cities in pixie dust

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spring forward…

March 9th, 2009 by citiesinpixiedust · View Comments

mossy streetscape


View CommentsTags: spring

beautiful trash

February 28th, 2009 by citiesinpixiedust · View Comments

View CommentsTags: graffiti · street culture

The Grande Return

February 12th, 2009 by citiesinpixiedust · View Comments

Hello my dear blog. I have returned.*

Here are some pictures of “found art” in different cities.

Los Angeles

megan's window installation
(megan geckler)

New York:

(art garden in the lower east side of nyc)

Philadelphia, PA:

The House of the Apocalypse, Fake HDR
(the house of the apocalypse now, fishtown)

Camden, NJ:

Federal St.
(part of a graffiti collective in camden, nj)

Tucson, Arizona:

music mural
(downtown mural)

* Returned means, I had knee surgery and neglected this blog for five months.

View CommentsTags: foundart · graffiti

summer’s last gasp, and an urban swimming hole

September 15th, 2008 by citiesinpixiedust · View Comments

Somehow it got to be September, and the warm Indian summer is a great time to visit Philadelphia’s own premier swimming hole, Devil’s Pool. (Or as some call it, Devil’s Hole)

devil's pool

While its legality is “questionable,” almost anyone who’s grown up within the city limits has taken a dip in these refreshing waters at least once or twice. My aunt used to take me, my brother, and cousin there when we were kids and let us run wild. It was a place where, before frivolous lawsuits over too-hot coffee and people slipping on icy pavements, kids could be kids and people could relax and let their hair down, and if you got yourself hurt, it was your own damn fault for being stupid. These days it’s still in high use and demand as a place to cool off on hot days. On my walk there in August, I saw two guys hiking a slippery, rocky trail carrying a full-sized barbeque, followed by a girl with a huge bag of charcoal. The last guy in the train carried two coolers: one was probably full of meats. Talk about dedication.

The map below shows a loop walk I took with a friend recently, starting at the stone bridge on the Forbidden Drive side of the Wissahickon Creek, crossing the bridge over to the low creekside trail, walking past the Fingerspan, the Falls at Livezey Lane, Devil’s Pool, Valley Green, and around back to the bridge. This trail is pretty rugged, with some potentially slippery spots. Along the blue route are different landmarks, mapped out for your point of reference and access point… the actual location of the swimming hole is approximated – guessed by the bridge which runs over the Cresheim Creek. The actual map coordinates may be a bit different. You need to be on the Mount Airy/Germantown/Chestnut Hill side of the Wissahickon to access Devil’s Pool. Easy access locations are Valley Green (approximately 15 minute walk), Livezey Lane (approx. 15 minute walk), or paths down alongside the Cresheim Creek in Chestnut Hill.

View Larger Map

Devil’s Pool is formed where the Creshiem Creek runs down and spills into the Wissahickon, a pool of water about 4-5 feet deep on most good days collects. Some folks take their chances and jump off rocks into the pool, but it’s really a stupid place to try to do any fancy diving or high trick jumps - the water never gets more than 5 feet deep anymore, not even after storms.


View more photos from this set

View CommentsTags: parks · philadelphia · summer · wissahickon


August 1st, 2008 by citiesinpixiedust · View Comments

Living in the city has its pluses and minuses. Where do you go when you need to get away from it all, but only have time to escape for an hour or three? If you want to hear birds chirping and the sound of voices and cars all but disappears?

Today, Cities in Pixie Dust takes you on a short “walkabout” through the Wissahickon Creek trails in the northwest corridor of the city. Nestled in around where Mount Airy, East Falls, and Roxborough all meet up is a trail which takes you to the infamous Kelpius cave. Johannes Kelpius was a hermit (Hermit’s Lane was named after him) who emigrated from Germany to settle in the Wissahickon area in 1694. He was a leader in the mysterious Rosicrucians, and rumour has it that they chose the beautiful Wissahickon area to await out the end of days until the end of the world. That didn’t go according to plan, and we’re all still here today living in the world. But even today, the cave where Kelpius dwelled is a little remote (despite it being smack in the middle of a populated city) and isolated from the everyday person, or even the recreational hiker/biker/jogger. Most people go about their hiking, biking and horse riding on the various Wissahickon trails without ever coming across it.

