For twenty years, the Blue Cross River Rink has been there for those of us who enjoy strapping on shoes with blades on them and going around in circles until we overheat. This year, the Winterfest adds a number of additional elements that make things considerably more fun and interesting.
The Lodge is the most noticeable change from years past. Apparently constructed out of shipping containers, the building has seating for hundreds along with a little kitchen and a bar area. Oh, and ping-pong. We snagged some spiked cider, some veggie chili, and potato fritters that literally melt in your mouth. Not a shock that the quality of food is so high, considering that the man in the kitchen last night was the talented George Sabatino. The only complaint here was that our shoes didn't exactly love the mulch on the floor. So when you go, wear lousy shoes.
As you wander north on 2nd Street in Old City, you’ll notice a relief between the buildings rising around Walnut and Sansom Streets. Just south of Sansom, Welcome Park is a walk-through, open-air museum that offers a concise history of Philadelphia in various placards and murals. The spot was chosen for its historical significance, which accounts for our ability to trace its usage as far back as 1690. According to Benson John Lossing’s 1850 text The Pictorial Field-Book of the Revolution, the “Slate-roof House” standing at roughly 133 S. 2nd St. was “one of the most interesting buildings in Philadelphia.” It is shown here below in a sketch also taken from Lossing’s text.
True to its name, Old City offers us a glimpse into a Philadelphia neighborhood in the days before independence. The history of some buildings, like The City Tavern, actually tell an even broader story about American history. Originally built in 1773 at 138 S. 2nd St., on the northwest corner of 2nd & Walnut, the City Tavern was a hotbed of intellectual discourse, political organization, and spirituous merrymaking. According to the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, the Tavern was a destination for the social elite, not just of Philadelphia, but of the collective colonies. It was visited by George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Paul Revere and served as the unofficial meeting place for the First Continental Congress as war with the British approached. The sketch here below, drawn in 1908 and curated by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, shows the Tavern as it would have appeared in the days of pre-Revolutionary fervor.
We've had pop-up gardens temporarily beautify vacant Center City lots, and the ChristmasHoliday Christmas Village near City Hall has become a popular fixture. Now, a new pop-up holiday treat is set to debut on the waterfront.
One way to animate public space while we carry out the planning process designed to reanimate and redevelop the waterfront is the new Waterfront Winterfest. That's the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation's month-long winter celebration that will turn Penn’s Landing and the RiverRink into a holiday village on the river. With grounds designed by David Fierabend of landscape architecture firm Groundswell Design, it will include a 500-person warming tent fabricated from recycled shipping containers that will be surrounded by a garden oasis of pine trees and fire pits near the rink, and food from Philly chef George Sabatino. The festivities will run from Thanksgiving Day through New Years Eve. It will also include the Art Star Craft Bazaar and a light show.
First Friday in Old City seems like it's been happening forever. At this point, we take it for granted that once a month the galleries will open their doors and their wine bottles and welcome even the poorest bloggers inside. An exhibit opened at Philadelphia International Gallery this past First Friday which caught our eye and we encourage you to check it out sometime this month if you're in the neighborhood.
The exhibit is entitled IN SITU Philadelphia and is a collaboration between Rachel Cheetham-Richard and Dan Rose of Steamroller Labs. A photographer and a 3D artist respectively, Cheetham-Richard and Rose turn images of city locations into new perspectives, as if looking at them through a kaleidoscope. The process, according to a press release, involves photographing locations around town, then molding the 2D images into sculptures, and rephotographing the images. The image below shows I-95 from various perspectives and different locations around town.