Adam Goldin | Philadelphia Blog

Adam Goldin covers Philadelphia news and updates.

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The Most Important Meal Of The Day: Where To Eat The Best Breakfast In Philadelphia

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Is there anything better than waking up early on a Saturday morning and indulging in a giant, mouth-watering breakfast? Or is there anything better than hitting up a breakfast spot that is open late after a Friday night spent out in the city?

Whether you are a breakfast connoisseur who enjoys eggs, pancakes, and a cup of hot coffee early in the morning, or one that prefers sausage, french toast, and an ice-cold glass of orange juice in the late evening, Philadelphia offers a one-of-a-kind breakfast experience for all.

If you are a breakfast-lover looking for the best breakfast nook in Philadelphia, take a seat at one of these 6 notable diners, cafes, or brunch spots in the heart of the city:

1. The Dutch

Truly indulge in the Pennsylvania Dutch food that is so near-and-dear to the hearts of Philly’s locals by dining at The Dutch. This quaint spot located on 4th street is known for its Dutch Baby Pancakes, which are cooked to fluffy perfection on a cast iron skillet.

2. Frangelli’s Bakery

Do you have a sweet-tooth craving to satisfy? Frangelli’s Bakery opens at around 7:00am every morning and offers a variety of doughnuts that are cooked fresh daily. Your hardest decision will be choosing which filling to get!

3. The Hungry Pigeon

This restaurant has won the hearts of Philly natives everywhere. You can indulge on a vast array of baked goods or, for those who prefer eating a lighter breakfast, The Hungry Pigeon has healthier options that don’t sacrifice taste.

4. Spread Bagelry

If you don’t mind waiting in line, this shop offers top-notch bagels. Every bagel is hand-rolled, boiled in honey water, and wood-fired in a real brick oven. You can opt for a simple bagel with a spread of your choosing or try a sandwich special with topping recommendations put together by the Spread Bagelry’s staff.

5. Café y Chocolate

This Mexican restaurant does their own twist on a traditional breakfast. Café y Chocolate makes scrambled eggs with chorizo and even offers up a hot chocolate that its regulars prefer to sip instead of their morning coffee or juice.

6. Pete’s Clown House

This restaurant may sound more like an amusement park attraction than a breakfast spot, but Pete’s Clown House has been around for over 50 years. Early risers can start their day off right by getting there before 9:00am, when you can get an entire meal (eggs, hash browns, toast, coffee, and juice) for just under $2.

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Celebrate Summer with These Great Philly Beer Gardens

With warm weather comes the opportunity to enjoy your favorite drinks outdoors. This is no exception in Philadelphia, where seasonal beer gardens are both popular and plentiful. Here are a few spots you should add to your list ASAP:

 

Independence Beer Garden

Located across the street from the Liberty Bell, this beer garden is one of the most popular in the area. Although the crowd of patrons may be massive, the Independence Beer Garden boasts three bars, a variety of seating areas, and even several games scattered throughout the 20,000-square-foot space. The Independence Beer Garden opened its doors on April 24 and serves 40 taps of regional and domestic craft beers, as well as a wide selection of American food.

 

PHS Pop Up Garden

Hosted by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, this urban oasis is located at 15th and South Streets, with a new location opening on 36th and Filberts Streets this summer. The 15th and South Streets establishment opened on Cinco de Mayo and features new food, drinks, and “inspirational events” designed to connect visitors with the surrounding plant life.

 

The Oval

Run by the City of Philadelphia and the Fairmount Parks Conservancy, this beer garden is located directly in front of the Art Museum on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. This year, the popular Oval Beer Garden is slated to return every Wednesday through Sunday of the Oval’s usual season. Unfortunately, the City of Philadelphia has yet to release this year’s official opening date or vendors.

 

Spruce Street Harbor Park

Also known as the “hammock haven on the Delaware River,” Spruce Street Harbor Park is popular amongst single beer enthusiasts and families alike. This garden features lounge seating, floating barges and, of course, over 50 hammocks for guests to relax in. The SSHP also boasts a menu of drinks and dishes made in collaboration with local restaurants and breweries. The SSHP opened on May 12 and is located at 301 S. Christopher Columbus Blvd.

