14 September 07: And now, Symphony House,
presented without comment

14 September 07: Funny side up

A hearty thanks to everyone who entered the It's Always Sunny At Philly Skyline contest, and not to advocate sitting in front of your television for any extended period of time or anything, but hope you enjoyed the season premier of It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia last night.

The contest called for captions to this photo:

Lots of iPhone related entries, a few "brothers and sisters are running the city", all good stuff. But like any good sweepstakes, there were only three winners. And they are . . .
THIRD PLACE and the winner of a framed 11" x 17" photo of Mayor Street and William Penn: Brandon in Bella Vista, for his entry:

The question you should ask yourselves is . . . which one of us had an iPhone?

RUNNER-UP and the winner of an It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia t-shirt: Stephen in Center City:

i'm in ur philly smellin ur statues

GRAND CHAMPION and the winner of an It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia season 3 DVD and t-shirt: Brandon in Bella Vista! What can we say, the dude was on fire.

Me? The reincarnation of William Penn? A modern-day philosopher king? A ringing voice for justice, equality and the democratic way? I'd disagree with you if I could!

And there you have it. Thanks all for playing, and dig It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia on FX, Thursdays at 10.

–B Love

13 September 07: Keep your Sharpie handy

All right, all right, all right. (Wooderson voice.) The Events Calendar is mad stacked, so let's skip all the foreplay and get right to it.

  • TONIGHT (Thursday 13 September): Attention Germantowners: the City does care about you. In fact, the heart of Germantown has been the subject of study by the City Planning Commission toward the goal of encouraging Transit Oriented Development, particularly around G'town's five regional rail stations on the R7 and R8 (Germantown, Wister, Wayne Junction, Chelten, and Queen Lane) and the Route 23 trolley bus on Germantown Avenue.

    Now, they need your help. This evening, a workshop is being conducted to hear neighbors' priorities. Among the topics of discussion planned are housing options, safety, future activities, jobs and economic development. Help the city help you, Germantown.

    TONIGHT, 6:30pm, First Presbyterian Church, 35 W. Chelten Ave.

    [PCPC: Germantown.]

  • TOMORROW (Friday 14 September): The ladies at Conspiracy Showroom have returned from their summer hiatus with a new motif. All the designers are rolling out a fall line, and beginning tomorrow, they will have a monthly opening to coincide with the art opening. (Pencil in a late November / early December B Love opening of same.) Rae Vittorelli, a product of Moore College metalsmithing and ceramics, features her jewelry alongside paintings/prints by Lisa Hurwitz. Lisa is rad and her paintings are amazing, more so considering she's married to Jeff Root. Sayin'.

    TOMORROW, 6-9pm, Conspiracy Showroom, 910 N 2nd St.

    [ConspiracyShowroom.com.] [LisaHurwitz.com.] [RaeVitt.com.]

  • SATURDAY, 15 September: After heaps of hullabaloo, the Philadelphia Museum of Art's Perelman Building opens. Officially the Ruth and Raymond G. Perelman Building, the $90M PMA expansion cuts its ribbon and unveils works by the likes of Picasso, Renoir, Léger and Dubuffet. Much has already been written and said about it (Sunday's Inquirer special was really impressive), but for this, I'll defer to Ms Saffron: An art palace well suited to Philadelphia (Inquirer). Thanks to a partnership with Wachovia, admission is free to the Perelman Building from the opening into December.

    SATURDAY, 10am, PMA Perelman Building, Fairmount & Pennsylvania.


  • SUNDAY, 16 September: This one is, well, interesting if nothing else. Broad Street Ministry has invited Democratic Congressman Barney Frank (Massachusetts' 4th District) and Joe Sestak (PA's 7th) for an open forum discussion on the future of cities. Frank represents the suburbs of Boston (basically the parts of eastern Massachusetts that are NOT Boston, the Cape and Nantucket) and Sestak represents Delco, which is to say that neither of them is deeply rooted in city living. Then again, given the state of cities (two of the main talking points of the evening are 'halting violence' and 'reducing the income gap and alleviating poverty'), outsider opinion is probably important to hear.

    SUNDAY, 8-9:30pm, Broad Street Ministry, 315 S. Broad St.


  • TUESDAY, 25 September: As I understand it, the Ed Bacon Foundation was recently going through some of the late father of Kevin's shoeboxes of stuff when they stumbled upon a cache of amazing, high quality photos of the famous Better Philadelphia exhibition held at Gimbel's and later the Civic Center, each of which also rests in peace. Turns out those photos were taken by acclaimed architectural photographer Ezra Stoller, and they'll be available for viewing -- one night only! -- at the free event being hosted by the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission's office. It includes a round table discussion with the always entertaining David Brownlee, James Kise and others. And, how about this, it marks the 60th anniversary of the exhibition.

    TUESDAY, September 25th, 6:30pm, DVRPC, 190 N. Independence Mall West (6th & Arch), 8th floor.

    [DVRPC.] [EdBacon.org.]

  • OCTOBER 4-7: The 215 Festival is BACK, bitches! The literary arts festival bounces around from the Central Library to PAFA to the Rotunda and this year features an incredible event with graffiti legend Cornbread and renowned photographer Jon Naar. They're teaming up to discuss Naar's new book The Birth of Graffiti, which puts on display a number of previously unpublished photos of the early days of graffiti.

    FRIDAY, October 5th, 8pm, PA Academy of Fine Arts, Broad & Cherry.

    [PAFA.] [215 Festival.]

  • TONIGHT AGAIN: As you probably caught in the post just before this one, It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia returns to the airwaves at 10pm for season #3 on FX. You have until the end of the show to participate in the It's Always Sunny at Philly Skyline contest and win a DVD and/or t-shirt, so just scroll down a little further to find out how. It's the one that says It's Always Sunny at Philly Skyline.

    Wrapping things up today is this Philly Skyline Perelman Skyline from the Glider set. As they go, I think this is one of the better ones from that series, and it really gets the red out for the Perelman roof.

    –B Love

  • 13 September 07: It's always sunny on Philly Skyline

    It's deep in the heart of September, and Philly's favorite F-ups are back with top billin'. No, not the Eagles, though the Eagles are at the center of tonight's episode of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, the premier of season three.

    The Gang is inspired by a beer picnic (in what appears to be Hunting Park) and decides to try out for the Eagles à la Vince Papale in that New Kids on the Block movie. As usual, the family friendly TV half hour deals with life's challenging moments, such as tripping at a tailgate and women playing football. "Lizard, am I standing in poop?" Am I standing in poop indeed.

    It's time to get your Sunny on right here on the Skyline. Caption this photo of Mayor Street and William Penn and you can win. First prize is a DVD of the first four episodes of the new season and an It's Always Sunny t-shirt. First runner-up gets a t-shirt, and second runner up gets a framed 11" x 17" photo of hizzoner and hizquaker. Funny, sunny, serious or delirious, do your best. This is the photo:

    Send your captions to sunny AT phillyskyline DOT com with the subject "SUNNY" to enter. Winners will be announced tomorrow.

