drive at first base for the last out of the game. Ryan Howard 2, Reds 1, Phillies have won 13 out of 14 games. What!

  3. BRIDGEMAN'S VIEW TOWER: There's something organic about this project. Is it the local ironworkers/development team? Is it the choice of the local architect? Is it the fact it's the best design of any of the Delaware Riverfront towers? Is it the introduction of Poplar and Delaware Ave as pedestrian streets? Why, it's all of this and more! At 900 feet, it'll be the third tallest building in the city behind Comcast Center and One Liberty Place. And the views? Oh, the views. All these new highrise condo towers are selling themselves on the views, but BVT is arguably the best of the bunch. It's the classic northeastern skyline view with City Hall in the fore, and when the sun sets behind it, it'll be like nothing Philly has ever seen (unless you're a helicopter operator, and G-Ho knows all about helicopters).

    Anyway, Bridgeman's View Tower is moving along, and there is a community meeting about it THURSDAY AT 7pm, AT ST MICHAEL'S CHURCH (4TH & FAIRMOUNT). (You like the all caps, no?) The opposition that has met such projects as the Barnes Tower and the New Market project have some validity even if I don't agree with them, but there is no reason why BVT should not move ahead as planned -- not the least of which is the riparian rights / riverfront moratorium, which doesn't apply to BVT, which sits on the land-side.

  4. GRADUATION DAY: Congrats, kiddos. While it's still fresh in your heads, go check out your campuses as seen by your classmates HERE.

  5. PAUL CRET AT THE ATHENAEUM: The Philadelphia Athenaeum has got to be the greatest free place in the city. Their Architects and Buildings Database is already in my top five most-visited sites (because I'm a big nerd), but the actual museum and its rotating exhibits (which are FREE) are surely the best kept secret. Right now, it's got drawings, sketchings and prints from the Paul Cret collection, a fine precursor to our Philadelphia Masters series, if I do say so. (What's that? It's the forthcoming study on the great lineage of Philadelphia architects, including the likes of Cret and Furness, back to Strickland and nowadays with Erdy McHenry et al.)

  6. HOT FUN IN THE SUMMERTIME: I know it's only May, but this summer is gonna be off the hook. Philly Skyline's exploding with new stuff and B Love is turning 30, and we might throw a party just for the hell of it. Between then and now, we'll see if we can't launch these things on site: advertising, a store, a search, a section for bridges, a section for sports, a section for Murano (now officially under construction), an essay on Passyunk Ave, a trip to Lancaster, a before-n-after with vintage postcards, neighborhood trips to Mayfair, Parkside, the Barrio, East Falls, Eastwick . . . it is ALL GOOD.

–B Love

12 May 06: For whom the Toll builds

As pioneers and purveyors of the G-Ho lifestyle, Philly Skyline has got much -- much -- in the stake of what happens next at 24th & South. We were at the meeting for the 25th & South presentation with the Philadelphia School's expansion (which we support) and the three residential developments which were only okay, except for the one by an architect who allegedly lives in the neighborhood yet who left an empty wall of head-in parking on South Street. Terrible.

I've actually been to a lot of these civic meetings, symposiums, forums and so forth. Every single time, the first thing to rear its ugly head is the sense of entitlement. Once you're a homeowner, everything is about you. You don't live in a neighborhood, you have neighbors who live near you. All renters have keg parties every night and puke on your stoop. And the parking? Oh, the parking. Parking and traffic are, without fail, the first two items of business when the Q&A session goes live. Yes, you're very witty and hard hitting in how you asked the question about losing your parking spot.

. . .

Toll Bros. Here is a Fortune 500 company that made its name on selling cheap plastic homes in suburbs across the nation. Here is a company that has owned the Naval Home on Grays Ferry Avenue since 1988 and who sat on the land, letting the grounds deteriorate. In early 2003, an arson (likely a squatter, of which the Naval Home had no shortage) set a fire inside which burned a massive section of the roof. Demolition was the rumor, but fortunately Judge Seamus McCaffrey (of The Vet fame) encouraged preservation, and fortunately for Toll Bros, the housing market was ripe. Really, really ripe.

Suburban Philadelphia's largest builder went forward with Naval Square, their first urban development in the city which centers its home region. Three years later, it must be said, what they've done is decent. Yeah, it's a gated community, and yeah, it caters to an affluent clientele that would otherwise probably not be living near Grays Ferry Ave or in G-Ho, but what Toll has done has been commendable. So let's cross the street.

