Monday, August 22, 2011

Old City: or where Hipsters, Tourists, and the Overindulged Unite

  • I used to live in Old City until I could no longer handle hearing "American Woman" blaring out of the Big Bus tour, or the loud obnoxious blowing of the Duck tour kazoos, or the sound of bongos playing on First Friday.
  • Actually, I also had a tiny bit of concern about the people hanging outside of the drug rehab center next door to me.
  • Old City formally extends from Spring Garden Street, 4th Street, the Delaware River, and Walnut Street. But I never go as far as Spring Garden - maybe Race street.
  • Old City has galleries, historic buildings (ie the Liberty Bell Center), shops and the aforementioned hipsters, tourists, and people with lots of money and a sense of entitlement (much like the main line).

  • Check out Lost and Found - an affordable shop (unlike many of the surrounding boutiques) for men's and women's fashions/accessories at 133 N. 3rd St.
  • Go to nearby Cafe Ole at 147 N 3rd St. for great hummus and ice tea.
  • Visit PAWS at 100 N. 2nd street to volunteer and/or adopt a sweet cat or dog.
  • Walk and visit historic spots like Elfreth's Alley, Franklin Court, and Independence Hall.
  • Forget to visit the Betsy Ross House (next to the former Real World Philadelphia house).
  • Try and engage the guy playing a cittern in conversation at the Visitor's Center at 599 Market St. as he is a jerk.
  • Miss First Friday, where galleries show new art and provide some nibbles and wine on the first Friday of every month (but you may have to suffer through pretentious patrons and the overlymonied)
  • Pass on Franklin Fountain -which has awesomely extravagant ice cream creations made from local Bassetts ice cream. Though the owner's handle-bar mustache is a little off-putting.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Memphis Taproom: or a special journey into Kensington

  • I cheated and did not take public transport. I got a ride. There is a simple reason for this. It's in KENSINGTON. I'm not saying that you can't take public transit to Kensington but I am saying if you can get a ride - then do so. 
  • Good place to take vegetarians or vegans.
  • I went here because I saw it on an episode of Diners, Drive-ins and Dives and I'm a sucker for marketing. 

How to get there (if you're not getting a ride):
  • Take Market-Frankford subway to Spring Garden.
  • Take SEPTA bus 25 to Cedar and Cumberland streets.
  • Address: 2331 E. Cumberland Street at Memphis (which I guess explains why it's not a bbq place like I originally thought)
  • Order the Beer-Battered Kosher Dils.
  • Check out their new beer garden - open from April to October.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Chemical Heritage Foundation - or a place I've walked by but had no idea what it was

  • The Chemical Heritage Foundation (CHF) began in 1982 as the Center for the History of Chemistry.
  • It was a pilot project of the University of Pennsylvania and the American Chemical Society.
  • It was made a non-profit organization in 1987. And became the CHF in 1992.
  • Today the Chemical Heritage Foundation has a library, museum, and a conference center. It also supports research, produces educational materials and offers fellowships.
Swiss Bakelite phone. Photo by Gregory Tobias from the collection Making Modernity.
  • The Chemical Heritage Foundation is located at 315 Chestnut Street in what used to be the 1865 First National Bank. It was renovated and opened on October 3, 2008.  
  • Visit the Museum - it's free! Open Mon-Fri 10am-4pm.
  • Use the restrooms in the Museum/Conference area - the floors are made of recycled cans!
  • Check out the exhibition Making Modernity!

Bakelite and Lucite Handbag. Photo by Gregory Tobias from the collection Making Modernity.
  • Want to take a guided tour of the museum? (Because really - who has the attention span or the ability to deal with cantankerous old people?) Take a self-guided tour using your cell phone! 215.525.1682
  • Miss First Fridays - the museum hosts events and guest speakers and is open until 8pm.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Port Kennedy - or how building a bypass helped end a town

  • Port Kennedy Village was named after Alexander Kennedy and was built around the limestone quarried from the nearby Valley Forge Hills.
  • Port Kennedy expanded under the guidance of Alexander's son, John, who established an extensive Lime production, employing up to 70 men.
  • During Port Kennedy's prime,  the village included a hotel, furnace and workshops, and starting in 1849, a Reading Railroad station.
  • In the 1960s the Pottstown Expressway (US Route 422) was constructed, effectively cutting through the town.
  • Today only the Kennedy-Supplee Mansion (1852) and the First Presbterian Church of Port Kennedy (1845) remain.
Photo by Jack E. Boucher
  • Visit the Kennedy-Supplee Mansion located in Valley Forge National Historical Park and originally known as Kenhurst. You can lease it!
  • Check out the National Historic Registry for more information about the Mansion and it's interesting past.

  • Know how the Kennedy-Supplee Mansion got its name? In 1911 J. Henderson Supplee purchased the mansion and lived there until his death in 1936.
  • Know who J. Henderson Supplee was? In 1936 he was one of the last Civil War Veterans of Montgomery County. He had fought in Antietam, Stony River, Chattanooga, and Gettysburg.

 "I eventually had to go down to the cellar..."
"That's the display department."
"...with a torch."
"The lights had probably gone."
"So had the stairs."
"Well, you found the notice, didn't you?"
"Yes. The plans were on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet, stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying 'Beware of the Leopard."
Douglas Adams' A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Monday, August 1, 2011

Camden Aquarium - or it's annoying to take a ferry with Rascal Flatts fans

  • The Camden Aquarium started out in 1992 as the non-profit New Jersey State Aquarium.
  • The new Adventure Aquarium reopened in 2005 and is most definitely for profit.
  • You can take the RiverLink Ferry from Philadelphia Penn's Landing to the Camden Waterfront.
  • The ferry takes about 15 minutes even though it's directly across the water. Maybe it has something to do with currents or people wanting to sit longer.
  • The ferry is every hour and only runs Saturdays/Sundays from May-September.
This is not the octopus from Adventure Aquarium. It's from a much more interesting article in the LA Times.
  • Aquarium is an overpriced $22.95 (plus tax! I know! There' s tax!) for adults and $17.95 (don't forget the tax) for kids 2-12.
  • RiverLink Ferry is $7.00 round trip ($6 for kids)- they have a special concert series schedule too. So if you're lucky - like us - you can share the ferry with teenagers with daisy dukes, fake curls, cowboy hats and a thing for Rascall Flatts.
  • Take advantage of their free fountain refills in the aquarium's cafe. Not only do you get free soda refills - but you get free slushies! (seriously - when's the last time that you had a slushy?)
  • Look at the octopus - it's fascinating.

  • Go on the weekend. Unless you love the smell of dirty diapers or you're a giant and can see over everyone's heads.
  • Have high expectations - then you won't be disappointed that you just spent a fortune to see fish you could see in a nearby lake.