Monday, October 8, 2012

Philadelphia Zoo

Well of course I was going to put a post here about the Philadelphia Zoo! Duh! It's been many years since I've been to this zoo, but I will always remember my trips there as a kid very fondly. Taking the train from the suburbs with my parents and grandparents and seeing all the amazing animals were wonderful childhood experiences!

The Philadelphia Zoo is America's First Zoo and recently celebrated its 150th Anniversary, though the first 15 were not open to the public because of a delay caused by the Civil War. The idea for a zoo was brewing for a while in the minds of many of the city's leaders including Ben Franklin, and eventually, with the help of Dr. William Camac, came to fruition. The property selected for the zoo included the home of William Penn's grandson, John Penn. That home, named The Solitude after a Duke's lodge, remains on the zoo property today. In addition to remaining in the same original location, the zoo also still has original Victorian gates and gatehouses. Such a historical and interesting place!

The zoo has around 1300 animals of all sorts. It also has around 1.2 million visitors per year, so it can't be that hard to find. Here is the address:

Philadelphia Zoo
3400 W Girard Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19104

Here is a full-sized map of the zoo. I'm sure you can pick one up when you're there, but this may help you plan your trips to see the hippos and monkeys and big cats and polar bears and rare animals and... you get the picture. Speaking of pictures, do me a favor. Next time you're there, take a photo of the gates or a cool animal or whatever and email it to me. I'll update this post with it.

Philadelphia Zoo Hours and Ticketing

In Season Hours, March 1 - October 31, 2011:  9:30 am - 5:00 pm daily

Zoo Admission
Adult $18
Child (age 2-11) $15
Child (under 2) FREE

If you are in the Philadelphia area and plan on going more than one time per year, you really should become a Zoo Member. Zoo membership costs just a little more than your one-time family visit and gets you free parking, discounts on rides and other benefits, including free or discounted admission at Reciprocal Zoos. How cool is that?

Again, the website for the zoo is a wealth of information and pictures. Take my summary and editorial as a highlight to what I think people might find most interesting and useful. I can't wait to take my own children there next time I get back into town. Let me know how your trip goes.

City of Brotherly Love Nickname

Why the nickname "City of Brotherly Love"? Some politician made it up to get reelected and it stuck right? Wrong! So they couldn't come up with something better than that? Who is responsible for it?

Well, the one you're going to have to call is William Penn. He and his Quaker buddies got tired of the Protestants and Catholics and pretty much everyone giving them a bunch of crap for wanting to practice religion in their way. So he approached the King of England, who granted him the land charter for Pennsylvania, obviously named after him.

The City of Philadelphia was created as a haven for people to worship in any way they chose. And, friends, Philadelphia was created from the Greek words philos, meaning love, and adelphos meaning brother. So you see, it's not really much of a nickname. More of a literal translation.

I'm not sure at what point the "City of Brotherly Love" translation was first used or made popular, but as the decades and centuries have passed, it seems to have stuck as a nickname to the point of forgetting word roots. Personally, I like the moniker. It's way better than the made up "Beauty and Progress" nickname of the town I live in, let alone some of the unsavory names jealous people that root for inferior rival sports teams have given the city, like Killadelphia and Filthydelphia.

Anyway, that's your brief explanation. Go Phillies!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Phifteen Phamous Philadelphians

Surely there are some famous people from Philadelphia, right? No, I'm not talking about William Penn, Betsy Ross, Ben Franklin and their posse, despite their awesome contributions to the city. They already got a state and a bunch of bridges and other stuff named for them. It's time for a modern, or at least less than a few hundred years old, Top Ten. Am I right? Oh, and yeah, I know the title makes you think there are going to be fifteen, but that's too many (and I still wanted the alliteration!)

So here is my list. My rationale: I made up my own rules, like they didn't need to be born in Philly and the suburbs count. As long as there was a significant impact or connection, I let them ride. Conversely, all famous people born in Philadelphia were not automatically considered either. And finally, I tried to look at fame from a variety of angles.

Let me know who I left off that you're pissed about and anything else on your mind. Hopefully I'll hit a few that you guys didn't even know were eligible. Oh, and Cosby is overdone and boring so I left him off, too.

In no particular order, except that I miss Harry the most...

Harry Kalas. When he died in April, 2009, all of Philadelphia mourned. Young, old, baseball lovers and even baseball haters. Harry was a Chicago native, but as every Philadelphian knows, he spent nearly 4 decades as the announcer and voice of the Philadelphia Phillies. Nationally, his voice was recognizable for his NFL films commentary, but that voice truly belonged to the Phils from 1971 until the day he died, 162 games a year. A symbol of Philadelphia, no doubt! And loved by all that came into contact with him. I'm shedding a little tear myself right now.