At 24th & Bainbridge, we find a massive empty building. Built in 1923 as a milk pasteurizing plant, it was converted into a parking garage in the 1970s, assumed by Graduate Hospital (and then Tenet). Rumors again permeated the neighborhood in recent months that Toll Bros had closed on this property. (As an aside, B Love was hoping to procure a $100M grant to purchase this building and convert it to a ground floor bowling alley and Whole Foods, with condos above and a public observation deck on the roof, where arguably the best view of the entire skyline exists.)

On the night of May 11, those rumors were solidified. Toll Bros held a meeting at Naval Square to present their plans for 2400 South to the neighborhood. South Street between 24th and 25th (and down to Bambrey) will be four story townhomes. (People, can we please just call these rowhomes, since they are rowhomes?) Along the Bambrey side, four sets of townhomes would be perpendicular to Bambrey, with a courtyard facing the main part of the property. The main part of the property is the garage. The garage, four stories and 60+ feet tall already, would have four more stories added for a total of 107' and 160 condos. How is it?

Well, some things need to be ironed out, and the top of these is surely how the converted garage will pay attention to 24th & Bainbridge. Right now, that corner will serve as the primary pedestrian entrance for the building, but residents will drive in from a parking entrance at 25th & South. The reason for adding four floors to the garage is to leave room for parking -- parking that will be assumed by the first two floors. That leaves blank walls on both Bainbridge and 24th, directly across the street from Naval Square, Toll's bigger investment. There will also be no ground level retail, but then Toll is not a commercial developer, and they not only name dropped Ants Pants and John McHugh (whose Grays Ferry and Catharine yellow bar is hurdling L&I as we speak), but the meeting was catered by Tastebuds. They made it about the neighborhood. Toll's presentation came across as genuinely that which holds the best interests of the neighborhood highest, something which was lost on the aforementioned entitled residents. Parking. Traffic. Construction. Me, me, me. They are, every single time, the first things asked of the builders.

This particular time, though, in a moment of Barry Bonds-esque empathy, I felt for the Toll guy getting grilled by the neighbors and their ridiculous questions, most especially from a larger fellow and his wife who was concerned that South Street would be entirely blocked off and that she would be unable to get her car out of her garage, which fronts South Street and which was built in the 90s. Listen lady, at 17th & JFK, the largest building in Pennsylvania is under construction AND it has a connection to a public transit concourse, and neither of those streets is ever closed. Across the street from you will be a four-story rowhome. South Street will not be closed, ok?

Oh, and? I noticed. I noticed that you DROVE. You DROVE to a meeting at Naval Square and almost hit me with your Lexus SUV that was parked on the sidewalk in my way as I was walking to the liquor store after the meeting. And I noticed your combover. Look tubby, Rudy Giuliani knew when to say when -- no one is buying it. Cut it off. And walk a couple blocks already -- you wouldn't be huffing and puffing like you do if you just walked from your place the two whole blocks to Naval Square.

In conclusion, 2400 South Street gets an initial 'not bad' endorsement from Philly Skyline. Tweak the design just a little. South Street looks fine, and the courtyard and parking have been done well, but don't leave 24th & Bainbridge such that pedestrians -- your tenants -- walk by the front ends of cars through grates, regardless of how much architectural detailing is applied. The old lipstick-on-a-pig routine. You have a beautiful opportunity here Toll Bros; make it work. Our nomination: ground floor bowling and Whole Foods.

–B Love

11 May 06: Spring's got MAD POMP

Pomp: Dignified or magnificent display; splendor. Oh, don't act like you already knew. Oh, you did? Well BULLY FOR YOU. You must have gone to Penn. I know three dudes who did: Alex Feldman, John Kneeland and Kevin Rakszawski. And just in time for graduation, they've brought Penn to life . . . for you! Since it's that time of year, some kind hearted Philly Skyline contributors have done the same for Chestnut Hill College, Temple and St Joe's. (La Salle and Philadelphia U may be following; Drexel shafted us.)

I've been out of college for six years and don't really miss it, but there is some nostalgia buried there. About 90% of my friends are affiliated with my college days in some manner, and Ėmy affinity with the firewater is a direct result. My running joke is not at all a joke: all I got out of college were great friends and a drinking habit. I count a total of five (of what, 60?) professors who really meant anything to me, not a single one of which has responded to my post-graduate-hey-check-out-my-new-life-thanks-for-everything emails. Perhaps it was their way of saying that people don't really do that -- reveal their feelings -- in society.

