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Mapping wealth in Pennsylvania

Lancaster Online takes a look at the socio-economic demographics of Lancaster through census data. 

We now know, thanks to the Higley 1000, that the exclusive Bent Creek neighborhood of Manheim Township ranks among with wealthiest neighborhoods in the United States.

It's right up there with Jupiter Island, where Tiger Woods has an estate with his own personal four-green golf course in Florida, and East Lake Shore Drive, where Oprah Winfrey recently sold her condo for almost $3 million in Chicago...

So we sought out some newer data from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey, the statistical survey that samples a small percentage of the American population every year.

We drilled down to the block-group, or neighborhood, level for the five-year survey results released just this past December.
We mapped out the median household income levels for all block groups in Pennsylvania, and found a handful of six-figure neighborhoods in Lancaster County besides just Bent Creek.


Check out your own PA neighborhood.

Original source: Lancaster Online
Read the complete story here.

Redefining 'elevator music' as a community booster

Inspired by the development of Muzak, Artist Yowei Shaw, a freelance public radio reporter and producer, has been working on "elevator music" that actually improves the community.

Shaw has been grappling with questions of engaging listeners in public spaces as part of her residency with the Philadelphia-based Asian Arts Initiative's Social Practice Lab. Muzak's social engineering history, she says, gave her an idea: "What if we could make our own kind of elevator music, but do it with pro-social intentions, to promote community?"

And so her project, Really Good Elevator Music, was born. Shaw asked six local musicians from Philly's Chinatown North/Callowhill neighborhood to produce tracks that would help "foster community" in the area. The result is the 13 track album of "really good elevator music," which is playing in the elevators of the nearby, mixed-use Wolf Building for the month of March.


Original source: The Atlantic Cities
Read the complete story here.

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter twinkles his toes onstage with the Pennsylvania Ballet

Mayor Nutter hit the stage with the Pennsylvania Ballet playing -- you guessed it -- a mayor. Check out the video here.

Original source: Philly.com

PA restaurants make OpenTable's 'Top 100 Hot Spot Restaurants' list

Three PA eateries made OpenTable's list of the country's "Top 100 Hot Spot Restaurants."

The Butcher and the Rye, a Pittsburgh restaurant owned by Richard DeShantz, has made  a list of 100 hippest restaurants in the United States as picked by users of OpenTable reservation and review website.

Butcher and the Rye is the only restaurant in Pittsburgh and one of only three in Pennsylvania to receive the OpenTable 2014 Diners' Choice Award. The others in Pennsylvania are Cafe Fresco in Harrisburg and El Vez in Philadelphia.

The Butcher and the Rye opened in the fall of 2013 at 212 6th St. in downtown Pittsburgh. The restaurant is on the site of another former restaurant, Palate. It is owned by DeShantz, who also owns the downtown restaurant Meat and Potatoes. It features contempory American cuisine and was recently awarded a Yahoo Travel list  as one of the best new bars in the U.S.


Original source: Pittsburgh Business Times
Read the complete list here.

Private money boosts scientific research in PA and across the country

According to a long feature in The New York Times, billionaire philanthropists are having an increasing impact on scientific research, in Pennsylvania and beyond.

American science, long a source of national power and pride, is increasingly becoming a private enterprise...They have mounted a private war on disease, with new protocols that break down walls between academia and industry to turn basic discoveries into effective treatments. They have rekindled traditions of scientific exploration by financing hunts for dinosaur bones and giant sea creatures. They are even beginning to challenge Washington in the costly game of big science, with innovative ships, undersea craft and giant telescopes — as well as the first private mission to deep space....

Many of their efforts are rooted deep in personal or family trauma. Sometimes, by sheer force of genetics and demographics, that impulse may risk widening historical racial inequalities in health care and disease research, disparities that decades of studies have shown to contribute to higher rates of disease and death among blacks, Hispanics and other minority groups....

Ovarian cancer strikes and kills white women more often than minority women. In 2012, after his sister-in-law died of the disease at age 44, Jonathan D. Gray, the head of global real estate at the Blackstone Group, the private equity firm, gave the University of Pennsylvania $25 million to set up a center to study female cancers.


Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.
 
 

PA's Trickling Springs Creamery provides vital ingredient in NYC's top Irish coffee

The Irish owners of New York's The Dead Rabbit searched far and wide for the perfect cream to top an Irish Coffee. They found what they were looking for in Pennsylvania.

"I think the cream we were using in Ireland had more oil content," said Jack McGarry, who, with his business partner Sean Muldoon, worked at the Merchant Hotel bar in Belfast before moving to New York and opening the Dead Rabbit last year. "But when we came here it wasn’t the same. We knew it for the first year we were open. It’s a problem we had from Day 1."

The solution to the tavern’s cream quandary presented itself in December at a Brooklyn dinner party where Mr. Muldoon met Patrick Watson, the proprietor of Stinky Bklyn, a cheese and charcuterie shop. Mr. Watson was primed for a cream conversation, as he had recently returned from a very dairy family vacation in Ireland.

