Information meeting on accessibility improvements planned for 40th and Market St. Station

Posted on 30 November 2015

IMG_9449SEPTA is presenting an open information meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 1, on improvements planned for 40th and Market St. Station. This is a great chance to learn more about the project, which will address ADA and some other improvements at the station. The 40th St Station ADA Accessibility Project is expected to begin this winter and will take more than a year to complete – through Spring 2017, according to SEPTA. The project broke ground earlier this month.

The scope of the project includes the following work at the station and in the adjacent area:

• Installation of a machine roomless elevator on the NW & SE corners of 40th & Market Streets
• Installation of new headhouse covering to all four stairs accessing the station
• Installation of new restrooms in the subway level
• Reconstruction of new city sidewalks within work area
• Installation of new informational signage
• Installation of new doors, gates and architectural enhancements

The meeting will take place at Oshiver Hall, 3901 Market St., beginning at 6 p.m.

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Neighbors invited to USciences community meeting this Tuesday

Posted on 30 November 2015

Here’s a chance for neighborhood residents to learn more about the University of the Sciences‘ plans in the area, meet the administration, and ask questions. USciences is inviting all interested individuals to their December community meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 1, 7-8:30 p.m. The meeting will feature remarks from university leadership, an update on the university’s Campus Master Plan, an open forum for questions, and a chance to interact with various University departments and partner representatives. AlexanderWilsonSchoolLight refreshments will be served during the Meet & Greet part of the meeting, from 7:45-8:30 p.m.

The meeting will take place at McNeil Science and Technology Center, 45th and Woodland (#20 on map).

As a reminder, some of USciences’ plans in the area include converting the former Alexander Wilson Elementary School building (pictured) into student housing and student-focused retail. USciences purchased the 1.03-acre parcel at 46th and Woodland last fall.

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Check local holiday specials, events, and gift ideas; buy local for the holidays!

Posted on 30 November 2015

shoplocallog-300x300Shopping local is a way to keep more of your dollars in your own community. Our 2015 local holiday shopping guide, “Buy Local for the Holidays,” is here. Check out this page for information on holiday specials and events and for some great local gift ideas from a variety of West Philly businesses – bookstores, jewelers, gift shops, art galleries, bars, cafes and restaurants, and more!

This Week’s Holiday Specials include:

Monday, Nov. 30: Cyber Monday? How about “Cider Monday” at Penn Book Center, 130 S. 34th Street. Enjoy hot cider and holiday treats as you spend a cozy Monday shopping locally. 25% off sale on select Random House titles kicks off today! The store is open until 6 p.m. Mon-Fri.

Thursday, Dec. 3 – Saturday, Dec. 5: Holiday Kick-Off at Hello World, 3610 Sansom Street – Featuring jewelry designed by West Philly jeweler Amy Neukrug. Thursday and Friday: 5-9 p.m.; Saturday: 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Friday, Dec. 4: Opening reception for the University City Arts League Annual Holiday Craft Show, 6-8 p.m., 4226 Spruce Street. The show features hand-crafted one-of-a-kind gifts by 30 local artists.

• Saturday, Dec. 5: The Baltimore-Lancaster Avenue Shoppers’ Trolley (BLAST), 12-5 p.m. Featuring: great gifts and discounts galore from dozens of local businesses and free trolley shuttle service between Baltimore Avenue and Lancaster Avenue. The event is organized by the Baltimore Avenue Business Association (BABA) and People’s Emergency Center Community Development Corporation (PEC-CDC).

For more information about these and other local holiday events and specials, visit:

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Five firefighters injured in ladder truck crash on Baltimore Avenue

Posted on 30 November 2015

Five firefighters were injured Sunday morning when their ladder truck crashed along the 5400 block of Baltimore Avenue.

The crew was responding to a call in the area when the driver lost control of the truck, which slammed into parked cars, according to CBS Philly.

The firemen were taken to Penn Presbyterian Hospital with minor injuries.