    But tonight, catch It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia on FX at 10. To get in the spirit, we'll yank on ye old YouTube for the web-only preview of season three, Mac Is A Serial Killer.

    More It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia on el interneto:

    Official FX site
    Official Myspace
    Seasons 1 & 2 on DVD
    Sunny on YouTube

    –B Love

    13 September 07: Comcast Center is still under construction

    Just a friendly reminder is all. A big photo update in that section will be up by the end of the morning. By the way, I think I've mentioned this before but maybe not: the "M M N M" you see across the awning is not in fact subliminal messages to digital cable subscribers, but just massing studies for the mounted letters which will eventually read "COMCAST CENTER" across the awning.

    Yesterday was a beaut, no? Today's on the same track, so turn off da Skyline, skip work and go hike the Wissahickon.

    Also coming today: the latest look at the calendar of events and our first contest in eons.

    –B Love

    12 September 07: LOL = Leaps Of Logic

    Hi, how are you doing? I wanted to tell you that your site has become lame.Instead of being phillyskyline.com
    it has become whatever is on your mind or like a local i dont know what to call it. Anyway if you spent half the time that you do talking about anything but the skyline you would have updated the skinny by now. Thank you and i wish you the best.

    Ben makes a good point here. By being Philly SKYLINE, any and all content must be about the SKYLINE, current events and other goings on in PHILLY be damned.

    Doo doo doo.

    OK OK, here is your semi-regular "Jesus Christ, we're working on The Skinny, would you relax already" update: Michelle and I are extremely excited and confident about the next Skinny, which I'm not even calling the new Skinny any more. In fact, it's so awesome that I think I'm gonna scrap the Phase-Ins (shocker, I know) altogether and just launch the damn thing when it's completely finished. Michelle is busting her tail, and I'm doing my best to have all the data accurate and current. It's happening -- you're just going to have to believe me until you see it. And when you do, it just might be at a party we throw because of it. OK? OK.

    Thanks Ben, and I wish you the best too. Now put this Philly Skyline Philly Skyline (taken about an hour ago) on your desktop and tell all your friends about The Skinny.

    –B Love

    12 September 07: Visual-Casual Observation Rapid Fire

    The Pearl, 9th & Arch, nearing completion.

    Demolition men: the former KYW Building at 5th & Market is being demolished as we speak to make way for the new National Jewish Museum.

    Wide angle Western Union is HYPE. In the long run, this 11th & Locust building does and even looks better than the cutesy Savoy Diner once did.

    Caught this in my itunes and I giggled. YoYoYoYoYoYoGaGaGaGaGaHaHaHa.

    Another view of the Philly Skyline Philly Skyline sunset from Citizens Bank Park last night. Man, is Adam Eaton a bum or what?

    What? I said it was rapid fire!

    –B Love

    12 September 07: That's foul

    My mom and dad took me to my first baseball game (if memory serves) in 1984 at Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh. In the 23 years since then, I've been to probably 150 games, Major League, Minor League and otherwise. Through them all, I never got a foul ball . . . until last night.

    Adam Eaton, the worst pitcher in the National League, had dug the Phillies such a large hole (4-0 when he left, 6-0 by the time his relievers finished the inning) that by the end most people with a sense of humility and decency had left. Paid attendance was 25,263 but actual turnstile attendance was probably 17,263. In the 9th inning, when the score was 8-2, it was probably around 4,263.

    That's when Colorado Rockies third baseman Garrett Atkins drilled -- and I mean DRILLED -- a Fabio Castro fastball so hard and foul that the seat it thumped stayed open and the ball dribbled to the ground in the first row of section 236. That's my row and my section. No one else was in the entire section but me and my friends. The path was unobstructed. That bitch was mine.

    Those stinkin' Phillies lost the game -- I'm down to 9-10 on the season -- and whattayaknow, lost another game to Eaton's old Padres. But man, I finally got me a foul ball.

    * * *


    28 November 06:

    Lawd have mercy . . . Pat Gillick's caught Ed Wade fever! Billy King and Chris Webber must have been in the room for contract negotiations with Adam Eaton. The righthanded former Phils draft pick has already had Tommy John surgery (just like Wolfie!), is fresh off a 5.12 ERA season. That's good enough for $8M in each of the next three seasons in hitter-friendly Citizens Bank Park, answering the question "who will fill the Cory Lidle mediocre filler void?" Meanwhile, the Phils staff is one lefty lesser, as Randy Wolf just signed with the Dodgers.

    . . .

    Ryan Howard and Chase Utley aren't eligible for arbitration till 2008, but that doesn't mean the Phillies can't make like the Mets with Jose Reyes and David Wright and re-sign each of them to long term contracts. Phillies management has always walked on egg shells to keep everybody (but the fans) happy. Why can't we make a move to keep the two most obvious assets to the team happy? It's not like Chase and RyHo can't live on a couple hundred thousand a year with all expenses paid, but when Adam Freaking Eaton rolls up to spring training in a Bentley, some heads are going to turn. At least dude is young (29) and can still develop into a solid starter . . . right?
    Ah well, what can ya do. The sunset was nice out over that surface parking lot that honors the Veterans of foreign wars, as seen in this Philly Skyline Philly Skyline, dude where's my car edition.

    Umpdate's a-comin'.

    –B Love

    September 11th: Enjoy the Silence

    10 September 07: West Philadelphia, Streetcar Suburb

    When William Penn and his Surveyor General Thomas Holme first laid out the city of Philadelphia's street plan, Penn's vision was that of a city that grew along the banks of the Delaware and the Schuylkill Rivers simultaneously. But from early on it was clear this wouldn't be the case and the dream was abandoned around 1684. The Delaware was to be Philadelphia's main port of entry and remains so to this day. Early Philadelphia huddled along the banks of the Delaware and slowly expanded westward in the coming decades. As late as the 1840s, people of means who built their residences west of Broad Street were considered pioneers. The land over the "hidden river" would remain a collection of small villages, most of which have lent their names to the various neighborhoods now it their place.

    Amidst the hamlets of West Philadelphia in its early incarnation were pleasant pastoral scenes, famous taverns and a few notable estates, among them the abodes of John Bartram and William Hamilton. Things slowly improved for Blockley Township, as it was then known. The first bridge connecting West Philadelphia to the rest of the city was constructed in 1800 at Market Street. Shortly after it was built it caught fire and a sturdier one was put up in its place in 1805. The construction of many charitable institutions such as the Blockley Almshouse (1834) helped to make West Philadelphia an integral part of the growing city.