Below is a Google satellite map overview of the Wissahickon near the Walnut Lane Golf Course. The dark curvy line which breaks up the trees is the Wissahickon Creek (you might need to scroll a little to the right to see more of it). Forbidden Drive runs along the south side of the Wissahickon Creek (on the Roxborough side) until you hit Lincoln Drive. The golf course runs from Monastery Avenue to around Hermit Lane. Our walk started in the Walnut Lane Golf Course and roughly followed the shape of the edges of the golf course intermittently during the trail. The trails you follow on this walk are a bit higher up and on rockier footings than Forbidden Drive. Some of the terrain can be a little challenging if you are out of shape or have bad knees, ankles, etc. But this is not the most challenging terrain back on the Wissahickon by any means.

Overview map — you can scroll around within google maps to play around with different settings.

View Larger Map

The beginning of our walk (below), but yours might start elsewhere…

The walk we took goes underneath two bridges, the Walnut Lane bridge and the Henry Avenue bridge. Both are a little bit creepy to walk under, especially as it gets darker outside. Both have a nice assortment of artistic graffiti which is much more complex than the average tagging. The remoteness and stealth of the bridges make a good spot for a little more attention to detail. Walnut Lane might have the artistic edge – not only does it boast tags from up and coming artists like juce, but it’s got an arched style with a lot of light that makes for artistic photos on your end.

walnut lane bridge


Underneath the Henry Ave. bridge can get pretty dark and you really need a tripod or a flash to get good shots.


Finding the Kelpius cave is tricky if you don’t know where you’re going. I happened upon it completely by chance when deciding to take a particularly windy and narrow-looking path right after the trail I had been following (which is popular with mountain bikers along the Roxborough side) met up with the wider trail coming down from Hermit Lane.

up the path towards Hermit LaneThis is the trail to take from Hermit Lane to the Kelpius cave.

The trail at the above right is the one you want to follow if you’re coming Southeast from Roxborough trails, or straight down from Hermit Lane (left).

Below is a Google map of another spot where you can easily start the quest for the Kelpius cave… Hermit Lane, just off Henry Avenue. We did not start here, but did exit here on a few occasions.

View Larger Map

And here it is, in all its glory … the Kelpius cave and its landmark.

Kelpius CaveKelpius Cave

If you follow back towards the Hermit Lane trail, or start/complete your walk there, you’ll see these signs marking the trail (below).


However, if you choose to continue your walk along the path of Kelpius, you have lots of other potential “exit” spots. While on a map, the distance from point A to B to C to D looks very small, remember you’re walking on windy trails that turns a map mile into 2 or 3 because of rocks and switchbacks (small, but they add distance). Make sure you have ample time to get yourself out of the woods before it gets too dark at night, or carry a flashlight. It gets darker in the woods earlier than on the street and there are no streetlights on the trails, while there are overhead streetlights on Forbidden Drive. Perhaps the next logical exit of this hike would be to follow the Kelpius trail to its end, where you will have a steep descent down to the Wissahickon right alongside Lincoln Drive, past Rittenhouse Town. From there you can continue to the 100 Steps, or to the Falls Bridge. It’s possible to start at either of these points and find the trail in reverse, but it’s a pretty steep ascent at a place that doesn’t look like a trailhead to most passersby, especially during the green and lush spring and summer months.

View the whole set at

View CommentsTags: graffiti · parks · wissahickon

Mighty Delhi: Center City

July 31st, 2008 by tommybgoode · View Comments

Our journey up the massive 27-lane thoroughfare of the soul that is Delhi Street continues through Center City and Chinatown. We began in South Philadelphia, where Delhi is sometimes a street, more often an alley, but rarely just a state of mind. In Center City, you’ll need to suspend your disbelief just a little more to achieve that special “D-mode” in which Delhi Street is all.

Ready? Click here to begin.

