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

Sean Martorana x Philly Love Notes

The best part about running Philly Love Notes and making maps is the opportunity to connect with, spotlight, and help build the Philly community (see Giving Back This Year -- news about 2017 soon, #whyilovephilly Twitter campaign, #whyilovephilly parties, Philly Love Letters). So... I'm very excited to announce the new project, #whyilovephillyarts, a series of collaborations aimed at showcasing the amazingly talented artists and makers we have here in the city.  The Concept - Commission a piece of art from a variety of painters, illustrators, graphic designers, Read more


A round-up of Philly’s great style bloggers

Philly has no shortage of great city-centric blogs. Some of my favorites are the style blogs, which maybe, just maybe, are helping me hone my fashion sense a bit. I wanted to give a highlight of those that have made it into my Google Reader and which I now read religiously.

1. Streets and Stripes: A fashion and lifestyle blog authored by freelance photographer and editor Chaucee Stillman that’s geared towards young, creative, and culturally aware readers. Lots of photos of Chaucee’s great personal style, other beautiful Philadelphians, and photo shoots in some of the city’s lovely boutiques.

Read more

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Love Notes Map: Love Your Park Week

Editors Note: This week Philly Love Notes is teaming up with the Fairmount Park Conservancy and the Philadelphia Department of Parks and Recreation in honor of Love Your Park Day, being held this Saturday, November 17th. We’ll be posting some of our favorite Fairmount Park Love Notes all week in celebration, and remember, if you’ve got some kind words to say about your favorite park, please send them along to

View Fairmount Park Love Notes in a larger map

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Love Notes Top Five

This week Philly Love Notes is teaming up with the Fairmount Park Conservancy and the Philadelphia Department of Parks and Recreation in honor of Love Your Park Day, being held this Saturday, November 17th. We’ll be posting some of our favorite Fairmount Park Love Notes all week in celebration, and remember, if you’ve got some kind words to say about your favorite park, please send them along to

Top Five Fairmount Park Spots (in no particular order):

1. Sedgley Woods and Disc Golf Course (Love Note #44 from Chip Chantry)

2. Pennypack Park in Fox Chase (Love Note #67 from Jill Sybesma)

3. FDR Skate Park (Love Note #70 from Hilary Malson)

4. Penn Treaty Park (Love Note #19 from Alex Bomstein)

5. Clark Park (Love Note #37 from Andrew Levitt)

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#whyilovephilly Party!


We all have our reasons to love Philly. No sense in hiding them anymore. Come join IndyHall, Young Involved Philadelphia, and Philly Love Notes to celebrate all that’s wonderful about our city.

This is an open invite. We want you all come come and drink and be merry. Hopefully you’ll meet some new people, see some great photos, and leave the night with warm feelings about Philadelphia.

Some basic details:
The Trestle Inn
Friday, Nov 30th6pm til… 🙂

Free, but we’re encouraging online or at-the-door donations to benefit the Mighty Writers (a nonprofit working with Philly youth to write and think with clarity and creativity).

RSVP at the Facebook Page or at

Need a sneak peak? Well, we’ve got Philly-themed drink specials, local DJs, a love notes station, some small eats and of course, lots of love for Philly.

We’re also looking for a few sponsors for help providing drinks to #whyilovephilly Party guests. Contact for sponsorship details.

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Love Notes Tour

First Date Tour
A couple months ago I fell hard for an amazing guy. I wanted to try and impress him with my Philly knowledge, so I took him on a “Philly Love Notes” date. Yes. I know. Super cheesy. But it was worth a try.

Here was my attempt to appear much cooler than I actually am…

1. Pickle Backs at Bar (submitted by Isabelle)

You can start a date off with a beer anywhere, but that’s kind of boring. At Bar (yes, it’s a bar called Bar), you can show off your Philly-savvy by ordering up pickle backs — shots of pickle juice followed by shots of whiskey. For those of you who like a little extra, ask for the homemade spicy pickle juice. Benefits of stopping here first: 1. Relax (especially if you are as nervous as I was) 2. weed out those who are not adventurous. Caution though: They are strong, and you will need to be prepared with gum.

Read more

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Love Note #96: Conrad Benner of Streets Dept loves, not surprisingly, Philly’s beautiful streets

Conrad Benner
Favorite Spot: Alleys/streets I’ve not been down yet.

I am: Extremely focused. Except when I’m not, which is often. But when I am focused, I’m very focused. I like taking photos. That’s one of the biggest reasons I started my blog. I also love street art. And that’s the other reason. Outside of my personal blog, I am a social media community manager at Quaker City Mercantile. When I’m not willing (read: able) to get out of the city and explore, I do so here — like the Divine Lorraine, the Reading Viaduct, or Laurel Hill Cemetery. 
Years in Philly: Born and raised in Fishtown. 27 years in total.
Current Home: Now living in Center City. Graduate Hospital area.