The way I see it, though, everything is transparent. With Tricky Dicky Santorum, I can agree on one thing: that we are not constitutionally guaranteed a right to privacy. Sure, what happens behind your closed doors is your business. Unless you're making phone calls or using the internet, that is. USA Today tells us what we already know: that big brother is watching. The government knows what you're doing and they know what I'm doing. They know what porn sites I have bookmarked. They have a ranking system for phone calls of importance. I'm guessing that phone calls from contributors to The Skinny (which, by the way, I'm hoping to have redone by next week) rank higher than those to my cousin in Indiana, but then he's met Ben Roethlisberger, and Ben Roethlisberger has already met the President (at the Stephen Colbert party -- I wonder if Big Ben got Colbert's humor), and he will again when the World Champion Steelers visit the White House next month. So it's all relative, figuratively speaking.

The point to not be missed here, young ones, is that you should visit the brand new Philly Skyline Universities section. And smile, you're on Uncle Sam's camera!

–B Love

10 May 06: For one night, R7 > 7 Train

You know, not to shift the Philly Skyline focal point squarely down to 11th & Pattison, but I just have to comment on game 1 of the Phils/Mets series. Billy Wagner lost all my respect the day before he came here. I understand why he and BEAN STRINGFELLOW left Philadelphia. I understand why he made the comments about the team's heart last year. I understand why he snubbed Ed Wade from his alpaca farm. But when he goes and says that he was unwelcome in Philly -- that from day one, people wanted Jose Mesa back -- it's plain to see he's full of shit. Yo Billy Bob, we booed Mesa right out of town. He couldn't even pitch at The Vet his last month in town. Oh, and? Everyone here knew you were ripping off Mariano Rivera's Metallica song (UPDATE: this myth has been debunked and Philly Skyline apologizes for the error. Wagner IS the bigger Metallica fan, go figure), yet everyone here screamed their lungs out every time you clocked 100. And nary a fan blamed Billy Wagner for blowing the Astros series. (No, we blamed David Bell in Wags' defense.) So when Billy goes and shoots his mouth off now, I think he's just shooting his mouth off.
Flash Gordon's 10-for-10 coming into the game. Billy Wagner's got 3 blown saves. Brett Myers is throwing a gem while trying to hold the lead the Phils built him on Pedro Martinez' early shakiness. Xavier Nady makes it a one run game on a two-run shot and Myers gets out of the 8th. Pat Burrell (hitting amazingly clutch of late) drills a two-out single and Shane Victorino pinch runs. Ryan Howard rips one down the line and Victorino thinks he can score from first. Kaz Matsui's relay has Victorino beat by a good three steps, but the 5'9" Hawaiian PLOWS Paul Lo Duca and adds an insurance run for Flash, who everyone knows is coming in for the 9th. Lo Duca redeems himself with a leadoff single off of Flash, but no worries, Flash has gotten Carlos Delgado out 28 times in 30 tries. Well, numbers don't play the game. With the weight of Billy Wagner's stare on his shoulders, Flash serves up a blast that lands about two people from where we sat for Barry Bonds' 713th homerun (see the next post below). So David Dellucci plays the ninth inning hero with a two-out triple, Jimmy Rollins gets pegged, and Chase Utley walks to bring up Bobby Abreu for a bases loaded, two-out, game winning situation. The league's leader in walks would have no problem doing just that to win the game, but on 1-1, he squibs one to the somewhat erratic Aaron Heilman, who throws it into rightfield, game over, Phils win, we're three back from the stinkin Mets.

Pardon me for writing two big paragraphs about game 32 of a 162 game regular season, but with nine straight wins and baseball weather in full swing, it's tough not to have Phillies fever. LET'S GO PHILS!

9 May 06: Trane for sale?

Who knew that the John Coltrane house was for sale? Now, it's been said that the Coltrane Cultural Society was in dire financial straights, but it's a little sad to see this. One minor bit of confusion, though: is it really the Coltrane house for sale? The "for sale" sign would suggest as much, but Prudential listing has the property at 1509 N. 33rd St, while the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commision, which has the property historically certified, lists the address as 1511 N. 33rd St.

I dunno. That seems like a pretty major discrepancy. (As does the John Coltrave wall maural feature on the listing.) If it is indeed the Coltrane house, it's the last home on 33rd Street southbound before you run into the Septa tracks, and as such up on the hill, it's got a killer view of the skyline (and those hideous Westrum townhomes). And it's literally across the street from Fairmount Park. And it's an historically certified home of the greatest saxophonist ever. And it's just above Girard Ave, with its Route 15 trolley and its Zoo and 76 access. And it's $199k. Now, the tradeoff is that it's technically in North Philly and that's a hard sell, but really, less than $200k isn't that bad a deal, all things considered.

