Hamburg-ers and Philadelphia Sidewalks

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Yesterday we went off in search of a river trail—an end of summer drive through corn country—and discovered a hamburger festival in (but of course) the town of Hamburg. One of those sweet surprises that puts an exclamation mark against the word adventure. I'd been anticipating a sleepy, overcast river walk. But when we arrived, I found the Supreme Woodstock of beefy festivals instead. Dozens upon dozens of hamburger chefs out on the street alongside musicians and leashed pigs and roller derby queens, the crafts people and the wood carvers, the hat wearers and the cigar smokers, the people having a beautiful time. It was as if I'd gone on a one-day European vacation. It was an hour and a half drive and a whole other country. I loved it.

I love, too, my collaboration with Kevin Ferris of the Inquirer, who gives me room to write about the Philadelphia places or experiences that I hope will resonate with those who have meandered through or wondered about our city. Many months ago, while we were chatting, Kevin suggested that I study the sidewalks of the city and see what they might reveal. And so one day, I set out on a sidewalk walk, then wrote the story that begins like this:
From 30th Street Station I walk east on Market - cross one river in pursuit of another. I watch the world beneath me shift. Asphalt. Curb cut. Bridge. A ribbon of discontinuous sidewalks.

Way down deep, the planet's inner iron core radiates some 5,000 Celsius degrees. Here, on the Market Street sidewalks, solidity is an illusion. The concrete panes are cracking. The bricks are buckling. The rising angles of the slate and granite tiles suggest the ceaseless motions of the Earth's crust and the convective power of a restless mantle.
A planetary urging from below.
A streetscape pounding from above.

The sidewalk like geology, I think.
and continues here.


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