    Things began to change more rapidly after 1854, when the all of the small villages of Philadelphia County were consolidated under the City of Philadelphia. New bridges spanning the Schuylkill along with horsecar lines introduced in the 1860s made getting to and from West Philly easier than ever. This allowed for developers to snatch up former farm land and create palatial estates and villas for the city's growing merchant class. One of the first was Hamilton Terrace along 41st Street, designed by noted architect Samuel Sloan. Another was Woodland Terrace. Built in 1861, the Italianate villas were also designed by Sloan. The twin homes, which are still standing, were intended to look like one huge villa.

    Sloan was not the only important architect of his era to leave his mark on the area. Others came and created memorable monuments to their craft. Numerous buildings, both public and private, bear silent witness to their skillfulness. Those familiar with Philadelphia's architecture know the names well. Furness, Hewitt, Trumbauer, Hale, and Wilson are all among the many contributers to West Philly's rich architectural legacy. The fashionable styles from the early Italianate to the turn-of-the-century Colonial Revival style attest to the refined living sought by the wealthy residents of West Philadelphia. Costly building materials and attention to detail were the hallmark of fine Victorian home building. The captains of industry spared no expense in letting the world know, "I have arrived."

    As modes of transportation improved, West Philadelphia continued to expand and grow westward. The coming of electrified car lines and the 1876 Centennial Exposition helped West Philadelphia emerge from its isolation. No doubt the most lasting contribution to the area was the arrival of the University of Pennsylvania in 1872 followed by Drexel University in 1891. The latter half of the 19th century saw explosive growth. Speculators and developers were grabbing land as fast as they could. The area was quickly losing its rural quality and becoming Philadelphia's bedroom community. The Streetcar Suburb was taking shape.

    With the coming of the 20th century, West Philadelphia was now a major player in the Philadelphia social and economic scene. The universities and the burgeoning white collar class put more demands on the city's transit system. A more modern method of transportation was needed. Enter the Market Street Elevated Line in 1907.

    With the El, expansion happened at an even faster pace. New business districts propagated at the El stops along Market Street. New rowhomes for the middle class and new immigrants sprung up almost overnight further and further away from the banks of the Schuylkill. Now it was possible for a person making an average salary to live as far west as 60th Street and commute daily to Center City. Following World War I, the automobile bursts its way onto the Philly scene and a previously inaccessible patch of land in the district was developed in the 1920s as Garden Court. As the 20th century progressed, the streetcar gave way to autos and buses.

    The neighborhoods that constituted the Streetcar Suburb of West Philadelphia have seen many ups and downs in recent decades. Despite neglect, blight, and strong disfavor among the architectural elite, the classic architecture has largely endured. Now there is a new found appreciation for the old time buildings. The neighborhood has seen an influx of new residents recently and lots of rehabbing has been taking place. Some of the longtime members of the community are feeling forced out the shocking rise in property values. Despite the gentrification of late, there is a good mix of residents in the area. White anarchists, African immigrants and Penn professors can be seen rubbing elbows at Clark Park or the Green Line Cafe. As the regional anchor, the University of Pennsylvania with its ever expanding campus seems to portend a solid future for the district. In the meantime, the neighborhoods of University City beckon for your exploration. Be it by trolley, streetcar or on foot, you will find it a most rewarding journey.

    - JMM


    10 September 07: The circle forms and breaks again

    by Nathaniel Popkin
    September 10, 2007

    We live amidst the constant and haunting specter of loss. Things -- people, moments, sensations, buildings, murals -- come, and when they are with us it is as if they have always been. As B Love wrote on Friday, Josette Urso and Parris Stancell's mural Cirque du Soleil was one of those things. What a pretty, soaring, and wonderfully decorative painting it was. Now it is gone. B Love's photograph of the mural, which captures a young woman pushing a baby stroller walking by it, enhances the melancholy of time.

    That mural was part of a special circle of our everyday life, a jewel on the chain; now that chain is broken. But one circle breaks, another forms. It is the choreography of city life.

    Friday night, amidst the rubble of failure, another circle formed. At Second and Race, below the Ben Franklin Bridge is a large site slated several years ago for an elegant condominium building, Old City 205. Designed by SHoP, this was to be a piece of urban art, responsive to its surroundings, of glass and steel in the rich hues of the hard-working city. The Historic Commission approved the project; a construction fence was erected with a sign, which stands today. Only thing -- the condos didn't sell and last year the developer pulled plug. The empty lot in the gateway location remained: sand, gravel, chain link fence.

    Amidst the cacophonic pageant of First Friday, an improbable circle formed there. It appeared as the marking of beings from another world. The circle itself had been carved from the gravel by the video artist Tobin Rothlein and choreographer Amanda Miller (together MIRO Dance Company) in collaboration with Nadia Hironaka. Playing with the physics concept of particle acceleration, their idea was to express the power of sound and motion.

    In Principles of Uncertainty, which is to be a model itself for large-scale multi-media performance, fifty drummers in two circles (one inside the other) beat in unison and there emerged fifteen white-clad dancers, accelerated like atoms, racing -- colliding, moving, reversing, glancing -- for fifteen long and glorious minutes. Moving video was projected on the exposed wall of the building to the west (the vacant site was the modernist Lithographic Building) forming a dynamic and self-acknowledging temporal mural. The mural was three videos, the first and most powerfully visual was a swirling circle of the site itself: the buildings across the street, the blank wall, the bridge. Around and around it went. To the north were the dancers projected in muted stance, practicing modern and traditional dance, as antiques. At the base of the wall was an undulating bar graph, capturing the particle acceleration and collision, and a clock, which enhanced the power of temporality. At eleven minutes thirty seconds the Speedline train passed over head and motion extended in all directions.

    What happened when two dancers collided? They changed course. Occasionally one broke the circle, her momentum carrying her off the track and out among the crowd -- and there she danced in the lissome air, a free and uncontrolled radical.

    Earlier in the day I had sat down with Harris Steinberg of PennPraxis. He explained the concept behind the waterfront plan his group is now completing. It is this simple: extend the street grid all the way to the river. Lay the city down, he told me like a sage uncle, and time will fill it in.

    The city, as he sees it, is that enormous particle accelerator. The drums are always beating.

    –Nathaniel Popkin

    For Nathaniel Popkin archives, please see HERE, or visit his web site HERE.

    10 September 07: Night ow

    Oh, One Liberty Place. Where did we go wrong? Was Comcast Center's announcement and then construction the reason the neon operators just gave up?

    Several times in the past couple of years, this web site has observed, noted and complained about the neon lights atop One Liberty Place being treated half-assed-ly. They still are. Just look at that photo: three bars of neon missing from the show, like so many teeth missing from a smiling Bobby Clarke hoisting the Stanley Cup -- and this is just one half of the building.

    But these gaps aren't from a smile, and they aren't cause for celebration. They're embarrassing. It's been almost a year since Julie Stoiber's article in the Inquirer heralded the nighttime skyline and the people who light it up. In it, she profiled the folks at Cira Centre, the PECO Building, the Bell Atlantic Building, and both Liberty Places, indicating that both were moving toward LED lighting like Boathouse Row and Cira Centre before it.