My love note:

It may not come as too big of a surprise if you’ve ever read my blog, or hell, if you even know the name of my blog, but my love note is… to the streets of Philadelphia.

Seriously, Philly has to be one of the best walking cities in the entire world. Granted, you have to know what areas to generally avoid, but nevertheless taking into account Philly’s relatively small size, along with its dense residential and commercial blocks, it’s safe to say you could do a pretty extensive walk of the city in a single day. Add an extra day or two and you can explore all the little alleys that exist which I, as a life-long Philadelphia, truly find inspiring. And give yourself a whole week and you could write a book on all the new and old beauty you’d find in Philly’s little nooks and crannies. 

But words don’t do it justice… Just look around!!

(all photos by Conrad)

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Love Note #92: Mr. Philadelphia (Albert Lee) chooses…Philadelphia, all of it

Albert Lee (Part 3 of 3)
Favorite Spot: Philadelphia, All of it.
Neighborhood: Chinatown
Address: 12th and Arch

I am: I’m what you call “Philly homegrown.” Born and raised in the 215, I spend my days entertaining tourists and locals at the official visitor center of Philadelphia.
Years in Philly: 32
Current home: Chinatown

(above photos by Chris Robinson — Follow on Instagram at cbeatz852)

My Love Note: William Penn Jr. named this city Philadelphia and in the 5th largest city in the nation, I get to serve as the official welcome wagon. That’s right. We’re “those people.” The ones persuading tourists to get on duck boats and double decker bus tours. Pushing the masses on segways and taking over entire street corners so they can take their “Kodak moment.” We’re the experts letting them loose out into the City of Brotherly Love. With map in hand and camera in the other, we’ve gotten them on a Philly love fest.

It’s easy to call yourself a Phillies fan, an Eagles fan, or just a proud patron of the arts but a “Philly fan?” In a city where the word “yo” is the preferred greeting card and a “snowball incident with Santa Claus” is still readily available ammo, people might get the wrong impression of us.

To them I say, fire away.

I was born and raised in Philly’s Chinatown, my grade school, high school, home and hospital were no more than 3 blocks away from each other. Yep, I spent 17 years of my life in a quarter mile (College was five miles away.) I’ve worked for just about every tour company in the city and spend many a day pleading with general managers to get my guest into the new “it” restaurant at the time (being nice really helps). I’ve been at this game for close to 9 years now and still get inspired every time I see someone trotting down the street looking lost (that happens a lot here).

I won’t lie. Mispronunciations, misspellings and just plain ignorance can sure get under one’s skin but you always remind yourself that this is another opportunity to celebrate what we’re about.

We are not the sixth borough. We don’t have a Freedom Trail nor are we the “National Mall”. So what do I tell them? What do I say that inspires them to go crisscrossing through the streets to find whatever it is they are looking for?

We are the birthplace of Independence. Our bell stands as the cradle of freedom that proclaims liberty throughout the land. Our walls serve as the largest outdoor art gallery in the world. Our roast pork sandwich with sharp provolone and broccoli rabe is considered the best sandwich in America. Not too shabby.

But it goes much deeper than that. It’s helping them find a little BYO where that bottle of wine can best be enjoyed. It’s hearing them rave about all the rich mosaics that make up the Magic Gardens. It’s putting their lips to some local brews that they can’t wait to take home.

It’s meeting a young man from Memphis whose “Make a Wish” was to come to Philadelphia rather than Disney World because we had the Mütter Museum. Take that! 

It’s the lesbian couple that tells me Philadelphia was never on their radar for a gay friendly place to live but now can’t possibly even imagine living anywhere else.

The city has millions of love notes that you submit just by living here. I just have the pleasure of reading them aloud.

For a complete love notes series see Parts 1 and 2

(photo by Sarah Baicker)

(above photos by Ronald Samuels. For more, check here and here)

 (last three photos by me. I guess you can just follow me right here)
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Shorts — Life as a Blogger

I’ve been plugging away at this blog for five months now.  In that span of time I’ve accrued almost 140 love notes, which have brought me to at least 100 random places around the city, and have allowed me to meet with upwards of 75 people (so far). It has been with me through breakups, new relationships, new housemates, quitting my job, finishing my masters, and somewhere along the way finding a deep love for my city.  

Most of the time, it’s completely exhausting. Like now, at midnight on a Monday night, when I’m still trying to put posts together for this week. It’s also been a whirlwind of learning.  It is not an underestimation to call me a technophobe, but here I am with a blog. I know what SEO means. I have twitter followers and can retweet things. I can embed maps. In the coming weeks I’ll even be redesigning the site and getting facebook (thank you tech friends). 

