“Phony Urbanism”

I love that Philadelphia is so bike- and pedestrian-friendly. Like many historic areas, its walkability adds to its value. Should not, then, preservationists be advocating for the increased accessibility of Dumbo and Vinegar Hill in Brooklyn? Andrew Dolkart, director of Columbia’s HP program, said in a NY Times article that replacing the weathered cobble stones with machine-cut ones is “phony urbanism.” But, as Laura Roumanos, an executive producer at a gallery in Dumbo, noted, the cobblestones have not been there forever, and people complained when they replaced gravel and stone. I think it is important to retain the character of the area and not simply introduce pavement, but isn’t advocating to maintain the cobblestones as they are the preservation of phony-urbanism itself?

Parks and Rec

Last night PennPraxis and the Department of Parks and Recreation unveiled More Park, Less Way: An Action Plan to Increase Urban Vibrancy on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. While preservationists have always advocated for walk-ability and engaging public spaces, it’s great to see these elements introduced to an underutilized area of Center City. With free yoga, new food trucks and more green spaces, I’m looking forward to the results! Check out coverage of the plan from PlanPhilly here.

Heritage for All

At the beginning of the semester I learned how different immigrant groups connected themselves to the symbolism of Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell throughout the past 250 years. Today is no exception. On the first night of Hanukkah, I am glad to remember that, as Hilary Leila Krieger wrote in the NY Times today, it is “an amazing story, resonant with America’s own founding, that offers powerful lessons about standing up for one’s convictions and challenging those in power.” (Read more here.)

Happy Hanukkah! Now back to studying…

City of Ice Cream Love

In celebration of completing my first grad school paper, I treated myself to some of the best ice cream in town. While I would suggest first time visitors to Philly should try Franklin’s Fountain, I don’t often find myself in Old City. Instead, I went to Scoop DeVille. Don’t let the bright pink walls throw you off, this ice cream is not just for little girls. With every topping imaginable to swirl into your ice cream of choice, you can create any variety of flavors your heart desires. This week I tried their pumpkin purée and chocolate covered pretzels in vanilla yogurt — perfect for the fall! I also must add that there is a wonderful gelateria chain here, called Capogiro, which has very unique flavors and great texture. In fact, National Geographic named it one of the top ten places to eat ice cream in the world!

Franklin’s Fountain. Note the beautiful pulley system the fans use!

Scoop DeVille

Make It Happen

Last night I explored South Philly, or at least checked off a few culinary must-haves. The second year HSPV students hosted a mixer for the first-year’s at Ray’s Happy Birthday Bar, which is conveniently located next to two of the most well-known cheesesteak rivals: Pat’s and Geno’s. As a vegetarian, I enlisted my roommate to test them out. While Geno’s is quite flashy, Pat’s has a more authentic atmosphere, and so she decided to try theirs first. The results: she never knew a cheesesteak could taste so good (she had previously been to Jim’s), and so the search stopped there. Perhaps I will make this a series and ask her to try all the others!

Geno’s

Pat’s

Yum!

Onto dessert! Conveniently located next door is Rim Cafe — also known as chocolate heaven. Want espresso? Cannolis? Crepes? Well, you’re going to have to settle for all of these with the special touch of Rene, the French owner who makes chocolate blocks filled with fruits, nuts and spices and grates them over all of his menu items. You also have never had real hot chocolate until you’ve had the Volcano — Rene fills the glasses with home-made whipped cream first, so that when he adds the hot chocolate, the cream “lava” flows over. Don’t worry, he’ll add the chocolate blocks to these too, all the while saying the café motto: “Make it happen!”

Rene at Rim Cafe