Love, Philly Style


Philly’s iconic LOVE sculpture returned Tuesday after a year-long renovation.  It was welcomed back with a mini-parade through downtown.  Since Tobey and I were in town, we decided to join the welcome parade as it moved down the Ben Franklin Parkway:


Being in the right place at the right time… Tobey had her first television interview!


Finished the day with chocolates from Reading Terminal:



Exploring A Victorian Cemetery After Dark


What better way to experience the Victorian’s fascination with death than to tour Laurel Hill Cemetery at night?

Built in 1836 (and still active), Laurel Hill was the second landscape garden cemetery built in the United States.  Filled with interesting funerary architecture and fascinating stories, the cemetery offers themed tours, theater, hearse shows, photography walks, ghost tours AND evening explorations. Although there are fees to attend events, visiting the cemetery is free.

Philly’s Fantastic Chinatown

img_0340-e1504916762754.jpgFor the past 2 years, Tobey and I have been on a quest to explore the cuisines of  Chinatown.  Although Philadelphia’s Chinatown is just a few blocks long, this has proved never ending (but very enjoyable).  In addition to the diverse cuisines and foods of China (dim sum, hand-drawn noodles, duck, Cantonese, Szechuan, Hong Kong, Fujian), many other Asian cuisines are represented – Burmese, Vietnamese (including banh-mi), Korean, Japanese – plus many trendy and traditional desserts (QQ waffles, Japanese crepes, taro buns, green tea mousse cake).  Just when we start to put a dent in our list, restaurants close and new trends take over.  A few years ago it was soup dumplings, bubble tea, and hand-drawn noodles.  Last year was ramen and rolled ice-cream.  This year, it’s hot pots, Taiwanese fried food and nitrogen-frozen desserts.





Philadelphia’s Waterworks: A Free Museum And Hidden Sculpture Garden


Built in 1815, the waterworks provided water to Center City Philadelphia until 1909.  The steam-powered technology, the gorgeous neoclassical architecture, and the landscaped gardens (one of the largest urban parks in America at the time) made the waterworks a famous 19th century tourist destination – Charles Dickens and Mark Twain were both impressed during (separate) visits to Philadelphia in the mid-1800s.  Originally steam powered, the engines were replaced by much cheaper (and much more primitive) water wheels (later turbines) after an explosion that killed 3 workers.  By the 1890’s the water in the Schuylkill had become so polluted that outbreaks of cholera and typhoid led to closing of the waterworks in 1909.


Today, the original pump house contains a FREE museum with a movie highlighting the history of the waterworks and hands-on exhibits focusing on the water cycle and watersheds.  My favorite is a display of video highlights of animals using the fish ladder, including a turtle, snake and an otter.


WAY off the beaten path (down a small staircase to the left of the Waterworks), hidden down at river-level, is a sculpture garden focusing on the history of the Schuylkill River – from a source of food for the natives Lenape, and resource utilized by colonists, through its emergence as a manufacturing hub during the Industrial Revolution – and its return to health as a fishery and public resource.

Fireflies on the Parkway


The whole family (including grandparents) took a ride in the Firefly pedicabs on the  Benjamin Franklin Parkway:


In celebration of the Parkway’s 100 year anniversary, the Association for Public Art commissioned Chinese artist Cai Guo-Qiang (known for his incredible fireworks displays and gunpowder art) to create a site-specific work.  Nine hundred handcrafted, illuminated lanterns decorate a fleet of 27 pedicabs – which the public can ride in from September 14 to October 8, 2017.

Exploring U-Penn – Art, Architecture, Macarons And An Indian Food Adventure AND The Cutest Little Dog Ever

We explored a new part of town this week – the University of Pennsylvania campus area.  U-Penn was established by Ben Franklin in 1751.  The current campus dates to the Victorian era, and has a great example of Philadelphia architect, Frank Furness’s work – the Fisher Memorial Library:


In addition to the gorgeous library, the building also houses a (free) art museum, where we saw “A View of One’s Own” – photos of Rome by 3 women photographers from the 1910’s, 1950’s and 2000’s:


Walking campus, we saw the cutest little dog:


And my mom’s old dormitory – the fortress-like Hill College House, designed by Finnish-born modernist architect Eero Saarinen (who also designed the Gateway Arch in St. Louis):


Lunch was at Dana Mandi, one of local food critic Craig LaBan’s Best Philly Values – and an experience in itself: walk to the back of the Indian grocery store, go behind a curtain to the seating area, write your order on a scrap of paper and leave it on the counter.  Like magic, delicious, cheap (the parathas were amazing) Indian food comes out on styrofoam trays, served in to-go containers.


No adventure is complete without dessert, so our final stop was the Sugar food truck (38th St. between Walnut & Sansom St.) for Tobey’s favorite – macrons:


Homeless Jesus Statue


Philadelphia joins 75 cities around the world in having a “Homeless Jesus” statue created by artist Timothy Schmalz. Schmalz created the statue as a “constant, perpetual reminder that when we see the least in our society, we should see Jesus.”  Philadelphia’s statue lies on a bench in the 1200 block of Race Street, outside the headquarters of Saint John’s Hospice.

Hamilton And Hammocks


Portrait of Alexander Hamilton hanging in the Portrait Gallery, Independence National Park

Alexander Hamilton – everyone’s favorite revolutionary singing sensation had deep connections with Philadelphia. Many of the events in the musical actually took place in Philadelphia (including the nation’s first sex scandal, his conflicts with Madison & Jefferson over the establishment of a national bank and his term as Secretary of the Treasury).  Thursday’s adventure was taking a walking tour linking songs from the musical to the historic sites where they occurred.

The app. is available to download for $4.99 ( Twenty percent of net proceeds will be donated to the Friends of Independence National Park in support of their efforts to reopen the First National Bank to the public.


The First National Bank – Championed by Hamilton and located across the street from his Treasury Department office.

After learning all things Hamilton, Tobey and I checked out the Spruce Street Harbor Park.  Located right on the Delaware River, the park has hammocks, floating gardens, beautiful lights, and Philly food vendors. We enjoyed a picnic and a nap in our hammock (see the post “Gourmet Picnic Supplies”).


Gourmet Picnic Supplies

When the weather is nice, we love to get picnic supplies from Di Bruno’s.  Although it’s pricey, picnic-size quantities generally only add up to price of a restaurant lunch. What makes it great is the service and selection.  Our first stop is always the cheese counter, where we request 2 cheeses that are unique or seasonal.  The staff is always happy to make suggestions and provide samples.  This week’s choices were Rameker Gouda, a Dutch Gouda with an edible, butter washed rind, and Membrillo Albala, an aged sheep’s milk cheese from Spain.  We complimented with a slice of quince paste and 2 sourdough rolls.  At the salami counter we requested “something spicy” and got 1/4 lb of thinly sliced Saucisson Basque, a French salami with lots of red pepper.  We took our supplies on a long walk and enjoyed them in a hammock at Spruce Street Harbor Park:


Other beautiful picnic spots in the city include the Azalea Gardens by the Art Museum

and the Japanese House in Fairmount Park, especially in the spring when the cherry trees are blooming: