Thursday, December 30, 2021

CCRA Newsletter

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Year End Summary

What a year! Covid was up, Covid was down, Covid is on the rise again. None of us knew what to expect and there was no playbook on how to cope. But CCRA soldiered on to a successful conclusion, all things considered.

Covid curveballs notwithstanding, we got a great deal done this year. We met the challenges of keeping sidewalks clean despite increased trash due to late pickups; we adopted policy initiatives on a greener neighborhood, a cleaner neighborhood and addressing diversity, equity, inclusion and justice in our own activities, the neighborhood and the city beyond. We had our first-ever Zoom annual meeting when Josh Shapiro stimulated us with all that the Attorney General has done and is doing to ensure free and fair elections and address fraud, corruption, and crime wherever he finds it. And we modernized our by-laws and brought us into the 21st century legally and organizationally. 

At the same time, CCRA continued to address the burdens that quality-of-life issues place on residents, businesses and tourists. CCRA members should know that our Member Services function remains ready to assist you with any quality-of-life issues that may arise. Just contact Travis Oliver ( and he will either resolve it himself or direct you to the person or organization who “should” take care of it. (And good luck with that “should”.)

Aggressive panhandling, street crime, unbearably loud ATV’s and dirt bikes on our sidewalks and streets all contribute to a deterioration of the environment which must remain welcoming and safe. We worked with the Center City Coalition and the Center City District to identify solutions to intractable problems. We maintained a close relationship with the local police to ramp up enforcement and alert them to problem situations as they arise. And we worked to find better solutions for the homeless population which contributes to some, but certainly not all, of these problems.

 And we made good progress on our initiatives:

1.     Philadelphia Tree Tenders has found a new home in CCRA; the relationship with the Schuylkill River Park Garden was formalized and their funds segregated for their use for the first time ever; green elements were made standard in our Community Benefits Agreements with developers; and new trees and stormwater runoff ideas proliferate;

2. The “Trashforce” researched best practices for disposal in other American and foreign cities and is developing concrete proposals for bringing Philadelphia’s garbage practices into the modern era, if not quite the 21st Century (we have a long way to go!);

3.     The DEIJ task force has identified a series of thoughtful and welcome initiatives to increase our own awareness of the great racial and economic disparities present in Philadelphia and to reach out to institutions in our community with whom we can partner to address these disparities;

We continue to create new and enforce existing Community Benefits Agreements (CBA’s) that mediate between the needs of new development and the preservation of the existing heritage of the neighborhood. Copies of the various CBA’s can be found here.

Finally, we elected and installed a new Board and new officers. I am honored to serve as the president. The work is even more challenging than I anticipated when I threw my hat in the ring but the new Board and Executive Committee are great partners who challenge us to move CCRA forward and work equally hard with me to do just that. 

Membership is at an all-time high; our political relationships with our elected leadership are solid; our cooperation and interaction with community groups pay repeated dividends, and the publications and social media by which we connect to our members are the best they have ever been (according to the many raves from members and astronomically high open and click rates). Despite having to postpone in-person fundraising all year, the community’s generosity has kept our finances in a solid position.

The challenges in the year ahead to restore Center City West to the vibrant and safe community it was pre-pandemic will be many. Let’s take a well-deserved holiday break, connect safely with family and friends, and prepare ourselves for what we have to do. The energy and enthusiasm of our members and my board colleagues motivate me to try to make 2022 the best year yet, as we celebrate our 75th Anniversary of being the voice of the community.

Warm regards,

Rick Gross,


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Center City Residents' Association | 1900 Market St, FL 8, Philadelphia, PA 19103

Thursday, December 23, 2021

CCRA Newsletter


2021 Year-End Review

This Year, and Next


While certainly (and thankfully) no 2020, the year 2021 was quite a doozy unto its own. It started with the Jan. 6 storming of the Capitol, and it ends with the Coronavirus still very much among us. 


It certainly was quite the year for the CCRA newsletter. For one thing, it was renamed, to “CCRA This Week”. For another, it now features expanded coverage and a greater social media presence. For a third, we now feature a weekly editorial at the top of the page.


We are greatly pleased by reader reaction to all of the above, not only because it has been overwhelmingly positive but because it shows that our readership – that’s you, Dear Reader – is active, involved, and appreciates our weekly efforts.


So, what to expect going forward? Why, more of the same, only more so, of course!


