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

South Philly

Love Note #122: “Every December, my neighborhood glows” Meg Retz’s love note to the Christmas lights in LoMo

Meg Retz

Favorite Spot: LoMo, a little corner of South Philadelphia
Neighborhood: South Philadelphia
Address: Snyder to Oregon, 8th Street to Broad Street

I am: I’m a legal aid lawyer, who’s living in (and loving) South Philadelphia. I’m also on the board of my neighborhood civic association, the Lower Moyamensing (“LoMo”) Civic Association.
Years you have spent in Philly: 11 years
What neighborhood do you currently live in: LoMo, of course!

Posted on by Emma Fried-Cassorla in South Philly 2 Comments

Love Note #121: “Art is the center of the real world” (Danya Henninger — Zagar Back Alley Mosaics)

Danya Henninger 
Favorite Spot: The Back Alley Mosaics of Isaiah Zagar
Neighborhood: South Philly
Address: Throughout South Philadelphia, mostly in Bella Vista, Hawthorne and Queen Village

I am: A photographer, editor and writer with a focus on food and drink and a love of design.
Years in Philly: Eight years
Current Home: Bella Vista

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

Love Note #105: It’s never to late to think about next season…Carly Weiss writes about Citizen’s Bank Park

Carly Weiss

Favorite Spot: Citizen’s Bank Park
Neighborhood: About as South in South Philly as you can get.
Address: 11th Street & Pattison Ave.

I am: a devout, fairly superstitious, Mets-hating, Chipper Jones-booing Phillies fan.
Years in Philly: Six.
Current Home: West Philly.


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

Love Note #101: Brew in Newbold. Heaven for a self professed coffee addict and beer snob like Sarah Baicker

Sarah Baicker
Favorite spot: Brew
Neighborhood: Newbold
Address: 1900 S. 15th St.

I am: Talker/writer/editor of Flyers content on Comcast SportsNet and Master cupcake baker. Creator of little green dinosaurs.
Years in Philly: 13 (with a big gap in between the first eight and most recent five, for adolescence, college and grad school)
Current home: Italian Market


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Posted on by Emma Fried-Cassorla in South Philly 4 Comments

Love Note #99: Looking for something delicious? Swabreen Bakr recommends Stateside on E. Passyunk

Swabreen Bakr
Favorite Spot: Stateside
Neighborhood: East Passyunk
Address: 1536 East Passyunk Avenue Philadelphia, PA 19147 – (215) 551-2500

I am. A social media consultant, I also work as a freelance photographer and writer for, and am the founder and editor of and
Years in Philly: 11 years
Current Home: Love South Philly forever

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

Love Note #78: Though it might be a little cold now, Trey Popp and his kids love Herron Park Sprayground in Pennsport

Trey Popp
Favorite Spot: Herron Park Sprayground
Neighborhood: Pennsport
Address: 2nd & Reed St.

I am: A father of two rough-and-tumble boys who need a break from the summer heat.
Years in Philly: 8
Current Home: West Philly

My love note: Herron Park isn’t the prettiest park, or the fanciest, or the one with the best playground equipment–and it certainly isn’t the most conveniently located one for us. But the sprayground side springs to life come summer, and it attracts parents and children from seemingly every walk of Philadelphia life. Well-to-do or not, black or white or brown, decked out in SPF-guard swimwear or just old T-shirts, everyone gets drenched together without regard to any of those differences. Every time we go, it strikes me as a place where the true Philadelphia puts its best foot forward. There’s a selection effect–every parent there has made a decision to devote time purely for their kids’ fun–but it’s open to everyone who likes the idea of good, clean, free, self-directed entertainment. I wish winter would never come.

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

Love Note #77: Biking Oregon Ave at Midnight (Albert Yee)

Albert Yee
Favorite Spot: Oregon Ave at midnight, on a bike
Address: Oregon Ave between Columbus Blvd and 25th St
Neighborhood: South Philly

I am: I take pics
Years in Philly: 8
Current Home: Italian Market

My love note: I like to bike in town. It’s a great biking town. I liked it before there were bike lanes and I’m happy that more people have discovered biking since. But it gets congested in town and the drivers are fucking crazy whether they be locals, SEPTA drivers or visitors unaccustomed to driving with 1.5 million people around (many of which are on two wheels). While I do get around town a lot on two wheels during daylight hours, Philly shines after dark. 