Local photographer Ra Hall was on her way to a photo shoot and was nearby when the accident happened. Some of her photos are below.

Firetruckaccident Continue Reading

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Public school breakfast, lunch menu for December, 2015

Posted on 29 November 2015

Click on the images below to view breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus served in Philadelphia public schools in November 2015. Click here if your school uses the Satellite menu.

December 2015 K-8 breakfast, lunch and dinner menu


Continue Reading

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Shop local on Small Business Saturday, Nov. 28

Posted on 27 November 2015

small_business_saturday_featured_image2Forget about Black Friday. A great way to kick off your holiday shopping is by shopping locally on Small Business Saturday on November 28. Small Business Saturday was founded six years ago and has quickly become a great holiday tradition and one of the most important shopping days of the year.

We have a lot of great businesses in West Philly. From local gift and craft shops to book stores to small groceries to coffee shops and breweries, you can find unique holiday gifts and support your neighborhood tomorrow. For every $100 spent at local small businesses, $68 returns to the community. Your perfect holiday gift may be waiting for you just around the corner!

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A delicious way to support West Philly urban farm next Saturday

Posted on 27 November 2015

Mill-Creek-Logo_resizedHere’s a great and delicious way to celebrate the end of the growing season and help a neighborhood farm. Mill Creek Farm board members, staff and volunteers are inviting West Philly neighbors to their 10th annual “Grow Strong” Benefit Party on Saturday, Dec. 5, 5-8 p.m.

The party, which will be held at the new Penn State Philadelphia Center (675 Sansom St.), will feature live music, local eats and brews, a silent auction and a raffle. Tickets ($25) can be purchased online or at the door.

Donations can also be made online to benefit Mill Creek Farm’s education and food access programming in 2016 and beyond:

Over $15,000 has been raised at previous benefits, the proceeds of which support free educational field trips and after-school programs for local public schools, a Philadelphia Youth Network high school internship, an apprenticeship program and a host of community workshops. Each year, over 5,000 lbs. of chemical­ free produce are harvested from the farm and sold at affordable prices at market stands within two miles of the farm. Over 1,000 lbs, of produce are donated annually to neighborhood food cupboards.  Continue Reading

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Thanksgiving events, closings, schedule changes (updated)

Posted on 25 November 2015

HappyThanksgivingHere’s some useful info for those who are celebrating Thanksgiving in the neighborhood. Also, if you’re looking for something to do today, there will be Holiday Tree Lighting with hot cocoa and live music in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art beginning at 5 p.m. On Friday morning, Nov. 27, special “Santa Express” trains will operate (see more details below).

Public schools will be closed on Thursday, Nov. 26 and Friday, Nov. 27.
Post offices will be closed, and there will be no mail delivery on Thursday.
• Trash/recycling collections will be one day behind schedule starting Thursday for the rest of the week.
Public libraries will close at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 25 and remain closed through Thursday, Nov. 26.  Continue Reading

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Snapdragon Flowers & Gifts to set up shop on Baltimore Ave mid-December

Posted on 24 November 2015

SnapdragonFlowersSnapdragon Flowers & Gifts will soon be the newest business to join the Baltimore Ave shopping area in West Philly.

Owner Tolani Lightfoot resides in the Cedar Park neighborhood, where she settled and bought a house when she relocated from Portland, Oregon eight years ago. “I feel like West Philly is one of those wonderful neighborhoods where you have to live there and understand the neighborhood before opening a business,” she said.

Tolani, who has worked in the industry for 10 years, says she realized that there was a need for a florist shop with her creative vision after she was told that “she was too creative” at her former workplace at a traditional florist shop. The shop will offer a wide range of botanically inspired products, including ready-made floral arrangements. Snapdragon Flowers & Gifts will offer arrangements both for people and events. Some niche market arrangements will include small-scale urban gardens, living arrangements for the home, vertical gardens, Victorian inspired indoor gardens and terrariums along with drought-resistant plants.  Continue Reading

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Independence Charter School West to open in September 2016, holding information sessions

Posted on 24 November 2015

As was reported earlier this year, one of Philadelphia’s more successful charter schools, Independence Charter School, will be opening a new elementary school (ICS West) in Southwest Philadelphia in September 2016. The school will be primarily serving families in Southwest and West Philadelphia, as well as Overbrook.

