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Former North Catholic building continues transformation into Marianna Bracetti Academy

The new home of Marianna Bracetti Academy Charter School continues to take shape in anticipation of it’s opening in Fall of 2013.  The building is the former Northeast Catholic High School for Boys, once the largest boys school in the world.

The charter school is currently occupying an old trolley shed at Kensington Ave and Cumberland St.  The school is contracted by the city to educate 1,155 students.

Looking into the building, it looks like they ripped down all of the old walls and were putting up new ones.

I ride by the building every day and am amazed at what I think looks like an air conditioning unit on the roof.



It looks like something NASA would try to launch into space.

They’ve removed the bridge between the school and the former rectory building, which was sold to separate developers to be turned into senior housing.



Additionally, the rectory has ivy growing up it’s walls, I think it looks good, I’d love to see them keep it.



At one point, the football field out back looked like it was growing wheat, but it appears to have been mowed.

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Friends of Overington Build the Park

Diane Kunze spent 11 years looking out her front door over at the park across the street and thought somebody should really do something about that mess.  Overington Park, located at the corner of Leiper and Orthodox Streets in Frankford, didn’t seem to be maintained by the city and it’s most committed users were drug dealers, prostitutes, vagrants and school students playing hooky.  People were bringing mattresses into it.  It was not an inviting place to be and therefore, the only people using the park were the ones up to mischief.  It had a spiraling effect that as fewer people used the park, more and more mischief took place in it.


Friends of Overington Park scout future shed locaton

“It’s such a Philadelphia thing to do.  Look out your front door and say ‘The city should really do something about that.” Kunze says.  But that was 10 years ago and the park’s turn around has been hard fought, but a success.  There is a presence there now.  Her group, the Friends of Overington Park, make every effort to let people know, who are looking for a place to hide, that this park is not going to be it.

They keep the ground free of debris with weekly cleaning days, and make it a mission to  keep the place inviting to neighboring schools, so they’ll bring the kids over.   For years, the park has been host to carolling at Christmas time, participated in every city service day, held multiple movie nights and annual Fall Festivals.

Continue reading Friends of Overington Build the Park

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Bilenky Cycle Works over in Olney

bilenky cycle works


A Continuous Lean has profiled the custom bike shop Bilenky Cycle Works, a fabricator of custom bikes very much in the spirit of high craftsmanship.  The blog, based on men’s high fashion and finely crafted American wares, is very hip.  Of course it’s put out a guide to Fishtown.  Of course I read it religiously.  When I initially saw the profile a month ago, I filed it away figuring it was in Fishtown, or Kensington or something.  I knew it wasn’t in my own back yard, and I didn’t realize until watching the video that it was in my neighbor’s back yard.  Bilenky Cycle Works is sitting next door in Olney.


Bicycling Magazine: Bilenky Cycle Works from Andrew David Watson on Vimeo.


So many things sit right under your nose in this city.  This is yet another one of those unique places.

[link] Bilenky Cycle Works Facebook Page

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Collegeville Intersection show Frankford what a nice, walkable intesection looks like

If you’ve walked around the Frankford Transportation Center, you may feel like you’re taking your life in you hands crossing the street.  If you cross Bustleton or Frankford Ave you may get the impression that motorists are just waiting for a chance to run you down.  But it wasn’t until I got a walking tour pointing out the FTC issues that I started noticing other areas of the tristate area that were doing it right.  Take in point this intersection at the Collegeville Diner in Collegeville:


This intersection is doing a few things.  It’s alerting motorists to an oncoming insection by showing a brick colored crosswalk.  It’s also inviting pedestrians to cross it by showing a path, several lights, and the Walk/Don’t Walk siganls.

The block of Frankford Ave crossing the FTC provides nothing but doom.  Check out this guy crossing:


Poor guy, I wonder if he ever made it.  People are going to cross where they’re going to cross.  Our brains are smart enough to know the path of least resistance, even if it means putting us in danger.  It is our community( i.e. the city) job to ensure that we can safely make it.

My amateur walkability suggestion is to at least give a crosswalk and “Yield to Pedestrian” sign.  Best case, give it a light.  That spot right there is the de-facto entrance to the center and doesn’t invite anyone to cross the street to shop in stores.