On November 25, 2000, I came upstairs from Amtrak’s Three Rivers train (since discontinued) into the din of the city and inspiring architecture of 30th Street Station. My friends Bekka and Susan picked me up and we headed to Dalessandro’s for a cheesesteak en route to Germantown, where I lived for my first three months in Philly. (We also went to see The Roots at the Electric Factory later that night.)
For those three months, I’d board the R8 every morning at Queen Lane and take it to Market East, from which I walked through the Gallery and Independence Mall on my way to work at 5th & Walnut. The best part of the commute, aside from chatting with Jason Killinger on the platform, was crossing the Schuylkill River, where for 15 seconds you have a lovely, elevated view of the skyline–people shuffling on Girard Avenue, rowers on the river, city coming into view.
Thirteen+ years later, I’m enjoying the same view from the same train (Chestnut Hill West? It’ll always be the R8 to me), set up anew in Mt Airy. On May 14, 2002, I registered phillyskyline.com as a clearinghouse of sorts for my photography. It grew into a bit more than that, with commentary, breaking news, The Skinny, a first person joyride through the Phillies’ World Series title in ’08, and assists from the likes of Nathaniel Popkin and Steve Ives.
In summer 2009, I took a break from Philly Skyline to road trip across the country, recharge, and finally relaunch the site with blog software. (In all its years, I wrote every post in html live on the server via SSH.) I sketched the header graphic above that summer, with a plan to elaborate on the interactive dealie that had been the header for years. But then Portland happened.
On that cross country road trip, perfect worlds collided in Portland, and I convinced my wife that we should sell our house in Fishtown and move west, way west. So we did. A year later, we were divorced, she came home, and I was alone in my own head in Portland. (Divorce, man. It sucks, it sucks, it suuuuucks.) When Portlandia debuted a year after that, I was fairly certain it was about me: where young people go to retire, hyperlocalism, the dream of the 90s. I made great friends, I enjoyed good beer and grass aplenty, I immersed in breathtaking scenery, I really grew to love the place. But I did miss Philly; that never changed.
By the end of 2012, I was sick of the whole self-evaluation thing and decided it was right to come back. It’s taken me a while to come back around to Philly Skyline, for a number of reasons. One, there are now sixty-three blogs doing what PS used to do. Two, the internet is just different now. Twitter and Facebook have obliterated The Old Way, and I recognize that PS must also be new and different. And it will. Three, I’ve been pretty busy behind the scenes as an editor at Hidden City Philadelphia. (My own archive there is HERE.)
But it’s time to get this show on the road. Philly Skyline, 2014. Yo.
Just a heads up: the version that you see here–a plain ol’ WordPress install–is an interim thing. I’m working with a friend and developer extraordinaire, and what we have coming is going to be huge, robust, and full of information.
That’s what’s key for new Philly Skyline: information. Data. It’s still going to be photo-heavy, but posts will probably be shorter–and hopefully more frequent–as I build the back end of something I think you’ll like, and use. Think Skinny, but lots of Skinnies.
There will also be lots of Fairmount Park oriented posts, particularly of the Wissahickon. Growing up in Central PA, I often took the Appalachian scenery for granted. But Shippensburg’s proximity to the Appalachian Trail got me in touch with the woods, and three and a half years in Portland made me realize just how crucial access to nature is to me, so I moved to Mt Airy.
Architecture, development, nature, art, transit, baseball, music, food & drink … life. That’s what’s happening on the new Philly Skyline. So hey, grab a beer–there’s a growler from Earth Bread & Brewery in the fridge–relax, and please, be patient. (I have Tourette’s Syndrome, and the associated ADHD symptoms often make even tasks that I want to do seem insurmountable.) Construction updates, neighborhood profiles, penny postcards, skyline critiques … it’s all coming back. I promise.
Philly Skyline, the next generation. Finally.
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PS: Even as I fold the old Skyline content into a better archive with tags and such, the old version of the site will remain. It is HERE.