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 #46: Local urban ecologist David Hewitt loves Jefferson Park and the Kentucky Coffee Trees planted there

David Hewitt
Favorite Spot: I have a lot of favorite spots, but for this, I’ll choose Jefferson Square (a park)
Neighborhood: Southwark
Address: Between 3d and 4th Streets, between Washington and Federal

I am: A biologist – I do a number of different things professionally, but in this context, I’m an urban ecologist
Years in Philly: I was born here
Current home: Currently living in South Street area (but moving soon – to either Germantown or Manayunk)
My Love Note: My father used to live around the corner from Jefferson Square, but I never went there – it was a bit chaotic, and it was also just simply off my radar. After having moved back to Philadelphia (I was away for 9 years, moved back 2 years ago), I went over there and was amazed how much it had changed – clean, well kept – great place to go. And really nice plantings – some quite old, some quite young. There’s a beautiful Kentucky coffee tree in the northeastern quadrant of the park – you can identify it by the big bean-looking pods hanging from it – it was there when that neighborhood had heavy industry (there used to be an iron foundry in the next block over, between 4th and 5th streets) and more cemeteries (the Union Burial Ground was 2 blocks over – it was a good sized cemetery – you can still see its walls, one of them lining the parking lot of the supermarket at 6th between Washington and Federal). Now, that tree is a shade tree in a residential neighborhood. It’s seen the changes, and stood the times.

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

Love Note #44: Chip Chantry explains why you should put down your golf clubs and head straight to the disc golf course in Fairmount Park

Chip Chantry
Favorite Spot: Hole #13, Sedgley Woods Disc Golf Course
Neighborhood: Fairmount Park
Address: Reservoir Drive (33rd and Oxford Streets) Philadelphia, PA 19121

I am: A comedian/writer. If I could have dinner with any three people, it would be Hall, Oates, and an empty seat in case Oates wanted to bring somebody with him.
Years in Philly: 5 years in the city, the formative years in the burbs.
Current home: Fairmount

My love note: Why people play regular golf is beyond me. It’s expensive, boring, you have to dress
like you work at Vanguard, and you get sunburnt. But disc golf, especially at Sedgley, is a chance to play in the woods. Built in 1977, it’s one of the nation’s oldest functioning disc golf courses. I’m sure a lot of people don’t know about it, or could find it for that matter. That’s the beauty of it. You’re playing in the city, but you would never know it. You’re surrounded by nature, which is surrounded by a city, which is surrounded by a delicious candy-coating.

Hole #13 is my favorite because it’s deep in the woods. The tee and the hole are on opposite sides of a wooded valley, so your first throw is kind of a leap of faith- you just toss it, and hope it makes it to the other side. If it doesn’t, then you have to go for a bit more of a hike to find it. Which really isn’t bad thing, is it? It sure beats being on a regular golf course, in a foursome with your boss, a sleazy client, and some prick from sales who won’t shut up about how his dad met Jack Nichlaus in a men’s room once.

(My note: Go see Chip do his thing at Helium Comedy Club this coming Wed-Sat (15th-18th) and follow him @chipchantry)
Posted on by Emma Fried-Cassorla in North Philadelphia 1 Comment

Love Note #42: A pandemic drove Amy Fried to Laurel Hill, but you should just go because it’s beautiful

Amy Fried
Favorite Spot: Laurel Hill Cemetery

Neighborhood: East Falls (?)
Address: 3822 Ridge Avenue Philadelphia, PA 19132

I am: A psychologist currently working for the School District of Philadelphia, wife, and mother of three incredible children. I have a great appreciation for the history, culture, diversity and natural beauty that can be found in Philadelphia.
Years in Philly: about 2 1/2 years
Current Home: Cheltenham, two blocks from the city line.

My love note: I first discovered Laurel Hill cemetery when my younger son contracted swine flu. We were stuck inside for days, and, as his symptoms were very mild, were going stir crazy because we could not venture out while he was “contagious.” So on a beautiful day, my son and I decided to wander around the grounds where we were pretty sure the resident population would not be concerned about infection.

