Archive for the ‘Philly Landmarks’ Category

Goodbye, Kaybee

As I’m sure you’re aware, KB Toys is going out of business.

Kind of hits a soft spot with yours truly, who used to constantly go to the store at The Gallery when I was a kid.

Went in there yesterday. What’s left of the store is 50% off.

There is, however, a whole shelf of Indiana Jones and Star Wars toys.

Check it out and get a piece of history, while you can.

Another piece of my childhood – like Woolworth and Roy Rogers – down the drain. ;-(

- AP

Book Jacket Of The Times

Larry Robin – owner, Robin’s Books and, for the last god-damned time NOTSanta Claus, kids

Robin’s Books, the last vanguard of independent bookstores, is closing its doors on January 31st, says the Philadelphia Inquirer:


The death notice appears in the front window of Robin’s Bookstore in Center City, sandwiched between Chopin – A Life and Our Dumb World.

Par for the course in the provocative world of proprietor Larry Robin.

His display philosophy has always been to mix the obscure with the best-seller, pairing “things you’re going to look at because you’re interested and things I think you should know about.”

In this case, the death notice is the thing he wants you to know about. Robin’s, started by his grandfather in 1936 and believed to be Philadelphia’s oldest independent book seller, is calling it quits at the end of January.

He can take the stomach-churning world of declining sales outpacing rising expenses, the unlevel playing field of single owner versus national chain, the predictions of further economic deterioration with no immediate end in sight no more.

Sales dipping as much as 15 percent in recent months, his salary not even $30,000, Robin said his beloved business had gone “from bad bearable to bad unbearable.”

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Goodbye, Wanamaker’s Cafe

Today  was the last day for the cafe.  The first restaurant inside a department store was in the original Wanamaker’s Grand Depot.

I bought out all their wonderful scones (to freeze) and had their carrot cake for lunch. Wednesday, I had my last tea there, complete with tea sandwiches.  I will miss the cafe…

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Because April is boring…

With Easter over, I began thinking, “when is the next major holiday?” Not in the near future, I can tell you. SO, I’ve searched far and wide for some excuses to celebrate. 1. First notable thing to do in Philly in April is to join the Philly Spring Clean-up. That should count as a Philly homestyle holiday. 2. Here is a list of April “holidays.” My favorite is Earth Day, April 22. Some of these are quite silly. Let me tell you that if the mail is delivered, it’s not a REAL holiday.

Lastly, I would like to remind you, Philadelphians, to look up. The cherry trees are blooming. The birds are chirping. And for today, the sun is shining! I don’t know how many times I’ve seen some piece of architecture I never noticed before, because I simply look up. I was reminded of this last weekend, when I was approaching the city from the east, Penn’s Landing, and only just noticed 2 new tall buildings along Front Street (which have probably been there for a while)! On top of that, there’s all this buzz about a new tall, tallest building, the American Commerce Center. Check it out!

Ten City Parks

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I was reading the main page of MSN yesterday, because it’s my home page, and there was an article about Top 10 City Parks in the nation. What I can’t figure out, for the life of me, is why Fairmount Park wasn’t on this list. Suspiciously, I can’t find the article, only one day later. I’m not going to rip on the other cities’ parks – some of them are quite nice – but I must say that this is a severe omission. Isn’t it the largest city park in the nation? I believe so! Isn’t it full of history? Check! Aren’t there paths, sculptures, graveyards, a zoo, historic mansions? Definitely! Aren’t things being renovated? Yes! (The old Memorial Hall is going to be the home of the Please Touch Museum. This is just one of many old buildings.) Isn’t there a covered bridge? Absolutely! Concerts? Affirmative! There is so much to shout about Fairmount Park, I’m just going to send you to the website. Please explore your city park. It’s for you!

City Hall Tower

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Okay, so I heard that you can take a ride to the top of the City Hall tower. I happened to be in that area of town on a weekday, December 19, to be exact, and had a mid-day chance to check it out. Mind you, I’ve never even been in City Hall or known you could walk right through it. I was on my way back from checking out that newest landmark, the Comcast Tower, and just wandered up to City Hall and followed everyone through, then spied the visitor’s center and gift shop, which sparked the memory of what I’d read about the tower re-opening, which led me to decide I had time to ride up! It was only $5 for the elevator ride, and you have about 15 minutes up there. It was pretty chilly this time of year, and cloudy, but I appreciated it all the same. I had a bird’s-eye view of the city. The elevator man told me that on a clear day, you could see lots more, but this was nice, for my first time.

They also give tours that include the elevator ride. They are offered Monday-Friday at 12:30. I’m not sure of an official site, but you can check out lots of information on Will Penn’s website.

Even more exciting about this visit was the fact that I was visiting family and found an old postcard with exactly the same view as pictured above (looking north on Broad St.), though containing totally different architecture, only 2 or 3 days later. Who would think I would find this in the tiny mining town of Bisbee, Arizona?

Robin’s Books Chestnut location closing this week

Back in May, I was walking by Robin’s Books Chestnut Street location, when I noticed a big “For Lease” sign in the window. I went in to ask about it and they told me that they had decided to close the store because while they owned the building, they could make more money renting it out to another business than they could running it as a bookstore. At that time, they didn’t know when they’d be closing as it depended on when they found someone to lease the location.

Four months later and the time has come for the location to shut it’s doors on September 28th. I will be so sad to see it go, as it was a fixture in my childhood. Every time we’d come to Philadelphia to visit family, my grandmother would take us in there and let us get whatever we wanted. I loved that it always had a quirky selection, along with back issues of interesting magazines.

Robin’s Books on Chestnut, you will be missed.

Time Mag’s Philly Mural Slide Show

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Time Magazine has put together a really gorgeous slide show of some of the murals around our city. I give huge credit to the Mural Arts Program of Philly, as they’ve done wonderful things to beautify the streets around town. I love how often a new mural pops up around town, it’s like a present given to all the residents in the city.

Don’t click on the image you see above though, as it is just a static picture.

You’re a good balloon, Charlie Brown!

Charlie Brown at Macy's

Parts of my company have moved to the historic Wanamaker Building, so I cut through the shopping area on the ground floor as I leave work. The above is the sight that greeted me walking through Macy’s on Friday afternoon.

This is part of Macy’s Anniversary Celebration, as they have now been in the old John Wanamaker’s for one year.

An Elephant Update

As few minutes ago, a special email popped into my inbox from the Philadelphia Zoo, announcing a partnership they were forging with the Pittsburgh Zoo. The three African elephants that have been living in limbo at the Philadelphia Zoo (since Maryland decided they weren’t able to take them) will be moved to the International Conservation Center in Fairhope, Somerset County. The ICC is part of the Pittsburgh Zoo, which has one of the “most successful African elephant programs in the country.” They go so far as to say that there is a possibility that our elephants or their future offspring may be able to come back to Philly someday.

The full letter is available after the jump.
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