So that’s it for now, friends. Have a great, joyous, and safe holiday, and we’ll see what the next year brings.



-Barbara Halpern, Editor

-Richard Vaughn, Lead Writer

-Travis Oliver, Design/Layout and Writer

A Holiday Shout-Out to Our Many Merchant Partners!


‘Tis the season to be jolly and – for CCRA – ‘Tis the season to be grateful.


As the Holidays approach we wish to extend a most grateful and fond “THANK YOU!” to all our Merchant Partners (listed here) for teaming up with CCRA this past year and offering our membership your beyond-superb 'Deals & Discounts’.


You have made our members very jolly, and we are equally thankful and appreciative to have you as part of the CCRA family.


It is also our sincere hope that our partnership has helped you get back on your (almost) post-pandemic feet.


Here’s wishing all our Merchant Partners a happy Holiday season and the brightest of New Years!

Going Green, Going Strong

A city like Philadelphia can’t get green enough, and the CCRA Green Committee put much muscle and effort behind a number of environmental initiatives in 2021. Get the scoop from Green Committee Chair Susan Kahn here.


The “100-Year Flood”

The Schuylkill River flooding over the summer was both impressive and scary. Floodwaters covered the boardwalk, the trail, the train tracks, and some streets including the Vine Street Expressway causing a mass of detours. Although the flooding shortened the growing season of the Schuylkill River Park Community Garden, extensive testing showed that the receding waters had not damaged the soil. During several days of clean-up, gardeners readied the plots, paths, and tools for the 2022 season.

Communication Breakdown? Not Here.

There was more than enough to discuss this year, and more ways than ever to do so. The issues were many, and our social media followers continued to grow.

Communications Dept. Chair Barbara Halpern walks you through it all here.


Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice: The Time Is Now

The past 18 months or so have seen a long-overdue reckoning when it comes to the true meanings of equality and justice. CCRA’s Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Justice (DEIJ) Committee was born with exactly that in mind. Committee Chair Maggie Mund elaborates here.


Meanwhile, Back at the Back Office….

No organization can function very well, or at all, without a sound accounting, financial and yes, legal footing. It’s far from nothing to keep abreast of all the rule changes and still make sure that the numbers add up. Finance Committee Chairman Rick Speizman lays it all out for 2021 here.


Membership Has Its Privileges

There has never been a better time than right now to be a CCRA member. If it’s not the socials, it’s the informative town halls.

If it’s not the volunteer opportunities, it’s the Deals & Discounts. Read all about it from Membership Chair Michelle Ettinger here.


Streetwise in the Big City

Philadelphia is nothing if not a City of streets, and no year goes by without lots of churn and change in making the streets work better for pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists. Let CCRA Streets maven Bill West take you on a tour of 2021’s journey here.


Community News

Gotta Have It: City Requires Vax for 2022 Indoor Dining


In line with CDC guidelines, the City of Philadelphia has required that in 2022 restaurants in town will require customers to show proof of vaccination in order to dine indoors. This will apply as well to catering halls, movie theaters and indoor sports arenas. Details here.

​​June 5th Memorial Park Wins AIA Tri-State Design Award


June 5th Memorial Park, the memorial to those killed and injured in the 2013 demolition of a Salvation Army Thrift Store, has been awarded a 2021 Merit Award for Regional and Urban Design by the Tri-State American Institute of Architects.  Erected in 2018, the Park sits at the original site at 2140 Market Street.  CCRA is a Member of the Friends of June 5th Memorial.  Details of the Award can be found here.

Let Drexel Help Lighten Your Load


Not to get all Marie Kondo about it, but you probably have lots of “stuff” that perhaps you no longer want nor need, and now here’s the Holiday season to pile more on.

Well, not only here comes Santa Claus, but here comes Drexel’s Academy of Natural Sciences with good advice on reevaluating (and reusing) all that “stuff”.  Begin the un-stuffing here.

Center City Residents' Association | 1900 Market St, FL 8, Philadelphia, PA 19103

Thursday, December 16, 2021

CCRA Newsletter

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This Week: December 16, 2021

Editor - Barbara Halpern

Lead Writer - Richard Vaughn

Design/Layout and Writer - Travis Oliver

Alimentari and Rittenhouse Sq. Photo Credits: Benjamin Zuckerman

Uncommon Times, Common Sense

So let’s get this straight:

The Omicron virus is very transmissible, but apparently not so lethal. Evidently, the Delta virus is its inverse. COVID cases fall, and then they rise. Mask mandates are on here, off there.