    Two Liberty's LEDs have been live since spring, changing colors at the snap of a finger. This weekend, Two Liberty was red, white and blue. Interesting, and perhaps a side effect, is the fact that it's harder to make out from a distance. The LEDs save energy and last longer, but they're not as bright as neon/argon/xenon/etc. Like Boathouse Row -- it's harder to notice the lights from 76 and MLK Drive now than before the conversion, when the boathouses themselves had lots of gap-tooth smiles. Those ones, though, were charming; beautiful Philadelphian imperfection.

    One Liberty Place? Not so much. For twenty years, it stood as the king of the Philly Skyline, our blue glass & gray stone pièce de résistance, William Penn's archenemy. At night, it shined brightly, usually in white, sometimes in red, white and blue, sometimes in pink, sometimes in green. Rarely did it have such a laziness about it. The past two years in particular, it has exhibited this laziness, the blockiness that pocks the pinnacle of a collaborative portrait of our city.

    "But Bee Love, changing neon is hard work -- how would you like it if it was your job?" Well, truth be told, I would. I like high up places. And I'd do it. The people whose job it used to be to install the neon, or to change the neon, or to order the neon when it needed ordering, they did it.

    I don't know what's going on in the One Liberty Place neon department these days, whether they're just phoning it in till the LEDs are done or what. I just know that when I look up at its crown at night, I know what I see, and what I see right now is ugly, embarrassing gaps on what should still be the definitive building on the evening Philly Skyline.


    Lo and behold, a sign of things to come. That there is your Comcast Center, previewing its own evening LED scheme. (Thanks to Jon in Spring Garden, John in University City and Steve Ives for the heads up.)

    Just like Cira Centre previewed its lighting when the Eagles were in the Super Bowl, Comcast Center is previewing its accenting that will start at the corners on the ground and climb to the crown, getting wider as they get higher. The crown will be a lit up cube -- the tall top to a table whose legs are the corners of the building. Additionally, the south side and north side keyhole cutouts will be lit. As they're LEDs, the lights will be programmable to change colors (like Cira Centre does, but rather than points of light, Comcast Center will have blocks of light) and/or put on a show.

    There are more pictures of this nighttime preview in our Comcast Center section.

    Hopefully once One Liberty Place gets its LEDs in order, we'll never have to pick on them again. But while we're on the subject of evening lighting design, let's name some names.

    CITY HALL: Center City District and the Department of Public Property did a fine job in at last giving City Hall the nighttime recognition it deserves, even if the tower had scaffolding that had been there over a year and a half when it was officially unveiled. That said, for as nice as the building looks, William Penn is hard to decipher. It's kind of the opposite of what used to be: Penn stood out at night, but the building was dark and dingy.

    COMMERCE SQUARE: Seriously now. What is the deal with these twin towers? There's a fantastic fountain in the courtyard, but at night, the only way you'd even know the buildings were there is by the fog lights blinking on their Mickey Mouse ears. The multiple setbacks and diamonds are begging for something: upward accent lighting at each setback, corner mounts, something.

    BLUE CROSS TOWER: This building used to have corner accents not entirely unlike those in the Comcast Center photo above (see photo at left, taken in 2002), but some time in the past couple of years, those lights have gone out. Maybe a raise in your insurance premium will turn 'em back on? COUGH.

    ARAMARK TOWER: I heard a rumor and then saw a picture that this tower used to have two bars of blue neon rising vertically on either side of the tower. An odd choice for a black glass and reddish granite building, for sure, but hey, it was 1984. Cocaine was a hell of a drug. Any chance of bringing this (or something more, um, contemporary) back?

    PSFS, MELLON BANK CENTER, GLAXOSMITHKLINE, INQUIRER & BELL ATLANTIC BUILDINGS: Keep doing what you're doing, y'all, it looks great.
    I love the night lights. I love to boogie.

    * * *

    You know who else likes to boogie? All of these cats: Nathaniel Popkin, Joe Minardi, Steve Ives and Chris Dougherty. New features from each is on the way, Nathaniel and Joe by the end of today.

    –B Love

    7 September 07: Will the Cirque Mural Be Unbroken?

    The colorful skyline mural you see there is no more. Only this time, unlike the mural at Broad & Pine which the Mural Arts Program painted over and upgraded when the Kimmel Center opened, and Symbolic Building of a City at 17th & Arch which was sacrificed with the Public Defenders Building to make way for Comcast Center, there is no explanation why this one is gone.

    Some time in the past month this mural at 15th & Washington, by artists Josette Urso and Parris Stancell and titled Cirque du Soleil after the show that regularly visits the space one block east (and which cosponsored the mural with Lincoln Financial), was painted over in a single, solid, putrid periwinkle.


    Who knows? Not the Mural Arts Program (MAP), who facilitated Cirque. MAP was given no notification that it would be painted over. Granted, there is no legal precedent to do so, but the perception is that an out-of-towner unaware of MAP bought the warehouse and painted over it.

    Perhaps it's just a primer for something new? MAP has not been contacted about painting a new mural there, and that would need to happen in order for a new commissioned mural, where commissioned means fundraising and an exhausting community process.

    Murals come and murals go in this mural lovin' town of ours. There are good ones and there are bad ones, old ones and new ones. More often than not, they're a picture of positivity in places in need of it -- try counting the murals in Point Breeze or North Philly or Grays Ferry. Many of the best ones overlook parking lots (even the best ones, like Common Threads at Broad & Spring Garden and the ballet one at Broad & Pine whose name I can't find because MuralBase is impossible to use), and many overlook empty, weed strewn lots (Dr J on Ridge Ave, tons in Kensington and the Barrio).

    But every once in a great while, a mural is just a part of the fabric, a piece of the bigger puzzle not meant to draw your eye from something more undesirable, but just to contribute its beauty to the greater good. Like the Negro League mural at the corner park on 44th & Parkside.

    And, like Cirque du Soleil. Just a colorful, thoughtful painting with trees and stars and the skyline -- something to enliven a dead wall on 15th Street.

    But now, it's dead again. Dead and periwinkle.

    * * *

    FYI: Cirque du Soleil returns to Broad & Washington in the spring with its production of Kooza.

    Related reading:

    Mural Arts Program
    Wiki: Cirque du Soleil's KOOZA

    –B Love

    6 September 07: Back to skool

    It's September, so it's about time we start hitting the books. Summer's over and the survey is closed. (But only because so many were still coming in -- seriously, thank you all for participating. I got three times as many responses as I'd hoped for.)

    As always, a new month means a new notch on the belt of construction updates for each of the three above: Comcast Center, Murano and Residences at the Ritz-Carlton. Chances are October will see the launch of a 10 Rittenhouse Square section.

    Right now though, early evening on the 6th of September, the three above sections are up to date with a blitz of photos: talkin' G-Ho, talkin' Camden, talkin' the Plateau, lookin' down from up high, lookin' up from down low, north south east and west. Check 'em out, why don't ya?