Um yeah, I didn't mean to just sell that house for Prudential, but if I do, please God almighty, let it be to some jazz enthusiast and not some "urban pioneer" looking to mcgentrify Strawberry Mansion. And contact me for royalties, thanks.


The Daily News has a most fantastic map of what the Olympics might look like ten years from now in Philadelphia. Gonna go ahead and guess the designer forgot to turn off the Illustrator layer with the Palestra out in Manayunk, unless Penn cloned it. (And they could have, it's Penn.)


New Skinny is almost ready for primetime. Rittenhouse Square architecture is waiting in the wings. Philly university series is on deck. It's May. It's great. I love life and a cold pint of Yards George Washington Porter.

–B Love

7 May 06: Sophisticated sports

As I mentioned in a post last week, one of the things on the current Philly Skyline plate (which is more like a smorgasboard) is creating a sports section. Not like a sports news section, but a sports section in the same mold as the other stuff on the site. Real sports maniacs are already subscribed to WIP and philliesphans.com and the700level.com.

Anyway, the Phillies. Eight straight, baby, but to watch the game on ESPN last night, you'd have only thought there was one person playing, one freak show with a freak show sized head. You might have also known that he is chasing Da Babe for second on the all time homerun list and that he's shrouded in the biggest steroids scandal in sports history. If you didn't know any of that stuff, you're not reading this right now. Well, Barry Bonds came to Philly this weekend, off to a slow 2006 start. Didn't do much in the first two of the three game series, was intentionally walked in his first Sunday night plate appearance, singled in his next, and came up in the sixth with a guy on. As the count ran to 1-1, it seemed like the only people who weren't chanting "HE'S A CHEA-TER (clap-clap-clapclapclap)" were booing. Then Jon Lieber served up the meatball Bonds bounced off the McDonald's sign on the third deck in Citizens Bank Park's rightfield. I was sitting in row 13 in section 102 (right-center just next to the bullpen). I booed with everyone, but as soon as he hit it, everyone knew. I stood up to see just how far it would go. It was so far gone that I lost sight of it from the seats above mine. A mini-display of my pictures of #713 are seen by clicking the graphic above.

For a second, I marveled like the kid I was watching Bonds play with Bonilla and Van Slyke at Three Rivers Stadium. For a second, I felt a sense of humanity for him, a sense of sadness for being so good yet so hated that people bring signs with big black letters that take 20 people to hold. Then I came home and saw the press conference, in which he declined (refused) to sign THE ball, the one he just hit. He said it wasn't important. Right. If it wasn't important, he wouldn't have been so jealous of Mark McGwire (and Sammy Sosa) that he took to using steroids in his late 30s. The dude has been a Class A Jerk his entire career, from his look of utter disdain and anger in the picture with legendary photographer Ron Newcomer to the "come on son, let's go home" press conference to Bonds on Bonds.

I don't wish injury upon many, but it would be nice if, you know, Barry sprained his ankle or knee and had to retire stuck on 713. Leave the Babe and his hot dogs and beer alone. Leave Hammerin' Hank alone. Stop now and savor what little respect he's got left. That way, I'll selfishly be able to say I saw the last homerun Barry Bonds hit.


In other sophisticated sports news, the Philadelphia Women's Rugby Club held a fundraiser over the weekend that involved drinking, rugby and drinking. I happily watched on at Fairmount Park in Edgely Field. Some pictures of the match between Temple's alumni and Temple's student players can be found HERE.

Finally, on this Monday afternoon, it is with a tinge of regret that I report an update on the previously mentioned Adams Mark demolition exposé. It's even more demolished now, so the graphic below and the page it goes to have been updated accordingly. The university photo series is going live this week, likely Thursday, so check back for that. New Skinny and Rittenhouse Square stuff soon, you betcha.

–B Love

5 May 06: Comcast Center : Bell Atlantic Tower :: Comcast : Verizon

Illustration by Lucius Kwok. Visit Lucius' web site at svmetro.com.

Topics: skyscrapers, business, philosophy. It's true that we've probably been sucking on the Yards ESA a little too long this fabulous Friday afternoon, but it doesn't mean we shouldn't still talk about this. Look at Lucius' diagram above and take note of how close the Comcast Center will be to the Bell Atlantic Tower upon its completion. Lucius' illustration prompted one Steve Ives to declare that, "It's making Bell Atlantic look midgetly...which is kinda sad." Which made me wonder: is it?

