This time last year, I sat around a fireplace with a group of friends on Mount Hood while snow fell around us, trying to determine the best time to let them know I’d be leaving the lives we were building in Portland for a return to Philadelphia. The old Portlandia/Always Sunny heave-ho. After three and a half years in the Pacific Northwest, and a lot of self analysis, everything just made sense for me to come back to the place I knew and loved. It’s the city that loves you back, after all.
I wasn’t even off the plane long enough to set my bags down when Nathaniel Popkin and Pete Woodall grabbed me by the arm at One Shot Cafe and threw me into an editorial role. A six-week festival was coming and they needed help keeping the Hidden City Daily in order. And what better way to re-familiarize myself with Philadelphia than by diving right in, working with dozens of contributing writers researching and reporting on the city around us, taking photos, and just getting out there. So I did.
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The Year of Our Lorde Twenty Thirteen: Philadelphia.
The Good: Hall & Oates were voted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Singh Center, Morgan Hall, Gerri LeBow Hall, and DEC Center each opened, giving their respective universities new architectural icons. The Popup Garden kicked so much ass over the summer on South Broad Street, they decided to do it again in the winter at Penn’s Landing. Speaking of, Penn’s Landing’s next incarnation, from the desk of London’s Hargreaves Associates, is slowly coming together, and it’s infinitely better than what’s there now (Winterfest notwithstanding). Bald eagle populations have rebounded so well that they’re now casually gliding down the Schuylkill in broad daylight.
The Bad: Hoagie City collapsed onto the Salvation Army, resulting in seven deaths—and a recharged L&I. Twenty-three schools closed. In their tenth season at Citizens Bank Park, the Phillies stunk, and Ruben Amaro continues to make them worse.
The Philly: Brooklyn tried and failed twice to cash in on the sixth borough, as 3rd Ward and Brooklyn Flea both came and went in a flash. Even as Kenny Gamble’s Universal Companies have breathed fresh air into communities like Hawthorne and Nicetown, his Center City properties at the Royal Theater and Philadelphia International Records have languished; in the next year, those could become a high-end residential building and a 47-story hotel-condo tower. Dan McQuade wrote a silly story tracing Rocky’s training run in Rocky II that became an internet sensation—and a marathon-plus.
And before we crank year three into high gear, let’s take one last look back at this one. From the John Heinz Wildlife Refuge to Poquessing Creek, from Morris Arboretum to Citizens Bank Park, through the crossroads at the heart of town under the big Quaker, these photos represent the City of Philadelphia I knew in 2013.
PS: Happy New Year!