Red October rainbow in South Philly (Instagram/@travel_with_taco)

Bellwether District rises at the former South Philly refinery

Four-plus years after the PES explosion, construction is officially underway on the Bellwether District, the 1,300-acre commercial and industrial complex from Hilco Development Partners. The land along the Schuylkill River is set to be transformed into a big warehouse farm and an office park for life sciences firms, with the first buildings slated to open in early 2025.

Meanwhile, environmentalists and community members are still concerned about lingering contamination. Meir Rinde has details. Continue reading…

Cranes frame the Philadelphia skyline at the ceremonial groundbreaking of the Bellwether District at the former PES Refinery site in South Philadelphia in October 2023. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

New library schedules include later hours, but no Saturdays

The Free Library of Philadelphia rolled out new operating schedules this week, bringing extended hours to the main branch and a standardized calendar across neighborhood locations, although Saturdays are on hold. Library officials are hopeful they’ll return, but continue to face a staffing deficit.

Asha Prihar has details, including a map of branch locations with all the new hours. Continue reading…

The Parkway Central Library will again have evening hours. (Mark Henninger/Imagic Digital)
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RECAP: What else happened?

$ = paywalled

• Franklin Towne Charter is suing the Philadelphia School District to force the removal of a hearing officer who refused to recuse himself — despite the recent independent report on potential racial bias recommending he be replaced. The high school faces revocation of its charter over allegations of rigged admissions. [Inquirer$/Chalkbeat x 2] 
• Center City now has a permanent exhibit showcasing the history of the city’s ignominious MOVE bombing, which obliterated an entire West Philly block. Titled “Remembering MOVE: May 13, 1985,” the MSB installation features over 120 documents and videos, meant to “inspire civic dialogue.” [Axios/BP 2020/Phila Gov]

• The phrase “Wawa pizza” returned to the lexicon last summer when the chain added it to the post-4 p.m. menu. Now it has a lot of people asking, “Why?” A local food writer was unimpressed, and a national critic called it “inedible.” [NBC10/Eater/WashPost unlocked]

• After the “Always Sunny” gang helped kick things off, Kyle Schwarber hit two and Trea Turner contributed one to help the Phillies set a postseason home run record after their blowout 10-0 win last night vs. the Diamondbacks. Game 3 is Thursday in Arizona. [@HughE_Dillon/MLB]

• With the Phils and the Flyers both playing, the sports complex was so busy that the Linc’s Mexico-Germany soccer game was delayed when the teams got stuck in traffic. Officials later closed Exit 17 on I-95 to keep things from getting worse. [@thegoalkeeper/CBS3]

Philadelphia City Hall. (Mark Henninger/Imagic Digital)

Weekly brief on gun violence prevention (with PCGVR)

We publish this report each week in partnership with the Philadelphia Center for Gun Violence Reporting.• The Souls Shot Portrait Project has a new exhibition of portraits of people lost to gun violence in Philadelphia. It opens Nov. 3 at the Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill. [Hearts & Souls]

• In New Orleans, which saw an even worse pandemic gun violence spike than Philadelphia, firearm homicides are now plummeting. It’s not exactly clear why — but it’s not due to more police, analysts say, as the force is down 250 members vs. pre-COVID. [Trace]

• As Pa. anti-violence advocates work to get a “red flag” law passed in the state Senate — allowing temporary seizure of firearms from people deemed a behavioral risk — the U.S. Supreme Court is gearing up to hear a case that could overturn the existing federal ban on abusers owning guns. [WHYY/Johns Hopkins]

• One year after she was caught in the crossfire and killed, friends and family of city employee Tiffany Fletcher celebrated her life at the rec center in Mill Creek that now bears her name. [Fox29/WHYY]

By the numbers in Philadelphia

  • 28: Shooting victims recorded last week, vs. 31 the week prior. [PCGVR]
  • 1,413: Shooting victims this year so far, down 26% vs. this time last year. [PCGVR]
  • 346: Year-to-date homicides, down 20% vs. last year’s pace; up 31% vs. five years ago [Philly Police]


Nothing public on Mayor Kenney’s schedule. His office released a report detailing public education accomplishments during his 8 years leading Philadelphia, highlighting increased contributions from the city budget, the soda tax-funded pre-K and community schools programs, and additional investment in the Community College of Philadelphia. The report also notes the need for building repairs, data sharing, and improved staffing and diversity efforts.


♫ Songs of “love and healing” are coming to the National Museum of American Jewish History, featuring Nefesh Mountain and a community talkback. Tickets are $15. (6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 19) 

👻 Enjoy games, beer from Evil Genius, live music, and access to the Museum of Illusions in Old City at the Boos & Brews adults-only Halloween experience. Free. (6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 19 and 26) 

🎤 Philly K-pop fans, now’s your chance to go holiday shopping, as the free KPop Flea Market returns, setting up shop in Fairmount. (12 to 4:45 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 21) 

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