The Ferris wheel at Eakins Oval & my thoughts on Rocky, new listings, open houses, and fun things to do this week. Did you get a chance to visit the Oval XP? I’d love to discuss. Please send me an email: [email protected]. This edition of Around the Block was originally published on Friday, 8/19/22.
Relevant Commentary, all information Philly (real estate and otherwise), Open Houses, Listings, Happenings, and More — by Jeff “City” Block
Ferris Wheel at The Oval XP and Rocky
I am sure many of you have seen the Ferris wheel at Eakins Oval, whether driving, biking, or running by, or perhaps on a visit to the Art Museum. Maybe you saw it on the news, or maybe in the ATB (we mentioned it here on 6/17/2022). I drove by it many times with my son Ezra in the car, and it became a periodic topic of wonder. Well, this weekend, I decided to surprise him and take him down there.
Originally, I wanted to go in the morning, but when I looked it up online, it said that The Oval XP does not open until noon. So first I learned that this whole setup was called The Oval XP. It is pretty cool. Adds a nice festival vibe to the Parkway. And while it is a pretty scant festival, it is still a plus. I had one focus. The Ferris wheel. Ezra had two, the Ferris wheel and perhaps some way to get a festival-like treat.
Now The Oval XP has a website and an app. But even with that, in classic Philly style, it is still difficult to glean enough information to actually plan a visit. So, you wing it. I know the area and I knew I would be able to park on Pennsylvania Avenue. Not sure what visitors figure out. We get there at like 11:45 and there is no sign of life at the XP site. It is locked up and looks like there is a couple of maintenance staff inside. Not looking like they are ready for a noon opening.
That being said, the entire area just west of the Oval is packed. Tons of people milling about the Art Museum and the parkway in general. Rocky statue? Huge line as always. And deservedly so. The Rocky statue is an absolute Philly must-see classic. People sitting on and running up the Art Museum steps? Just packed. With the running part being an obvious tie-in with the Rocky statue. And for anyone who derides the Rocky statue, the movie, the fictional character, or how all of this fits into the lore and character of this city, I strongly disagree. First, the movie won the 1977 Oscar for Best Picture. Not nominated. Won. It also won for Best Director. The two most prestigious awards. The Academy actually nominated Rocky for 10 Oscars, and it won three (also for Best Film Editing). Also, it won the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture- Drama. It dominated the 1977 awards and is one of the greatest movies of all time. And how “Gonna Fly Now” did not win for Best Original Song I will never understand. Bill Conti’s song was nominated, of course, as were Sylvester Stallone (Best Actor AND Best Original Screenplay), Talia Shire (Best Actress), and Burgess Meredith and Burt Young (both for Best Supporting Actor).
And if you want to enjoy a really special three minutes, please check out this YouTube clip of a young Jack Nicholson presenting the award for Best Picture that March 1977 evening. I mean the list of films that Rocky beats. Just incredible. I love the look on the face of the All the President’s Men producer when Nicholson announces Rocky as the winner. Priceless.
Now with or without these accolades, Rocky still defines Philadelphia. Underdog. Grit. Winner. America’s Showplace (i.e., the Spectrum). Now you may point out that Rocky did not even win the championship fight. He lost to Apollo Creed, of course. Just like I hear some say that Philly might not have enough this or that compared to NYC or some other cities. That is the point. Rocky did not win that fight. But everyone walking out of that movie theater some 45 years ago believed that Rocky was a true winner. And while a fictional character, Rocky stands for Philly at its absolute best.
Sometimes when I am heading off Kelly Drive and swinging around Eakins Oval, I open my window and blare “Gonna Fly Now” as I drive by the Rocky statue line. I kid you not. Generally, I do this with the kids in the car and they do not get quite as embarrassed as you might think. They love the song and the Rocky lore. One of my finest parenting accomplishments.
