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


Ignite Philly 10

If you want to be inspired by a young generation of Philadelphians, and then hang out and get drunk with them, go to Ignite Philly. It’s a series of short five minute presentations from a wide range of impassioned people, who basically show you how much cooler they are than you. Technically Philly did a great write up on the event, but I’m adding a bit…

Data Garden — The marriage of music, tech and plants. They are having an event on October 14th that looks like the coolest thing happening all fall. As they explain it, “participants will have the opportunity to wander Bartram’s Garden and connect with their natural environment through live music, performance and sculpture that blurs the distinction between biological and digital worlds.” I plan on dragging anyone I can get my hands on out to the gardens.

Philadelphia Opera Company — Watching their Macy’s Hallelueigh Chorus flash mob gives me the chills. Not sure why, but I love that they do these Random Acts of Culture here in the city. Supposedly you can get the inside scoop on the next one if you follow them on twitter.

RAIR Philly (Recycled Artist-In-Residency) — Salvage, art, sustainability all at a construction and demolition recycling facility. Those of you who know me in my real life know that I love this kind of stuff. And, they’ve come up with the phrase of the year — the Biggie Shorty.

And of course, Albert Lee, who loves Philly even more than I do. Luckily he’s open to sharing her with all of us.
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Summer escapes

Escaping from Philly in the summer has always been exciting. I used to take epic three-month road trips or spontaneously move to different cities for a season. These days, I no longer have the luxury of deciding to move to Glacier National Park to live there for a summer, or pick up and move to Flagstaff, Arizona because I want to check out the hiking and climbing.


Canadian Rockies
Glacier National Park, MT
Glacier National Park, MT
Shorter, closer trips must due for now, and nothing satisfies my need to get out of the city like my family’s reunion in Thurmont, Maryland every year over Labor Day Weekend. It’s nothing crazy. A small house with a pool at the base of the Catoctin Mountains. The days and nights are spent crawfishing, hiking, making large numbers of pies, grilling, endless music making, biking, fire pits and napping. A perfect way to end the summer. With my amazing family. Anyone else have any traditional summer-enders?

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Philadelphia Horticultural Society Pop Up Garden

PHS had a change in leadership a few years ago.  They’re pushing for more showpiece projects, including the (hopefully) annual pop up garden. Located right off of Rittenhouse Square, you can wander through a meadow of urban dwelling plants, enjoy overflowing beds of fruits, veggies and other assorted plants, and sit at Alice in Wonderland’s table.  They’re doing a pretty good job changing my perception of horticultural societies. Now we just need to figure out how to throw a pot luck dinner party there.

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Being a scientist in Philly

The purpose of this blog is to highlight why we love our city, but I still want it to be somewhat personal. Before this month, I had time to post shorts about my life and goings on in the city, but I’ve been swamped recently.

So for some more personal info…

For the last six years, I’ve been working (posing) as a neuroscientist at UPENN. We’ve been studying how the visual system develops in fish, baby fish, really really tiny fish. I’m leaving in two weeks for a yet to be determined job or internship in the environmental field (fingers crossed for the Montgomery County Planning Commission and Next American City). I love science, but am ready to move on to something new. So I’m leaving with these pics to show what a lab and fish facility look like.

(My desk — surrounded by lots of chemicals)
(Microscopes. I spent years dissecting the eyes out of fish)


(Some of the 500,000 fish in the facility)
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There’s a certain grime about living in Philly by Rachel Zurier

Rachel Zurier sent me over this great cartoon that I think perfectly captures Philly

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Ruin Porn

Tracy Levesque runs a super cool Ruin Porn site. She photographs the beauty of urban decay and includes the history for some of the structures we’ve all probably seen and been curious about.  

Below is a couple of my favorite shots…
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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

Sometimes the best part about Philly is leaving for a little bit

Sometimes the best part about Philly is leaving for a little bit.  I took my summer vacation to Ocean City, NJ for three days this week with my lovely family. Luckily it overlapped some of the hottest days of the summer. We grilled, played in the water, attempted (note the word attempted) to paddleboard in the bay, and got sunburned.  It was my first vacation where I remained attached to my computer for some of the day as I deep into this blog and trying to look for a new job. 

 (me and my lovely cousin, Hannah)

After the beach, I spent one day back in Philly to celebrate my 30th, and finally managed to cut the computer cord. My roommate and I drove down to her family’s farm outside of Shenandoah for a huge party. We all piled into pickup trucks sitting high atop inner tubes and canoes and lazily made our way down the river cutting through the farm.  There were three beer coolers full to the brim and tons of great people. At night we sat out on the porch swatting flies, making hamburgers, playing football and enjoying the fire pit. It was indescribably beautiful, and I purposefully left my camera in the car most of the time. And now I’m back, and it’s a perfect night to sit on the porch and catch up and look forward to the week ahead.

(Soybean fields)

(My lovely roommate, Isabelle)

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Part 1: 1011 E. Moyamensing in Southwark

Whenever I bike from Fishtown back to S. Philly, I find myself biking down Moyamensing. I can never remember why I’ve chosen to make that turn until I see the house at 1011, one of the few remaining clapboard houses left in the city. One day I finally stopped to take some pictures just as the owner was walking home. She told me a bit about the history, but I wanted to find out more. I’m taking advantage of having my own blog to document my attempts to learn about this house.

Part 1: The house has historic designation and is on the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places. Hoping that this would lead me to the home’s history, I took an extended lunch break to wander City Hall looking for the Historical Commission. Once there, I was handed a thin manilla envelope with documents showing the date that the homeowners registered for the historic plaque (1990) and the approvals for renovations in the late 1970s. That was it. No history, no build date, nothing else. I was told that the next step will be to establish a deed chain through the City Archives.  Hopefully another extended lunch break will come in the next few weeks and I can learn (and write) a bit more about this unique home.
Posted on by Emma Fried-Cassorla in Queen Village / Bella Vista 3 Comments

Estate hopping right off the regional rail

Ashbourne Road in Elkins Park is lined with some amazing homes from Philadelphia’s industrial titans. The one accesible house is The Elkins Estate, designed and built for William L. Elkins, a Philadelphian who made his fortune refining crude oil, and later as a pioneer in the street car and railroad business. The estate consists of 42 acres of land and 16 buildings, including Elstowe Manor, built by Horace Trumbauer. It is private property, but you can visit to see a variety of different performances put on by White Pines Productions (varied, fabulous, and free much of the time). If you go, check out the Chelten House next door, which is also part of the Elkins Estate, and Lynnewood Hall, which is a 110-room Neoclassical Revival mansion on the (now) 36-acre Widneer Estate. Lynnewood has been listed as by the Presrvation Alliance as one of Philly’s 
most endangered historic properties.

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