"As I was having my Guinness, my two 14-year-old nephews are drinking a glass of milk," he recalled of the trip. "And they were freaking out, like we were freaking out about the Guinness. I figured, if a 14-year-old kid is freaking out, I’d better taste this milk. So the whole trip was about dairy."

Mr. Muldoon asked him if he could find a quality cream for the Irish coffee. So Mr. Watson sent his buyer, Katy McNulty, on a milk hunt. "We took eight or nine creams and whittled it down to five," he said.

Their favorite was from Trickling Springs Creamery in south central Pennsylvania. "It had a deeper color," Mr. Watson said. "It had this flavor and texture to it that was naturally sweet."

The bar owners agreed. "This cream is completely different," Mr. McGarry said. "It’s almost eggy."


Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.

Hotels move into historic buildings: it's happening here, too

Hotels are moving away from cookie-cutter locations and towards unique historic buildings that showcase character and creativity to guests.

Reuse and recycle are taking on new meaning for hotels.

The Lamb’s Theater, a longtime fixture on West 44th Street inside the Manhattan Church of the Nazarene, is now the luxury Chatwal Hotel. In Philadelphia, the previously empty Lafayette Building near Independence Hall opened in 2012 as the Hotel Monaco. In New Orleans, new life is being breathed into the Cotton Exchange Hotel off Bourbon Street.

As the hotel industry shakes off recession doldrums and new hotels are being built, the once-standard chain hotel has a sibling, hotels repurposed from existing buildings like offices, warehouses and hospitals.


Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.

Nation's 10 most hellish hills for cyclists includes two Pittsburgh streets

"Top 10 U.S. Steepest Streets" calls out Pittsburgh's brutal Canton Avenue. It clicks in at 37 percent gradient. 

Any cyclists out there want to take on what Lance Armstrong has deemed the "steepest climb I've ever seen on a bike"?

Then buy a ticket to for Hawaii and pedal to Waipio Valley Road, a short but tortuous climb of 800 feet in six-tenths of a mile. With sections slanted at a 45-degree percent grade, and access given only to cars with 4-wheel drive, just looking at the muscle-shredding lane can make rivers of sweat start to flow. As Armstrong said: "You know it's steep when the people walking down are walking backward."

This fearsome cliff road gets top billing on "Top 10 U.S. Steepest Streets," a ranking of terrible hills for cyclists created by Fixr and recently featured at Urban Velo. The run-down contains some challenging claims for folks who think America's worst hills are located in San Francisco or perhaps the Rockies. The second-slantiest street, for instance, is said to be Canton Avenue in Pittsburgh. It is the "steepest public street in the United States," writes Fixr, "only second steepest in the Guinness Book of Records because of a mistake in calculations (1st is Baldwin St. New Zealand, thought to have been 38% but is actually 35%)."


Number eight in is the Steel City, too.

Source: The Atlantic Cities
Check it out here

A loving ode to the Philadelphia regional accent

A wonderful piece in The New York Times' Sunday Review looked at the Philadelphia region's unique accent.

"The Philadelphia regional accent remains arguably the most distinctive, and least imitable, accent in North America. Let’s not argue about this. Ask anyone to do a Lawn Guyland accent or a charming Southern drawl and that person will approximate it. Same goes for a Texas twang or New Orleans yat, a Valley Girl totally omigod. Philly-South Jersey patois is a bit harder: No vowel escapes diphthongery, no hard consonant is safe from a mid-palate dent. Extra syllables pile up so as to avoid inconvenient tongue contact or mouth closure. If you forget to listen closely, the Philadelphia, or Filelfia, accent may sound like mumbled Mandarin without the tonal shifts....

Da prom here, we might say as we order our cheesteaks, is we don’ ave enuff akkers hew are willen to masser da Filelfia acksin. Nonsense. Offhand, I can name two native sons, Bruce Willis (Salem County, N.J.) and Kevin Bacon (Center City Philadelphia), who, at least in interviews early in their career, before accent reduction training kicked in, let their diphthong freak flags fly. And Upper Darby, Pa., native Tina Fey’s shout-outs and occasional youzes are encouraging, as are stories of her singing “You Light Up My Life” in full Brotherly Love voice ('Yew loight up moy loif')."

Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.

Lehigh Valley recognized for economic development

Lehigh Valley has been named one of the top spots for economic development in the country.

With 46 projects, the Lehigh Valley ties for second place with Baton Rouge, Louisiana, for new and expanded corporate facilities in 2013 in areas with a population between 200,000 and one million people.

"This makes me feel good as a lifelong resident of the Lehigh Valley," said Don Cunningham, president and CEO of the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation.

"This is not some sort of subjective, who can market themselves better type of ranking, it's based on results," he said. "It's nice to see it occurring and the national market recognizing the significance of the Lehigh Valley."

The Omaha, Nebraska, area ranked number one with 48 projects. Some of the projects that helped land the Lehigh Valley on the list include Coca-Cola, Bimbo Bakeries and Kraft. While this is the sixth consecutive year this region has been in the top 10, the number two spot is its highest ranking yet.