To learn more about the school and its enrollment process, families are invited to one of the open information sessions held at area libraries. Two next information sessions are scheduled at the Cobbs Creek library. Updated information on community meetings can be found on the school website.

Currently, the following meetings are scheduled for prospective families:

Monday, Dec. 7, 10-11 a.m.
Friday, Dec. 11, 10-11 a.m.
Blanche A. Nixon/Cobbs Creek library branch
5800 Cobbs Creek Parkway (59th/Baltimore Ave.)

The school will initially be a K-3 for September 2016. A grade will be added each year, ultimately becoming a K-8 school, according to ICS West board member Dyana Reid.

The school is focused on global citizenship and language acquisition, and instruction will be about half Spanish/half English. “Students and families are not expected to already speak Spanish, though it’s fine if they do,” says ICS West board member Dyana Reid.  Continue Reading

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Locust Moon Comic Shop closing its doors

Posted on 23 November 2015


Locust Moon comic shop is closing at the end of 2015 (Archived photo/West Philly Local)

We’re sad to report that West Philly’s only comic shop, Locust Moon Comics, will close at the end of the year, after just a few years of operation on 40th Street near Chestnut. The store started on Locust street in the old Urban Outfitters building in 2009 and moved to 40th and Chestnut in 2012.

Locust Moon is not just a comic shop, but also a small press, and owners Josh O’Neil and Chris Stevens want to focus on publishing after shutting down the store. Here’s what they posted on Facebook:

Thank you all from the bottom of our hearts for six wonderful years. We plan to redouble our focus on making and publishing comics. We’ve loved being a part of this neighborhood, and have cherished the chance to serve up piping hot comics to a smart and hungry readership.

Thank you for your passion, your superlative taste, your support, and all the love you’ve showered on our cats. We never would have made it this far without you.

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More jobs, fewer kids and a lot of bike commuters: ‘The State of University City 2016’ report released

Posted on 20 November 2015

The University City District’s recently released “The State of University City” report confirmed the worst-kept secret this side of the Schuylkill: The Meds-and-Eds juggernaut that fuels this part of the city is gaining speed.

StateofUCity2016The report, released every fall, tracks everything from rents, to occupancy rates in office buildings to the number of bike commuters in the University City District defined as the Schuylkill River to 50th Street, south to Woodland Avenue and north to Market Street and, in the Powelton neighborhoods, north again to Spring Garden Street.

According to this year’s report, a whopping 77 percent of the jobs in the area is in education and health care with “entertainment, hospitality and retail” in second with 8 percent. The University of Pennsylvania and Penn Medicine alone now account for more than 40,000 of those jobs.

The report shows that all of those good-paying jobs are attracting a lot of young, well-educated people. About 40 percent of the area’s population is between 20 years of age and 29. The number of children (5-14) in the area has dropped steadily since 2000.

Rents have also increased in most neighborhoods. The steepest increases have been in the Powelton Village neighborhood, where the median rent is just over $1,500 per month. The highest rents are in the “Central University City” area (roughly east of 38th Street and south of Market Street), where the median rent is just over $2,500 per month.

Median home prices grew from about $100,000 in 2000 to $300,000 in 2006, but have remained at that level since then, according to the report. But, of course, real estate prices vary widely by neighborhood. Prices in Spruce Hill, which includes the Penn Alexander School catchment, are just over $375,000. That’s a slight decrease compared to 2009 prices. The lowest median prices are in West Powelton at about $200,000.

Many residents’ fear of a loss of economic and racial diversity has followed the economic gains in the area. Philly talked to Seth Budick, senior manager of policy and research for UCD, ahead of the report’s release. “Prices are going up. The social consequences of that I don’t think we’re going to comment on too much,” Budick said. “For the most part, though, if you look at that rent figure … you’ll see a huge diversification.”

