I DIDN’T GO TO PHILADELPHIA last week just to walk its cobbled alleys and take pictures of cute houses. I went to see my son and his girlfriend in Fishtown, and to catch the van Gogh exhibition at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, above, before it closes May 6. Full of rarely-seen paintings from his last four fevered years, gathered from around the world, the van Gogh (despite the terribly long line to get in, even with timed tickets) did not disappoint.
Nor did the city itself. I was with my indefatigable sister; together we covered half a dozen neighborhoods, including Old City, Society Hill, Rittenhouse Square, and Italian Market, in the space of two days. There seems no end of interesting buildings in Philadelphia, or of the fascinating things you can glimpse through iron gates and discover inside building lobbies.
Paid my first visit to the recently opened Perelman Building of the Philadelphia Museum, above, a decorative arts annex with several galleries carved into its remodeled interior. Detail, below, of its impressive Art Deco doors.
‘Great Coats,’ above, is one of several fun shows ongoing in the Perelman Building, along with 20th century photography and furniture, and fiber arts inspired by the botanical world.
The view from our 7th floor room at the Alexander Inn, above.
Behind an 18th century house museum (all of three rooms) on Elfreth’s Alley in Old City, the oldest continuously inhabited street in the U.S.
Above, Franklin Fountain, an old apothecary shop turned ice cream parlor in Old City, trying to make scaffolding a festive feature.
Mysterious building, above, in Old City, presently vacant but… what potential!
Self-portrait with iPhone at Anthropologie’s flagship store, in an over-the-top mansion on Rittenhouse Square.
The horse’s head on a brick building off Rittenhouse Square probably signifies its earlier use as a stable.
Tony townhouse near elegant Rittenhouse Square.
On Day 2, we had brunch at Sabrina’s in the Italian Market district, where produce and other food stalls are arrayed on the sidewalk underneath corrugated awnings. Italian Market signage, above and below.
Later, we strolled through Society Hill, below, admiring brickwork, shutters, and window boxes and peeking through gates at gardens filled with tidy boxwoods (that’s the garden of the late 18th century Powell House, below). Society Hill was where, in the 1950s, the preservation movement took hold and the revival of Philadelphia’s derelict vintage housing stock began.
Below, Philadelphia’s most extraordinary hidden treasure: an early 20th c. wall mural rendered in colored glass by L.C. Tiffany Studios, after a painting by Maxfield Parrish. It’s in the lobby of the Curtis Publishing Building on Washington Square, open to all.