Original source: WFMZ.com
Read the complete story here.

A&E sets its latest drama, 'Those Who Kill,' in Pittsburgh

'Those Who Kill,' a new series on A&E, is shot and set in Pittsburgh.

The 10-part serial was adapted from a Danish TV show, and stars Chloe Sevigny as newish police detective Catherine Jensen, and James D'Arcy as a forensic psychologist.

Episode 1 was very pilot-like, with a self-contained serial-killer story (that guy was easier to catch than a cold!), and some clunky set-up establishing the characters, their relationships to one another, and the likelihood that everybody is brooding over their own secrets.

In many ways, this first episode was a checklist of Cop-Show Tropes (COP) intercut with Filmed in Pittsburgh markers (PGH), as noted below.

So, is the show worth watching? Sure. It's fun seeing our town on TV, and the main story hasn't even unfolded yet. Seek out the first episode online or on demand, or just jump right in after absorbing these predictable aspects, listed as they played out.


Original source: Pittsburgh City Paper
Read the complete story here.

Where will the good (and bad) jobs be a decade from now?

The Atlantic Cities parses how employment will change over the next ten years -- many areas in Pennsylvania are poised for growth. Check out all the handy maps.

The map above looks at the overall picture, tracking where employment is projected to grow the most and the least over the next eight years. Forty-five percent of metros (179) will experience employment growth greater than the national average of 10.8 percent. The darkest blue areas are along the East Coast, in parts of Florida, and in the energy-driven metros of Texas and the Midwest. The metros that will add jobs at the fastest rate include mainly smaller metros like Duluth, Minnesota; McAllen, Texas; and Greenville, North Carolina. College towns like Morgantown, West Virginia; Durham-Chapel Hill, North Carolina; and Ann Arbor, Michigan are also projected to experience a relatively high rate of job growth. The large metros that will add jobs at the fastest rate are the big three of the Bos-Wash corridor: Boston, D.C. and New York. The slowest growth is projected in the Midwest, parts of the old South, and central California.
 
Original source: The Atlantic Cities
Read the complete post here.



Amtrak offers free seats to writers, allowing for inspiration on the rails

Amtrak is acknowledging the unique writing environment a long train ride provides -- and they're turning that inspiration into a "residency" program. Sounds like a great way to travel across Pennsylvania...

What, exactly, is the appeal of writing on a train? In a phone interview with The Wire, [Jessica] Gross described the train ride as a "unique environment for creative thought," one that "takes you out of normal life." She won't find much disagreement. Now more writers (The Wire's staff included) are clamoring for their own Amtrak residency. 

“I’ve seen a billion tweets from other writers saying ‘I want one of these’,” Gross said, probably being a tad hyperbolic, but it's true that once Amtrak actually does start offering writers' residencies regularly, they're going to be very popular. Julia Quinn, social media director for Amtrak, tells The Wire that there has been "overwhelming demand" from people interested in the program – part of the reason the company is intent on turning this into a regular operation.


Original source: The Wire
Read the complete story here.

Two PA eateries make Alan Richman's best of 2014 list

Esteemed GQ food critic Alan Richman has released his list of the 25 best restaurants for 2014 -- two Philly spots made the list, Avance and Pizzeria Vetri.

Not everyone is going to appreciate Pizzeria Vetri for the reasons I do, but then I’m a fussy guy when it comes to pizza crust. To summarize: I’m no fan of the famous pies of Naples, the city considered the bastion of pizza, where every Italian will tell you to go for pizza even if his family runs a pizzeria in his own home town. The problem is that true Neapolitan pies come out of the oven with soft, puffy crusts that turn soggy in seconds.

Chef Marc Vetri, famous for a fine-dining restaurant named after him, has created a neo-Neapolitan crust. It looks Neapolitan. It tastes Neapolitan. But it’s fundamentally different, as though he did DNA research on pizza and eliminated the gene that turns the crust wet. It’s the newest step forward in the evolution of the great American pizza crust, this one light and supple but retaining a smidgeon of crispness.


Original source: GQ
Read the complete list here.

Mormon Church tackles Philly development projects

The Mormon Church has announced big development plans in Philadelphia's Logan Square neighborhood.

The development on the 1600 block of Vine Street, which is the northern border of Philadelphia’s downtown area, would consist of a 32-story tower containing 258 apartments, as well as 13 rental townhomes and the 24,000-square-foot meeting house where members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints would worship and hold community events.

Designed by Robert A. M. Stern Architects, the project is planned for the block next to a Mormon temple that is already under construction and due to be completed in 2016.

While the temple will be reserved for major religious ceremonies, in keeping with Mormon tradition, the new meeting house will include a chapel for regular services, meeting rooms and classrooms for community and recreational events, officials said in announcing the project on Feb. 12.

Alan Greenberger, the city’s deputy mayor for economic development, said the temple and the planned Mormon housing and retail complex — which would be built on a parking lot — occupy two “unspoken for” blocks between the business district and the northern section of the city.


Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.
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