Go Deeper

A Walk Around the Live Arts and Philly Fringe Block

Posted July 15th, 2009

We’ve been situated at our 5th and Poplar location for a couple months now, and it’s been a pleasure getting to know the neighborhood. At first, moving from Old City gave some of us the sense that we were so far from everything. And while the subway is a few more minutes from the door and we don’t pass the Federal courthouse in morning anymore and we can no longer wave at the Fox 29 news team as we stand outside their window, the new neighborhood has lots going on.

My favorite part is that Northern Liberties is a great walking neighborhood, with many angled streets and tiny back alleys that make for oddly shaped houses. It’s been a beautiful summer so far, and I love to wander about on my lunch break.

After the jump, tag along with me as I take my daily constitutional.

First of all, the neighbors keep their windowsills looking swell with lovely flowerbox arrangements.

Here is a great little street, with some fantastic city gardens. It’s pretty easy to look over people’s walls and check out what they’re growing. Some people think looking over people’s walls is a little creepy, but I say go for it.

I see tomatoes on the left and the right, as well as lavender, dill, and other herbs.

A common stop for Live Arts and Fringe staff, Almanac has great sandwiches, cheese, and Bassetts ice cream sandwiches that are only 50 cents. Did you even know Bassetts made ice cream sandwiches? Do you think if I mention the name Bassetts again they’ll send me a case of ice cream?

This is the fancy new domicile going up at 4th and Poplar. I like how new construction in the area looks so modern while still crammed between the row homes and deigned to fit the funky street angles.

Here’s a cool, old school funky home.

Mary keeps an eye on the neighborhood. Those are rosary beads by the way, not Mardi Gras beads, which would be highly inappropriate.

And in the midst of it all is Liberties Walk, a very L.A. style pedestrian shopping strip that has a nice little coffee shop in One Shot. At the end of the block is El Camino Real which has a $2 draft-beers and $2.50 margaritas happy hour. Their burritos are on the small side, however.

Here is the Piazza at Schmidts. It’s a huge space, very Northern European, and the buildings ride a thin line between bleak chic and, if you remove the yellow umbrellas and add a couple years of pollution grime, a run-down Eastern Bloc public square that could make a cozy home for a Soviet tank.

Here’s one of the Piazza’s shops that keep mysterious hours. Obviously it’s too cool to be open at 2 o’clock.

Behind the Piazza is a little alley where someone likes to collect old farm machinery.

And to make giant pine cones out of rusted metal.

While fewer blocks around here feature enormous collapsed piles of bricks, large, strange expanses of nothing can still be found. Thank god, they add so much character.

Look it’s a good citizen picking up after her dog.

Stray cats live throughout these streets, and sometimes they don’t appreciate strangers around these here parts.

But this one is really a softie at heart.

A strange phenomenon, besides that there are horse stables in the middle of an urban area, is that the horses play soccer.

Of course it wouldn’t be Philly without some shoes hanging from the telephone wire.

Well, it’s about time for me to stop dawdling and get back to work. Thanks for walking around the block with me, I hope you’ll do it again sometime.

–Josh McIlvain

Photos by Josh McIlvain