View CommentsTags: philadelphia

Facet Squared

July 9th, 2008 by jono · View Comments

From Section 1, Title 4 of the United States Code:

• The flag should never touch anything beneath it, such as the ground, the floor, water, or merchandise.

old glory

• The flag should never be displayed with the union down, except as a signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property.

the stars and stripes

• When the flag of the United States is displayed from a staff projecting horizontally or at an angle from the window sill, balcony, or front of a building, the union of the flag should be placed at the peak of the staff unless the flag is at half-staff. When the flag is suspended over a sidewalk from a rope extending from a house to a pole at the edge of the sidewalk, the flag should be hoisted out, union first, from the building.

the star-spangled banner

• The flag should never be carried flat or horizontally, but always aloft and free.

the stars and stripes

• The flag should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery. It should never be festooned, drawn back, nor up, in folds, but always allowed to fall free. Bunting of blue, white, and red, always arranged with the blue above, the white in the middle, and the red below, should be used for covering a speaker’s desk, draping the front of the platform, and for decoration in general.

bars & stars

• The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning.

View CommentsTags: Uncategorized

quick update

June 26th, 2008 by citiesinpixiedust · View Comments

Sorry about the lack of content lately. It’s just that Cities in Pixie Dust has been spending a lot more time OUTSIDE the cities than in them lately. Including a trip to the boonies of southeastern Tennessee, and a visit to beautiful Ruby Falls, just outside of Chattanooga. We promise exciting new photos and posts coming soon, including some stuff from a new poster to CPD.

Cool stuff found elsewhere online:
The Reverse Graffiti Project! – instead of cleaning up graffiti by repainting or sandblasting, these folks are turning tags into art.

Until then… here’s a thought~


View CommentsTags: Uncategorized

cpd ♥ street art (& video!)

June 3rd, 2008 by citiesinpixiedust · View Comments

This weekend past, Cities in Pixie Dust went to the South Philly Biennial, which was originally scheduled for Saturday, and rain-delayed until Sunday.

I really can’t say a whole lot about the experience, and actually describe it properly. You really had to be there. It was part Alice in Wonderland acid trip and part community art festival. A friend of mine walked by serendipitously, and had to leave because “I can’t handle this right now… It’s tripping me out…” Think glitter and rainbows meet saxophone versions of “Sweet Child of Mine” and Black Dog. Live Band Karaoke, tea tent, paper mache clusterf*ck and face painting. Plus a surprise solo acapella performance from the guy from the band The Homosexuals.” Or as the kid who sang Danzig’s “Mother” during Live Band Karaoke said about the art, “What is all this stuff? It’s SO WEIRD!!!!” You really had to be there.

So, below the cut is some video!

More photos on flickr in “South Philly Biennial”

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View CommentsTags: art · philadelphia · street culture

Welcome to Summer.

May 27th, 2008 by citiesinpixiedust · View Comments


Northeast Philadelphia, or “The Great Northeast,” as some like to call it, is a wondrous place for a visit. It’s got Russian supermarkets with aisles devoted to pickles, trails that go for miles back in Pennypack Park, and wacky thrift shops almost untouched by hipsters. It’s got Franklin Mills Mall and suburban sprawl.

We’ve been there in the trenches… We understand that sometimes you just need to get the f*ck out of Dodge. You keep seeing the same people at the same places and it’s worn thin. Or maybe you just need to experience another place as an observer to appreciate how great your life is (or isn’t, as it could turn out to be). Getting away to a foreign land can sometimes be prohibitively expensive, or take too long to get you back in the office on Monday morning. When you’ve got the time, you ain’t got the money, and vice versa.

Cities in Pixie Dust is a big fan of exploration of “foreign” lands. Sometimes this means other countries, or other cities nearby. But just as often – it means exploring unusual parts of your own town. You don’t always have ten days and $1500 to go on vacation when you need it. We aim to someday share with you which Port Richmond bar has the best pierogie through experienced taste tests and photo exposes, which Korean BBQ in Olney has the best karaoke, where we found $3 drinks in Manhattan, and so on.

Today’s post is the first in a short series about Northeast Philadelphia.

We bring you…

The Twistee Treat custard stand. Unfortunately it was not open for us to sample their offerings… But CPD will be heading back soon (sometime after 12 noon daily by the way!) for a taste test. Welcome to summer. We know it’s not technically official until June 20th or so, but we all know Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial first weekend of summer.

Located at Frankford and Longshore Aves. (you can see it on Google Maps satellite!)

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View CommentsTags: architecture · northeast philadelphia · philadelphia · summer