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City of Brotherly Love…and Film

Philadelphia has served as the backdrop for many of Hollywood’s most memorable films. Philly’s rich history makes it the perfect set for many Hollywood movies, and most of those locations can still be visited today. Philly is often portrayed as a main character on the silver screen, adding a sense of place and realism to a film. Philly has also been known disguise itself in the place of other cities in film, often being a cheaper option and standing in for cities like New York. Here is a quick look at some of the films shot here in Philadelphia, both as a featured location in the story, as well as some times Philly went masquerading as somewhere else:

 

Rocky (1976) Quite possibly the best movie to ever come out of Philly is the classic and beloved Rocky. Interesting fun fact…back in 1976, Rocky’s onscreen apartment was owned in real life by Eleanor O’Hey. When the first movie was filmed she was given $50 for the rights to shoot outside and in her home due to the small budget. When Rocky II came around, the fee was bumped up to…wait for it…$500! The apartment still stands today and is a tourist destination for fans.

Creed (2015) Creed not only payed homage to the Rocky series in filming, it also payed homage to the city of Philadelphia itself. The movie showed primarily the run-down areas of Philly, afflicted with blight and more indicative of the 1976 Philadelphia showcased in Rocky, rather than the thriving and eclectic and (let’s face it) the mixed bag of gentrified areas butting right up against the blight and old neighborhoods that represent the Philadelphia of today.

Silver Linings Playbook (2012) The role that earned Jennifer Lawrence an Oscar and made Bradley Cooper a household name was shot in Philadelphia. Here Philly didn’t play as much as an iconic role as it did in Rocky, but the home team (talking about the Eagles) got some love in the script.

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009) In the follow up sequel, Shia Lebouf’s character Sam attends college at the University of Pennsylvania. For a good part of the first half of the movie, the campus is featured heavily. When the action kicks into high gear, the film takes the characters by Schuylkill River and then to Eastern State Penitentiary.

National Treasure (2004) Remember that rich history I spoke of earlier? Well in this movie, Nicholas Cage plays a character on a treasure hunt that takes him all over the world, but most especially in the city that was the birthplace of liberty. Cage was able to film in Independence Hall and handle a faux Declaration of Independence. Philly is basically a co-star in this one.

Every M. Night Shyamalan Film: A Philadelphia native, M. Night is known for basing his stories in and around the Philadelphia area, and filming all (or as much as possible) in the city. Even his most recent movie, Split, follows this trend, having filmed scenes at the King of Prussia Mall, 30th Street Station, and the Philadelphia Zoo.

 

As stated earlier, Philly has served as New York quite a few times in recent years. Movies like Limitless starring Bradley Cooper, Safe with Jason Statham, Dead Man Down with Colin Farrell, and Paranoia with Liam Hemsworth. All shot in Philly, but made to look like New York or other locales.

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Philly’s Soda Tax: Where Are We?

As we discussed before it was passed, Philly’s tax on sodas and other sugary beverages is an attempt to kill two birds with one stone: increasing the wealth of a city that has been struggling fiscally for some time, while biting into the consumption of unhealthy drinks. Making soda and presweetened teas more expensive, of course, doesn’t make healthy alternative beverage options any cheaper.

 

Soda beverage sales have halved since the beginning of 2017 when the tax was enacted. Regardless of one’s feelings on the soda industry, the tax is not helping it or related industries in the Philadelphia area. It’s possible that customers really hit by “sticker shock” have been shopping for sweet drinks in bulk outside of the city. Major area distributor Canada Dry Delaware Valley has stated its intent to cut its workforce by 20% in March, and an owner of six ShopRites has been quoted saying he intends to lay off 300 workers. Neither actually specializes in soda, however.

 

Mike Dunn, the city spokesman, said, “We have no way of knowing if their sales figures and predicted job losses are anything more than fear-mongering to prevent this from happening in other cities.”

 

The mayor was even harsher, saying, “I didn’t think it was possible for the soda industry to be any greedier… They are so committed to stopping this tax from spreading to other cities,” continued Mayor Kenney’s statement, “that they are not only passing the tax they should be paying onto their customer, they are actually willing to threaten working men and women’s jobs rather than marginally reduce their seven figure bonuses.”

 

Companies aren’t actually required to convey the highest cost of soda to their customers – the tax affects distributors, who could, if they wished, leave the shelf price of soda where they sell it unchanged. However, most Philadelphia outlets, it seems, are trying to make things up by raising their sugary drink prices in accordance with the extra cost they have to pay because of the tax.

 

It’s clear from the mayor’s statements that the idea of the tax was to affect companies without harming consumers. It’s early days yet, but this may have been unrealistically optimistic. It’s also true, however, that companies that are swallowing the cost of the tax without complaint are not going to make the news. The effect of these more noble businesses, if they exist, is only going to be apparent in a difference in long term figures.