Here are some other tidbits:

• The population has steadily grown since 1990 and now stands at about 51,000.

• Well over 50 percent of people have at least a bachelor’s degree, while in the city as a whole that number is closer to 24 percent.

• University City District residents are three times as likely to commute on foot, bike or transportation than by car. Only 23 percent of residents reported commuting by car, compared to 59 percent of Philadelphians in general and 86 percent of all Americans. That number has remained steady since 2000.

• Occupancy rates for office buildings in the district are among the highest in the region at about 97 percent, according to the report. Developers, of course, have noticed and new office buildings are under construction or in the works.

Mike Lyons

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Philadelphia Marathon is this Sunday: street closures, detours, cheer zones

Posted on 20 November 2015


                            Click to enlarge

The annual Philadelphia Marathon will be held this Sunday (Nov. 22), starting at 7 a.m. at 22nd Street and Benjamin Franklin Parkway. The City and SEPTA announced street closure and detour information ahead of the marathon. Street closures and detours will affect parts of Center City along the course of the marathon (see map), and also some areas in West Philadelphia. Also, check out the information out below on cheer zones in University City/West Philadelphia. Good luck to all West Philly folks who are running this Sunday!

The following streets will be affected across the city on November 22:

• 18th Street, from Arch to Callowhill streets
• 19th Street, from Arch to Callowhill streets
• 20th Street, from Arch to Callowhill streets
• 21st Street, from Spring Garden to Arch streets
• 22nd Street, from Spring Garden to Arch streets
• Benjamin Franklin Parkway, from 22nd to 16th streets
• Arch Street, between 16th to 4th streets
• 4th Street Arch to Vine streets
• Race Street, from 4th Street to Columbus Boulevard  Continue Reading

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Career Fair for youth this Friday at The Enterprise Center

Posted on 19 November 2015

The Next Level Expo, a career and opportunities fair, will take place at The Enterprise Center (4548 Market St.) this Friday, from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. Geared for youth ages 18-25, The Next Level Expo will serve as a one-stop-shop for attendees eager to learn more about career options available to them.


Photo courtesy Episcopal Community Services.

Traditionally, expos focus primarily on employment or education, but The Next Level Expo focuses on all options available to youth so they can determine – on their own – what their next steps in life should be. Four workshops will be offered during the expo: How to Obtain Financial Aid for College, Time Management Tips and Strategies, How to Dress for Success, and Accessing Alternative Pathways to Higher Education.

The expo will feature employers, post-secondary institutions, and apprenticeship programs including: ShopRite, the Philadelphia Police Department, the Philadelphia Fire Department, Orleans Technical College, Childcare Careers, Jefferson University Hospital, Community College of Philadelphia, Saxby’s Coffee, Elwyn, People’s Emergency Center, OIC of Philadelphia, Integrity Staffing, PA Army National Guard, Sodexo, FedEx, and more.

The Next Level Expo is organized by Episcopal Community Services’ R.I.S.E. Initiative. The event is free and open to the public. For more information and to register, click here.

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‘What can neighbors do to get this intersection looked at for improvements?’ (updated)

Posted on 19 November 2015

Screen Shot 2015-11-19 at 9.01.14 AM

UPDATE (11/19/2015): Many people in the neighborhood posted their suggestions on how to improve the tricky intersection of 46th Street and Baltimore and Cedar Avenues after our post last month (see the original post and reader comments below). Reader David Wengert emailed us his proposal on how to make the intersection safer, along with illustrations:

“I have long wanted to change the physical landscape and traffic pattern at 46th & Baltimore & Cedar, so when I saw the topic appear on West Philly Local in October, I decided to create a picture to visualize my idea for change. It involves three major changes that I believe would improve both walkability and drivability. First, you eliminate the Cedar Ave spur between Baltimore & 46th. This triangle could be transformed into a little park or parklet, and the Baltimore Ave sidewalk would continue along Baltimore Ave all the way to the corner.

