Architecture Design Politics Art

Architecture Design Politics Art - Timely Commentary on the Pulse of the City

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

City Council Needs an Upgrade

File:City Hall Philadelphia.jpg
Philadelphia City Hall circa 1889

by Emily Steinberg

Great news Philly! City Council members are up for re-election this year! We could certainly benefit from a changing of the guard in chamber. The quality of governance coming out of council for years, if not decades, is way below that which we should expect for our great city. Council members stay in power for far too long, reinstated term after term by citizen's too uninterested or jaded to get involved with city government.

The good news is that this could be a big change year for City Council. Three members, Donna Reed Miller, Jack Kelly and Joan Krajewski, are stepping down, creating space for new blood. So, change is just around the corner, right? Only if we Philadelphians get off the couch and get involved in supporting quality candidates for the job. Philadelphia needs a civic awakening right about now. It's time we had a council that made us proud. The circus that is Philadelphia City Council needs a serious make-over.

Read these related articles:
Council Puts On a Show by Jim Foster/Inquirer op-ed
Latrice for City Council? Inquirer/Heard in the Hall

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Duck Boats "R" not Philadelphia

E. Steinberg

by Emily Steinberg

Kudos to The Philadelphia Inquirer for doing a splendid job of keeping the Duck Boat dilemma on the front burner in editorials and articles over the last 6 months. Now the time is drawing nigh for Mayor Nutter to make his decision on this thorny issue, even as the Ride The Ducks website still promises touch down on the Schuylkill in March.

In today's Inquirer, Karen Heller writes, in her thoughtful article String Bands On The River? , that "Philadelphia deserves more than generic duck tours offered elsewhere". She suggests "....a tour unique to Philadelphia....Imagine a (mummers) string-band serenade on a moonlit cruise. Philadelphians would take that tour. Tourists would flock to that ride....the Schuylkill becoming our own Seine."

Now there's a great idea! Mayor Nutter, are you listening?

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Secret Duck Deliberations

by Emily Steinberg

Here we go again. The Nutter Administration is not releasing the names of the city officials who are advising Mayor Nutter on the Duck Boat controversy. Yesterday's Inquirer editorial Secret Duck Deliberations, calls for the Mayor to open up the process in keeping with his promise for a more open and transparent City Hall. The Schuylkill River Park Alliance, is urging citizens to write to Mayor Nutter to open up the process. This is from their website:

Ride the Ducks Proposal Should Be Available to the Public

The City only received one proposal in response to the Amphibious Vehicle Tour RFP. It was from the Ride the Ducks Company. Send a letter to Mayor Nutter, the Managing Director and the Ride the Ducks Company to make the proposal available to the public. Send a letter today!

You can also send an email directly to Brian Abernathy ( in the Managing Director's Office or a Letter to the Editor of the Philadelphia Inquirer to make your opinion known.

Related Articles:

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Michelangelo Pistoletto @ PMA

Gallery views of Michelangelo Pistoletto: From One to Many,
1956-1974 at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Artworks © Michelangelo Pistoletto

Michelangelo Pistoletto: From One to Many, 1956–1974
November 2, 2010 - January 17, 2011

by Emily Steinberg

On a bitterly cold Friday night I went to check out the Michelangelo Pistoletto show at the PMA. I'm very glad I did. Pistoletto, Italian, born 1933, is a great painter and possesses a wonderful, playful imagination. You enter into the first gallery and are immediately confronted with a room full of life size standing self portraits of the artist. It is very interesting to see the figure being painted in the mid 1960's. In America at that time, painting from life was considered passe, but Europeans have always been more friendly to the human form. The figures stand alone and somewhat majestically against a single toned background. Eventually he began using varnish on the paintings, creating reflective surfaces that catch and include the activity of the gallery into the pictures.

He soon gave up painting on canvas entirely, opting instead to use polished steel panels as the surface for his work. The glassy panels truly exploit the reflective nature of his work. His classically graceful, almost life size figures are traced from enlarged photographs onto tissue paper, painted and then affixed to the steel panels. The panels are arrayed around the airy galleries and create an endless space that is repeated from image to image, constantly changing and includes the viewer at all times. It's a heady mix. It is a large show, 10 rooms, and the work spans a 20 year period in the life of this bright, engaging and eminently human artist. Go see the show if you can. It will be up through this weekend.

Read the PMA Gallery Guide for the exhibit. It includes photographs, history, and a thoughtful essay on the artist.

Monday, January 3, 2011

The Gift Duck That Keeps on Giving

Happy New Year Philly! Welcome to 2011. It looks just like 2010. Despite the steady drumroll of opposition from citizens, the Ride the Ducks Philadelphia website crows about their presumed March 11th quacking return and splash down on the banks of the Schuylkill River. To read the site, it looks like a done deal. Just go ahead and order your tickets.

Mayor Nutter and his team say they have yet to make a final decision on whether the nuisance attraction will be permitted onto the river. Really? The Philadelphia Inquirer has led the charge against the ill thought out move and in today's paper there was a second scathing editorial on the subject titled Paddling Upstream. Reader's comments seem to agree with the editorial that the city will not benefit from the "gas-guzzling, amphibious, World War II vehicles." Mayor Nutter, can you clarify sir?

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas at Wanamaker's (Macy's) in Philadelphia

by Emily Steinberg

It was bustling and festive in Macy's today as last minute shoppers packed the old Wanamaker Department store at 13th & Market. Wanamaker's was built in 1896 in grand Italianate style with a large, three story central atrium. It was the first department store in Philadelphia and one of the first in the United States. In 1956, the Christmas Holiday light show was introduced and it had been a favorite of Philadelphians old and young for generations. Even though the business was sold in 1995, it still remains the Wanamaker Building in the imagination of the city.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Not To Beat A Dead Duck.....

Tony Auth Philadelphia Inquirer 12/20/2010

by Emily Steinberg

Yes, PhillyPOV is a bit obsessed about the Duck Boats, but there was such a great editorial in the Philadelphia Inquirer today about the ongoing controversy, I just had to share. It called on the Nutter Administration to listen to Philadelphian residents and just say no to inflicting the Duck Boat insanity on the Schuylkill River. It appears they are still mulling over the situation. Mayor Nutter, this is a no brainer...let it go! Read the editorial, I hope the Mayor will.