 

It’s worth noting that if the prices of taxed drinks really didn’t change for consumers, there is no reason to assume that their purchasing habits and diets would be affected, either. In that case, why tax unhealthy drinks? If people’s health isn’t going to be affected in any short-term sense, the only apparent result is to punish the manufacturers and distributors

 

So far, these are threats and predictions. It’s unclear as yet how things will actually shake out. Philadelphia’s soda tax is among only a few similar actions that are acting as tests cases of ideas like it for the rest of the nation and world. This early in, it’s still time to wait and see what the longterm effects will be.

 

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Philadelphia Falls Behind In Bilingual Education, But There’s Still Hope

Philadelphia has a very diverse school district, 12 percent of which is made up of English learners. Unfortunately, Philadelphia’s school district is lagging behind in terms of bilingual education. The city has experimented with bilingual education for years and has recently seen a boost in enthusiasm for more comprehensive dual-language immersion programs. But due to political debates and shifts in state and federal priorities, maintaining and expanding these programs has been a difficult process.

 

The city of Philadelphia has struggled to embrace bilingual education with the same intensity that other cities with high numbers of English learners have. This is because unlike most other states, Pennsylvania has never set up a separate certification for teaching ESL (English for speakers of other languages). The certification exams are only administered in English, which limits hiring for bilingual programs, as teachers must be completely proficient in English, as well as their native language. As a result, it has become difficult to recruit a diverse a teacher force. District data shows that only 3 percent of teachers identify as Hispanic and 2 percent identify as Asian.

 

In South Philadelphia, there was a push by Spanish-speaking families for schools establish a dual-language immersion program, so that their children could maintain their mother tongue while also learning to become fluent in English by adulthood. In order to create a successful dual-language immersion program, the school must have a class made up of about half English-dominant students and half Spanish-dominant students. Some school districts have a large divide between English-dominant students and Spanish-dominant students, while other schools are much more blurred, with a number of Hispanic students who are English-dominant because they’ve been in the U.S. for a long time.

 

So what exactly is the history behind Philadelphia’s struggle to implement a sufficient program? Bilingual education models were introduced to Philadelphia in the early 1970s by a woman named Eleanor Sandstrom. Sandstrom shifted perspectives at the District level and believed in an additive model for bilingual education. This means that students were taught a second language while also maintaining their primary language and culture. She felt that foreign language abilities should be considered a resource. She received Title VII funding and opened up the Potter-Thomas Bilingual School, which was seen as a national model for bilingual education for decades. Despite all of these efforts, the Philadelphia School District was still falling short. In 1972, bilingual programs only reached half of the 9,000 Spanish-speaking students in Philadelphia.

 

Unfortunately, two years later, the Bilingual Education Act was revised. Federal funding could not be used for two-way immersion programs. In the 1980s, the national conversation surrounding bilingual education shifted toward an “English-only” movement. There were many federal initiatives that limited and ended a number of education programs in languages other than English. During this time, 50 percent of Philadelphia’s bilingual education personnel were fired and many bilingual programs were cut. Aside from the Potter-Thomas School, almost every program in Philadelphia shifted back to a transitional model.

 

Bilingual education started to make a comeback in the 1990s. However, most of the dual-language programs shifted to charter schools. In the last few years, things have begun to look up again. Now, funding for bilingual models is not coming from federal sources, and will therefore not be so drastically affected by shifts in the thinking of the federal government.

 

In the past, Philadelphia has reflected bilingual educations trends and in some cases has been a pioneer. Unfortunately, this is not the case currently, as Philadelphia is somewhat behind. The biggest challenge in the process is finding teachers. One obstacle is that a number of teachers who are certified in their home countries need to pass state certifications that are only conducted in English. This is frustrating given that many of the models include a Spanish teacher and an English teacher. In these models, the Spanish teacher doesn’t need to be proficient in English.

 

Still, educators and proponents of bilingual education in Philadelphia remain optimistic. The District is clearly committed to bilingual education, and the public has put a lot of support behind the movement. We will have to see whether topnotch bilingual programs can be implemented in Philadelphia in the next few years. If so, this could make a big difference and lead a number of children toward successful futures.

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Go Primeval at The Franklin Institute

Image courtesy of the Los Angeles Times!

The Franklin Institute is a standard in the hearts of Philadelphians. From walking through the “giant heart” to the consistently exceptional special exhibits, the Franklin is equally as pleasant for a 30-something’s date activity as it is for a family outing.

