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Exploring Abandoned Poconos Resorts with Matt Hurst and Katie Rey

March 11, 2014


(Photos by Matt Hurst and Katie Rey)

Amazingly poignant photos today from two fantastic Philly photographers, Matt Hurst and Katie Rey, exploring abandoned resorts around the Poconos.

Some background info on the region, written by Matt:

During the region’s heyday in the 1960s and ‘70s there were dozens of small, independently owned resorts that catered to a wide range of clientele. However, the past few decades have seen a confluence of problems ranging from changing vacationing habits to skyrocketing property taxes. Unable to provide basic maintenance and amenities, conditions at these resorts began to deteriorate, which further tarnished their reputation and kept more customers away. This online review from 2007 is a good example:

“The resort was basically deserted, there were very few guests around. The resort itself seemed to be suffering from a lot of neglect… All of the facilities that we saw on the resort were in varying states of disrepair… The indoor pool had patches of peeling paint all over the bottom. The tennis and shuffleboard courts were cracked and had weeds growing up through them… After being there, it was obvious why there were so few other guests there. The place is pretty bad. I’d recommend staying somewhere else.”

At that point many of these resorts had already closed or were in their final days. It seems in many cases the owners were optimistic that they would reopen within a few months or years at most and therefore left the rooms and facilities as they stood. Since very little of the decor had been updated since the 1970s in the first place, this allowed us to provide viewers with a glimpse of how these places would have appeared during their better years contrasted with the current state of decay in which they can now be found.

Read more…

Let’s Make #SEPTA247

March 10, 2014


(Buy this shirt HERE!)

Two weeks ago I started a petition asking SEPTA to think about returning the Market-Frankford El and Broad Street Line Subway back to 24/7 service. (Just to put this in the context of history, the city’s trains ran 24/7 for nearly 70 years, before SEPTA eliminated them between the hours of midnight and 5am in exchange for ‘Night Owl’ buses in 1991.)

Feel free to read my – and hundreds of other people’s – reasons for wanting the return of 24/7 El and Subway service on the petition site HERE. But, suffice to say, as a kid who grew up in Philly, left take the dreaded ‘Night Owl’ bus on a number of different occasions, I can tell you that they are a nightmare. Another Philly kid, Joey Sweeny, over at Philebrity, even said he “wouldn’t wish a ‘Night Owl’ bus on his worst enemy,” and I completely agree. This all not to mention that SEPTA’s current service seems to ignore the ever-burgeoning restaurant and bar scene in Philly, which does not end at midnight, like their train service.

To date, the petition has over 2,000 signatures, and SEPTA has announced that they will think about testing late-night (till 3am) service on the weekends this summer. My hope is that the test period will go well, and SEPTA will extend late-night train service 7 days a week. Though, with SEPTA’s board dominated by suburban representatives, who hold all but two seats – even though about 80 percent of riders are city residents – I’m a bit anxious the best decision for city residents won’t be made.

Just as a quick side note, according to “Regional rail, which is geared toward the suburbs, receives more than twice the public subsidy that SEPTA’s City Transit Division does – $3.76 per passenger, vs. $1.78. It’s a gross inequity.” So, perhaps it’s time we shake up that board too?

Either way, it’s bound to be some time before SEPTA decides whether or not to return late-night service (be it 24/7, or just till 3am,) and even longer before they decided whether or not to extend this service to 7 days a week.

If you agree that bringing late-night El and Subway service back to Philly is a good thing, sign my petition HERE… And feel free to wear your support with my collaboration SEPTA 24/7 T-shirt with Print Liberation!

Philly STAMP Pass Gives Philly Teens FREE Access to Museums Across The City

March 5, 2014


Absolutely LOVE this!

Philly STAMP Pass gives Philly teens FREE access to museums across the city… Sign up for a STAMP Pass here!


February 14, 2014


Why do you love Philly?

Today, one of my favorite local blogs, Philly Love Notes, asks you that very question!

Join in on all the love by using the hashtag #WhyILovePhilly on Twitter and Instagram and showing us all what it is you love about our fair city.

I suppose it goes without say (as this blog in itself is like one long love note to Philadelphia,) I love the ever-growing creative culture in Philly… (Not to mention continuing to explore and discover all around my hometown.)

LOLadelphia Responds to ‘Abandoned Philly Public Schools’ Post

February 11, 2014

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(Photo by Austin Hodges)

Last week I posted photos by local photographer/Instagrammer, Austin Hodges. These photos document a few of Philadelphia’s more recently abandoned public high schools. I posted these photos for two reasons: 1) I found them completely awe-inspiring. And 2) I thought they said more than I ever could about the state of the public school system in Philly, namely its purposeful underfunding by elected officials.

I thought these photos would allow people to see this very crucial issue in a new light. And I hoped this would encourage more conversations, and ultimately more activism. More people should be raving mad about public school underfunding. And our elected officials need to be taken to task for their poor leadership on this most basic fundamental resource of a free and democratic society. Especially a society that sees itself as innovative, and wants to remain that way.

