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 #281 The best trail in all of PA? Yes.

Shelli Gimelstein
Favorite Spot: The Schuylkill River Trail

I Am: A graduating Penn senior who is moving back to New York but has fallen in love with Philly
Years in Philly: 4
Current Home: University City

A photo posted by Richard (@rlleung) on

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Posted on by Emma Fried-Cassorla in Art Museum Leave a comment

Love Note #194 The river trail that convinced Ninon Matos to stay in Philly

Ninon Matos
Favorite Place: Schuylkill River Trail/Kelly Drive/Wissahickon Bike trail
Neighborhood: Art Museum

I Am: A Transplant from The Big Apple
Years in Philly: 4
Current Home: Graduate Hospital


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Posted on by Emma Fried-Cassorla in Art Museum Leave a comment

Love Note #191: Polly Math became a runner on the Schuylkill River Trail

Polly Math
Favorite Spot: Schuylkill River Trail
Neighborhood: Center City

I am: A Central Jersey transplant who is happy to call Philadelphia home. When I’m not out exploring the city, I can usually be found putting things together such as furniture, food, parties, and words. I am healthysapien. I am also ridiculous.
Years in Philly: Part time starting in 2003. Full time since 2007
Current Home: Grays Ferry


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Posted on by Emma Fried-Cassorla in Art Museum 6 Comments

Love Note #113: Edith Mulhern writes to the beautiful, historic Woodlands Cemetery

Edith Mulhern
Favorite Spot: Woodlands Cemetery
Neighborhood: West Philadelphia
Address: 4000 Woodland Avenue

I am: Philly suburbs-born arts and culture non-profit worker and bilingual blogger. Came to West Philly for school, and love it more every day.
Years in Philly: 9
Current Home: Walnut Hill, West Philadelphia


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

Love Note #66: "Then one day I ran the bridge" (Dan McQuade, Ben Franklin Bridge)

Dan McQuade
Favorite Spot: Ben Franklin Bridge walkway

Neighborhood: Old City-Delaware River-Camden
Address: Bridge is between Race and Vine from N. 5th Street to the river, with pedestrian walkway entrances at New (north) and Florist (south).

I am: I write things, usually for money. I have a blog and a Twitter.
Years in Philly: Native (I’m 29)
Current Home: Center City

My love note:

12 years and about 50 pounds ago, I was a pretty decent runner.

My times were never great — I won a few cross country dual meets, I never got hurt — but I was hardcore. By senior year of high school I savored every minute of every run. I loved running in the woods in Philadelphia and Bucks County, on streets near the Northeast Airport and on tracks all over. Unfortunately, running competitively for 10 or so years killed my spirit. I fell out of it in college. I found new interests. I dropped my favorite hobby for reasons I still don’t understand.

A few years ago I got fired, got dumped and, most importantly, saw an incredibly unflattering photo of myself. I’m pretty vain, so it wasn’t hard to get back into running. But even though I was running every day, I never found that perfect place to run. I don’t own a car (so no Belmont Plateau) and I live east of Broad (so the Schuylkill River trail is a bit far, too). I thought I’d be running big loops around South Philly streets forever.

Then one day I ran the bridge.

The Benjamin Franklin Bridge is gorgeous, but I never realized how great it is until running over it. It opened on July 1, 1926 to rave reviews as the Delaware River Bridge; the chief engineer, Polish-born American bridge maven Ralph Modjeski, was born exactly 122 years before me. The view of the skyline from the middle of the bridge is the best in the city, but the scenery from the bridge is great, too: The backsides of buildings, a baseball stadium and nicer-than-you-think Rutgers-Camden campus in New Jersey.

I’ve been running the bridge almost every day this summer. I dread it a little every day; my shins do even more. I only have to go through Washington Square, past Independence Hall and down Fifth Street to get there, but some days I step onto the walkway and already feel defeated. It’s steep. The first incline on the Philadelphia side goes up forever. Unlike running on streets, though, there’s no opportunity to slack. It’s a straight shot to the top, no stopping. And, yes, the runner’s high from going up and down and up and down is unmatched.

The Ben Franklin Bridge is this city: Beautiful and formidable, underrated and unmatched. Now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s really nice out today and I’m headed out.

Posted on by Emma Fried-Cassorla in Delaware River, Old City 11 Comments

Love Note #59: Katie Sweeney loves a very specific 8.42 miles along Kelly Drive

Katie Sweeney
Favorite Spot: “The Loop,” Kelly Drive running path
Neighborhood: Fairmount Park-ish
Address: surrounding the Schuylkill

I am: an advertising copywriter and product/company namer who dabbles in broken umbrella photography and triathlon in my spare time.
Years in Philly: closing in on 8 (woah!)
Current Home: Fairmount

My Love Note:
Dear 8.42 miles,
Thank you for turning me into a Runner. For the quarter mile markers that pushed me to go further until the first time I saw every single one, finishing right where I started. Rocky held his arms a bit higher for me that morning.

Thank you for the water fountains every two miles, (but not really for that one fountain at mile four that always tastes like rust, but yes, even thank you for that one, because it’s bonded me with plenty of others like me when we exchange knowing looks and shake our heads, grateful at least for the breather), and for your luscious shade on the MLK side

Thank you for early mornings before work, knowing if I’m on schedule or running late, depending on where I pass familiar faces running in the opposite direction. Thank you for the rowers slicing through the water, and their coaches who bark feedback, some of which I tuck into my own stride. Shoulders back, Sweeney! Thank you, especially, for the crew team wearing ROYGBIV during morning practice on March first; I was closing in on my first half-ironman and this was the first day this year that I switched my training runs to morning sessions. It was overcast and lonely, and I was happy for a rainbow.
Thank you for being an 8.42-mile respite in a busy city – an oasis from honking taxis, belching bus exhaust, and drivers who don’t look both ways before turning. Thank you for allowing me time alone, and time to share stories with multiple running partners. Thank you for turning me into a Runner.


(all pictures were taken during the Back on My Feet run)

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

Love Note #12: Strawberry Mansion Bridge and Trail

Ryan Callahan
Favorite spot: Strawberry Mansion Bridge to Belmont Plateau in Fairmount Park
Neighborhood: Fairmount Park
Address: No address

I am: a runner, a plane nerd, and online marketing manager at Philadelphia Runner
Years in Philly: 2
Current Home:  Fairmount

My love note:  My favorite spot in Philadelphia is this inconspicuous trail just west of the Strawberry Mansion Bridge. There is no better way for me to unwind after a long day than with an evening run, right before sunset, over the Strawberry Mansion Bridge and into the woods of Fairmount Park. As you go further down the trail the car noise subsides and you can forget that you are surrounded by the sixth largest city in the country on all sides. It’s a surreal experience that is unmatched by any other urban park in the country. To me, it’s a hidden gem in a city with many of them.

Posted on by Emma Fried-Cassorla in North Philadelphia Leave a comment