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

Ben Franklin Parkway

Love Note #276: Remember the fountain that froze?

Bert Archer
Favorite Spot: Swann Memorial Fountain
Neighborhood: Center City
Address: Logan Square, Philadelphia, PA 19103

I Am: A filmmaker who used to be a mechanical engineer who once tried to be a comedian.
Years in Philly: 7 in Northern Liberties; 5 at Drexel U
Current Home: Las Vegas NV

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Posted on by Emma Fried-Cassorla in Center City Leave a comment

Love Note #172: Campus Philly intern Robin Sawla loves the sculptures on the Ben Franklin Parkway

Editor’s note: The interns of Campus Philly share their most loved Philly spots and experiences as students in the City of Brotherly Love.

Robin Sawla, Drexel University
Favorite Spot: Sculptures on the Parkway
Neighborhood: Art Museum Area

I am: A full time marketing student in Philadelphia, an avid lover of travel, food, art, and film.
Years in Philly: 5
Current Home: University City


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From the archives: As Meredith Edlow says, “Relax, turn your mind off and float over to the Ben Franklin Parkway”

Meredith Edlow
Favorite Spot: The Ben Franklin Pkwy area (Museum mile, Swann Fountain, Rodin Museum- garden with the Gates of Hell).
Neighborhood: Museum District
Address: 2154 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, PA 19130

I am: A photographer, an artist, music lover and act as Visual Assets Manager for the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation or GPTMC. We do, Uwishunu, Philly 360°® and Philly Homegrown® . I have the pleasure of getting to photograph some great attractions and institutions in the city. Those institutions are in line with my personal interests which is a win win for me. Right now our organization has launched the With Art Philadelphia campaign that highlights the visual arts scene in Philly. I’m so proud that the city is taking the time to highlight a very important, very vibrant visual arts scene here.
Years in Philly: 13yrs.
Current Home: GHO/Graduate Hospital/Gray’s Ferry


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Love Note #170: Judi Rogers’ forty-year love affair with the Ben Franklin Pkwy

Judi Rogers
Favorite Spot: Ben Franklin Parkway
Neighborhood: Museum District

I am: A S. Jersey girl who works for a Philadelphia non-profit arts/cultural organization.
Years in Philly: 50+ in area


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Love Note #149 A love story that began—as many great ones have—in secret (by Natanya DiBona)

Natanya DiBona
Favorite Spot: Logan Circle
Neighborhood: Center City
Address: 19th St. and Ben Franklin Parkway

I am: The daughter of parents who both grew up in South Philadelphia in a time when, as my mom said, you knew you would marry someone within a six block radius. I was raised in the suburbs, but valued my trips with my grandparents to the Italian Market and to Penn’s Landing to watch fireworks. We frequently visited Philadelphia on trips to the Art Museum, the Academy of Music and Saturday morning classes at The Franklin Institute. I guess with this childhood, my love note really comes as no great surprise.
Current Home: I live in Chadds Ford and work in Philadelphia.


(B. Krist for GPTMC)

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Posted on by Emma Fried-Cassorla in Center City 3 Comments

Love Note #133: What makes biking so cathartic? Find out Erika Owens’ answer

Erika Owens
Favorite Spot: Biking 18th Street
Neighborhood: primarily South Philly/Point Breeze
Address: Passyunk to the Parkway

I am: Over-analytic, coffee-shop-hopping homebody techie/journalist/organizer.
Years in Philly: 7
Current Home: Point Breeze/not Newbold


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Love Note #104: Nathaniel Popkin choose not a place, but the ubiquitous American sycamore tree

Nathaniel Popkin
Favorite Object: Philly’s Sycamore Trees
Neighborhood: All over

I am: Author of two books on the urban experience, I am co-editor of the Hidden City Daily and senior writer of the film project “Philadelphia: The Great Experiment.”
Years in Philly: 25
Current Home: Bella Vista

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Love Note #89: Kristina Jenkins loves the history and ethereal atmosphere of the Cloisters at the Philadelphia Museum of Art

Kristina Jenkins
Favorite Spot: The Cloisters at the Philadelphia Museum of Art 
Neighborhood: Fairmount/Parkway Museum District
Address: 2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway

I am: As the editor of Where Philadelphia magazine, I’m a tenacious cheerleader for all things Philly-centric and devoted to providing my visitor-readers with a uniquely local experience. Personally, I am known for being a fan of the finer things in life—particularly food, drink, art and fashion.
Years in Philly: I spent my childhood in the Philadelphia suburbs, and moved back to live in Center City two years ago.
Current home: Washington Square West

