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

Love Note #238: The Art Museum steps bring out the tourist in a Philadelphian

Sunny Morgan
Favorite Spot: Rocky Steps at the Philadelphia Museum of Art
Neighborhood: Art Museum
Address: 2600 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy, Philadelphia, PA 19130

I Am: High School senior with a passion for writing and other artsy things
Years in Philly: 17 (all my life)
Current Home: West Philly

Sunny-Morgan-Art-Museum-Steps-3 Read more

Posted on by Emma Fried-Cassorla in Art Museum 5 Comments

Love Note #237: Home is at the Spiral Bookcase

Dana Dabek
Favorite Spot: The Spiral Bookcase
Address: 112 Cotton Street, Philadelphia, PA 19127
Neighborhood: Manayunk

I Am: A nonprofit fundraiser/activist making a life in Manayunk.
Years in Philly: 2
Current Home: Manayunk

IMG_1665 Read more

Posted on by Emma Fried-Cassorla in Manayunk 1 Comment


I’ll admit that I’m a huge sucker for design blogs and websites, especially Design Sponge, which seems to be the mother of all design blogs. I was recently listening to their podcast series called After the Jump, specifically Episode 91 on How to Create Content.

I’ve always struggled with adding “extras” to the blog (especially as I think about redesigning the site) in part because I’m a one-woman operation, and also because I’m not sure what would complement the love notes. I have to admit though that the podcast was pretty inspiring. In it, Grace Bonney, the editor of Design Sponge, goes through a simple list of how to create content:

BIG 10 CATEGORY OF POSTS (my thoughts for Philly Love Notes in parentheses):
1. How-to or Instructional posts (How to navigate the underground concourse, How to properly take home the other half of a hoagie, etc.)
2. Informational/History/Background (What is the history of some of the love note sites)
3. Reviews (New restaurants, shows, built environment — not really my cup of tea, but there are tons of great reviewers in the city)
4. List of Resources (Skyline views, best place to buy tokens when you don’t have cash, where to get Philly news, etc.)
5. Interviews (Write out some of the love note meetings)
6. Visual Tours or Photo Essays (Already got this one mostly covered with the love notes themselves, but maybe it could also include tours of places without love notes)
7. Roundups or Best-ofs (Best coffee shops to cowork in, best streets to run on, you get the idea)
8. Commentary on Current Trends (Not so sure about this one)
9. Link Lists (Great things happening in Philly, interesting articles, beautiful photos, cool Philly-made items — I’ve always imagined this as a bi-weekly email)
10. Podcasts or videos (No)

1. Day in the Life (Sort of a Humans of NY for Philly)
2. Guest Posts (Tons of great bloggers in Philly. Would love to see how they would approach love notes)
3. Personal/Brand Manifesto (I do this every Valentine’s Day plus a couple throughout the year)
4. Favorite Place/Person/Thing (See link list — expand upon some of those mentions)
5. Sharing Your Tools (Hmmm… not so sure I have tools. It’s pretty scattershot)
6. Sharing Failures and Successes (That I can do)

Thinking about content this way opens up a whole new realm of possibilities for the site. The questions are:
Do these additions detract from the love notes?
Am I actually a trusted source for Philly-related things?
How do I link up with people who could do many of these posts better than I could (reviews, how-tos, etc.)?
How do you design a site to incorporate this all?
Is there even time?
Does anyone care?

Thoughts? Ideas? Suggestions about what you’d like to see? I would love some feedback.