    A survey of my own counts those three buildings thusly:
    • COMCAST CENTER is of course topped out, and its frame is well intact. As of this evening, all that's left for Comcast Center's exterior is the glass on the crown and what's left of the on remaining worker hoist on the western side. The other one has been removed, and the glaziers are zipping up the side of the building where it and the west crane were. Give it a couple weeks and we'll know what the finished product looks like -- in the daytime. No word yet when the evening lighting will be completed and turned on, but I'd imagine it will be soon since the first Comcast tenants move in on the 21st, 15 days from now.

    • MURANO is itself very near to topping out. From my count, it's on the 39th of its 42 floors. The glass is 30 stories up and the (UGLY ASS) garage appears to be complete. Seriously: for as nice a building as Murano is turning out to be, the garage in the rear is a hideous white elephant looming over Trader Joe's own parking lot. To view Murano from JFK Boulevard is to view Scarlett Johansson with a big noticeable pimple on her nose. Poor girl. Then again, you're not exactly looking at her nose. Are ya, perv!

    • RESIDENCES AT THE RITZ-CARLTON is humming right along too, in all its crazy modern postmodernism. It's ten stories high, and man do they love their signs. The largest banner ever unfurled in the city of Philadelphia adorns the side of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, reminding passersby that National Geographic deemed us the Next Great City. On the south side of the actual building's construction, a big sign on the slip forms lets you know that B Pietrini & Sons are pouring the concrete and have been doing so since 1948. Next to another Pietrini sign on the north side, Ritz-Carlton's lion king logo sits above "Luxury Redefined" . . .

    And if you don't know, now y'know.
    To tie up any loose ends about the construction and the skyline and the photos and the jello pudding pops, let's get our highs at the Loews with a Philly Skyline Philly Skyline. As nearly as I can tell, this is the first photo ever on yr Philly Skyline that features all three major construction projects in the same frame, and for an added bonus, Cira Centre's out yonder.

    To make it the BIG, you have to make it the CLICK.

    –B Love

    6 September 07: Special Ed An Ed Special

    Back in June, I bid farewell to my beloved G-Ho, South Street and surrounds, specifically Fitler Square and its great neighbors like Doobies and the fancy farmgirl and the man behind the coolest building in the neighborhood, Ed Bronstein. Ed's home is a corrugated metal structure of color and angles that could only be the product of a seasoned architect who knew how to work his stodgy neighborhood association. (For proof of this stodginess, walk around the corner and look at the utter shit that was built on the north side of the 2400 block of South Street -- it's used as an example of what NOT to do (page 29) in the Center City Residents Association's neighborhood master plan.) But that's just the outside.

    The inside features airy ceilings, a metal walkway, and an upstairs living space which leads outside to a deck which leads back downstairs to his idyllic, multi-leveled backyard with a fountain and frogs and birds and, at least occasionally, a black snake or two. It's also sort of the stamp that Ed gave himself to say, "okay, I've done what I'm going to do with architecture, now I'm going to try something different."

    It's not that he retired from architecture, it's that he's non-practicing. His work lives on in Chicago and San Francisco and here, in AIA's Philadelphia offices and Frog Commissary and private homes and and the Greene Towne School, which Inga Saffron described as "one of the most artful and inventive new buildings to show up in Center City in the last few years." He's also been an adjunct professor of Interior Design and Architecture at Drexel since 1983.

    In 1989, his focus shifted. Seeing his daughter fall in love with art -- painting, especially -- Ed decided to try his hand at it and dove in head first at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. Nearly twenty years later, it's what he does, his livelihood. He paints people on the street, scenes down-the-shore, traffic in intersections, emptiness in abandoned structures.

    And he creates paintings of Bartram's Garden, and at Bartram's Garden, and near Bartram's Garden. These all have been going on for about seven years, and beginning tomorrow, he's sharing the results at . . . Bartram's Garden.

    In June of this year, Ed was one of a cast of members (which also included Jane Steinberg and Robert Venturi) who contributed to the Art By Architects exhibit at the Garden. Now, he's doing his own thing, and it's kicking back to the Garden: 25% of proceeds go straight to Bartram's Garden.

    "I love the idea of an art and garden connection," Ed says over a peculiarly aromatic cup of coffee. "Especially here, in such a nutshell of Philadelphia." That nutshell is Bartram's Garden and its surroundings: The flowers and trees and birds and bees. The oil and gas industry of the Schuylkill River. The Southwest Philly housing projects just beyond the Garden's wooden fence. The skyline view on the meadow made possible by the skyline view -- the meadow is made of a landfill, a landfill of the dirt excavated at Liberty Place in the 1980s.

    Ed Bronstein's work has been shown at the Woodmere Art Museum, the Pennsylvania State Museum and several galleries across the region, and he's had residencies at Old City's Rosenfeld Gallery, and in Vermont and in Ireland. Two years ago, he appeared in American Artist magazine.

    Tomorrow, his work can be seen at Bartram's Garden. If you live in Philadelphia and have never been there . . . well, you need to go. It's okay, you don't need to tell anyone you haven't been there. After all, it's been there just 270 years, and John Bartram's son Wiliam only hosted garden parties for his friends Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson . . . easy to have missed, right?

    But no more: tomorrow is First Friday, and Ed's throwing a party at the Garden. Forty-three of his paintings will be on display from tomorrow until the 23rd of this month, and conveniently, the Schuylkill River Development Corporation is running Sunday cruises from Walnut Street to Bartram's Garden all month.

    For more on Ed Bronstein, check out his web site HERE. For more on the show, click the graphic below.

    –B Love

    5 September 07: We live on the road

    by Nathaniel Popkin
    September 5, 2007

    There is much to say on this, the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of Jack Kerouac's On The Road. Oh, it still reads fast and luxuriant.

    "And where is Dean?"

    "Dean is in Denver. Let me tell you." And he told me that dean was making love to two girls at the same time, they being Marylou, his first wife, who waited for him in a hotel room, and Camille, a new girl, who waited for him in a hotel room. "Between the two of them he rushes to me for our own unfinished business."

    "And what business is that?"

    "Dean and I are embarked on a tremendous season together. We're trying to communicate with absolute honesty and absolute completeness everything on our minds. We've had to take benzedrine. We sit on the bed, crosslegged, facing each other. I have finally taught Dean that he can do anything he wants, become mayor of Denver, marry a millionairess, or become the greatest poet since Rimbaud. But he keeps rushing out to see the midget auto races. I go with him. He jumps and yells, excited. You know, Sal, Dean is really hung-up on things like that.
    Sal is the perfect narrator; he's you, the you you are when you're honest; also the you you wish to be; impressionable, sensitive, searching, but no push-over. Dean won't stop; he's repugnant and beautiful. Hollywood has destroyed this character, but he stands up here, fifty years strong.