In those five months I’ve gone from spending my days alone, hunched over a microscope with mild social anxieties (a true scientist) to networking, and organizing parties, and setting up collaborations, and teaching classes to kids. 

I’m surprised by how this blog has changed me. I’m excited to continue meeting contributors, discovering new places, and learning more. While still in its infancy, I hope that this blog is helping people reconnect with their city just as it has done for me.  

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Ignite Philly 10

If you want to be inspired by a young generation of Philadelphians, and then hang out and get drunk with them, go to Ignite Philly. It’s a series of short five minute presentations from a wide range of impassioned people, who basically show you how much cooler they are than you. Technically Philly did a great write up on the event, but I’m adding a bit…

Data Garden — The marriage of music, tech and plants. They are having an event on October 14th that looks like the coolest thing happening all fall. As they explain it, “participants will have the opportunity to wander Bartram’s Garden and connect with their natural environment through live music, performance and sculpture that blurs the distinction between biological and digital worlds.” I plan on dragging anyone I can get my hands on out to the gardens.

Philadelphia Opera Company — Watching their Macy’s Hallelueigh Chorus flash mob gives me the chills. Not sure why, but I love that they do these Random Acts of Culture here in the city. Supposedly you can get the inside scoop on the next one if you follow them on twitter.

RAIR Philly (Recycled Artist-In-Residency) — Salvage, art, sustainability all at a construction and demolition recycling facility. Those of you who know me in my real life know that I love this kind of stuff. And, they’ve come up with the phrase of the year — the Biggie Shorty.

And of course, Albert Lee, who loves Philly even more than I do. Luckily he’s open to sharing her with all of us.
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Love Note #57: Thomas Faust’s ode to Philly’s summer sunsets

Thomas Faust
Favorite Spot: Sunset behind the Philly Skyline

Neighborhood: Best seen from Old City (particularly from the Race Street Pier or Ben Franklin Bridge)
Address: The big sky above

I am: An architect/urban designer who is obsessed with how people experience and move through space, the way people shape their world, and why the places we live in are the way they are (ie, human and natural history).
Years in Philly: 3
Current home: Physically, I live in New York City. Mentally, in Philly. 

My love note: The Philadelphia skyline is a strange thing. With the “gentleman’s agreement” broken long ago the skyscraper cluster in west Center City still feels like a half-finished endeavor, or that it’s trying to change the city into something that it’s not. But, there is one thing that almost makes the developer-and-speculator-driven mess of Philly’s skyscrapers worthwhile, and that is the summer sunset.

A sunset occurs everyday, but how many have you actually watched in your lifetime? Its funny to think that we tend to reserve witnessing a daily occurrence for special occasions, like vacations or cliched romantic moments. People are busy, they’ve got to get home from work, microwave dinner, turn on the TV, look at a screen to read a book, look at a screen to shop from a store, look at a screen to watch a sunset…look out the window, ya dummy! Or get outside, or on the roof and look westward, young man. 

The result of a city consisting of 95% three to four story buildings and 5% high-rises in the center is the creation of a great theater for the sunset to do its thing, at least for the eastern half of the city. It’s particularly powerful in the summer. There’s that moment, after a long, sweltering, humid day in July or August, when it feels like someone just flipped a switch and all your suffering under the sun transforms into anticipation for the cool, cool night, and it quite naturally coincides with the sun setting to the west. Standing on a roof top, along the Delaware, the Ben Franklin Bridge, or a place like Race Street Pier is where I feel you can take in the full glory of a Philly summer sunset (potential beer name?), but I’m sure everyone has their own favorite spot. And I’m sure many people in west Philly enjoy their sunsets sans skyscrapers, but I simply can’t accept that. 

Because the sunset does the unthinkable: it turns the banal monstrosities that hover over the city into beautiful, other-worldly mirages. Every other moment of the day I’ll think “What did that view look like when all you could see was City Hall?,” but on a day when the sun paints the glass of Liberty Place and the Comcast Tower a darkened yet radiant, hazy yet crisp orange and amber, all of those misgivings fade away. It’s amazing what a drastic change a little color can bring into your world. That glow might last twenty minutes, tops, and even then it’s only at it’s brightest for a few minutes. But those few minutes are worth stopping for. They are the one gift that mother nature gives us after kicking our asses for twelve hours a day. So find a spot, sit back, feel the heat slip away, and enjoy as man and nature combine into something unique to Philly for one brief moment each day. 
(Top two images by Thomas Faust, middle images by Conrad Benner, bottom image by me)
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