Posted on by Emma Fried-Cassorla in Uncategorized 5 Comments

Love Note #: 236 A house is not a home unless you live on Judson Street

Rachel Isenberg
Favorite Spot: Judson Street between Aspen and Brown
Neighborhood: Fairmount

I Am: A neighbor, friend, tennis coach, mentor, language instructor, life adventurer. No order – all in one 🙂
Years in Philly: 6
Current neighborhood: Fairmount

Rachel-Isenberg-Judson-St-4 Read more

Posted on by Emma Fried-Cassorla in Fairmount 19 Comments

Love Note #235: How to turn a country girl into a city girl

Lindsay V.
Favorite Spot/Neighborhood/Address: Old City

I Am: a part time student, full time employee.
Years in Philly: 3
Current Home: Havertown, PA

christ-church Read more

Posted on by Emma Fried-Cassorla in Old City 1 Comment

Love Note #234: A reminder that every day is a chance to enjoy the hell out of life

Mike Jackson
Favorite Spot: Not really a spot. Even better. The Phillie Phanatic

I Am:
Years in Philly: I’ve lived in Philadelphia since 2009 (but was here for college, and my family is from Mayfair)
Current Home: Fairmount

Mike-Jackson-Phillie-Phanatic-1 Read more

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Love Note #233: Patience learned by working for the Central Delaware River Waterfront

Karen Thompson
Favorite Spot: The Delaware River, but particularly the Wood Street steps as a reminder of the past and Race Street Pier as an example of the future
Neighborhood: Delaware River Waterfront

I am: a Texan who found herself head over heels in love with Philadelphia, and an urban planner working on the Central Delaware River.
Years in Philly: a little more than 5

Karen-thompson-waterfront-4 Read more

Posted on by Emma Fried-Cassorla in Delaware River, Old City Leave a comment

2015. A new year, a new blog design

As usual, I seem to have trailed off in posting Philly love notes because I’ve gotten side tracked. Last time it was opening Spruce Street Harbor Park, this time it was map making at NextFab and opening Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest. Remaining committed to the blog has been difficult, and I’m hoping that a refresh in its look and content will help me to reengage.

Philly skyline cropped

I seem to work in a oddly convoluted, circular fashion. I started doing the maps because they were fun, and I needed a side project to keep me busy after moving into my own place (I have my own studio in my apartment in South Philly!). I’ve always been on the fence about how to raise money for the blog — never feeling quite right about asking people for money because they were already providing invaluable content. So selling maps seemed like a natural fit. I’d put them up on Etsy, they’d be Philly focused, and I’d raise money needed to redo the site. I’ve always felt like the design of the site never quite did the love notes justice. It was also in part coded by my ex, and I’d really like to remove that. So map making -> blog redesign.


But, I ended up running into a similar problem. I loved what I was producing, but the packaging wasn’t so great. So now map making -> brand redesign and packaging. Luckily, I teamed up with an amazing Philly designer and we came up with the packaging below. Now that that’s out of the way, I can return to focusing on redesigning the site to accommodate new content and all of the love notes that I’ve unintentionally backlogged.


I’ll be back to posting once a week, hopefully with some extra content sprinkled here and there. I’m looking to have the site redesigned by the spring, so stay tuned. And as always, thanks for continuing to read the love notes, follow along on social media, buy maps and submit love notes.

Happy 2015! Looking forward to seeing what the year has to bring.


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Who do you love in Philly?

One of the best parts of this whole mapmaking endeavor is that I can occasionally decide, on a whim, to give one or two away (my friends also all know what they’re getting for every wedding, baby shower, housewarming, etc.).

I was in a particularly bad mood last night, so I put out a question to the Internet(s): Who makes you love Philly? I was essentially bribing strangers to make me feel better with the promise of a possible papercut map, but the answers turned out to be super sweet, so I wanted to share them here.

I’m going to keep this one going for a little bit, so if you want to spread some love to a Philly friend via social media, tweet at me (@phillylovenotes) or post on the Instagram photo and tag that special person.

Read more

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Map Update! New Maps Added!

I just added two new maps to the Etsy store today. 8×10″ West Philly and the big 24×36″ custom woodcuts are now up for sale. I’ll be taking orders for the next couple of weeks so that everything is cut and delivered by the holidays.

Huge Philly Woodcut


West Philly


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