Back to the Ferris wheel. So, we walked around to the back entrance where I found a security guard. She tells me it may not open until 2 pm. Knowingly in vain, I mentioned to her that the website says it opens at noon. Her explanation was that sometimes they open between 12 and 2. Fair enough. I told Ezra we may need to come back. I mean we don’t live far. I then thought this would be a good time for that festival-like treat. We hit the Mister Softee truck parked at Eakins Oval. Long story short, this is what a SpongeBob popsicle looks like when it quickly breaks apart and falls on the hot asphalt. (Note: this is not a scene from Season 4 of Stranger Things.)
Suddenly, this story takes a turn for the best!! It is now 12:10, I look over to The Oval XP, and out of nowhere, there are about 15 employees inside the Oval XP clearly setting up. And within five minutes, by 12:15, the gates were opened. At that time of the day, there were not a ton of visitors in The Oval, which was fine, because there was not a ton going on. But the Ferris wheel was operating. We got tickets and up we went. Awesome views and tons of fun. We actually did it twice.
Here are some shots.
The spectacular Philadelphia Museum of Art.
River view looking south.
Ezra pointing at Billy Penn on top of City Hall. This is our City!
Closeup of City Hall and the skyline. My kids love the statue of our City’s founder on top of City Hall. It is a regular topic of conversation (including, of course, what would happen if it fell. Which did happen to William Penn’s head in the 2019 Shazam movie, by the way).
Ezra and me. Hair blowing in the wind.
Despite the early demise of SpongeBob and the 15-minute late opening of The Oval XP, this turned out exactly as hoped… an amazing day!!
I hope you have an amazing weekend! And this is the last weekend for the Ferris wheel, so go check it out if you can.
772 N 25th Street
Brand New Listing
3 BD | 1.5 BA | 1,650 SF | Updated/Renovated | Substantial Character |
Finished Lower Level | Rear Patio | $550,000
Warm and wonderful 3 bedroom, 1.5 bath townhome with a spacious, finished lower level and cute rear patio. This 2-story home is situated on a prime, tree-lined Fairmount block.
The best of all worlds—an updated/renovated home with substantial character, including original random width heart pine floors throughout; beautiful, original moldings and wood trim; exposed brick fireplace; and high ceilings.
The 1st Floor offers a vestibule entrance with both exterior and interior transoms and a glass paned French doors to let in even more light. Large open living and dining area with 10-foot ceilings, random width pine floors, and exposed brick fireplace (gas). Original moldings (crown, baseboard, and picture rail). The embossed, original radiators add detail and character throughout. Incredible light. The living area opens to the custom, renovated eat-in kitchen offers granite counter tops and island/eating-bar. Stainless appliances include a five burner GE range/oven GE dishwasher, and KitchenAid fridge with filtered ice and water. Soft close drawers. Recessed lighting and ceiling fan. Hand-glazed terra-cotta subway tile backsplash. Excellent storage. Rear mudroom with coat closet and LG Washer and dryer (full size). Lovely rear patio.
The original random width pine floors continue throughout the 2nd floor, along with spectacular all-day light and 9′ ceilings. 3 bright bedrooms (or 2 bedrooms plus office). Two ceiling fans. Hall linen closet. Updated full bath. The Lower Level is an awesome finished space. Perfect for a family room and an office plus storage. Updated 1/2 bath. Two closets.
Notes: Brick planter boxes with perennials (daffodils, iris, columbine, weigela). New front sidewalk 2020. Pink Sargent cherry tree planted 2020. Hot water radiator heat and central air.
This c. 1889 home has a lovely, light-filled feel, and offers a true A+ location in one of Philadelphia’s most desirable neighborhoods—close to so many great restaurants and museums, shopping, Fairmount Park and the Schuylkill River Trail, and everything that Philly has to offer.
Through August 28th, catch the incredible Tony Award-winning musical Dear Evan Hansen at the Forrest Theatre. The musical follows the story of Evan Hansen, who is a socially anxious teenager with a broken arm. Throughout the show, Evan attempts to comfort the family of a recently deceased classmate by lying about their friendship.
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