The new special event is no exception. With Jurassic World: The Exhibition, the Franklin Institute gets you “the closest you will ever come to living dinosaurs.” Bringing you behind the scenes of the blockbuster movie, the exhibit is multifaceted. From paleontology, to animatronics, to the ethical consequences to consider in genetic modifications, this exhibit leaves children and adults alike with plenty to think about!

During your visit you’ll be guided through The Park by a virtual Park Ranger, and encounter the world’s most sophisticated animatronic dinosaurs as well as live actors in a movie-like setting that gets you up-close and personal with dinosaurs, and places smack-dab into the world of the Jurassic movies.

Then, step into the shoes of the scientists of the movie by walking into a science lab full of interactive exhibits. Jurassic World used world-renowned paleontologist Jack Horner as a collaborator, so the experience is not just an awesome up-close-and-personal with dinos, the exhibit also explores the science of paleontology. What are fossils? Check them out in person.  How did dinosaurs behave? How do we know what they looked like or what they ate? Learn about DNA science, cloning, and potential cause-and-effect of genetic modifications, with hands-on learning stations. There is an area discussing climate, the environment during the time of the dinosaurs, and the events that caused things to change. It also explores animal science, like scientists examining scat to learn more about and identify animals, and the science of camouflage.

The museum partnered with the Creature Technology Company, the brains behind the hit exhibit Walking With Dinosaurs, to create the animals you’ll see at the Franklin Institute. Walk through the iconic park gates from the films into a lush park that feels miles away from Foucault’s Pendulum. All your favorites are there, from Tyrannosaurus Rex and Velociraptor, to a Brachiosaurus, culminating in a dramatic battle between the movie’s Indominus Rex and a Stegosaurus.

The exhibit runs from now until April 23rd, and is sure to please audiences of all ages. Check out the Franklin Institute Website for more info and prices!

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Ridesharing and the Philly Battleground

When it comes to rideshare laws in Philly, it has been a rocky story. When Uber and Lyft were made legal, both companies were only given two-year experimental licences to operate in Pennsylvania. The Philadelphia Parking Authority had signed a deal with both the companies as part of the experimental licenses which, among other things, required them to pay 1 percent of their total earnings to the PPA. The PPA gave two-thirds of this amount to the Philadelphia School District and kept the remaining one-third to itself.

While still operating under the two-year license, taxi drivers in the city filed a lawsuit against the PPA, claiming that the protections and legal expectations for all of the city car services were not equal between ride-hailing services and the taxi or hired car services. Requirements like the Americans with Disabilities Act, which dictates all taxis have to adhere to certain accessibility guidelines, did not apply to ridesharing services. An injunction was filed against Uber and Lyft to prevent operation in the wake of the suit against the city. Though it made operation illegal, neither company seemed to be deterred by the injunction, which follows the trend established by Uber, when it began operation in Pennsylvania illegally at the start of it’s operation in PA.

The trend for rideshare companies has been, in many states, to keep operating, even when it isn’t legal. This creates a demand from the public that most city and state officials eventually give in to. Sure enough, PA Governor Tom Wolf signed a bill at the beginning of November to formally legalize Uber and Lyft with legislation permanently authorizing and regulating companies that operate as Uber and Lyft do.

We’ve seen this battle take place over and over again, in multiple cities. The biggest losers in these fights isn’t the rideshare companies, however, and it isn’t the cities or states. It’s the commonwealth. Users often rely on rideshare services to get to work when there are public transit failures or delays. Statistics show drops in cases of drunk driving in each city that correlate with arrival of Uber and/or Lyft. Those who cannot afford cars, or who have cars but cannot pay exorbitant parking fees, have options for emergencies or running errands that you don’t have when taking public transit.

It’s not just the customers who lose out, there are many who have found a continuous source of income in the form of these companies. Students say that they have found a strong earning source which has enabled them to repay their student loans and lead a comfortable lifestyle on the whole. Flexible scheduling allows drivers to work second jobs, be single parents, or go to school while maintaining an income. Immigrants who have language barriers or lack of relevant job experience in the US can make a living driving for rideshare companies.

Though the outcome favored rideshare companies in Philadelphia, cities like Austin still feel the sting.

Philadelphia: City of Firsts

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Art on the Outside: Philly’s Murals

Though Philadelphia contains one of the more renowned art museums in the world, there’s only one way to see art and the city at the same time: the street art.

