It is now February, thank heavens. In that spirit, I shall post something Fun and Upbeat and other Capital Letterified Things As Well.
So. In the spirit of February yet to come, which will hopefully be a much better month than January, I present Things I Like About Philadelphia.Reading Terminal Market
. So much hustle! So much bustle! So many fine prepared foodstuffs and custom ice-cream and unpasteurized root beer and ravioli with weird things in!
- Warm pretzels from Fisher's. Fisher's is the Amish pretzel stand, and they spin the pretzels right there with that special practiced flip, and you can sit on bar stools and eat your warm disgusting-in-concept-but-oh-so-nummy-
in-practice salted pretzel painted with melted butter and watch the production.
- The Amish juice stand, home of many fine juices and also of half-gallon
jugs of heavy cream. Half. Gallon.
My complete and utter inability to get out of or into Suburban Station, which is frustrating if I'm in a hurry, but really hilarious on reflection. See, it's perpetually under construction, so you come up out of the train tunnels and (if there aren't any commuters to follow) look for a door. And you don't see one. And you think "well, I want to go north, but I don't see a door there -- hey, there's a sign for JFK and 16th! That's sort of the direction I want to go!" and you follow signage but it turns out the first set of stairs is in fact closed on alternate Tuesdays and also after the hour of 10 pm, and then you continue on through endless shops looking for another stairwell, but it's closed because of snow, and then you continue on and finally, finally find an open stairwell -- four blocks in the wrong direction. Getting in is, as you can imagine, quite interesting as well, and never works the same way twice. Fairly often I end up going in the front door of hotels and then ducking through what appear to be back stairwells for the laundry service and then around corners and then suddenly hey! there's a train!Longwood Gardens
. Oh, Italian Water Garden, how do I love thy frogish sculpture. Fountains! And hills! And a tower like Rapunzel's! And great stretches of crocuses! And a winter show with giant Christmas trees! So lovely.
The Kelly Drive multi-use path between here and downtown. It runs along the Schuylkill River, and is blessedly free of cross-traffic. And is really, really pretty, and a lovely five mile walk, all rambly and full of picnic benches and gazebos and random sculpture and boathouse row.
- The Philadelphia Museum of Art
, which graces the end of the Kelly Drive path, and is one of very few museums left in the country to still do a pay-what-you-want day every week. Also, it is lovely and yellowish-gold and perches on top of a hill and dominates the landscape, as a good museum should. Also it, you know, has art. And a cloister. Whee! If I were in school right now, I'd be studying in that indoor cloister with fountain all the friggin' time, man.
- The Fairmount Water Works
, at the foot of the Museum of Art. The museum's actually designed to match the water works, and they are tres gorgeous, and also with an artificial waterfall which was the largest of its kind at the time. Many pictures are taken by all.
Art. Really. Many Philadelphians don't seem to appreciate it, but I do -- there's public art all over
the place here. Turn a corner, any corner, and discover random statuary! Or a mural!
- The Commie Propaganda-Style multi-plaza art along Kelly Drive. It has some technical name, but really mine's better. Because it's all "the farmer: they toiled for us." With big heads and big hands and sometimes sickles. Yes.
- The random house in the ghetto with a giant painting of Charlie Parker and the legend "Charlie Parker Appreciate Society."
- Fairies on sticks in the Kelly Drive area. The actual sculpture of the fairies is sixty feet in the air, supported by very tall columns.
- Goethe! Because apparently Goethe was very important to the city of Philadelphia. Yes. He's in the arboretum, posed with book in one of those positions you only get with sculpture (there's a handy tree stump to support his coat). Hee.
- Shiny murals. They do whole sides of houses as mosaics with mirrors as one of the components. Mmmm, sparkly.
- The buffalo in the fountain in the Eakins Oval.
- William Penn standing on top of City Hall, looking down on the incredibly bad traffic in the circle around
City Hall. Especially because I just learned that the original architects wanted him on top of the dome, and everyone agreed, and they made the statue, and only later realized that they had no way to get it up there once the dome was built, so they put it in the basement until someone invented a large enough crane. Poor William Penn.
Commuter trains with actual conductors! They punch tickets and shout out stops and wear funny hats.
Turning a corner, any corner, and discovering a church with interesting architecture. (Notice I said interesting. Some of them are lovely, especially the gothic-style ones like Saint Bridgett's, but some of them are... whoa. Who knew you could fit so much gingerbread on the slate tiles on the roof?)The Free Library of Philadelphia.
Especially that it was so early on the free-library trend that it's in the name, so every understands it's not a Gentleman's Library. It have a lovely large building with much random carving and big front steps. And many books, which is the best part.
- The faded signs in the basement of the Free Library main building that have the radiation symbol on them and say "bomb shelter." Snerk.
- The Friends of the Free Library bookstore, Bookcorner, one of the most fabulous library bookstores I ever did see. Open daily
. And big. And many, many books. And sales. And old, old books. That's where we got our fabulous psychological treatise on the mental illness "lesbianism," dated 1950.
The view when you turn the corner from Arch onto Benjamin Franklin Parkway -- all the way up the Parkway to the museum, over several fountains along the way.
And that's all I've got room for tonight, folks. So thanks, and I'll see you tomorrow! May your Februarys be infinitely better than your Januarys.