The cemetery is situated on a hill overlooking the Schuylkill River—visible if you are driving, biking or walking on Kelly Drive near the East Falls Bridge. The famous and infamous are interred here (e.g., Civil War general George Meade, Harry Kalas, Thomas Dolan and David Lane). There are guided tours and a free cell phone tour, but I prefer to wander and wonder at the Victorian-era art and architecture, and read the occasional 18th or 19th century gravestone and imagine what the dearly departed’s life was like. I also like to spook myself by peeking into the mausoleums that are built into the hillside and almost always in shadow. Every view is worth a photograph, often with the Schuylkill River or the skyline of Philadelphia in relief. The cemetery is, I believe, at its most beautiful and tranquil at sunset. So take a tour or wander, and don’t wait until the next potential pandemic to visit!

Posted on by Emma Fried-Cassorla in East Falls/Roxborough Leave a comment

Love Note #40: Christine Knapp loves the community created around the Singing Fountain on Passyunk Square

Christine Knapp
Favorite Spot: Singing Fountain 

Neighborhood: E. Passyunk Square
Address: East Passyunk Ave. and Tasker St

I am: A 33-year old native New Yorker, been living in Philadelphia for 12 years. I work at the Energy Efficient Buildings Hub, a U.S. Department of Energy project at the Navy Yard. I am the immediate past President of the Passyunk Square Civic Association, where I’ve served for the last 5 years. 
Years in Philly: 12
Current Home: Passyunk Square, the area between Washington Ave. and Tasker St. between 6th and Broad streets, home to Pat’s and Geno’s, the Lower Italian Market, and the vibrant East Passyunk Avenue business corridor. 

My love note: One of my favorite places (so many to choose from!) in Philadelphia is the Singing Fountain at East Passyunk Ave. and Tasker St. The triangle of land is created by the diagonal East Passyunk running through 11th St and Tasker St. It once housed a gas station, and then sat vacant for years until being renovated as a public space. Last year, the Passyunk Avenue Revitalization Corporation gave the Fountain a major face-lift, removing the fencing, adding benches and a chess table, and planting trees and greenery.

At any given time, you’ll find people hanging out at the Fountain, listening to the music (not just Sinatra anymore!), eating gelato from Capogiro, watching kids stamp through the puddles, playing a game of chess, or dining at one of the restaurants that add outdoor seating at the Fountain on busy nights. Farmer’s markets are held there every Wednesday throughout the warm-weather months, and musical acts often perform during “Second Saturdays” and other festivals throughout the year.

The Fountain brings the neighborhood together, provides a public space for relaxation, people-watching and general enjoyment. It’s a true Philadelphia gem!

Posted on by Emma Fried-Cassorla in South Philly 1 Comment

Love Note #37 — Andrew Levitt loves Clark Park in W. Philly because it is a "social butterfly, a gracious host, a kind friend"

Andrew Levitt
Favorite Spot: Clark Park  
Neighborhood: West Philly  
Address: 43rd and Baltimore 
I am: Cheerful, a family man, bookish if not well-read, enthusiastic about seeing more people get around on bicycles. 32, 257, 5’8″, 165#. Unabashedly Italian-Irish-American Quaker Buddhist Secular-Jew
Years in Philly: 18 + 3 
Current Home: Bella Vista

My Love Note:

Dear Clark Park,

I love that a sunny day attracts so many young people to your tall trees and green grass for idle lollygagging, breezy sports, and chatty hang time. You have proper quiet dappled sunlight, proper wind-through-the-leaves. I love your fresh chairs and fresh grass, the susurrus of all your friends. I don’t see you as often as I’d like, but please don’t take that to mean that I think you are anything less than the best kind of social butterfly, a gracious host, a kind friend. Sometimes I wonder if I shouldn’t be closer to you so we can spend more time together.    


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

Love Note #29: Joe Boruchow and Emma Jacobs get lost in the trees at Puryear’s Pavillion in Fairmount Park

Joe Boruchow
Favorite Spot: Puryear’s Pavilion in Fairmount Park near the Shofuso Japanese House and Garden.