Katharine Drexel. Born over 150 years ago in Philadelphia, so she barely makes the "more contemporary" list, but she lived for almost 100 years and is a Saint, beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1980. Katharine was born into a rich family yet was taught a set of values that carried her throughout her entire life. She became a nun early in her life, giving herself and her substantial inheritance to God. Her mission work was embodied by her work with Native Americans and African Americans, helping to bring social and racial justice to these groups many decades before such issues became any concern of the United States. She now has many churches and schools named after her, including many in the Philadelphia area. There is also a Shrine where her story is told and  remains are buried in Bensalem, PA. The Vatican should really update their website, but here's what they have to say about Saint Katharine Drexel.

Grace Kelly. Oscar-winning actress and Her Serene Highness Princess Grace of Monaco. And beautiful too! Grace Kelly was born into a wealthy Philadelphia family, and she decided at an early age to pursue an acting career. She made 11 movies including several with Alfred Hitchcock, but her Best Actress Oscar was for her role in The Country Girl. Just a few years after winning the Oscar, she gave up a successful film career and married Prince Rainier Grimaldi III of Monaco. They had three children. Princess Grace died tragically in a car accident in 1982. Here is a website with many photos and stories that shows she still has many fans to this day.

Gloria Allred. Born and educated in Philadelphia, first at the Philadelphia High School for Girls followed by the University of Pennsylvania. It wasn't until after she moved to California that she got her Law degree, at which point she was admitted to the Bar there. Gloria is frequently involved in high-profile cases or at least providing commentary about them on TV. She's been involved with the OJ trial, representing Nicole Brown Simpson's family. Scott Peterson trial representing Amber Frey. In suits against Michael Jackson, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Rob Lowe, Tommy Lee, etc. Feminism and equality are some of her specialties. Here's her website--watch for the humility. Hardcore annoying is a pretty easy position to defend, but she's such a good lawyer, she might be able to convince a jury otherwise. And if I need a lawyer, I hope she comes calling!

Kevin Bacon. Kevin was born and raised in Philadelphia. After high school, he pursued his acting career, eventually landing many A-list movie roles including his real first dose of fame in Footloose. He's still a favorite in the box office to this day, but my personal favorites are A Few Good Men and Flatliners. I will admit I'm not much of a movie buff either. I just checked out a list of his movies, and I'm really going to need to get my act together with some serious Netflixxing! He is also the subject of the popular game Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, which I am horrible at playing. How do you do with this game?

Dick Clark. Dick Clark wasn't born in Philadelphia. He didn't go to college in Philadelphia. He was from New York. But after college, he moved to Philly and took a job at a radio station and TV affiliate. He was a fill-in host during the early days of Bandstand before taking over as full time host in 1957. That's when ABC picked up the show nationally and it was renamed American Bandstand, with Elvis as its first guest. The show remained in Philadelphia until 1964. For more than a decade, Dick Clark was a Philadelphia man and he was instrumental in this iconic show there. Dick also has his own successful production company, and of course his game shows and New Year's Eve specials have been wildly popular over the years!

Alexander Haig. Alexander Haig was born and raised in Philadelphia. After graduating from the United States Military Academy, he was a Veteran of both the Korean War, where he served under General MacArthur, and later the Vietnam War. He was a highly decorated soldier, winning the Purple Heart, Distinguished Service Cross and Silver Star. General Haig also held many political offices during his career, including White House Chief of Staff during the height of the Watergate Scandal and Secretary of State under President Reagan. He recently died in 2010.

Kelly Monaco. Playboy Playmate of the Month (hot but NSFW), Dancing with the Stars Champion, and General Hospital soap star for a decade? Yep. Kelly was born in Philly in the mid-1970's and lived in the 'burbs until she was old enough to send naked pics. The American Dream. Besides being ultra-hot, she has shown other talents with her long-standing acting career and reality-show success.

Will Smith. Will was born and raised in Philadelphia. His initial fame came from his music and rapping as The Fresh Prince with DJ Jazzy Jeff, to the point of winning a Grammy. And I loved the Fresh Prince of Belaire spinoff, too, but his acting career has taken him far from that sitcom. This guy makes killer movies and he's been nominated for two Academy Awards, for Best Actor in both Ali and The Pursuit of Happyness. Now he's a local to me down here in South Florida, at least part time. But he'll always be a Philadelphian!

Lester Shubin. Maybe you don't know this guy. He was born in Philadelphia and graduated high school in Philly too before enlisting in the Army. After WWII, he joined the Department of Justice as a scientist and was heavily involved with science aimed at creating a safer work environment for law enforcement. Using research being done by DuPont and a government grant, he suggested using their Kevlar product in bullet-proof vests for police officers. Many thousands of police officers owe their lives to this Philadelphia guy. He died in 2009 with several tributes following. I like this summary, which happens to be an obituary.