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

Posted on 19 November 2015

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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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“A heavy shadow”: A tribute to late West Philly activist Fran Aulston from Spiral Q

Posted on 21 October 2015

Fran Aulston, a West Philadelphia community activist, former President of the Paul Robeson House and founder of Peoplehood Parade passed away on August 9, 2015. The 16th annual Peoplehood Parade, in honor of Fran Aulston, will take place on Saturday, Oct. 24 (read more about the parade here).

The following is a letter from Spiral Q artistic director Tracy Broyles on Fran’s legacy.


              Fran Aulston

“Some argue that #BlackLivesMatter is little more than a hashtag. At Spiral Q, however, we see a vibrant and brave movement of young people of color standing up to injustice, channeling the long-fought struggles of our elders for the full dignity and humanity of Black lives. One of these elders, Paul Robeson, we plan to honor by celebrating the memory of a true West Philadelphia community leader: Fran Aulston.

Fran Aulston passed away on August 9, 2015, and her passing casts a heavy shadow in our hearts and across our city. Fran fought tirelessly to ensure that Paul Robeson’s legacy would endure in the city where he spent the final years of his life. For us, 2015 marks the first year that Spiral Q will step off on its annual Peoplehood Parade this coming Saturday, October 24th, without the blessing of Fran, longtime President of the Paul Robeson House and a founder of Peoplehood, to open the parade. As we continue to lose the profound voices of our generation, we deem it all the more important to honor the visionary leaders upon whose shoulders we stand: Gloria Casarez, Fran Aulston, Grace Lee Boggs, to name but a few who’ve touched our lives in countless ways.

As artists and cultural workers, we heed our imperative and are moved to create in honor of these visionaries. We will pay tribute to them, and to the struggles in our city and across the country that they fought to make our communities more just and equitable places to live for those most directly-impacted by injustice. On Saturday, October 24th, Spiral Q will dedicate our 16th annual Peoplehood Parade to the movement for Black lives. The parade, Soar in Solidarity, will feature a range of artistic offerings, including a special tribute just for Fran: a Paul Robeson puppet who will help us carry forward her vision of educating and engaging community in learning Mr. Robeson’s history and legacy.

In Fran’s memory, we will put the Paul Robeson puppet to work, alongside the staff of the Paul Robeson House, to ensure that our communities’ untold stories of fighting for justice continue to be told for years to come.”


Tracy Broyles
Executive Artistic Director
Spiral Q | Philadelphia, PA

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How about those Stroll lines?

Posted on 18 September 2015

Dollar Strolls always bring huge crowds to Baltimore Avenue looking for $1 specials from neighborhood restaurants and other businesses, but last night was something absolutely crazy. Reader Marshall Ledger sent us this panoramic photo with the following commentary:

“Two lines to Desi [Village] (its tables of samosas, pakoras, and mango lassi on the left): one stretching to and past Melville, the other up toward 46th Street, past Renata’s Kitchen (tables of croissants, chocolate cookies, and sodas on the right).”


Also check out photos by Bob Lannon: Continue Reading

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Tenuous community consensus reached on preserving Wiota Street Garden

Posted on 19 December 2014

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The Wiota Street Garden (from Google Street View).

Those in attendance at last night’s public meeting on the future of the Wiota Street Garden in West Powelton tenuously agreed to block attempts to build housing on the parcel.

Some 60 people turned out for a meeting of the West Powelton Concerned Community Council, which, though divisive at times, led Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell to promise to stop developers’ attempts to buy the land and construct housing. She also urged community members to devise a plan that would make the garden a community space with a defined and transparent management structure.

The City of Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority, which owns the parcel at 46 Wiota St. (near 40th and Powelton), has deferred any decision to sell the property to Blackwell, who attended the meeting to gauge public opinion. Her agreement to help protect the garden came with the stipulation that it be managed in a way that invites the entire community.  Continue Reading

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A rogue tow truck?: A neighbor’s tale of her missing car

Posted on 19 September 2014

[Editor’s Note: Just as we were getting ready to publish this, a new twist emerged. Maria wrote that she was contacted last night by another person by telephone demanding that she pay $1,000 for the return of her car at an agreed-upon meeting place. She contacted police soon afterwards. They took a report. Maria’s insurance does not cover theft.]

A reader, Maria, is stuck in kind of missing car purgatory. Maria (she asked that we not use her last name) is a single mom and music teacher at a local school who recently moved to West Philly. Her 11-year-old daughter started school this fall, so last Tuesday, the first week of school, was filled with the normal excitement and everything flowed as it should, Maria wrote in an email. After picking up her daughter after school Maria parked her charcoal gray 2012 Toyota Corolla on the corner of 44th and Osage, right by her apartment, a “great parking spot,” Maria notes.

“I had parked at 3:30 p.m. last Tues. afternoon. My car was missing Wednesday a.m. at 7:30 a.m. No signs were posted, however, PGW had placed barricades on the corner of 44th and Osage where I was parked,” she wrote.  Continue Reading

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West is Best: A farewell from Annamarya Scaccia

Posted on 03 July 2014


Photo courtesy of Annamarya Scaccia.

[Editor’s Note: This is the final post from our intrepid writer and Cedar Park resident Annamarya Scaccia, who brought her Brooklyn-born nose for news to West Philly seven years ago. Like many people in the neighborhoods this time a year she is moving on (in her case to graduate school). To her and to you we say goodbye and good luck. Thanks Annamarya.]

My fiancé, Dick, and I have this inside joke: If we find ourselves finally getting to know our neighborhood, we’ll find ourselves gone in a year or two.

It’s actually not as much of a joke as it is living truth. We’ve moved away from every community we’ve lived in within a short time after we’ve started to settle in — a process that would usually take months, if not years, after we’ve actually moved into a place. It’s not intentional in any respect; it’s an unconscious pattern we’ve just noticed. Maybe we have a serious case of undiagnosed wanderlust.

As of this week, we’ve found ourselves in that position once again. Even though we’ve lived in West Philly for seven years, we’ve really started settling down in the last two. And, like clockwork, we’re moving on, back to New York, where I’m from, so I could pursue grad school.

But this time, it doesn’t feel like just another moment in an inadvertent pattern. Instead, this time it feels like we’re leaving home.

Continue Reading

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