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.
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.
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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
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
And we made good progress on our initiatives:
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;
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!);
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
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.
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.
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
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.
Center City Residents' Association | 1900 Market St, FL 8, Philadelphia, PA 19103
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.
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.
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
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
The “100-Year Flood”
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
Communication Breakdown? Not Here.
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
Communications Dept. Chair Barbara Halpern walks you through it all here.
Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice: The Time Is Now
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….
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.
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
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.
Gotta Have It: City Requires Vax for 2022 Indoor Dining
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. Detailshere.
June 5th Memorial Park Wins AIA Tri-State Design Award
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 foundhere.
Let Drexel Help Lighten Your Load
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.
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-stuffinghere.
Center City Residents' Association | 1900 Market St, FL 8, Philadelphia, PA 19103
Alimentari and Rittenhouse Sq. Photo Credits: Benjamin Zuckerman
Uncommon Times, Common Sense
So let’s get this straight:
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.
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
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
Merchant Partner of the Week
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 featureAlimentari, the restaurant atop the legendaryDi Bruno Brothers.
“Alimentari, My Dear Watson”
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
And, as with the diBruno’s store itself, CCRA members receive 10% off their food bill.
See you there!
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."
Clean, Safe, and Green
Our Clean, Safe, and Green Appeal has begun!
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
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.
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.
for your support of CCRA and season's greetings to you and your
family. Click the " Donate Now " link below to contribute today to
"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
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.
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 (detailshere)
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
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.
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 visithere.
Philly will require vaccines to eat or drink inside bars and restaurants
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
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.
by Councilmember Allen Domb, the measure requires that streetery
structures meet specific design and placement requirements. For more on
this, please gohere.
If You Only See One Christmas Display This Year….
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, gohere.
Comcast's Annual Holiday Spectacular
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 boutiqueKnit 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
Philly Zoo Gets Its Holiday On
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 foundhere.
An All-Ages Christmas Show Like No Other
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