I like to take long bike rides, over 15 miles, through town after midnight. I put on a bright shirt and make sure my blinker has a nice charge for the hour-plus ride. Recently I’ve discovered the joy that is Oregon Ave at night. It’s a six mile loop from Columbus Blvd to 25 St. East of Broad St, and it’s fairly newly paved which is wonderful. West of Broad St isn’t the worst street in town, but it’s far from the best. There are few cars on the road to deal with so I can pedal hard for a couple loops in peace. I like to finish up my rides with a trip up to the Philadelphia Museum of Art for a nice view. There’s always a little crowd of people there with the same idea after midnight. The sprint from the Museum to City Hall is quick and fun, but the calming Oregon Ave loop is grand.

(photo by Damon Landry)
Posted on by Emma Fried-Cassorla in South Philly 2 Comments

Love Note #73: Want a magical Philadelphia evening? Head over to the bocce court in Bella Vista. You might just find Melody Kramer there

Melody Kramer
Favorite Spot: Bocce court at 10th and carpenter
Neighborhood: Bella vista

Address: 10th and carpenter

I am: An almost med student (at Temple University) slash ex-public radio producer (at fresh air) who loves running, photography and exploring the city
Years in Philly: City proper: 10 years total (baby, college, now.) burbs: 14 years. Other: 4 years.
Current Neighborhood: Center city via west philadelphia

My love note: I first discovered bocce through my college roommate Jackie, who grew up in south Philadelphia in a large, loud, bocce-loving family. She brought a glow-in-the-dark bocce set with her to school and we used to whittle away evenings throwing the balls around a field at 39th and Locust. College ended. Jackie moved. I moved. I moved back. I missed bocce.
Enter the court at 10th and carpenter. A perfectly manicured, regulation-sized bocce court, complete with nearby benches for heckling and nearby Chickie’s (for the best vegetarian hoagies on the planet). In the morning, retired men share stories and catch up over games. In the evenings, a motley crowd gathers — hipsters, local Vietnamese shop owners, families wandering through the tiny pocket park.

I recently spent an evening by the bocce courts listening to a violinist, catching fireflies, drinking furtive sips of wine, singing and — of course — playing bocce. It was a quintessential, magical Philadelphia evening.

Posted on by Emma Fried-Cassorla in Queen Village / Bella Vista 1 Comment

Love note #70: The FDR skatepark: a gem underneath I-95 (Hilary Malson)

Hilary Malson
Favorite Spot: FDR Skatepark
Neighborhood: Bottom of South Philly

Address: Broad and Pattison, under 95

I am: pedestrian, photo blogger, DC native. Currently doing community development work in Mt. Airy.
Years in Philly: 5 in the area, 1 in city limits
Current home: Just moved from West Philly to South Philly

My love note: The thing you’ve gotta recognize about FDR Skatepark is that it’s iconic and celebrated around the world, but it’s also widely unknown even here in Philadelphia. I don’t remember how I first found out about FDR, but a little over a month after moving to the Main Line for college I took the R5 into town, transferred to the Broad Street Line, got off at Pattison and descended into the park (the skatepark is just one section of the expansive and gorgeous FDR Park). You’ll find the skatepark past the Lakes and the ball fields, nestled underneath 95.

I don’t actually skate, so someone who does and knows the place in that way will appreciate the park for entirely different reasons, but there’s no better place than FDR if you love watching people skate. It’s is an organic effort that has grown over time, with a dedicated community of skaters and friends that uses salvaged materials to regularly maintain and build new bowls and ramps. Up on the east rim of the skatepark is a wide ledge, perfect for watching the skaters against a stunning backdrop of the skyline. FDR is loud. It’s friendly. The art always changes. Sometimes there’s a band, and if you wait long enough the ice cream truck will come by.

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

Love Note #65: Brandyn Muller Campbell’s favorite spot? The nexus of the Philadelphia sports universe — SEPTA’s AT&T Station

Brandyn Muller Campbell
Favorite Place: Broad Street Line’s AT&T stop/station
Neighborhood: South Philly
Address: Broad & Pattison

I am: My name is Brandyn Campbell. I’m known as Philly Sports Muse to some, the name of the Eagles blog that I run. I am a sports lover, blogger, rabid football fan, and proud citizen of the city of Philadelphia. Favorite things to do in the city? Watch sports and shop.
Years in Philly: 12
Current Home: South Philly

My love note: A SEPTA stop as a favorite place in Philadelphia? I know, I know. But when you think about it, the AT&T stop on the Broad Street Line represents so much about this city. It’s the nexus of the Philadelphia sports universe. Our fair city is home to one of the greatest sports complexes in the nation and it all unfolds above this single stop. The Linc. Citizens Bank Park. The Wachovia Center. The hopes of each of these teams and their fans unfold near the intersection of Broad and Pattison each season. 

When is the stop at its best? On game days. Hoards of fans in their gear pumped to have a good time and support their team. It’s positive energy and excitement that’s hard to find anywhere else.

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