Recommended: No family gatherings, but…

Meanwhile: some crime numbers are up, other crime numbers are down. All in the context of the Holiday season.

What to do? As guidances vary, it’s difficult to know. Cognitive dissonance has become our daily bread.

And so what we’re left with is Common Sense.

Yes, not always so common, but still our friend, especially now. Evaluate risks, use prudence, be realistic, and enjoy the heck out of the Holidays. (Pro Tip: Leave the Rolex home.)

CCRA News and Events

CCRA Board Meeting

On Tuesday, December 14, CCRA held its board meeting at BEX. The highlights of the evening were two presentations from the newly-formed Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice Taskforce (DEIJ), and the Trash Taskforce - which is part of CCRA's Clean, Safe, and Green program. The presentations, as well as other documents distributed, can be found here.

Merchant Partner of the Week


Every week we spotlight a member of the CCRA Merchant Partner ‘Deals & Discount’ Program, which helps local Mom and Pop businesses get back on their post-pandemic feet by providing complimentary valuable advertising and exposure by encouraging support from CCRA’s highly-engaged (and growing) membership.  This week we feature Alimentari, the restaurant atop the legendary Di Bruno Brothers.


“Alimentari, My Dear Watson”

It quite simply is the most logical of deductions to conclude that a restaurant version of the esteemed food store Di Bruno’s could only be superb.  And so it is.


The word “alimentary” actually means “to nourish”, and do they ever, with small plates, cheese, charcuterie, and Pizza alla Roma, all served in a unique, classy, and minimalistic cafe with wooden tones, small plants, and natural lighting, all perfect for sharing, nibbling and sipping beer, wine, and cocktails.


And, as with the diBruno’s store itself, CCRA members receive 10% off their food bill.

See you there!

Office Closure

CCRA is taking a holiday break. The office is closed on Friday, December 24, and will reopen on Monday, January 3. We would like to wish our members Happy Holidays. Please be safe.

Coming next week: CCRA This Week "Year-End Review."

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Clean, Safe, and Green

Our Clean, Safe, and Green Appeal has begun!

As part of your year-end giving, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to CCRA's Clean, Safe, and Green Campaign so that we can continue to carry out our Sidewalk Cleaning and other programs for another year.  

The Clean, Safe, and Green Program is one of CCRA's most important neighborhood beautification efforts. We contract with the Center City District for $29,000 a year to come through our area on trash day and pick up litter that remains on the sidewalks after Streets Department crews have taken garbage and recycling. We also keep the neighborhood green by planting trees for those who would like one.


CCRA is extraordinarily proud of the Clean, Safe, and Green Program because it makes our neighborhood a better place to live and work. However, we cannot afford to maintain this effort without the generous support of friends like you.  

Thanks for your support of CCRA and season's greetings to you and your family.  Click the " Donate Now " link below to contribute today to CCRA.

Donate Now

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Justice

Coming Soon

"Sense in the City" – A winter Wednesday Zoom discussion series with the Center City Residents Association

Wednesdays, 12 noon–1:30PM – January 19, February 9 and 23, March 9 and 23


How can citizens nurture constructive dialogue that respects everyone and helps make our society more equitable and inclusive? How can we live more meaningful, engaged, and responsible lives? Join Hugh Taft-Morales, Leader of the Philadelphia Ethical Society, for a series of guided conversations about community, difference, and justice.


Hugh will offer a humanist perspective about some ethical and personal challenges we confront, followed by whole-group and small-group conversations. Come share what inner resources, spiritual traditions, and behavioral habits help you live more fully and fairly when navigating life in Philadelphia.

Philly Fed: Pandemic Economic Pain Uneven


According to a recent analysis by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, businesses owned by people of color and women were more likely to report losing revenue in the coronavirus pandemic, and less likely to get federal aid they applied for.  The report (details here) is based on Small Business Credit Survey results from September and October 2020 and includes input from 570 local small businesses.

Invented, then Re-invented: Oldest Gay Bookstore in the Country


When Giovanni’s Room opened way back in 1973, it was only the second LGBTQ bookstore in the country, and its open started a multi-decade run serving the needs of the Philadelphia area gay community.  But then finances became tight in 2014 and things did not look good.

However, with backing from secondhand shop Philly AIDS Thrift plus a team of staffers and volunteers, current owner Alan Chelak took over the storied bookstore and turned it back into a success.