Second, you bring 46th St southbound traffic all the way up to the intersection with Baltimore, instead of stopping traffic behind Cedar Ave. This means removing Cedar Ave from the intersection entirely.  Continue Reading

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Renovated church building at 47th and Kingsessing to welcome first tenants in early 2016

Posted on 18 November 2015

Church 1Renovations are continuing and the first three tenants are already lined up for the Frank Furness-designed church at 47th and Kingsessing that was saved from the wrecking ball last year.

Property owner Guy Laren confirmed by e-mail this week that two preschools, Little Learners and Children’s Community School, are still among the likely tenants for the commercial space at the former St. Peter’s Church of Christ complex, which includes a three-story parish house (formerly a school) and a main sanctuary. The church was saved from demolition in late 2014.

“There are so many moving parts to an old building like this that giving you absolute move-in dates would be difficult, but both pre-schools would move in at the earliest sometime early next year,” said Laren, whose West Philly property management company, Constellar Corporation, purchased the property in December 2014.

The Soapbox Community Print Shop recently announced it would be moving into a 4,500-square-foot space in the complex and has started a fundraising campaign to help offset the costs of renovations.

Guy said that he’s also working with an artist group to have some collaborative space in the complex as well.

“After all these are comfortably moved in we will consider other possibilities for the remaining space,” Laren said. Laren’s initial plans for the remaining space in the sanctuary included residential apartments or some other commercial use. We’ll keep you posted when we have more updates.

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Driver charged after car passes stopped trolley, kills woman crossing street at 54th and Woodland

Posted on 18 November 2015

Murder and DUI charges were filed on Tuesday against the driver who struck and killed a woman as she crossed the street at 54th and Woodland on Monday morning. Police say 23-year-old Malachi Armstrong was driving eastbound on Woodland Avenue at about 9:15 a.m. when he allegedly sped through a red light and attempted to pass a stopped Route 11 Trolley.

While he was passing the trolley on the left he struck and killed the woman, identified as 38-year-old mother of three Miriam Wilson, who was crossing the street (it was reported initially that she was attempting to catch the trolley). She was pronounced dead on the scene.

After striking the woman Armstrong lost control of his car, a 2015 Nissan Altima, crossed over into oncoming traffic, collided head-on with another vehicle and then hit a pole, according to reports. The driver of the vehicle that Armstrong struck head-on was hospitalized with injuries to his legs.

Armstrong was charged with vehicular homicide and DUI, according to court documents. At his arraignment, bail was denied.

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‘Building Brotherhood’ mural unveiled at 40th and Chestnut

Posted on 17 November 2015


A new mural was unveiled on Monday at 40th and Chestnut, a result of a year-long collaboration between the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program and the Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services (DBHIDS). The mural art project, titled Building Brotherhood: Engaging Males of Color, was designed to inspire males of color to build supportive relationships with one another as a mechanism for coping with – and overcoming – the hardships they face in society, often in regards to accessing education, jobs, and behavioral health services.

Building Brotherhood is the 27th mural created under the Porch Light program, an ongoing collaboration between the Mural Arts Program and DBHIDS. Porch Light public art projects, which focus specifically on mental health, are an expression of community resilience and a vehicle of personal and community healing. A new virtual tour of the Porch Light murals can be found here:


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Zebras on the loose in West Philly!

Posted on 15 November 2015

UPDATE: The zebras are in custody. According to reports, one was captured in Lower Merion.

Police are in pursuit of a couple of zebras that escaped from a circus near 52nd Street and Parkside Avenue Sunday afternoon. The zebras slipped out of the circus at about 2 p.m., according to police. Motorists and pedestrians have photographed and videoed the zebras running through the parking lot near the Shoprite center near 52nd and Jefferson. The zebras escaped from the Universoul Circus, which is set up near the Mann Music Center. Last week the circus made headlines when a trapeze artist bounced out of a safety net and into the crowd. He was hospitalized.

Here are some sightings:


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