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,
Vincent Alleva Jr.
Favorite Spot: The Wissahickon Creek and Devil’s Pool
Neighborhood: Northwest – Valley Green which is situated between Roxborough, Chestnut Hill, West Mt. Airy and Germantown
I am: A third generation Philadelphian. I live, work, and play in Philly. I have lived in many neighborhoods in the city including Kingsessing, Parkside, Fairmont, Lower Moyamensing, and Pennsport. I blog about the South Philadelphia community on a facebook group page called South Silly. I’ve worked for the Painters and allied trades union of Philadelphia for 8 years. I currently work at the Barbary in Fishtown. On my spare time I enjoy spinning music, riding my bike throughout the city and walking my dog to the plethora of parks in and around my neighborhood.
Years in Philly: On and of for 14 years.
Current Home: Pennsport
My love note: In ’93 my family moved out of Southwest Philly to South Jersey where I grew up, in the suburbs. That gave me the opportunity to become a boy scout and spend plenty of time camping and playing in the woods. As I grew older, the allure of moving back to the city became a daily commute.
Upon moving my adult self back to the city, I longed for the hot summer days spent in the woods by creeks and rivers. To me, there is nothing like getting the dog ready, filling a backpack with some beers, and heading to the woods with some buddies to go cliff jumping and swimming in the Wissahickon. Relaxing, fun, and adventurous.
Meeting other people out there and watching dare devils doing back flips some 15-20 feet above the water with perfect execution and thundering splash is most definitely entertaining. Catch it during the week when its not so busy with a few close friends and you’ll have yourself a wonderful time. The surroundings can almost bring you back in time. This is why I love the Wissahickon Creek and Devils Pool.
(Top and third photo by Vincent)