PW spent the first day of summer documenting the sights and sounds we all too often take for granted.
“She’s not that smart,” says Nate, the laundromat’s friendly morning attendant, an elegant older gentleman who, when he’s not sweeping the floor and emptying trash, sits atop stacked crates and watches the kids playing out front while their parents fold clothes inside. “I could never trust her again. That shows you where her mindset is.”
“And always had been,” the scarf bearer grumbles, standing up to stretch. As she walks back toward the dryers, WABC gets the hint, shifting to reports on news of South Africa’s beloved ailing former president. “Mandela’s Harrowing Hospital Ride,” reads the bright yellow chyron. “Iconic leader in serious but stable condition.” —K.B.
9 a.m., Saturday: Falls Bridge
Travel down West River Drive—on summer weekends, the street is closed to give joggers, walkers and cyclists full command of the road—and you’ll find the Falls Bridge less than four miles past Boathouse Row. This bridge is 556 feet long built and was built by George. S. Webster, the city’s chief engineer and surveyor from 1893 to 1913. It is the seventh incarnation of itself; connecting East Falls to West Fairmount Park, the bridge is literally where east meets west in Philadelphia as well as where steel meets grass. This morning, it’s also where a group of local immigrants have come to celebrate a special holiday. A dozen men stand smiling and talking near a green, blue and red flag that waves over the water.
“We are the Eritrea community of Philadelphia,” explains Alex Amaniel. Situated between Sudan and Ethiopia, Eritrea is a country in the Horn of Africa that also includes 350 islands in the Red Sea. “We’re out here for one of the most important holidays, what we call Martyr’s Day. It’s very similar to Memorial Day.” On Martyr’s Day, Eritreans remember the 85,000 men and women lost in two wars for independence. Between 1960 and 1991, many families escaped to Europe, Canada and the U.S. Philly has the second biggest Eritrean population (after DC), with most immigrants living in Upper Darby.
After dark, they’ll burn candles in the neighborhood. But in the morning light, they talk near the bridge and water. “It’s a personal thing for every family,” says Amaniel. “So we’ve come here to commemorate the legacy of the folks who were lost fighting for the right to call ourselves Eritreans.” And now, Philadelphians. —T.M.
10:26 a.m., Saturday: Art museum steps — someone thinks they’re fancy
10:45 am, Saturday: Paine’s Park
Adjacent to the art museum, with views of Kelly Drive and the Schuylkill River, lies Paine’s Park. Skateboarders and BMX riders of all ages and skill levels have braved the merciless humidity to practice their tricks on the newly installed granite ledges and benches. The park opened nearly two months ago, hoping to lure skaters from LOVE Park. “Paine’s is great because it appeals to both street-skaters and park-skaters,” says 31-year old Chris. “This is a breakthrough for skateboarding, because instead of getting chased out and underappreciated, we’re accepted into the Philly community.” —Devin Baird
11:52 a.m., Saturday: Schuylkill River — scullers do it in the heat