For much more on this remarkable success story, please visit here.

Useful links

Community News and Events

Philly will require vaccines to eat or drink inside bars and restaurants

City officials announced on Monday that bars and restaurants that have indoor dining must ask patrons for proof of vaccination before entering the establishment.  This will be in effect on January 3. More info here.

Council: Streeteries Street-Legal for Good


What was born out of necessity (if not desperation) has now become permanent, as Philadelphia City Council has passed a bill to legalize so-called ‘streeteries’ in some areas of the City.

Introduced by Councilmember Allen Domb, the measure requires that streetery structures meet specific design and placement requirements.  For more on this, please go here.

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If You Only See One Christmas Display This Year….


The Miracle on South 13th Street, located on the 1600 block of South 13th Street between Morris and Tasker Streets, is the one to see. It is truly “over the top”, and we mean that in the best possible way. Mere words fail to describe; for a street-level view, go here.

Comcast's Annual Holiday Spectacular

Comcast's free annual Holiday Spectacular is now outdoors, 1701 John F. Kennedy Boulevard. Daily at the top of every hour from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. from November 25 to January 1, the 15-minute show takes visitors on a festive, musical journey featuring Carol of the Bells, Jingle Bell Rock, and The Twelve Days of Christmas and a snippet of The Nutcracker. More info here.


 Back for the Holidays: Unique Boutique Knit Wit


Just in time for the holidays, the iconic boutique Knit Wit is open once again in Center City.  You can check it out at 2044 Rittenhouse Square (between 20th and 21st Streets), Monday through Saturday 10 am to 6:00 pm; Sunday noon to 5:00 pm. Through December 24 only.

Philly Zoo Gets Its Holiday On


A light show of over a million LEDs, Christmas trees made of pink flamingos and covered with hundreds of carved, painted butterflies, with one topped by an octopus…  It’s all happening at the Philly Zoo’s one-of-a-kind “LumiNature” exhibit.

The 42-acre spread is all decked out and ready for the holidays, and all the details can be found here.


An All-Ages Christmas Show Like No Other


While there are more than a few Christmas shows around town, it’s a safe bet that none are quite like “Christmastown, PA”, the new original musical put on by ComedySportz, Philadelphia’s longest-running comedy and improv theater. The fun begins when Junior brings his girlfriend Haley home to meet the family over the holidays. Little does she know that…. Well no, that would be spoiling it. For all you need to know, go here.

Merchant Partners "Deals and Discounts" Program

Would you please support our local merchants and save money too? These local merchants will provide a deal or discount to any member who shows a current CCRA membership card and personal identification.

The Rounds, Use code CCRATHEROUNDS to receive free membership

Ursula Hobson Fine Art Framing, 1528 Waverly St (215-546-7889)

Veda Modern Indian Bistro, 1920 Chestnut St, (267-519-2001)

William Schwartz Jewelry, 1831 Chestnut St (215-665-8115)

Alimentari Restaurant at Di Bruno Bros., 1730 Chestnut St, 2nd Floor

Astral Artists - Use promo code "CCRA" to receive a $10 flat rate on all tickets to their virtual concerts.

Blue Sole Shoes, 1805 Chestnut St, (215-496-9244)

Branzino Italian BYOB, 261 S. 17th St (215-790-0103)

Di Bruno Bros., 1730 Chestnut St. (215-665-9220)

Dom's Shoe Repair, 203 S. 20th St (215-972-0098)

Excursions from the Square (215-732-8487, 215-738-4500)

Eye Candy Vision, 218 S. 20th St (215-568-3937)

Frameworks Studio and Gallery, 2103 Walnut St, (215-567-6800)

Good Karma Cafe, 331 S. 22nd St, (215-546-1479)

Koresh Dance Company, 2002 Rittenhouse Sq St. (267-687-1769)

Liberty Pet Vets, 265 S. 20th St (888-458-8587)

Nature's Gallery Florist, 2124 Walnut St (215-563-5554)

Photo Lounge, 130 S.17th St. (267-322-6651)

Rittenhouse Hardware, 2001 Pine St. (215-735-6311)

Seafood Unlimited, 270 S. 20th St (215-732-3663)

The Bake Shop on 20th, 269 S. 20th St. (215-644-9714)

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Center City Residents' Association | 1900 Market St, FL 8, Philadelphia, PA 19103