It is true that I am a fan of Kling's 1990 addition to the skyline, the red ziggurat-like Bell Atlantic Tower. But let us go back a couple more years still. In 1984, on the heels of the announcement that One Liberty Place would eclipse William Penn as the tallest point in the city, the Rubenstein Company quietly started building the 435', Kohn Pederson Fox designed Two Logan Square on the northwest side of 18th & Arch. Not a bad looking tower. Very 80s looking, sure, but pretty nice looking, especially on those perfectly photogenic partly-cloudy-mostly-sunny days. It basked in sunlight for all of two years before the 300' taller B.A.T. came in and brodied its space, its views and its sunlight. Dick move or market-rate aw shucks? S'up to you.

It does, though, stand to reason that Bell Atlantic, now Verizon of course, be served its come-uppance right across the street . . . by Comcast. How symbolic and appropriate that Comcast wins this particular battle (if it's even a battle . . . and it is). Leaving Comcast's digital cable and Verizon's phone services out of the discussion, as each is its industry's model, let's take their internet battle into consideration. One need look no further than how each is marketed. Comcast lets its internet service speak for itself, and it's even given it a catchy "Comcastic" label in the process. It may be expensive, but outside of that short window last October with nationwide spotty service, Comcast's internet is virtually flawless.

At Philly Skyline world headquarters, the wiring is old and jammed up in some walls that are hard to get to, yet we still pull down at 5.425mbps (according to dslreports.com). The best download speed you can expect with Verizon's DSL is less than a third of that. Philly Skyline operates on an imac G5, so why settle for less? Comcast internet costs a premium price because Comcast internet is a premium service. Verizon's selective ads with James Earl Jones voiceovers never once acknowledge the speed difference. They either pick on Comcast's prices or pick on dialup. Mind you, dialup should be picked on, but is this really helping their cause? Does Verizon really think that we the public believe that there are United Colors of Benetton looking business executives sitting in a breakroom, bickering over donuts that dialup isn't cutting it for sending those big documents.

Um. It's 2006, Verizon. Time to let Darth Vader and Paul Marcarelli (look it up, you'll hate me) go. Time to stop trying to pick fights with Comcast and pick fights with dialup. Comcast internet is bigger and better than Verizon internet. Just like the Comcast Center is bigger and better than the [Verizon] Tower. (As an aside, though Verizon came about from Bell Atlantic's 2000 merger with GTE, the official name of the building at 1717 Arch stayed Bell Atlantic Tower.)

I suppose I say all that to say all this: Philly Skyline's COMCAST CENTER CONSTRUCTION PHOTOS section is being updated all the time, including 20 already in May, so go check it out. (Cable internet preferred.)

A final Friday wrap-up: The Donald threw a party at the Union League last night for his Trump Tower -- his Trump Tower which will be delayed as long as the moratorium on riparian rights is in effect. Trump and Governor Rendell have been friendly in the past. Rendell's slots legislation will award Philly two licenses. There are five major proposals. Four of them are on the Delaware waterfront, where there is a moratorium on riparian rights, and one is not. That one is in Nicetown, with a big neon name reading "Trump" on it. Do these things all tie together? I don't know, one analogy is enough for one Friday afternoon. You make the call.

Happy weekend, everyone -- everyone except Barry Bonds, that is. Which reminds me: on Sunday night's nationally televised Phillies-Giants game, keep an eye out in rightfield, for when Bonds hits #715, I'm going to catch the ball, stuff it in my pocket and switch it out for a fake one which I'll throw back on the field, to Phillies fans' delight. I'll either sell the real ball on eBay that same night (since it will lose value as people hate Bonds even more) or bring Channel 6 to Philly Skyline headquarters for a live detonation of the ball to ensure that Bonds will never get it. BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! (Let's go Phils!)

–B Love

4 May 06: About those Olympic dreams . . .

Okay. What Philadelphian in his or her right mind is going to tell you the Olympics would be a bad thing for Philadelphia? Yeah yeah, you can make a thousand arguments about why Philadelphia would screw up the Olympics from politics to unions to violence to general negadelphianism, but let's think about the positives and then think about our chances here.