    In no time at all we were back on the main highway and that night I saw the entire state of Nebraska unroll before my eyes. A hundred and ten miles an hour straight through, an arrow road, sleeping towns, no traffic, and the Union Pacific streamliner falling behind us in the moonlight. I wasn't frightened at all that night; it was perfectly legitimate to go 110 and talk and have all the Nebraska towns--Ogallala, Gothenburg, Kearney, Grand Island, Columbus--unreel with dreamlike rapidity as we roared ahead and talked. It was a magnificent car; it could hold the road like a boat holds on water. Gradual curves were its singing ease. "Ah, man, what a dreamboat," sighed Dean. "Think if you and I had a car like this what we could do. Do you know there's a road that goes down Mexico and all the way to Panama?--and maybe all the way to the bottom of South America where the Indians are seven feet tall and eat cocaine on the mountainside? Yes! You and I, Sal, we'd dig the whole world with a car like this because, man, the road must eventually lead to the whole world. Ain't nowhere else it can go--right? Oh, and are we going to cut around the old Chi with this thing! Think of it, Sal, I've never been to Chicago in all my life, never stopped."

    "We'll come in there like gangsters in this Cadillac!"

    "Yes! And the girls! We can pick up girls, in fact, Sal, I've decided to make extra-special fast time so we can have an entire evening to cut around in this thing. Now you just relax and I'll ball the jack all the way."

    "Well, how fast are you going now?"

    "A steady one-ten I figure--you wouldn't notice it."
    On The Road was published a month after WFIL's first national broadcast of American Bandstand (my old cohorts at The Enterprise Center just celebrated that anniversary--something tells me Dick Clark still hasn't made a financial contribution to that organization, which renovated the studio where he became a brand name, and whose mission is to help the current seekers of opportunity to "hit it big"); a cultural historian could build an interesting argument for the summer of 1957-before-1968 as the bellwether.

    There has always been and always will be a sanitized narrative of hard work and reward, of courage and solidity. And under that something like Beat. In the early eighteenth century Benjamin Lay, from Colchester, England settled in Philadelphia; at 4'7" and hunchbacked, he cast a strange figure. As a vegetarian hermit who ranted against slavery--he didn't wear anything made from animal or picked by the hands of slaves and he once burst into a meeting of the city's Quakers and drove a sword through a bible filled with pokeberry juice, which he sprayed at the slave-holders in the room--Lay may have been the first figure of the counter-culture. (Thomas Paine was certainly the first dark star.)

    Kerouac didn't invent the genre, he just foretold a coming change. And there too was William Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg (who I remember meeting in the basement of Logan Hall at a function I helped organize but can't remember why, or what he read) and out there in Colorado (Denver looms large in On The Road) was Hunter Thompson.

    But I love On The Road for the same reason I love Bellow's The Adventures of Augie March (1949), Leaves of Grass (all of the nineteenth century, no?), Agee's Let Us Now Praise Famous Men (1941), William Carlos Williams' Patterson (1946-58), anything by James Baldwin: these are the sounds of America, the voices of real America. The only other place I find those voices in such an unbland and heaving cadence is right here, on our streets. Surely these are the twisted voices--of hurt and bare opportunity--that mark us as a people. We are fortunate to live amongst the poetry.

    –Nathaniel Popkin

    For Nathaniel Popkin archives, please see HERE, or visit his web site HERE.

    5 September 07: Ugly, ugly, ugly

    Boy, you'd think that scoring five runs in the first two innings off of a pitcher like Tim Hudson would be enough for any team to beat the Braves. But then you'd not be thinking about the pitching-less Philadelphia Phillies.

    That says it all right there. The team that had 17 hits and 8 runs did not win. And it did not win because its big money men could not hold a six run lead. Tom Gordon ($7M this season) and Brett Myers ($5.1M this season), seven runs between them in two innings of work. On a day in which the Mets had already lost.

    That makes three games in the past week in which the Phillies have not been able to hold a 5-0 lead, and watching this game today, how can ANYone think they can remain unaffected and actually make the playoffs? Even Larry Andersen said on the radio "I'm hard pressed to think they can bounce back from this one."

    There is no such thing as a wake-up call in the Phillies front office. The bullpen has been shitty all season long, and it's painfully worse down the stretch, the most important part of the season for a team not only battling the Mets and Braves for the division, but pretty much the entire rest of the National League for the Wild Card. It's embarrassing. The fire the offense shows makes for such good, dramatic games, but when the pitching fails, predictably, time after time after time, everyone gets exhausted and the Phillies head for what, its sixth consecutive "ohhhhh, so close!" Ugh.

    And the Houston Astros actually want Ruben Amaro??? They can have him. And they can have Pat Gillick and his $24M Adam Eaton and his Freddy Garcia and his Tom Gordon and his Jose Mesa and his Antonio Alfonseca and his Rod Barajas and his Wes Helms. The amount of money these jackasses make is absurd. Meanwhile, Bob Wickman sits on the waiver wire waiting for a new team. Oh, he's a head case? Yeah, better not sign him. The cooler heads like Brett "you're a fuckin' retard" Myers and Jose "I want to kill [Omar Vizquel]" Mesa and Antonio "stare off into space and get pumped for a first ball strike" Alfonseca can't be disturbed out there, keep it even keel.

    Rooting on the Phillies: what is the point? You pour your heart out and funkin' gonuts on an amazing four game sweep of the Mets, then you turn around staring at your shoes after losing two of three to the freaking Marlins, then two of three because you can't hold a six run lead against Larry Wayne Jones and the Tomahawk Posse deep down in Dixie.



    I'm sorry, all non-pitching Phillies and Kyle Kendrick and Cole Hamels. I really, really, really want you guys to win, but everybody knows you won't with that pitching staff. Everyone except the people in charge of doing something about it, that is. To Chase, Pat, RyHo, J-Roll, Rowand, Vic, Dobbs, Werth, Ruiz, Coste, Iguchi and Bourn: thanks for a great season.

    To Phillies management: if you expect me to renew my tickets, 1. SIGN SOME RELIEVERS, EH? 2. Please don't raise the beer prices again.

    B Love

    (Photo of Jeff Francoeur scoring the winning run: AP, ESPN)

    5 September 07: Climbing up the walls

    One more time: thank you thank you thank you to all who filled out our survey. I was shooting for maybe 250 responses, and you guys more than doubled that in less than 24 hours. Terry Madonna, eat your heart out.

    * * *

    Picking up where we left off on our skyscraper geek-out, then . . .

    The man in pink you see climbing up the outside of the Blue Cross Tower G Fred DiBona Building is the French daredevil known as Spiderman: Alain Robert. (Uh-LANNNH Ro-BERRRRH.)

    That reminds me: a hearty Philly Skyline farewell to my old pal and G-Ho hard reprazenter Alaina, who leaves Philadelphia today for new digs south of the border, down Mexico way.