Neighborhood: Fairmount Park
Address: North Horticultural Drive
I am: Paper cutout artist. I make commissioned and uncommissioned public art.
Years in Philly: 15
Current Home: 9th and Ritner – South Philly

Emma Jacobs
Favorite Spot: Pavilion in the trees – Fairmount Park
Neighborhood: Fairmount Park
Address: A walk into the trees from the back gate to the Please Touch museum
I am: A relatively new Philadelphian, who makes radio for WHYY. Saturday mornings, I try to pick a destination, or a neighborhood and bike out to see it.
Years in Philly: A proud 7 mos
Current Home: South Philly

Joe’s love note: Pack a lunch and ride out to Fairmount Park, past the strange sculptures from a bygone era, the once crumbling Centennial Hall, visit the Japanese House and Garden, find Puryear’s Pavilion (virtually always vacant) and have a picnic in the tree canopy!

Emma’s love note: The Pavilion in the Trees is a tree house, essentially. It’s built on stilts above a very steep slope, so you’re on level with the tops of the trees. I went out looking for it on a 90-something degree morning, and actually nearly gave up. I didn’t see any signs for it in the park and a visitors map I had didn’t line up. So, there may be another, official way to get there, but I ultimately ended up making a guess. I took this path this isn’t definitely a path, or somewhere you’re supposed to be. It goes along this wire fence and then grass grows over it, and you really thing you’re on the wrong track; but eventually it arrives at the walkway out to the Pavilion. The whole thing is all pretty modest, and very very green. Maybe because the place is so hard to find, it’s amazingly quiet – and a little surreal, too.

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

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

Love Note #22: Baseball Diamond at 8th and Poplar

George Miller

Favorite Spot: Baseball diamond at 8th and Poplar
Neighborhood: Northern Liberties

Address: 8th and Poplar

I am: a journalist, photographer, dog-walker, knuckleballer and professor.
Years in Philly: 18
Current Home: Northern Liberties

My love note: Every Saturday, as long as it isn’t raining or freezing, I play baseball at 8th and Poplar with a bunch of random people (mostly artists, musicians and other creative folks). We drink, barbecue hot dogs, listen to music and make fun of each other. We hang all day, and the time flies. Center City’s skyline looms in the distance beyond home plate. When the sun sets, the view is stunning. During the week, my dog Mookie and I visit the park and play frisbee. 

Posted on by Emma Fried-Cassorla in Northern Liberties Leave a comment

Love Note #19: Penn Treaty Park

Alex B.

Favorite Spot: Penn Treaty Park
Neighborhood: Fishtown
Address: 1199 N Delaware Ave

I am: A city lover and a nature lover
Years in Philly: 5
Current Home: 10th and Pine

My love note: As if in fear of being lapped up by the million tongues of the mighty Delaware, Philadelphia keeps its rivers at bay.  Stone walls rise from the rivers and old piers decay, severed from the city bustle by our local stretch of the Eisenhower interstate highway system.  But a little notch of green in Fishtown cuts through these defenses, where a smokestack giant lumbers upriver and a casino sprawls across its parking lot blanket downriver.  You may notice as you walk towards the river at Penn Treaty Park that nothing stops you from walking on, as you head down onto the riprap, till the water laps your feet.  Sit there at sunset or after the sun has fallen below the horizon, and it’s another world completely.  The sounds and smells of the river seem oceanic.  The slow boats, the trees on Pettys Island, the lights on the graceful Ben Franklin Bridge, and a wide expanse of the night sky… it’s a place to be swept away by greater forces.

Posted on by Emma Fried-Cassorla in Fishtown / Kensington Leave a comment

Love Note #18: If you’re looking for Shannon McDonald, you can find her at Pennypack Park

Shannon McDonald (Part 1 of 3)
Favorite Spot: Pennypack Park
Neighborhood: Winchester Park and Holmesburg
Address: Near Cresco and Welsh Rds.

I am: A journalist from Northeast Philly with an appreciation for all neighborhoods.
Years in Philly: All of ’em
Current Home: Holme Circle


Read more

Posted on by Emma Fried-Cassorla in Northeast Leave a comment