Philly Love Notes Gift Guide

Hello friends and Philly-lovers, Time for the first Philly Love Letters Gift Guide! With some help from you, I put together a completely non-comprehensive list of amazing things being done right here in the city (or right outside). This only scratches the surface of the cool stuff being made here. There are always tons of great markets and small businesses to support (like Amalgam Comics, Philadelphia Independents, Yowie, and Omoi Zakka). And of course, one of the best gifts of all -- donating money, time, Read more

Giving Back 2017

Oh this year. Time to buckle down and do what I can to give back. Like last year, I'll be donating all of the profits from the map sales to local nonprofits from Thanksgiving through Giving Tuesday. That means that your purchase of a map will help to support all of the following organizations: Philadelphia Wooden Boat Factory, Marian Anderson Historical Society, SEAMAAC, Red Paw Relief and Students Run Philly Style (more about the nonprofits below). Last year we raised Read more

#whyilovephillyarts Launches

It's official, the first #whyilovephillyarts, featuring Sean Martorana, is now live! Check out the prints below and purchase one of the 30 limited edition prints online. This is the first collaboration that aims to build a body of Philly-specific art across a variety of mediums for people to purchase with 100% of the profits going to the artist (along with a full commissions and licensing Read more

Fishtown / Kensington

Love Note #91: Ricardo Martino loves Las Parcelas Garden, a small piece of heaven up in Kensington

Ricardo Martino
Favorite Spot: Las Parcelas Garden in Norris Square.
Neighborhood: The gardens are located in the Norris Square community in West Kensington. An area rich in history and culture.
Address: The garden is located on Palethorpe street between Susquehanna and York streets. 2240 Palethorp St.

I am: I am currently the after school enrichment coordinator at Edison High school. I have been working for the last 17 years to empower youth to find their own direction. We do learning projects, create presentations and offer students a chance to explore opportunities outside their own possibilities (i.e. taking city youth on an outdoor camping trip)
Years in Philly: I have spent all my life in Philadelphia, going from Fairmount to North Philadelphia and now to the Northeast.

Current home: The Rhawnhurst section of Northeast Philadelphia.

My love note: Las Parcelas Gardens is an active gathering place for the Norris Square community and beyond. The garden was initiated by two activist Hispanic women combatting crime and drugs in the city. Both Tomasita Romero and Iris Brown have faced these challenges head on to transform the entire neighborhood. Overseen by the Norris Square Neighborhood Project and supported by the PA Horticulture Society and their urban greening projects, the space provides a green space for neighbors to grow their own vegetables. Las Parcelas literally means parcels of land. 

The garden/farm has an outdoors cook-stove, a spitfire roasting pit and a replica of a rural Puerto Rican wooden house circa 1940 with museum-like pieces inside. I was staff and then a board member of NSNP. I have been to many celebrations and service projects in the gardens. Even though I am no longer directly involved I go back every chance I get. 

Posted on by Emma Fried-Cassorla in Fishtown / Kensington 2 Comments

Love Note #54: Sandy Salzman writes a love note about people working together to get things done (Penn Treaty Park in Fishtown)

Sandy Salzman
Favorite Spot: Penn Treaty Park
Neighborhood: Delaware Riverfront
Address: Delaware and Columbia Avenues

I am: Lifelong resident and Executive Director for New Kensington Community Development Corporation.
Years in Philly: My whole life!
Current Home: Fishtown

My love note: This is a “love note” about people working together to get things done. Penn Treaty Park, as it stands today, is a beloved community asset where people can enjoy the riverfront whether it’s a peaceful morning jog or live music and fireworks on a summer night. It’s home to annual festivals like RiverCity and Shadfest, with special events like outdoor movies and family game nights as well.

But the park wouldn’t be what it is today without hard work and dedication over more than 60 years. At that time, the park wasn’t yet recognized for its historic significance. Through the years, those who held the park dear would work tirelessly to raise awareness.

Today there are still individuals who take a special interest in the park, and there is an organized Friends of Penn Treaty Park and also a Penn Treaty Museum. The Historic Commission recently added the park to the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places. Neighbors and visitors alike treasure the park as a connection to the river and to the city’s history.

This is a love note about pulling together. It’s about change that takes decades. And it’s about all of those people who work hard for what they believe in, even when the “thank you”s don’t come as often as maybe they should.

Posted on by Emma Fried-Cassorla in Delaware River, Fishtown / Kensington 1 Comment

Love Note #43: Even beer writer Ryan Hudak has his favorites — Memphis Taproom

Ryan Hudak
Favorite Spot: Memphis Taproom
Neighborhood: Fishtown

Address: 2331 E. Cumberland St.

