Mission Statement or Something

Philly Skyline Commuter Skyline, 2000 | Photo: Bradley Maule
Philly Skyline Commuter Skyline, 2000 | Photo: Bradley Maule

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.

Philly Skyline Commuter Skyline, 2014 | Photo: Bradley Maule
Philly Skyline Commuter Skyline, 2014 | Photo: Bradley Maule

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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.

22 thoughts on “Mission Statement or Something

  1. If all this means more insider gossip, endless top 10 lists and sexually suggestive headlines, I’m all for it. Welcome back.

  2. Can’t wait for the return! All the work that PhillySkyline has done has inspired and helped my own photography. So thank you and again I’m glad for your return. Wishing you and your team the best!

  3. Welcome back Brad, The Skinny has been sorely missed. Looking forward to the reboot as you re-place your imprint on the Philadelphia real estate development scene!

  4. I haven’t visited phillyskyline.com since your move to Stumptown, then today I see the announcement for Comcast’s new tower and the first thing I thought of was phillyskyline.com. What do my wondering eyes see? You’re back! Your chronicling of the Comcast Center was a daily check for me and I can’t wait to see the new changes to the skyline through your camera. Welcome back Brad!

  5. So glad you’re back! I was really sad when I saw your last post on the old site saying that you were leaving and wouldn’t be updating the site anymore. I loved phillyskyline.com and visited it frequently. Can’t wait for it to be back on my frequently visited websites rotation!

  6. Really enjoyed reading this, Brad. I’m glad to hear about the fresh start for one of my favorite sites of all time.

  7. Brad,

    Very happy to have you back in the city and “back in the game”, at least the Philly game. I was a religious phillyskyline reader in its heyday (to the point where on a trip to Spain in 2007 I would try to access the site every chance I had to see if there was any new development news). I am a development junky and my drug of choice in Philly. Your the best dealer in town so keep it coming!

    2014 Rocks Already!
    Chris Wheeler is Out B Love is Back In!
    Glad to have ya back and thanks for sharing your gift of photography & writing with us
    Good luck & stick arround this time 😉

  9. Great to have you back!!! I’m thrilled to see that Philly Skyline has returned, and I’m sure I’ll be checking it out every day to get my “fix” just like in the old days. Best of luck to you.

  10. This is awesome – welcome back! I started following PhillySkyline back in 2005 during my freshman year of college at La Salle and first year in Philly. It was an amazing source of info for learning about the city and all of the different neighborhoods. I’m looking forward to future updates!

  11. Glad you’re back! I was a daily visitor to PS, starting back in ’08, before you went out west.
    Now you’re living in Mt. Airy, too? Probably right around the corner from me? Small world. And to think, even if I ran into you I probably wouldn’t know it was the person who I’ve been reading for all these years.

  12. Glad to have you back Bradley! I’ve been a big fan of the site since I came across a link for it on wikipedia, back when the plans for the Comcast Center was approved. Sorry to hear about your divorce, man. But I am curious about your PDX experience, if Phillyskyline habits carried over into PDX or vice versa into the new phillyskyline?

  13. Brad, welcome back! I was so happy to stumble across your rebooted site tonight that I feel I owe you the following message of sincere gratitude: I started following phillyskyline in 2005ish as a high-schooler in the PA ‘burbs. since then, I’ve been on a journey to figure out what to do with my professional life, but the following i have firmly decided: it will be in philly, and it will have something to do with enriching this city’s already-amazing physical landscape. i am now in law school (wise choice? maybe, maybe not) in the process of trying to turn this aspiration into reality. i can tell you that along the way, i’ve read your work with more consistency and enthusiasm than anyone else’s, by a mile-and-a-half. thanks man, for all of your hard work!

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