Of the 'high five' of American cities selected to be visited by the American Olympic Committee -- alphabetically, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and San Francisco -- we really do stand the most to gain. This is the way I see it: Chicago has the greatest chance of them all. It has never hosted the Olympics; it has a wonderful transit system; it has a beneficial infrastructure; it is one awesome city. It would need some improvements with regard to sporting facilities and would need an Olympic Village somewhere (didn't they just open Miegs Field to development?).

Chicago gets things done -- compare their Millennium Park to our Penn's Landing. I think Chicago will take the American nomination, though I don't know how it would match up against whatever other countries are competing. Houston? Uhh, no. It's too damn hot and humid there in the summer (since, you know, we're talking about the summer Olympics), it's too Bush-y (when this is a WORLD event and the world HATES Gee Dubya Bush), and well, Houston is too similar to Atlanta, the last American city to host the Olympics. I mean oops, Salt Lake City was. Los Angeles? Had it twice already, and with Peter Ueberroth -- the Californian who helped land the '84 LA Olympics and who ran for governor against the Governator -- heading this staff which will visit Philly next week, it would just be too fishy if LA got a third Olympics when cities like Chicago and San Francisco have not. San Francisco? Lovely, lovely city. But in this case, LA has got to be holding it back. And though the Bay Area goes in all directions, from Berkeley to Napa Valley and back over the Golden Gate to Marin, it would present a major challenge to SF to do this there.

Now Philly? Well. As I say, Philly really has the most to gain from this. Septa is all kinds of fucked up. The money that comes in preparation of the Olympics would maybe be enough to fix up City Hall's subway station? Because honestly? That is maybe the nastiest place in the city. It's embarrassing -- it is most literally right downstairs from the working center of the city. Then of course, the argument could be made that it should be the most ugly, pock marked, rat filled, stinky, dirty station on the subway station, if only to keep up with the strides the building upstairs has (not) made in the 105 years it's been officially open. So yes please, Olympic money for Septa.

How about an Olympic Village? Well how about the Navy Yard? They've been talking about developing the Navy Yard for years, and with the movement finally starting, just imagine all the t-shirt ideas Urban Outfitter could steal from the international athletes holed up on the grounds. The Navy Yard is within walking distance of the Sports Complex, which itself could host like 2/3 of the events. The Linc would be a fine place for opening and closing ceremonies, soccer and other stuff. Citizens Bank Park, the Spectrum and the Wachovia Center can handle baseball, basketball, boxing, gymnastics, softball, weightlifting, wrestling and ping-pong. Fairmount Park could handle the long distance running, archery and the shooting stuff. Hold the sailing in the Delaware and the rowing in the Schuylkill. Do the horse things at the Devon Horse Show grounds. All that leaves us is track and field and cycling. And guess what? We already host nationwide events on the annual tip in each, in the Penn Relays and the Wachovia Bike Championship.

Could we do it? Well, I was as skeptical as anyone the first time I heard this in the news (late last year?), but it seems to have legs, so there's no reason not to take it seriously. Septa could use the cash infusion. The city could build on its momentum. (If only people would stop shooting each other.) The New York and DC contingent would be an easy train ride away. Amtrak (if it's still around in 2016) would giggle gleefully. Bridgeman's View Tower will be built by then and the view from the top would most certainly be popular with visitors -- visitors who will dine at Standard Tap(s 1 through 5) and take pictures of Trump Tower and enjoy the view from the I-95 cap at Penn's Landing.

The Philympics seem like a far fetched idea, but Philly Skyline fetches far for lots in life, so why not support it? Let's do this thing. Philly 2016. Anyone wanna whip up a logo?

–B Love

3 May 06: How long has this been going on?

Seriously, guys? Do you think maybe we can wrap things up here? 22nd Street between Spruce and Locust has been blocked on the right side for like eight years now because of construction on two townhomes -- and frankly we drivers/cyclists/Septa employees are sick of having to go out around this crap. What's more, it took this long to build this? Red brick paneling with fronting garages and that tan plastic cornice? Oi. I'm sure those granite countertops are to die for, but jeezus . . . give us our street back already.

Residences at the Ritz broke ground! Well, allegedly; we weren't invited. S'ok, we're still happyish with the news. The latest rendering of this building really lends it a slick face. The Jersey barriers have pretty much all of South Penn Square blocked off, so if you're planning on crossing 15th at that pedestrian intersection or checking out Robert Engman's Triune, you're going to have to wait a couple years. Can 1441 Chestnut be that far behind?

