Philadelphia – A City Street || An Institution

Albert Barnes taught people to look at works 
of art primarily in terms of their visual relationships.

The Barnes is home to one of the world’s greatest collections of impressionist, post-impressionist, and modern European paintings, with especially deep holdings in Renoir, Cézanne, Matisse, and Picasso. Assembled by Dr. Albert C. Barnes between 1912 and 1951, the collection also includes important examples of African art, Native American pottery and jewelry, Pennsylvania German furniture, American avant-garde painting, and wrought-iron metalwork.

The minute you step into the galleries of the Barnes collection, you know you’re in for an experience like no other. Masterpieces by Vincent Van Gogh, Henri Matisse, and Pablo Picasso hang next to ordinary household objects—a door hinge, a spatula, a yarn spinner. On another wall, you might see a French medieval sculpture displayed with a Navajo textile. These dense groupings, in which objects from different cultures, time periods, and media are all mixed together, are what Dr. Barnes called his “ensembles.”

In this spirit, here is an ”ensemble” of my own, a compilation of images from the up and coming Comcast Technology Center – with its dangerous-looking platform lift – and the Barnes Foundation. Photography inside the galleries is not permitted and, for once, I understand. With its small rooms and artworks arranged over the entire length and width of the walls, the ”ensembles” are not easy to capture – at least not by the casual photographer.

The Barnes Foundation

February 25th, 2017

How to order a steak

In 4 easy steps.  There are a lot of good addresses for Philly cheesesteaks nowadays but if you value tradition, there can be only one: Pat’s King of Steaks. Original home of the steak sandwich invented by its founder, Pat Olivieri, in 1930, the place is still owned by the same family. The sandwiches (we got them wit) are utterly delicious.Philadelphia
9th Street & Passyunk Avenue

February 24th, 2017

Philadelphia – The Ben Franklin Bridge

Dear Ben is omnipresent in Philadelphia. Monuments, museums, his memorial, this bridge, they all honour one of America’s most illustrious figures.The bridge named after Benjamin Franklin spans across Delaware River and connects two Cities and two States: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Camden, New Jersey. It can be crossed by car, train, bike or, like we did, on foot.The Ben Franklin bridge spans across Delaware River and connects two Cities and two States: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Camden, New Jersey. It can be crossed by car, train, bike or, like we did, on foot. Around 1,3 miles or 30′ walk, longer if you pose to take photos, soak up the views, try to identify Philly’s tall buildings in the background or just take deep breaths of fresh air. Or maybe watch a game.Camden Waterfront, on the other side, was undergoing a major redevelopment and didn’t look too welcoming at the time so we just turned back without exiting the bridge. 

The Ben Franklin Bridge

February 24th, 2017

Betsy Ross & Elfreth’s Alley

Leaving the ”Keys to Community” in the capable hands, or should I say bust, of Mr. Franklin we followed Arch Street towards 2nd Street, finding some quaint little shops along the way.

To Betsy Ross’ House. Ms Ross was a seamstress, credited with sewing the first American flag – to Mr. Francis Hopkinson’s design, as we learned from his epitaph earlier. While no proof exists of Ms. Ross’ accomplishment, the fact remains that she is a beloved figure and her legend lives strong. And, right across her house, a giant flag. Can you get more patriotic than that? 

Yes, you can – by way of preserving your city’s history for generations to come. Like Elfreth’s Alley. Connecting N 2nd Street with N Front Street, it has been there since the 1700s – the oldest residential street in the United States, only because of the efforts of its very residents. Built by merchants and tradesmen to house their families, later welcoming working class immigrants, today impeccably preserved by its community of artists, artisans, educators and entrepreneurs. A street with its own history, its own architecture and website, a little world of its own.

With the most charming dwellers, indeed.

February 24th, 2017

Philadelphia – Benjamin Franklin

Back in Philadelphia, on to more agreeable sights, starting with Benjamin Franklin’s resting place, in Christ Church Burial Ground. The great man sleeps close to other patriots and prominent figures like Francis Hopkinson, designer of the first official American flag:

And Gerald Connely, a Seaman, Soldier, Safecracker. Wait… Safecracker?!? Was Gerald Connely Philadelphia’s most prominent crook? A quick research showed that actually, Connelly was a world-class locksmith who was cooperating with the FBI whenever his expertise was needed. He was also a very funny guy who knew, when we was writing his parting words, that he would get people looking twice.

Finally, Mr. Franklin. He was just 22 when he wrote his epitaph. I wonder what made a man think about writing an epitaph at such a young age:

On the way out, a fire engine, descendant of the service that Franklin helped create in 1736, the Union Fire Company, one of the first volunteer firefighting companies in America: 

Here is Mr. Franklin again, his bust sculpted by James Peniston, covered with casts of 1.000 keys collected from local schoolchildren. ”Keys To Community” also contains several brass nameplates representing Philadelphia firefighters fallen in the line of duty since 1736: Philadelphia
February 24th, 2017

Atlantic city – Gloom.Revel.Ten

You wouldn’t know it the way its wavy shaped windows shine in the sun. Yet, this enormous structure, built on a once-residential area at a cost of billion, remains closed since September 2014. All the 6,8 million sq.ft., 1.898 hotel rooms, 14 restaurants, spa, concert venues, nightclubs, shops and 130.000 sq.ft. gambling space of it. 2,5 years of operation, then bankruptcy. Now a still, eerie emptiness. 

A lot has been said about what is, what could have been, what should be done. This city, once thriving on speculation, is now suffering from the effects of an overdose. 

A few houses left standing in the vicinity, two in the shadow of the sleeping giant. We have to move on. It may be the emptiness but this area feels unsafe.

Atlantic City
February 23rd, 2017

Atlantic city – Aboard the quiet car to the beach

On the train to Philadelphia, we had discovered the quiet car completely by accident. A great feature, one that trains in Europe would greatly benefit from. Why this has not been implemented on the other side of the Atlantic, is a mystery to me. We now ask the train attendant for the quiet car, every time we’re about to board a train.

Half an hour later and… what a difference 60 miles make!

A brilliant sunshine, a light breeze, unseasonably warm, an enormous beach, no crowds.

“Enjoy God’s gift to humanity!” an excited fellow walker exclaimed…

“Enjoy!” we echoed, smiling back… “as long as you remain under the boardwalk”, we added silently.

Atlantic City
February 23rd, 2017

Philadelphia – around 30th Street Station, waiting for the train

If time allows, a trip to Philadelphia may either be combined with a visit to the Amish Country, to the west or a walk on (better yet, under) the famous Boardwalk of the Atlantic City, to the southeast. We chose the second. Around 90′ by train, the Ocean was beckoning.

Meanwhile, Philly was showing us her cloudy face.

Philadelphia, views from the Schuylkill River Trail.
February 23rd, 2017