Category Archives: Philadelphia

It’s the seventh day of Christmas


2013Mummers052016 is nearly over. Tomorrow we’ll start a new year, and the Mummers will be parading through Philadelphia again.

Ah, the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge. This week, they’re requesting that we go completely over the top with the most ornate picture we can find…

ChineseFriendshipGatePhiladelphiaAnd here we are: the Chinese Friendship Gate at 10th and Arch Streets in Philadelphia.

It’s definitely ornate; but it’s hard to grasp how complex the patterns are unless you concentrate

ChineseGateDetail02on a few

ChineseGateDetail01areas of


Silent Sunday – September 8, 2013



Wordless Wednesday – August 7, 2013


Weekly Photo Challenge: Philadelphia Patterns

(Actually, I’m not sure whether the “patterns” challenge is still open or not. My computer was unusable for a couple of days, and I’ve barely started to go through my backlog of email. But even if there’s a newer topic by now, at least I can come up with a post on this subject after missing half a week – so here goes.)

I photographed these patterns in Philadelphia last summer, but each of them is only a small piece of the original picture. Can you guess what the real subject was?

Pattern1Pattern 1

Pattern2Pattern 2

Pattern3Pattern 3

Pattern4Pattern 4

And here you are – the uncropped photos:

PatternBusShelterA bus shelter

PatternPhilaApartmentHouseAn apartment building

PatternStMarksLocustStA church door

PatternRittenhouseSquareFountainA fountain in Rittenhouse Square

Philly Walls

Day before yesterday, I met with a friend, and we walked through a large chunk of center city Philadelphia, taking pictures as we went. A few of them –

Some walls in Philadelphia have murals painted (or otherwise constructed) on them, like this one  – the “Lincoln Legacy Project” – in the 700 block of Chestnut Street.

PhillyMuralChestnutStLeftI couldn’t get all of this mural in one photo. It faces into a narrow parking lot…

PhillyMuralChestnutStRight…and if I had stepped back any farther, the mural would be hidden by the building on the other side of the lot. (Or else I’d have been standing in the middle of Chestnut Street, which isn’t a good idea.) You’d need a wide-angle lens to photograph the whole thing, and I didn’t have one.

(I’d give you more information about the mural, but the mural project website doesn’t discuss its meaning – I suppose it speaks for itself. I can tell you that it’s partly a mosaic made of more than a million glass tiles, and that the left side was painted by inmates at Graterford Prison.)

Then there are walls that are artwork in themselves –

PhillyStoneCarvingWindowFrameCarved stone on 5th street near Market.

PhillyIndependenceHallStairsBeside the stairsteps in Independence Hall.

PhillyIndependenceHallStairLandingThe stair landing in Independence Hall. We often think of eighteenth-century architecture as fairly austere, and compared with what the Victorians built, it is. But builders in the 1700s were perfectly happy to include a bit of ornament, as long as it didn’t compromise the classical proportions of their work.

Small stones: The last stone

SchuykillExpresswayJanuaryIceFromRockBlack rock abrim with
Water that seeps to cold air,
Turning to white rock.

This photo was taken along the Schuylkill Expressway – the main road into Center City Philadelphia from the west. The Expressway is built in a notch hacked (or more likely blasted) out of the high, steep southern bank of the Schuykill River. Where the bedrock is exposed, water oozes out of the rock, and in winter it freezes into miniglaciers on the rock face.

If it’s New Years Day in Philadelphia…

…it’s time for the Mummers Parade. (To be honest with you, I wasn’t at yesterday’s parade; the only things I get to see at events like that are taller people’s backs. What follows are photos from the television broadcast.)

2013Mummers01Mummers can look a little startling at first glance.

2013Mummers02And maybe more so at the second look. Yes, it’s a guy in a dress, holding a parasol, at an imitation beach bar.

2013Mummers03Being a Mummer tends to run in families – some are very, very young.

2013Mummers04The choreography and costumes are amazing. This is one of the “string bands” – you can see a couple of the musicians in the right rear of the picture. At least, you can see their instruments 😉2013Mummers05All the scenery has to be moved by hand as the groups march along, by the way – no motorized floats.

What we have here are a lot of cops and teachers and store clerks and firefighters and lawyers and, well, people in any occupation except professional actors or dancers who get together for elaborately costumed and choreographed and competitive performances. And do it again the following year with a new and different show. With feathers.

Philadelphia Victorian, part 2

When I was in Philly last week, there was one building in particular that I couldn’t stop taking pictures of.

LocustStreetCurtisInstituteOf MusicIt’s right next to – maybe part of – the Curtis Institute’s Lenfest Hall, and someone was careful to make Lenfest Hall match the red stone of the older building,

LocustStreetCurtisInstituteOfMusicLenfestHallbut they couldn’t be more different in style.

LocustStreetWindowFrameThere’s the relatively simple window frame

LocustStreetWindowSupportand the scrolled supports under the windows

LocustStreetPorchSideand a side view of the more elaborate porch roof above the door.

LocustStreetBirdThere are the birds that embellish the extended window sills, one at the corner of the building and one next to the door.

LocustStreetInsideDoorFramsBut for stonework run delightfully amok, you have to stand inside the porch and look up at the scrolled supports on either side of the door

LocustStreetAboveDoorand finally, amazingly, at the last place anyone would be likely to look: straight overhead.

I love this building.

Philly Christmas Village

Yesterday, I spent some time in Philadelphia taking pictures of this and that – including this Christmas Village.

ChristmasVillage2012SignThe sign at the entrance is a little hard to see. (Probably it would stand out better at night.) The building in the background is City Hall, a few blocks away.

ChristmasVillage2012LOVEThe village is located in Love Park, named after this sculpture that’s been there since the seventies.

ChristmasVillage2012CrecheTo one side is this large nativity scene.

ChristmasVillage2012It’s a collection of little booths

ChristmasVillage2012aselling all sorts of gift items


ChristmasVillage2012Bratwurstand also this and that to eat while you shop. The Weihnachtshutte specializes in bratwurst, but you can also buy Italian treats or crepes or (at Zea May’s food truck) empanadas and Navaho tea.