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 #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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Posted on by Emma Fried-Cassorla in South Philly Leave a comment

Love Note #81: Zach Subar finds his peace and quiet at the intersection of Fountain Green Drive and Mt. Pleasant Drive

Zach Subar

Favorite Place: Fairmount Park at Fountain Green Drive and Mt. Pleasant Drive (near Smith Memorial Playground)

Neighborhood: Fairmount Park near Brewerytown

Address: Fountain Green Drive and Mt. Pleasant Drive
I am: Non-Philly-native journalist who covers Northwest Philadelphia and edits the news website Mt. Airy Patch; his love for the city has snuck up on him.
Years in Philly: Two years in Philly.

Current home: I live in Fairmount.

My love note: Kelly Drive, rightfully, gets a lot of pedestrian traffic. It has a well maintained bike path, runs right into Center City and has river views to boot. But, it can easily feel crowded on a particularly nice day. So when I want a break from pounding the pavement on the well-worn path, either by foot or by bike, I make a right on Fountain Green Drive, head uphill and enter a world of peace and quiet.

The area is populated by people playing softball and having massive cookouts on sunny summer weekends. But that’s not when I love it the most, although there is a certain comfort to be had in the voices that echo around the sprawling fields during those times. No, it’s my favorite on a chilly-but-not-too-cold afternoon or evening, when I can peel off from the Kelly Drive crowds and instantly be transported to a place that feels like my own little secret; where I can lie under a tree for hours or walk or run around like I’m removed from pretty much everything. 

Smith Memorial Playground, a frisbee golf course and 33rd Street are all pretty close by, as is, of course, Kelly Drive. However, none of that takes away from the fact that, every time I get to the top of Fountain Green, I feel like an ancient explorer who’s discovered something new and can hardly believe his good fortune.

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

Love Note #77: Biking Oregon Ave at Midnight (Albert Yee)

Albert Yee
Favorite Spot: Oregon Ave at midnight, on a bike
Address: Oregon Ave between Columbus Blvd and 25th St
Neighborhood: South Philly

I am: I take pics
Years in Philly: 8
Current Home: Italian Market

My love note: I like to bike in town. It’s a great biking town. I liked it before there were bike lanes and I’m happy that more people have discovered biking since. But it gets congested in town and the drivers are fucking crazy whether they be locals, SEPTA drivers or visitors unaccustomed to driving with 1.5 million people around (many of which are on two wheels). While I do get around town a lot on two wheels during daylight hours, Philly shines after dark. 

I like to take long bike rides, over 15 miles, through town after midnight. I put on a bright shirt and make sure my blinker has a nice charge for the hour-plus ride. Recently I’ve discovered the joy that is Oregon Ave at night. It’s a six mile loop from Columbus Blvd to 25 St. East of Broad St, and it’s fairly newly paved which is wonderful. West of Broad St isn’t the worst street in town, but it’s far from the best. There are few cars on the road to deal with so I can pedal hard for a couple loops in peace. I like to finish up my rides with a trip up to the Philadelphia Museum of Art for a nice view. There’s always a little crowd of people there with the same idea after midnight. The sprint from the Museum to City Hall is quick and fun, but the calming Oregon Ave loop is grand.

(photo by Damon Landry)
Posted on by Emma Fried-Cassorla in South Philly 2 Comments

Love Note #67: Jill Sybesma loves a particular shady hilltop in Pennypack Park in Fox Chase

Jill Sybesma

Favorite Spot: a shaded hilltop in Pennypack Park in Fox Chase
Neighborhood: Fox Chase
Address: Pennypack Park

I am: Part city chick, part burb girl, and major geek at the Academy of Natural Sciences trying to bring in more geeks
Years in Philly: Born and raised in Montgomery County just a block from the Philly county line
Current Home: Fox Chase section of Philly


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Posted on by Emma Fried-Cassorla in Northeast 1 Comment

Love note #47: Thomas Choinacky discovers the joys of biking along the Schuykill River Trail

Thomas Choinacky
Favorite Spot: Riding my bike along the Schuylkill River Trail
Neighborhood: Along the east side of the Schuylkill into Wissahickon Park
Address: The trail

I am: A performing artist who enjoys ringing the squirrel bell on my bicycle.
Years in Philly: 5 years
Current Home: South Philly (6th and Dickinson)

My love note: Outside of work and sleep I am one of two places. At Grindcore House to get my neighborhood coffee fix or riding my bike. Once caffeinated there are times that I have crashed and bled on your roads (many times, actually). There are also calmer moments of riding on the trail or on holidays (Philly becomes a ghost town on Thanksgiving — great for riding). It is more chaotic through Boathouse Row, and mazing through the summer rowing race fans, but finally passing under the towering highways near Conshohocken is always a visual treat. I have often photographed up, looking at the roads above with the blue/cloudy skies in the back. Then you pedal further reaching the Wissahickon. There, riding, you can become one with the trees and shade. I am also waiting for the day when the trail connects further south. The hidden gem of the Schuylkill Banks is south of Gray’s Ferry. There the trail “continues”, and hopefully one day will fully connect with the northern part of the trail. Which ever way you ride, pack a picnic. There are plenty of great spots to stop and take in the shade.

Posted on by Emma Fried-Cassorla in Center City Leave a 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 #27: Nicholas Mirra loves the bike-ridden fence on Rittenhouse Square

Nicholas Mirra
Favorite Spot: The bike-filled fence on the east side of Rittenhouse Square below Walnut Street
Neighborhood: Rittenhouse Square
Address: 18th St between Walnut and Chancellor

I am: communications guy for the Bicycle Coalition; ultimate frisbee player; Pacific Northwest born and raised
Years in Philly: 6 years
Current Home: Grad Hospital area

My love note: The bike-ridden fence on the edge of Rittenhouse Square is a wall of graffiti. There are loud voices in Philly, voices accustomed to influential audiences, which say bicycles are for children and contemptuous hipsters; a frivolous activity taking vital space away from cars. Yet look at this fence! It sits in the heart of a famously well-heeled neighborhood, surrounded by some of Philly’s most inhospitable streets for bicycling. Despite the obstacles, bicyclists pour into Center City and make room for themselves.

This fence has been tagged with bikes. Like other important graffiti, it is an early sign of an approaching change. Slowly but surely, Philly will accommodate bicycling because bicyclists are accommodating themselves to Philly. Today, the bicycles are locked to the fence. Tomorrow, they will be locked to new racks on the sidewalk. Eventually, some of those riders will live in towers looking down on Rittenhouse Square, and they’ll enjoy a mischievous nostalgia for the days when they were ahead of the curve.
(Note: These pics were all taken on the same day along the same fence line)

Posted on by Emma Fried-Cassorla in Rittenhouse Square 4 Comments