Society Hill

Should come as no surprise

Philadelphia's relationship with its rivers is... shall we say, complex. In recent years, we've done a better job connecting with the Schuylkill River, mostly thanks to the wonderful Schuylkill River Trail. We're trying to get back to the Delaware River too, but that's a much more challenging lift due to the presence of I-95 and Delaware Avenue. Still there are examples of successful forays toward the river. Race Street Pier is one of the better parks in Philadelphia. Morgan's Pier is a great place to enjoy a drink and stare at Camden. The best place we've discovered so far though, will only last through the summer.

In April, we told you about Spruce Street Harbor Park, a temporary public space created by the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation where Spruce Street meets the Delaware. Though it officially opens for business today, we snuck in last night (along with like 700 other people at a whyilovephilly party) to get a taste of what this pop-up brings to the table. Needless to say after the job that DRWC did during the cold months with the Waterfront Winterfest, this park is just wonderful.

DRWC's newest pop-up

Remember a few months ago, when we tried to describe the awesomeness of the Waterfront Winterfest, and urged you to check it out quickly and repeatedly? That experience came from the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation in case you forgot. And this summer, it seems, the DRWC will be at it again.

Today a press release found its way to our inbox, announcing the Spruce Street Harbor Park at the Penn's Landing Marina. This two-month pop-up will include the creation of a little pier that has a restaurant, a water garden, and nets that will allow visitors to feel like they're walking on the water in the river without actually having to touch it. On the shore, you'll find a boardwalk, misting areas, some temporary fountains, a hammock garden (!), and an urban beach. Sorry Sugarbeach, there's a new game in town this summer!

What will replace it?

Several years ago, a Citibank branch opened its doors at the corner of 2nd & South. This always struck us as a little odd, as Citi didn't really have much of a presence in Philadelphia. But perhaps, we thought, this location would be a first foray into a new market for this hulking banking giant, and soon Citi would be as ubiquitous as PNC or Bank of America.

In the past

Alas, it seems that this was not the case. Passing by over the weekend, we discovered that the Citibank has closed here, and the space is now vacant. A Metro Commercial sign in the window suggests it's available for rent. We would have to think that this space will be attractive for any number of new tenants.

Now a place to buy shoes

Today, if you want to take in a movie without venturing too far from Center City, your options are limited.  So it’s hard to believe that there was a time when roughly 400 movie houses lined this city’s streets.  According to Hidden City Philadelphia, only 5 of these classic theatres remain in operation today.  One of the many that have been defunct since the end of Hollywood’s Golden Age is located at 425 South St. and was once known as the Model Theatre.  The image here below, taken from G.W. Bromley’s 1910 Philadelphia Atlas, shows the location roughly around the time that construction on the Model Theatre would have been underway.

Once a house of worship, always a house of worship

The structure at 412 Lombard St. has always been a house of worship.  While the structure’s general purpose hasn’t changed at all in more than 220 years of existence, its congregation has changed a few times.  According to PhilaPlace, the plot began its life as the site of the Universalist First Independent Church of Christ in 1793.  The image below, taken from the Kesher Israel website, shows the church’s original deed.

An old deed indeed

Given its independent spirit, the church welcomed speeches from alternative Christian thinkers like Unitarian theologian Joseph Priestly and Mormon founder Joseph Smith.  The image below, taken from Frontier History, shows a church ledger from 1840 indicating that Smith had been paid $13.63 for a sermon that, by all accounts, captivated the 3000 in attendance.