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

Mt. Airy

Love Note #266: To be wrapped in the gritty arms of Philadelphia

Liz Sytsma
Favorite Spot: Mt. Airy Village
Neighborhood: Mt. Airy
Address: Greene Street & Carpenter Lane

I Am: A weaver/knitter/crocheter, flower-obsessed gardener, cook and eater, wife and pet mama, and the Associate Director at CultureWorks Greater Philadelphia.
Years in Philly: 3
Current Home: Mt. Airy

A photo posted by @summermaids on

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Posted on by Emma Fried-Cassorla in Mt. Airy Leave a comment

Love Note #261: A cave from William Penn’s time

Julie Stapleton Carroll
Favorite Spot: Hermit’s Cave
Neighborhood: Mt. Airy/Chestnut Hill

I Am: A mom and wife, passionate about my community, history and quality education, and run a small non-profit
Years in Philly: 19
Current Home: Germantown

A photo posted by @jawnsie215 on

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Posted on by Emma Fried-Cassorla in Chestnut Hill, Mt. Airy Leave a comment

Love Note #198: Lauren and Cory Popp’s history lesson and love note to Wissahickon Park

Lauren Popp
Favorite Spot: Wissahickon Valley Park
Neighborhood: Wissahickon/Germantown/Roxborough

I am: a newlywed, Temple-grad, who works at Tree House Books
Years in Philly: 6.5
Current Home: South Philadelphia


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Posted on by Emma Fried-Cassorla in Mt. Airy 3 Comments

Love Note #90: Audrey Bentham — Valley Green as the Philadelphia Brand

Audrey Bentham
Favorite Spot: Valley Green
Neighborhood: Wissahickon Park
Address: Valley Green Road in Wissahickon

I am: I’m the audio engineer for Fresh Air with Terry Gross, and a freelance voice artist.
Years in Philly: 26
Current Home: Roxborough
(photo by Ben Szuhaj)

My love note: Philadelphia really needs to rebrand itself. We get such a bad rap. Philadelphia – It’s dirty, scary, we’re one of the American capitals of corrupt city politics and the reputation of our sports fans, well, let’s just call them ”passionate.” Didn’t we need a stadium courtroom and jail for our beloved Eagles fans? Yet within our much maligned city is a remarkable oasis of peaceful, calm beauty. It always amazes me that Valley Green, this lovely, bucolic park with trails that go on forever is just a short walk away from home. It reminds me of the woods of my summer camp youth because the setting so magically makes you forget you’re still right in the middle of the 5th largest city in America (the one that gets no respect).

Valley Green might not be the best kept secret in the city; on weekends you’ll have plenty of company on your run, bike ride, or power walk, but there’s something comforting about enjoying nature with your neighbors and community– maybe that’s a Quaker concept, but it works for me. A walk in Valley Green is the antidote to the treadmill of modern city life – a place to reset your mind and recharge your emotional batteries. Without having to leave the great city of Philadelphia. There’s no place like home.
Posted on by Emma Fried-Cassorla in Mt. Airy 1 Comment

Love Note #86: "This urban wilderness is truly a gift of love for all Philadelphians." Aaron Ogle on Wissahickon Valley in Fairmount Park

Aaron Ogle
Favorite Spot: Wissahickon Valley in Fairmount Park
Neighborhood: Lots? None?
Address: Fairmount Park

I am: Urbanist, ruralist, craftsman of quality software for cities at OpenPlans, family man, stubbornly certain of a beautiful future.

Years in Philly: 4ish
Current home: Narberth

My love note:

Dear Philadelphia,

In all honesty, I wasn’t sure it was going to work out between us. You know how much I love the great outdoors and how restless I get if I don’t hear the sound of a babbling brook, enjoy the smell of an old forest, or walk a few miles on actual earth. I assumed that an old East-coast city, with its industry and concrete, didn’t have much to offer a nature-boy like me.

But I have long since learned that you, my dear, are full of surprises, the greatest of which has been Wissahickon Valley. This section of your Fairmount Park is practically perfect. The rolling waters of the Wissahickon creek are flanked by towering trees and thick vegetation, insulating it from nearly all signs of the city. Its miles of trails are a gift to pedestrians and equestrians, runners and cyclists, historians and naturalists, children and artists. The first time I hiked along these paths I could only think, “I can’t believe this is Philadelphia.” And now, I can’t think of you without it.

This urban wilderness is truly a gift of love for all Philadelphians – past, present, and future. May we enjoy it (and steward it) well for generations to come.

With great affection,

Posted on by Emma Fried-Cassorla in Mt. Airy 3 Comments

Love Note #30: Get lost in the French village on Gate Lane in W. Mt. Airy

Favorite Spot: Gate Lane
Neighborhood: W. Mt. Airy 
Address: Gate Lane runs parallel to Allens Lane, between Elbow Lane and Emlen St. The turnoff is hard to see save for the stone arches on either end.
My love note: I spent my childhood summers attending a small camp run out of a friend’s house that was nestled at the end of W. Mt. Airy Ave and surrounded by Wissahickon Park. We spent our days running around the 200-year old property, swimming, hiking to Devils Pool and catching sunfish out of the creek.  It was my dream, starting at seven years old, to one day live in Mt. Airy.  I achieved that goal six years ago. 

Mt. Airy was as beautiful as I remembered, and I continued to do the things that I had done there as a kid, with the addition of owning a home, going out to eat and drink, and running errands. On my days off, I wandered the streets and trails from Germantown to Chestnut Hill, absorbing the beauty of the neighborhoods.

On one such walk, I happened upon this lane tucked away behind overgrown trees and huge stones arches. Its discrete location and rutted road makes driving down it nearly impossible, so a stroll is uninterrupted by cars. The houses line one side of the street, connected by a low stonewall behind which lies a small grassy valley and stream. While each house is distinct, there are shared characteristics that make the houses flow into one another. They were designed with a French village in mind, and walking down this lane is like being transported to another country. Once I pass under the arch and leave Gate Lane behind, I realize that there are many more of these hidden places waiting to be discovered in the city.

Posted on by Emma Fried-Cassorla in Mt. Airy 4 Comments

Love Note #23: Tom Petersen takes us wandering through Carpenters Woods in W. Mt. Airy

Tom Petersen
Favorite Spot: Carpenter’s Woods and its environs
Neighborhood: West Mount Airy
Address: Corner of N. Mount Pleasant Road and S. Mount Pleasant Road

I am: Loving husband, father of three, and environmental consultant. I can’t get enough hiking, biking, reading and chess.
Years in Philly: 18 months in West Mount Airy
Current Home: Cheltenham Township for past 20 years


Posted on by Emma Fried-Cassorla in Mt. Airy 1 Comment