Unfortunately, it seems the post hit at least one fellow Philadelphian the wrong way: LOLadelphia, who wrote a few posts on his blog criticizing me for posting the photos. This week, I reached out to LOLadelphia and asked him to summarize his criticism for me to post here. Below are his thoughts:

“I don’t like the idea of recently-closed schools becoming a playground for people who simply want an adventure. If you do urban exploration and this commentary offends you, my apologies. You have to understand the situation. If these schools start becoming hot spots for that type of thing, the School District of Philadelphia (who still owns the buildings by the way) won’t be able to sell them to a charter school or a developer who might do something with the building. When people take pictures from the roof of the Divine Lorraine, are they thinking about how when Father Divine took over the Lorraine Hotel, he turned it into a place where people could purchase cheap meals, and turned the top floor banquet hall into a church, or are they thinking about how they can take a bad-ass picture? When people take pictures of the basketball court at the old Spring Garden School, do they even know that that school relocated to right around the corner? Probably not. These buildings just become a place for people who want an adventure to hang out, and I guess I’m fine with that because nothing’s being done with these buildings anyway. I think schools, however, especially ones that closed less than a year ago, are different.

If people really care about these closed schools, they should talk to people in the community; graduates of the institution both recent and decades ago.   We should all be on the same page attending the same rallies (which I don’t post on here for reasons pertaining to my privacy) trying to give our city’s children a voice. I don’t think going on an urban exploration adventure and implicitly encouraging other like-minded individuals to do the same makes the kind of statement that they think it is. Think about the kids. Think about the community. Don’t think about making a recently closed school into another Divine Lorraine. I know I’ll catch some shit for this post, so please know that I respect Streets Dept as a fellow blogger, I just disagree with him on this. If you’re into urban exploration, more power to you. Just remember, I had School Police called on me for taking pictures of the OUTSIDE of a recently closed school, and the sale of these buildings is crucial to the School District of Philadelphia’s “master plan” to resolve their budget woes. If you really “care” about these buildings, you will leave them alone and let the school district do what they intend to do with them.”

Check out more from LOLadelphia on their RIP Philly Schools page HERE.

Special thanks to LOLadelphia for sharing their thoughts on this topic. I’m always happy to hear people’s differing points of view, and I’ve got great respect for the work and passion LOLadelphia puts in their blog. We may disagree a bit on this topic, but that doesn’t mean we can’t talk through our opinions with reason and respect, as I think we have here. Thanks LOLadelphia!

Philly Travels: Austin’s ‘Graffiti Park’ with John Paul Titlow

February 5, 2014


(Photos by John Paul Titlow)

According to their Facebook page, the HOPE Outdoor Gallery (aka HOG) is “a three-story art project located at 11th & Baylor St. Austin, TX. This ‘Local to Global’ installation is organized by the HOPE (Helping Other People Everywhere) Campaign with support from the property owners, Dick Clark Architecture and Castle Hill Partners.

Known historically as ‘the Foundation,’ the space existed for years as a canvas for established and aspiring writers. The art project was officially launched by HOPE in March 2011 with the support of artist Shepard Fairey and Obey Giant Art. It is one of the largest outdoor galleries in Texas and was developed to provide muralists, graffiti artists and community groups the opportunity to display large scale art pieces driven by inspirational, positive & educational messaging.”

Not unlike the store front at 4th and Reno in Philly’s Northern Liberties, this property in Austin is privately owned and artists must seek permission to participate in its ‘outdoor gallery.’  Which begs the question: how can we inspire more of this here in Philly?!

Last week, a photo of a SEPTA rail train car with an an end to end burner raised the same question in my head. Whether publicly or privately owned, or a mix of the two, I’d love to see Philly outfitted with spaces like Austin’s HOG all around the city. Living outdoor art galleries that would stand as a testament to this city’s strong connection to the creative world. Both historically, and in our modern renaissance.

Off the top of my head, I can think of Midtown Village’s Fergie’s and Fishtown’s Kung Fu Necktie and Rockcat Cafe who have commissioned artists to put work on their buildings’ facades. And that’s a great start, but it’d be great to see parks or open/unused spaces the size of Austin’s HOG filled with art. Anyone have any thoughts?

Special thanks to John Paul Titlow for emailing me the photos above from his recent trip to Texas!

Exploring The Ruins of Philadelphia’s Public School System: Inside 3 Recently Abandoned Philly Public High Schools with Austin Hodges

February 3, 2014

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(Photos by Austin Hodges)

Over the past few months, Philly photographer/Instagrammer, Austin Hodges, has been documenting a number of local public schools that have been closed and left abandoned in the city of Philadelphia. This week, he was kind enough to send me the photos from three of his explorations. And , as you can see, they only seem to highlight the desperate state of public education in this city.

At the request of the photographer, I’m not naming any of the schools photographed in this post. However, they are separated into 3 groups, starting with the first school above.

Austin also asked me to mention that none of these photographs would have been possible without the help of fellow Philly photographer/Instagrammer, @dday521, who also boasts an awesome collection of graffiti and urbex photos. If, for some reason you’re not already, I HIGHLY recommend you follow these two guys on Instagram.

I can not say enough how much these photos have moved me. As a Philadelphia public school kid myself (a graduate of Adaire Elementary and Central High School,) I have a lot invested in the health and vitality of our city’s schools. As I’m sure many of you do. And, I suppose it goes without saying, we have a long way to go to get our public schools on the right track.

More photos below… Read more…


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