    But Spiderman. Alain Robert. If you are the rightful photographer of this photo at left, drop me a line, as I'd love to give a credit. Couldn't find it on Google so I went o'er to Ask Jeeves to find it at NNDB.com, which claims to be tracking the entire world.

    "But what about him, Bee Love?"

    Ah yes. I was surprised to see my Philly.com with a headline saying he'd been detained again, this time in Moscow. Spiderman had completed his climb of the still-under-construction Federation Tower, the shorter half of the new tallest building in Europe. Federation Tower is actually comprised of two buildings, the 799' (242m to keep it real . . . real European) one Robert climbed without a net, and a 93 story, 1,161' (354m) tower. Connecting the two is a 1,471' (448m) spire with walkways to both towers. Kind of an interesting project, and the larger tower looks not unlike the taller proposed tower at Cira Centre South. For construction photos of the Moscow tower, check out Skyscraperpage.

    Alain Robert climbed the Blue Cross tower here in 1997, also without a net, and was (like most places he pulls it off) arrested. He came to Philadelphia prepared, though, as he carried a banner reading "Go Eagles, Beat Dallas!" He may look funny, but his list of accomplishments is pretty impressive. A list of notable buildings he's climbed is on his Wiki page. And an index of funny photos is on his official web site HERE.

    And, if you're interested, a series of my photos of the Blue Cross tower is HERE, though looking through those, I think I really need to take some new photos.

    –B Love

    5 September 07: Thank you

    A super huge THANK YOU to everyone who's taken our super easy survey. If you haven't and you wouldn't mind, it's (survey is closed, thank you) and it seriously only takes three minutes. Tops.

    Anyway, it's not only been very helpful, but also very enlightening. So: thanks.

    It's Hump Day, so an Umpdate will make its way here most likely early this afternoon. Till the ump, this PSPS above is the show from the middle of Market Street last night. Click click click. Enlarge. Zzzzzzzzoooooooooooooooooom.

    Take me down, little Suzie, take me down.

    –B Love

    4 September 07: Who are you? Who-who, who-who?

    Greetings, my friends. Since 2002, this here phillyskyline.com has been an outpost for original Philly photos. Since sometime in 2004, it's been a clearinghouse for categorized essays, written and photographic. Since early 2005, The Skinny has been the go-to source* for all construction and development projects in Philadelphia. Through it all, you've probably come to know a little bit about me and your Philly Skyline.

    And now, we'd like to know a little about you.

    If you have three-to-five minutes you can spare, it would be greatly appreciated if you could take (survey is closed, thank you). It has nine easy, multiple choice questions, and you don't have to enter ANY personal information. It is entirely anonymous, so please answer as honestly as possible. Just this one little favor, and just this one time. Again, that survey is (survey is closed, thank you).

    Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    * * *

    * About The Skinny: we're getting there. No, really. The database is almost finished and updated, and as soon as that happens, we can launch what it is we've been building to all these months. Thanks for your patience.

    Rounding out this Tuesday is this interstate Philly Skyline Philly Skyline. That state whose beaches welcome Labor Day celebrators and tampon applicators is also home to that famous Philly Skyline view: the Camden side of the Delaware River.

    Hike or bike across the Ben Franklin Bridge. Drive the scenic route across the Walt Whitman. Spare six bucks for a breezy boat ride from Penn's Landing. Just don't wait for the tram -- that thing cannot happen.

    Whatever you do, just enjoy this late day sun from Camden from yesterday.

    –B Love

    4 September 07: Hi

    –B Love

    3 September 07: Happy Labor Day

    Here's hoping your barbecues were savory, your travels were light on traffic, and your views were high and mighty like this one from Girard Point Bridge at 75 mph. The first September update of the Comcast Center section is filled with photos of the transit variety, both drive-by (I-95) and ride-by (R8 Chestnut Hill East).

    –B Love

    31 August 07: SKYSCRAPERS: Truth, Fiction or Hearsay?

    Hot diggitty dog, what an action packed Friday to lead into your Labor Day weekend.

    FACT: Cira Centre South is as real deal as JD Durbin, boy, it is a GO. Check the post directly beneath this one, or go see what the always-awesome Natalie Kostelni has to say about it over at the PBJ.

    But believe it or not, Philly Skyline skyscraper news doesn't stop there, nor does our Natalie namedropping. In the latest print edition of the same paper, Miss K is the first to name names in this particular RUMOR: the building at 21st & Market that AAA vacated for new digs in Wilmington (which you can see in our Wilmington photo essay*) and which Bob Brady's mayoral campaign called home was built with the idea that additions could be made, creating a tower catercorner to the Murano**. World Acquisition Partners, famous for not building the New Market Hotel and for pissing off the Logan Square neighborhood association with its concept for Philadelphia River City, is considering "construct[ing] an addition that could reach as high as 53 stories" . . . To read the full article, you need to buy the print edition, but a preview is HERE.

    * - To the folks from Wilmington who were disappointed by the Wilmington photo essay: well, sorry. I understand that there are other parts of town -- Little Italy, the Brandywine River, city parks, Market Square downtown -- but you can only fit so much into one afternoon. I did my best. (And plus come on, you're Delaware. I kid.) The Bob Marley connection was especially of interest for this trip, as was the Christiana Riverfront, and that should come across in the photos. Keep in mind: if you're up to the challenge and can take good photos, you're always welcome to contribute a photo essay of your own, in which case gimme a shout at photos AT phillyskyline DOT com with "photo essay idea" (or something) in the subject line.

    ** - The Murano section is now up to date with 22 photos for August, including a few from the beautiful blue day on Tuesday. So are Comcast Center and Residences at the Ritz-Carlton, for that matter.
    FACT: 10 Rittenhouse Square is full steam ahead, or shall we say, full concrete below. Over the weekend, the city temporarily closed down 18th & Sansom, and it took two companies to pour the foundation of the 33 story tower. Reminder: once this building surpasses street level, yr Philly Skyline will have a dedicated 10 Rittenhouse section.

    A shout to Oona Walsh, who kindly sent in this action shot of the foundation's pour taken by project manager Antoine Rotival. Click to enlarge.

    RUMOR: Here's a nugget if there ever was a skyscraper nugget: test borings were being performed at the southwest corner of 18th & Arch yesterday, and a fellow named erjon posted on Skyscraperpage that he'd heard that Wachovia was looking at the enormous parking lot (seen in so many Comcast Center photos) for the potential of building a 1300' tower.

    Now, while that is one juicy rumor, I have a few opinions after discussing it with a pretty good source . . .
    • Wachovia is based in Charlotte, a banking city, and it seems unlikely that they'd build any sort of signature tower in a city like Philadelphia.

    • However, a tower of this magnitude (300' taller than Comcast Center) could signal a forthcoming merger, and Wachovia's stock hasn't done well over the past year or more, so that's a possibility. In fact, with many people already laid off at Wachovia's offices at 5th & Market and at One South Broad, a merger/buyout seems like the only sort of growth Wachovia would extend in Philly right now.

