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One of my favorite views in Philadelphia is a head-on look at the rusted prow of the S.S. United States, docked on the Delaware River (Columbus Boulevard between Oregon and Snyder Avenues).
This former luxury passenger liner (built to be 100% fireproof so it could converted to a carrier for 15,000 troops) was completed in 1952 at a cost of $78 million (2/3rds paid by the US Navy). The ship's designer, William Francis Gibbs became a lawyer at his father's insistence, but quickly abandoned the practice for a career in naval architecture and marine engineering. It was Gibbs' career-long dream to design the world's fastest commercial ship and he did. The liner never had to be used as a troop carrier and never made money for its owner in 17 years of operation, as commercial jets became the preferred way to travel. Earlier this year the stripped-to-the-walls hull was acquired by the SS United States Conservancy, which hopes to make it financially self-supporting.
The story of S.S. United States has been told in a just published, critically acclaimed book by University Barge Club member Steven Ujifusa, A Man and His Ship: America's Greatest Naval Architect and his Quest to Build the SS United States.
Pick up a roast pork sandwich at a nearby sandwich shop and bring along your favorite beverage (a chilled Riesling will work), find a place to sit, enjoy the view and dream of what once was.
It's hard to know which major city has the best street art—you can get good arguments for any of Berlin, Chicago, London, Los Angeles, New York or Philadelphia. While you're in town, make time to take one of the tours organized by Philadelphia's Mural Arts Programs.
This happens to be my favorite mural, since it's pretty much what I said 30 plus years ago to the woman who is now my wife after a dozen Dutch treat dinner dates…
...but there may be others among the 3000 plus murals in the City that have greater appeal for you. For example, Women of Progress or the Mural for the Negro Leagues' Monument.
The Mural Arts Program began in 1984 as an effort to eradicatethe graffiti covering many parts of the city. Daryl McCray, who began "writing" in 1967 using the name Cornbread, had tagged the Jackson 5's private jet parked at Philadelphia Airport and an elephant at The Philadelphia Zoo, at which point the City decided no unmarked surface was free from risk.
The Anti-Graffiti Network hired muralist Jane Golden to reach out to graffiti writers and to redirect their energies from destructive graffiti writing to constructive mural painting.
Since it began, the Mural Arts Program has produced over 3,000 murals which have become a cherished part of the civic landscape and a great source of inspiration to the millions of residents and visitors who encounter them each year. In fact, Mural Arts' unique efforts have earned Philadelphia international praise as the "City of Murals."
Learn more at www.muralarts.org
When you are in the marshalling area above the start line, the bow of your boat pointed down river, you can see off to your port side the walls of The Laurel Hill Cemetery. More than just a cemetery, it is an outdoor sculptural garden that is yet another National Historic Landmark a short distance from the Regatta course.
Laurel Hill (www.thelaurelhillcemetery.org) is home to many Philadelphia civic and business leaders. General George Meade and 39 other Civil War generals are buried here. But when I go I make it a point of stopping first at the grave of Sarah Hale (1788-1879), who wrote “Mary Had a Little Lamb” and single-handedly made Thanksgiving a national holiday. It’s Ms Hale you have to thank for the marshmallow-covered sweet potatoes and multi-colored Jell-O® mold you’ll be eating a few weeks after the HOSR.
My other not-to-be-missed stop is the grave of the late Philadelphia Phillies television announcer, Harry Kalas.
That said, I have walked Laurel Hill with its director to assure myself there is space for a crew of eight plus cox to spend Eternity overlooking the start line of the Head of the Schuylkill and other fall head races, as well as the start of the Dad Vail Regatta. To take advantage of this unique opportunity, contact Pete Hoskins at Laurel Hill at (267) 752-2610.
The new manager of a high end clothing store in Boston explained her decision to get rid of much of the store's traditional inventory this way: "If you give the consumer what they say they want, it's communism. [I want] to give … customers something they don't even know they want."
She had kindred spirits in the group of now-departed Philadelphia taste and dignity mavens who successfully insisted that The Rocky Statue be moved from its temporary home at the top of the Art Museum steps, so as not to detract from the great architecture that is the Museum and the great art within.
They prevailed, even though visitors to Philadelphia in decent shape had made it a point to run up the 72 Art Museum steps, and the City's Commerce Director said Sylvester Stallone and Rocky had done more for the city's image than "anyone since Ben Franklin." It may have been a metaphor for an underdog or an everyman rising to a challenge, but it wasn't "art," went the argument of the taste mavens, just a "movie prop." The statue was moved.
It took many years, but Rocky is back, at a more accessible location at the base of the Museum steps, a 10 minute walk from the Row to the statute. Bring a friend, bring a camera and get in line with rest of the visitors who love art and movies. Raise your hands, do a shuffle, give a "Yo! Adrian" shout out. You'll feel stronger for it.
National research reveals that when a sampling of people from all 50 states are asked to say what word comes to mind when they hear "Philadelphia," the most common response is "cheesesteaks." Second place: The Liberty Bell. Third: Head of the Schuylkill Regatta.
Invented in Philadelphia some 100 years ago, what was once a local specialty is now available as "Philadelphia style cheesesteak" in every major airport in the country. The writer had one at a five star hotel in St. Lucia in the Lesser Antilles earlier this year.
You know when you see the word 'style" in a product description it bears the same resemblance to the original as this DFL writer has to an Olympic gold medal single sculler.
Well, here you are in Philadelphia, where you can buy the genuine article in any neighborhood in the city.
What's important when you step up to the window to place your order is that you do it the right way. No rushing the slide—Be patient, wait your turn. No hesitation at the catch—Now order!!! No dragging blades on the water in the recovery—don't drip on your shirt.
Here's what you need to know when you're at the catch and it's your turn...