I am: I’m 30, happily married, and I write about beer for my blog, In Search of Beer.
Years in Philly: 5
Current Home: We are renting a home in Fishtown and currently in the midst of searching for a place to buy in the same neighborhood.

My love note: As a local beer writer, Fishtown is perfect for me. I live within walking distance of five great beer bars and, if you get a little more liberal with walking distance, I can make many more. Even with all the selection at my fingertips, though, I find myself returning to the same place on a regular basis: Memphis Taproom. Not only is their tap list always interesting, but their bottle list is out of this world. And they don’t just rely on their great beer, but they also deliver on one of my other favorites: great food. Their upscale pub food always does the trick for me. Whether it’s a longtime favorite like fish and chips, or something completely surprising (smoked coconut makes a very convincing substitute for bacon), and from the smoky, meaty Port Richmond Platter to the fried pickles that my wife and I insist every out-of-town visitor try, there’s never a bad meal at Memphis and there’s always a quality beer to help it along. Throw in owner Brendan, who clearly loves what he’s doing, and Keith, my favorite bartender in the city, and there is no place I’d rather be. It also helps that about 90% of the time I go there, I can always count on running into a friend.

In the summer months, their beer garden is a must-visit. While it doesn’t offer the same selection as inside the bar, the stationary food truck with their gourmet hotdogs and canned craft beers make sitting outside under the strands of lights with a cool breeze the perfect summer moment. And after that moment is over, you can go back inside and get some fried pickles.

Posted on by Emma Fried-Cassorla in Fishtown / Kensington 1 Comment

Biking underneath the El

I biked underneath the El for the first time earlier this month.  Having the subway rumble overhead was strangely exhilarating. When I go up to Fishtown now, I always bike along Front St.  Anyone else love this?

Posted on by Emma Fried-Cassorla in Fishtown / Kensington 3 Comments

Love Note #19: Penn Treaty Park

Alex B.

Favorite Spot: Penn Treaty Park
Neighborhood: Fishtown
Address: 1199 N Delaware Ave

I am: A city lover and a nature lover
Years in Philly: 5
Current Home: 10th and Pine

My love note: As if in fear of being lapped up by the million tongues of the mighty Delaware, Philadelphia keeps its rivers at bay.  Stone walls rise from the rivers and old piers decay, severed from the city bustle by our local stretch of the Eisenhower interstate highway system.  But a little notch of green in Fishtown cuts through these defenses, where a smokestack giant lumbers upriver and a casino sprawls across its parking lot blanket downriver.  You may notice as you walk towards the river at Penn Treaty Park that nothing stops you from walking on, as you head down onto the riprap, till the water laps your feet.  Sit there at sunset or after the sun has fallen below the horizon, and it’s another world completely.  The sounds and smells of the river seem oceanic.  The slow boats, the trees on Pettys Island, the lights on the graceful Ben Franklin Bridge, and a wide expanse of the night sky… it’s a place to be swept away by greater forces.

Posted on by Emma Fried-Cassorla in Fishtown / Kensington Leave a comment

Love Note #15: Reach Sporting Goods Factory

Christopher Wink (,

Favorite spot: Reach Sporting Goods Factory

Neighborhood: Fishtown
Address: 1701-1707 Tulip Street, 1721-1731 Tulip Street, 1714-1718 Memphis Street

I am: Co-founder of local technology news site Technically Philly
Years in Philly: First came in summer 2004 for Temple University, became permanent resident summer 2006.
Current Home:  Fishtown

My love note: I love Fishtown because its roots are coiled and twisted and immovable. I have owned my home for not quite three years and have only been living in Philadelphia since 2004. For my neighbors who talk about their time in Fishtown through generations, my months status is paltry. When I ride my bicycle or walk past the Reach factory on Palmer Street, across a parking lot from the swanky Memphis Flats, I am reminded of what is great, a rootedness that is also facing a kind of experiment of change, of trying to have new blood and old families coexist and make a better home together. I am excited to be a part of that.

(Top photo by Chris Wink)

Posted on by Emma Fried-Cassorla in Fishtown / Kensington 2 Comments

Love Note #11: Jonathan Levin’s love note to Port Richmond’s Polish restaurants

Jonathan Levin
Favorite Spot: Syrenka and Staropolska
Neighborhood: Port Richmond
Address: 3173 Richmond St and 3150 Richmond St

I am: music, food, hiking enthusiast
Years in Philly: 1.5
Current Home: West Philadelphia

Read more

Posted on by Emma Fried-Cassorla in Fishtown / Kensington Leave a comment