And while on the topic of all these zany condo towers, a couple other things deserve mention: The Murano is this close to being moved from 'site prep' to 'under construction' in The Skinny. There's bigger, better equipment on site, caissons are being drilled, and they too have Jersey barriers. Just down Market, Opus has put up a 1919 Market sign and a trailer in the middle of the primest green grass in the city. Groundbreaking soon? Mandeville Place is still ironing out its back end, but it's in the pipeline. Symphony House is . . . is . . . zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. It's there, I guess. I have a photo timestamped 1 June, 2005 that has Symphony House's foundation dug and ready for work. Meanwhile, if you pivot your attention southward, you'll see 1352 Lofts just off Broad and South. I have another photo timestamped 11 December 2005 where 1352 is in the same way, a hole in the ground awaiting a building. It's less than five months later, and they've already topped it out. Granted, it's only five stories and Symphony House is 31, but 1352 takes up over half the block between Broad and Juniper (which is to say it's not a tiny building by any measure), while a year later, Symphony House is barely above its parking garage podium. The Empire State Building, which turned 75 on Monday, is 102 stories tall and was built in 13 months (during the depression and before unions but still, sayin' . . .)

Elsewhere around the city, let's see . . . Microsoft's High School of the Future is coming along up in Parkside, and just across the way the Please Touch Museum is making progress in Memorial Hall. Franklin Square is fenced off while they turn it into Wildwood. The Lofts at Bella Vista look pretty close to finished, but yo check out the cantilever job on the top floor -- is that where Brian Westbrook runs his message board? (Careful there B-West, phpbb is really buggy and gets hacked a lot, so you might consider VBulletin as an alternative.) Oh! Down by all that independence history stuff, The Ayer is under conversion next door to the St James, which itself finally found a restaurant tenant for the PSFS bank space. That tenant is The Oceanaire Seafood Room, whose motto is "to eat an oyster is to kiss the sea on its lips." Perverts. Oh yeah! One more: Two Liberty Place. For her sweet sixteen, Miss Two is getting her top half redone by Agoos-Lovera and Fine Decorators. Them there'll be the highest condos we ever did see. Until Bridgeman's View -- unaffected by el moratorium -- happens. And it will happen.

Delaware Riverfront Masterplan: This is just amazing. Wallace Roberts & Todd and Center City District put this masterplan together that covers the Delaware's public spaces between Penn Treaty Park in Fishtown and Pier 70 (below Wal-Mart) in South Philly. THIS PDF (13M file) is a 92 page Power Point style presentation that you can read thoroughly in 20 minutes. In a word, it's amazing. Mayor Street told us last summer Philly is to be the New River City. Well here you go, Johnny. For all that budget surplus, this entire project looks like chump change, and the Schuylkill River Park's/Banks'/Path's/Trail's model can be learned from. Let's make this happen. Thanks to Steve for the heads up.

At the top of the ever-growing Philly Skyline to-do list is of course the New Skinny, followed immediately by a dedicated section for both the Murano and Residences at the Ritz (and Symphony House? Nah, probably not), the collegian-contributed college photo essay (Penn, Temple, St Joe's, La Salle, Phila U and Chestnut Hill are up in here), the oft-delayed parking garage study, a sports section, the buildings of Rittenhouse Square, the Philadelphia architectural masters series, a search function, a store(!), bridges, portraits, cheesesteaks, and so on and so forth. As I say, not enough hours in a day. Yep!

–B Love

1 May 06: May Day
Word em up on another level, it's now oh five oh six and we got lots to address today. So grab your token and let's board the rapid fire bus. 3-2-1 GO:
  1. PENN RELAYS SNUBBED: What a weekend, for real for real. From Friday morning to Sunday night, the Philly Skyline crack team was putting MILES on them shoes -- on them Chucks -- in the 215. In chronological order, it went something like: overpriced, dry breakfast at Sabrina's that solidifies our vote to Morning Glory as best breakfast in Philly (seriously Sabrina, has anyone ever made a cup of La Colombe more boring?) → the second of three walks down East Passyunk for the forthcoming, uh, East Passyunk photo essay on this here web site → South Philly touring to fix a effin broke ipod and gather ideas for more photo essays, namely the Southeast Asian South Philly enclave which will require a smell-o-puter for the BBQ → a Fishtown/El Barrio carnival under the Berks St el station → the Philebrity-Thrilladelphia jawn on Hand-cock → the Converse battle for graffiti supremacy with my homegirl Monie Love → (pitching coach) Rich Doobie's springtime BBQ bash → the Sew Unique fashion show starring Ladies Auxiliary Club (who will soon be selling Philly Skyline t-shirts so check back here for announcements) → the discovery that the Penn Relays don't carry over into Sunday (sorry racers, next year, I swear) → a sampling of Abner's cheesesteaks for the great cheesesteak debate which will launch this summer → general West Philly gallivanting.

