15 November 09: Sunday morning coming down
Wishin' lord that I was stoned.
The Philadelphia demolition community added another large notch to its bedpost this morning -- a large shaft, if you will -- when
they brought down the Penn Coach Boiler House Chimney with one loud boom. Known to most in its last days as the Drexel Shaft, it
was built by the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1929 and was either 323' or 400' tall, depending on whether you read Inga Saffron's
column or talked to the guy at Drexel University's facilities team I did a couple years ago.
Whatever the case, it was big, and it was not your typical implosion. The controlled demolition, by Controlled Demolition Inc
(what better company to do it?), took a single blast to undermine the stack and send it falling exactly where they wanted it,
between Cira Centre, the active Septa railroad lines, the CSX high line, the Amtrak parking garage and all the catenary
CDoc's epitaph to Shaft (can you dig it?) is HERE and is excellent, and it tells of PRR's failed plans to built our own little Battersea on the Schuylkill.
The PRR chimney is but a memory, and soon too will Philly Skyline be. I'll be back in this space here in the next week or so to
doff my cap and sign off all proper like.
October-November 2009: LET'S GO PHILLIES
Hi everyone. Lest there be some sort of confusion, I'd like to use this moment to remind the folks who missed it that Philly Skyline has,
indeed, been put on the shelf. Game's over, shop's closed, headin' west.
To everyone who has sent their sentiments and regards, thank you kindly, and thanks for the support over the years. If you missed the post explaining this
(that's been further down on the homepage since September 1), please scroll down or click HERE.
There are a few more things that I'd like to have on the site -- tidy it up for perpetual preservation as an archive -- before it's officially The End, but
I can't make any guarantees. Maybe so, maybe not.
Above all else this time of year, let's come together with that most important sentiment: LET'S GO PHILLIES!
1 September 09: Waymore Blues, or,
After the Storm
Well I woke up this morning, it was drizzlin' rain, around the curve come a passenger train . . .
Though I grew up here in the Keystone State, the part I called home for my first 24 years was on the western end. Well, central really, but for
Philadelphia's purposes, anything west of King Of Prussia is western Pennsylvania, and my hometown Tyrone is in the larger Pittsburgh-Appalachian media
market, so we all grew up rooting on the Steelers and Penguins and Pirates and not caring much for the Eagles and Flyers and Phillies. Western
Pennsylvanians, especially those who haven't spent much time there, grow up despising Philadelphia as a corrupt, crime ridden, state draining cesspool
that may as well be in New Jersey -- just like Philadelphians grow up thinking everyone in Pennsyltucky is a fiddle playin', bible thumpin' hayseed.
(This is a broad brush, obviously.)
It wasn't until the summer of 2000 that Philadelphia made sense to me. I'd been here a few times before that, but nothing that would make it seem like a
place I'd go for much more than a concert or laser Floyd, let alone actually moving here to live. The summer previous, '99, I rode Greyhound for 30 days,
from Shippensburg to Vancouver and LA and all points between. That same winter, amidst the millennium madness, I rode Amtrak for 30 days, from Tyrone to
the Everglades, out to San Antone and up to Montréal and back, by way of 30th Street Station, which impressed me as the greatest of all train
stations in the US. (I still believe that.) In summer 2000, after college and trying to figure things out, I decided I'd do some more traveling. Memphis,
DC, Chicago, California and the places between that Greyhound and drivers willing to pick up a hitcher would go. And for one week, Philadelphia.
I've written a number of times about how Summer 2000 changed my perspective. In the course of seven days in Philly, I spent time with my unlicensed tour
guide friends Bekka and Susan, Jared and Hethre, Steve and Afee, Angelia and Moira, and especially Mark and Jen, and by extension Derek and Shai and
Kristy and Eve and Doug. I'm still friends with them all. I came to Philly to get out of Tyrone for a little bit, and wound up seeing three concerts at
the E Centre, riding the ferry to get there . . . we visited the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Rodin Museum and walked Kelly Drive . . . we went to
Atlantic City on a whim, saw the ocean and actually won some money, which at the time I had very little of . . . we had breakfast in Chestnut Hill and
hiked in the Wissahickon . . . we drank at Sugar Mom's and on South Street and went to Turkey Tuesday at Silk City . . . we got cheesesteaks at
Dalessandro's . . . we blazed one and threw an aerobie on the Parkway, interrupting a Little League game in the process and laughing hysterically about
it . . . and we hiked these Center City streets, from the Liberty Bell to Fitler Square, to the top of City Hall, with a respite in Rittenhouse Square
and a recharge at Crimson Moon (RIP).
In Summer 2000, I was in full travel mode. I'd just finished at Shippensburg, where for the last two years there I wrote a travel column. Philadelphia was
one of the many places I'd hit in my travels over the course of 12 traveling months, but it was the one that stuck.
I was travelin' when I met her now I'm travelin' again. (Waylon.)
In summer 2009, I was in full travel mode. I'd just finished publishing a "farewell to version 2 of Philly Skyline, version 3 will launch when I return".
But a funny thing happened on the way to 3.0 . . . I got bit by the bug. (Well several, if you count the fleas from a motel in Nebraska and the mosquitoes
from Yellowstone and Washington state.) Not just the travel bug, but the great big Western Bug. Summer 2009 changed my perspective . . . again.
I swear to Nutter, I didn't set off on my summer road trip to, as a friend called Inga suggested before I left, find a new place to lay my laptop. But
that's kinda sorta really what happened.
Maybe traveling is like riding a bike. The love of it comes back so fast when you're out, and though you love your home dearly, finding a new one on
the way isn't such a dirty thing. When you're Out West, it's easy to fall under the spell of Out West. The longer I was there, the longer I wanted to stay
and see and do and live Out West.
So uh . . . I guess it's with a significant pang of sadness that I'm announcing here that the Philly Skyline Version 3.0 I'd long promised is not going to
happen. My energy and focus have, unintentionally, shifted. This version of the web site will remain as an archive, and there are still a few loose ends
that absolutely must be tied up before I pack my conestoga wagon and hitch up the oxen. Popkin's got something to say about The End, as well. It won't be
the everyday we're used to, but there are a few more posts and features to go before I turn out the lights.
Welp . . . there it is. It's not you, Philadelphia, it's me. Truly. It is what it is and we'll keep on keepin' on with memories of the good times in our
back pockets until we meet again. I'm already looking forward to it.
Robert Bradley Maule
Proud Philadelphian, 2000-2009.
PS: LET'S GO PHILS!