    • Also, if Wachovia were to merge or buy someone out right now, wouldn't it seem in their better interests to move west and look at someone like Wells Fargo or WaMu?

    • Let's say a mid-sized bank with a strong presence in Philly like PNC or Commerce were to merge with a larger institution: both Bank of America and Citi are growing in Philly, and neither has a major physical presence, where PNC has its own mid-range tower (a fine building by SOM overshadowed by Liberty Place right next door on either side) at 16th & Market, and Commerce's corporate offices are in Cherry Hill. Bank of America and Citi, should they be looking to set up shop, could look to build a large tower.

    Again, these are all ideas on this RUMOR, nothing is too substantiated. If YOU have something substantiated you'd like to share, give us a shout.
    WEIRD FACT: Is it weird to think this is weird? Today's New York Daily News reports that Atlantic City's skyline is extending northward with two new 48 story casino/hotel towers . . . developed by Morgan Stanley. The investment firm and retail broker has created Revel Entertainment to build this new, as yet unnamed casino to open in 2011, and it includes plans for AC's first destination wedding chapel. Hmm.

    So, glancing around AC, the Trop has expanded with the Quarter, Harrah's is expanding, Borgata is expanding, the Taj is expanding, and Resorts is expanding. Plus, The Sands is a-coming down to make way for Pinnacle, and MGM is building "City Center East" on the massive open space on the marina between Borgata and Harrah's. It'll be interesting to see if, five years down the road, Atlantic City's economic disparity hasn't grown along with its skyline.

    RUMOR: My man HughE, who last month broke the William Penn Wax Job story, now has even more bad news: apparently, the City has hired a non-union carpenter team to do work inside City Hall, and that doesn't sit well with the Philly carpenters union. Ergo, they are picketing at City Hall, and according to HughE's story, the union carpenters hired to assemble the scaffolding which will apply Billy's wax job will not cross the picket line. So guess what, City Hall Tower fans: you get to wait even longer to enjoy the view, because now, the tower is closed indefinitely. HOORAY PHILLY!

    FACT: The Barnes Tower Parkway 22's web site is officially under construction: Parkway22.com. The site rightfully celebrates the proposed building's proximity to the Art Museum (see if you can count how many times the word "art" is used), but the photo of Auguste Rodin's The Thinker is mad old, showing a patina that hasn't been there in at least 8-10 years. The residences, floor plans and amenities aren't live yet, but you can fill out a form for more Parkway 22 info. Or, you can stop by their office on 20th Street across from Whole Foods -- it's the one marked "Barnes Tower".

    FACT: KYW's Mike Dunn reminds us that the Philadelphia Parking Authority's controversial empty lot at 19th & Walnut is still an empty lot, and PPA is unloading it to Castleway Properties. While Castleway officially has not taken a stance on how it will proceed with the lot, suffice it to say they'll probably NOT propose a giant parking garage with a Riverview-like cinema complex, as PPA had tried to do. It would behoove them to coordinate with the Center City Residents Association, who compiled their own master plan for the Ritt-Fit area, with special attention that very lot. You can download the PDF of that master plan HERE -- check out page 76 for their study of that lot.

    And now for some fun time celebrity RUMORS FACTS, wheee! True story: Zooey Deschanel, the 27 year old Hollywood starlet of Elf and Weeds fame, is currently in town for the filming of The Happening, M Night Shamalamadingdong's latest feature. Well Zooey must have caught the New York Times' T Magazine on Sunday, because she took a break from filming to pop into Conspiracy Showroom for some shopping. And I don't know about you, but if the dresses, jewelry and bags at Conspiracy are good enough for Zooey, then sister, they're good enough for me.

    Not entirely UNrelated (ok, entirely unrelated), Mos Def will be hanging with Mix Master Mike Nutter in West Philly tomorrow afternoon, for this year's Neighborhood to Neighborhood Festival. Head out to 50th & Baltimore for the free show, check out the redone Cedar Park, and pop into the brand new Dock Street Pub while you're out there.

    FICTION: Jose Reyes is better than Jimmy Rollins. Pish posh! Despite what Chris Wheeler would have you believe, Jose Reyes is hardly a better shortstop or all around player than J-Roll. Perhaps still stinging from watching the St Louis Cardinals win the pennant at Shea Stadium last October, the New York Mets and their fans have had Jimmy Rollins in their crosshairs all season long, after he confidently declared the Phillies the Team To Beat in the NL East.

    Well, all season long, Jimmy has put his money where his mouth is: in fifteen games against the Mets this season, he's batting .364 with 6 homeruns, including a 9-for-19 in the four game sweep completed yesterday. (My god that was amazing.) Reyes was 1-for-15 in the same four games, and currently, a comparison of the two player shows the following for the entire season:

    Yellow denotes league leader. Rey-ass may lead the league in steals, but he also leads the league in been-caught-stealing, and what good are all those SBs if they don't generate runs? (In fairness, Reyes is third in the league in runs.) Also worth noting, Rollins and Reyes have identical fielding percentages, and Rollins has turned ten more double plays.

    FACT: This here Philly Skyline Philly Skyline, at sundown on Girard Avenue Bridge over the Schuylkill, goes out to my man Cortez, who shared this sunset view with me. Hope you're out there, homie.

    Oh, and HEYNOW: it's Labor Day weekend and the beginning of September, and that can only mean one thing in Philadelphia: FRINGE, BABY, FRINGE!


    –B Love

    31 August 07: Today, it's official:

    (Image by Brandywine Realty and Pelli Clarke Pelli)

    The 14-acre Cira Centre South project, which includes a 40- to 50-story office tower on Walnut Street and a 25- to 30-story residential tower on Chestnut Street, will be developed by a partnership of the university and Brandywine.

    Penn and Brandywine will officially make the announcement this morning. Suzette Parmley has the whole story in today's Inquirer HERE.

    This is huge on so many levels:
    • It solidifies reuse of the Post Office Building (for the IRS's move from Northeast Philly), as the post office continues its transition to Southwest Philly.

    • It continues the westward extension of the skyline and gives the city two new Pelli towers. By the looks of things, the taller office building could push as high as 700 feet.

    • It generates more life in an area that can use it, conveniently located across the river from the site of Mandeville Place.

    • It kickstarts Penn's eastward expansion in a major way.

    • More importantly, it begins the Center City - University City blending that should have happened years ago. In our lifetime, we will be able to walk from Rittenhouse Square to The Green and not feel like we're traveling from one to the other . . . it'll just be one long neighborhood stroll, with a Stern, a Meier, a Pelli and a Piano to take your scenery upward.
    It's a good day for Philadelphia. (PLUS OH MY GOD THE PHILLIES SWEPT THE METS!)

    SNL.com has a PDF of Brandywine's Cira South plan HERE.

    –B Love