    That it? Probably left out a dozen Abita Turbodogs, but otherwise it's an ok summary. Pictures this afternoon.

  2. RADIOHEAD AT THE TOWER: Is you kiddin' me? I mean we all heard the rumors, but who knew it would be true? Tell you what, do us a favor and pick up an extra ticket if you get through, just in case. We'd do the same for you. Tickets are $41 but are being sold through Ticketbastard, so be ready to bend over when the final charge goes through. Their "convenience" fees totalled -- I shit you negatory -- 50% of the Jam on the River Ween/Secret Machines ticket. A $28 face value became $42 thanks to the near-monopoly ticket machine that is Ticketmaster. What ever happened to Eddie Vedder's rock star rebellion against them?

  3. STEPHEN COLBERT'S BALLS: Unbelievable is all I have to say. People have roasted the president in the past, but in such a polarized, paranoid American society, has anything ever been more brash and amazing? Watch the video. Yet check the mainstream media and all you'll hear about is the president's impersonator that was surely hired in-house. Maybe the media is upset with Colbert's deriding (and ACCURATE) comments about them? At any rate, it's just fantastic to see someone of Colbert's stature look the president in the eyes and call him out on just about everything that he's made wrong with Amurika in his tenure. It'll be interesting to see if Jon Stewart addresses it on tonight's Daily Show, because damn skippy Stewart wouldn't have the balls to say what Colbert said.

  4. COMCAST CENTER & SOUTH STREET BRIDGE: Two Philly Skyline hot button items, together at last. The former's crane is now visible from the latter, so it's only a matter of time before we see the concrete and steel massing carving its way into the (real life) skyline. Remember, you can get your monthly dosage of Comcast Center updates right here. And on the bridge, Septa has attached a sign warning that the 40 bus's route is "temporarily discontinued due to weight restrictions on the South Street Bridge." But uhhh, it's still going across the bridge. Maybe this is in anticipation of next year's closure of the bridge for rebuilding?

  5. 777 = 666? It's certainly open to interpretation. Kenny Gamble's Universal Properties has had a sign up at Broad & Catharine for, oh, years, announcing the coming of a new attraction. In today's Inquirer, it's made clear that Dranoff Properties is assuming most of the building responsibility. Universal is behind the (very welcome and good looking) Martin Luther King redevelopment around 13th & Fitzwater, and Dranoff is (REALLY SLOWLY) building Symphony House at Broad & Pine. I don't mean to paint so Negadelphian black-and-white, but uh, these seem like different demographics and developments like this fuel those who cry gentrification is bad. Believe me, as a G-Ho resident and proponent, it's hard to keep everything on the level. Just sayin is all -- they can build three 777 Lofts on Broad Street for all I care; filling in gaps on empty lots is a good thing. Now let's address those two massive corners at Broad & Washington and we'll be on to something.

    Now on some more localized Philly Skyline bidness:

  6. THE NEW SKINNY: You saw this coming: it's been pushed back a few days. Not to worry, it'll be worth the wait. Promise. Meantime you can still visit the existing Skinny.

  7. YO COLLEGE KIDS: Many thanks to all who've contributed. We'll have the 2006 college campus tour ready to roll in time for graduation, so check back next week for looks at Penn, St Joe's, Chestnut Hill, La Salle, Temple and Philadelphia University. Drexel shafted us, so they can go blow smoke up some other dragon's arse. (Editor's note: as a 1976 child, B Love is both bicentennial AND a year of the dragon baby. Still, no love for Drexel.)

  8. MORE TRAFFIC THAN STEVE WINWOOD: Keeeerist almighty. Between the Metro and Philebrity, our reader base leapt through the ceiling -- the bandwidth ceiling to which I should be adhering, but it's allllll good. Seriously: 44GB, 1.58M hits and about twenty little Myspace image snakes in one month. Not too shabby. Thanks a bunch, y'all.

  9. OK, THAT'LL DO FOR NOW: yeah, dig it. It's a new month so I'll start fresh, fresh with an archive and the most current photo essays and what not. Holla back.

–B Love

April 2006 archive
March 2006 archive
February 2006 archive
January 2006 archive
(more to come as I get to it)