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
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
Favorite Spot: Wissahickon Valley Park
I am: a newlywed, Temple-grad, who works at Tree House Books
Years in Philly: 6.5
Current Home: South Philadelphia
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.
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:
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,
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.
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