My love note: I don’t remember the first time I visited the Philadelphia Museum of Art, but my mother tells me I was a wee thing of just three or four. My second visit to the great bastion of Philadelphia art at age 14 or so was much more memorable, however, and the feeling of youth is wrapped up in why I love those hallowed halls, specifically the medieval “Cloister with Elements from the Abbey of Saint-Genis-des-Fontaines.” I was on a school field trip, surrounded by friends and teachers, but somehow I ended up wandering into the Cloister alone. Experiencing that history and ethereal atmosphere all by myself altered my little existence somehow, and opened me up to the unexplainable joys great cultural experiences can impart. The exhibit itself is fairly simple—there are no sweeping landscapes, lifelike Madonnas or jarring canvases—just ancient marble transported from southwestern France and reconstructed here in Philly. But with the water making music from the fountain in the center of the room, the ceiling painted not in frescoes, but to resemble the sky, the exhibit transports. I love the space not only for the gorgeous ancient architecture, but also for the tranquil otherworldly atmosphere imbued the room. It might be ironic that one of my most beloved spots in Philadelphia takes me beyond the city, but perhaps it’s that transformative spirit that makes that room so special. No matter how many times I visit the Museum, which I’m fortunate to say is fairly often thanks to my line of work, each time I’m able to visit the Cloisters the feeling of awe returns, undiluted.

Posted on by Emma Fried-Cassorla in Art Museum 1 Comment

Love Note #74: Sam Katz loves the Baldwin locomotive at the Franklin Institute

Sam Katz
Favorite Spot: The Baldwin Locomotive Display at the Franklin Institute
Neighborhood: The Parkway/Logan Square
Address: 20th and Ben Franklin Parkway

I am: A Philly civic, political and business guy now producing the documentary film on the History of Philadelphia
Years you have spent in Philly: 62
Current home: W. Mt. Airy

My love note: The Baldwin Locomotive is a great symbol of the technological and manufacturing prowess and power of 19th and early 20th century Philadelphia. It is housed in a center of science that beams a bright light on the potential that Philadelphia can yet realize.

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Love Note #61: Alison loves the hidden badassery of Duchamp’s Étant donnés at the Philadelphia Museum of Art

Alison Dell
Favorite Spot: Duchamp’s Étant donnés (Given: 1 The Waterfall, 2. The Illuminating Gas, French: Étant donnés: 1° la chute d’eau / 2° le gaz d’éclairage) in the Philadelphia Museum of Art
Neighborhood: Art Museum
Address: 2600 Ben Franklin Parkway

I am: Scientist, Artist, Sometimes writer about science and art, Distractable Weirdo, SlowSee-er
Years in Philly: Seven(!)
Current Home: Northern Liberties

My love note: Probably what I love about this piece is its hidden badassery. Duchamp, obviously was a complete badass, and he gave up the art world (somehow convincing everyone he had devoted his life to chess), to work on Étant donnés. He worked on it in semi-secret, maintaining the chess charade, for decades, (1946-66), and it wasn’t unveiled until after his death.

So it is a secret piece and he made it for itself, and never had to confront a critical reception to it, though he did make it to be on display at the PMA. And obviously, looking at it — you realize that it’s the work of someone completely obsessed. There is something weirdly tangible about that kind of stalkery intense love produced in making something while obsessed by it and this piece, which I just called ” fucking-crazy-secret-naked-dead-waterfall” when I first saw it — well Étant donnés totally has it. 

I stumbled on it in 2005. I knew about it, but somehow didn’t realize it was at the PMA till my mom (my mom! of all people!) took me into this secret back room in the Duchamp section (thanks to Anne d’Harnoncourt the museum has one of the best Duchamp collections in the world) and pointed me to this mysterious door with strange peepholes…and…well, just total weirdness. One person at a time has to peep through the door, and of course you are instantly trapped in this bonkers voyeuristic scene. Okay, so there’s the mysterious Laura Palmer-y nude (there is a rip near her belly btw, check it out, poor thing), but the whole tableau is so weirdly composed and unbent at the same time: the landscape, the perfect, glitttery waterfall, the upraised lantern. It’s so still, but it just seems like it’s going to degenerate into chaos at any minute. The whole scene is full of untold stories. I don’t know what to say. It’s strange and brilliant, and secret, and it was made for here. This thing is a fucking treasure! I love you, Étant donnés

p.s. the world should know that the PMA’s upcoming Dancing Around the Bride, celebrating Duchamp’s influence on John Cage, Merce Cunnungham, Jasper Johns and Robert Rauchenberg is going to be pretty great. It opens October 30th.
Posted on by Emma Fried-Cassorla in Art Museum 2 Comments