From the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program, to artist Isaiah Zagar mosaic-tiling every wall he can get his hands on, to world-class graffiti and street art, nearly every street in Philadelphia is bound to have a surprise in store.

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The Philadelphia Mural Arts Program began in 1984 as an anti-graffiti program, and has created almost 4,000 murals since. From the recent color-blocking of Broad Street to Philadelphia On A Half-Tank, a mural painted on the side of an oil tank at the refinery in South Philly at Penrose Ave and 26th in 1999, there is an incredible amount of history in the program. Some works have been torn down or built over with time, but that is part of being in a living-breathing city. The majority of the murals with the project are not just for art’s sake, but also have a purpose. One of the project’s murals was painted on the side of a methadone clinic, and some over the 1,200 artists who helped to paint the mural were patients at the clinic at the time, as part of a rehabilitation program. The founder of the Mural Arts Program shared her top 10 favorite with The Guardian, and you can check them out here.

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One of the most unique ways to see murals in the city is to take a ride on the Market-Frankford elevated line. From 45th to 63rd streets, there are a total of 50 murals creating an experience called “Love Letters”. Some can be seen from the street, but not all, as they are meant to be seen from the train. Created by Philadelphia native Steve Powers, all 50 murals are love letters from a partner, from an ex, or from the residents to their city. Ranging from cutesy sentiment to powerful declarations, Love Letters from the El is an experience I highly recommend you make time for, even if you normally drive.

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Isaiah Zagar’s work is instantly recognizable to long-time residents of Philly. The Magic Garden, his multi-story maze-like art piece is the most famous of his work, particularly after a long-fought battle with the city to keep it. But you won’t just find his work in the Magic Garden, you can see his handiwork all over the city in the South Street/Queens Village area, particularly in alleyways. There are so many murals that they made a map to show them all.

Mural Locator is a website dedicated to pinpointing murals on maps all over the globe, and can help you find murals that aren’t part of the Mural Arts Project or Zagar’s body of work.

No matter if you are a long-time local or a brand new tourist, if you are on a unique-yet-romantic first date or looking for something to do with the kids on a nice day, there are endless ways of touring, viewing, and getting to know the wonderful art on the streets of Philadelphia.

What Will Hosting the DNC Be Like?

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The Democratic National Convention is right around the corner, and the question becomes… What is Philly going to look like in that time?

For those of us who were around during the Pope’s visit in September of 2015, there is some amount of hesitation about the city’s ability to host so large an event without the entire city coming to a screeching halt. Businesses lost revenue, streets, trains, and even bridges were closed, cutting people off from transport to and from jobs, and the revenue boost for the city and it’s local business owners expected from entertaining so many visitors turned out to be a bust as well.

The DNC is primarily being held within the Wells Fargo Center, and XFinity live will be included in the surrounding security perimeter. While the finalized security routes have not been determined officially as of yet, we can all expect “some closures” and a “non-scalable wall”. Special Agent James Henry spoke to the issue, and said that this will be on a smaller scale than the pope visit, and the impact will be minimal. Planning, he said, began shortly after the Pope left town, so hopefully the lessons learned from the papal visit will be reflected in the city.

And unlike the Pope’s visit, which saw many Philly residents leaving town for a mini vacation just get out of Dodge, the mayor is urging city residents to stay in place for the DNC. A campaign has been launched, with the slogan “You Don’t Want To Miss This”.

Perhaps in an effort to keep the city from shutting down, and the huge amount of waste that went along with the mass exodus of Philadelphia residents during the Pope’s tenure, there will not only be local discounts for convention-goers, but for residents as well.

Even if you don’t have a ticket to the convention, there will be lots of events that are open to the public, if you are of the inclination to attend. From art installations to PoliticalFest, to the ability submit testimony to the official party platform, there will be a lot of activities in the city apart from the convention. Visit the PHLDNC webpage, or the Morning Call online for more information, including where the aforementioned #DNCDeals can be found.

A proposal is currently working it’s way through the Pennsylvania Legislature that would lift restrictions on the sale of alcohol. Temporarily, of course. House Bill 1196 is looking to create a “national event permit” allowing for establishments hosting the event to circumvent many laws, including 2 a.m. serving cutoffs, permit holders can sell wine that has not been purchased through the PLCB, and alcohol-to-go rules will remain in effect for all approved establishments. So get ready to party like it’s the 2016 DNC. Earlier this month, another bill that allowed for, among other things, wine sales at grocery stores, longer state liquor store hours and 24/7 beverage service at casinos passed the House in a 157-31 vote.

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