A Reflective Day In The City Of Brotherly Love

Howdy, girls and boys, and welcome to the website of he who just can’t seem to stop writing about Philadelphia. And why not after all, seeing that The City Of Brotherly Love has got what it takes. Yo, if it didn’t I wouldn’t have spent most of my adult life within or near its borders.

Anyway, it’s not as if I have something better to discuss right now. Well, I suppose that I could go into exacting details concerning how I gained entry in the Guinness World Records book last week by virtue of having tied some of my lengthiest nose hairs to a 50-pound dumbbell and then hoisting that f*cker two feet and eight inches off the ground without using my hands. Shit, that hurt! Fortunately my nose hairs are preternaturally strong and well-anchored, which allowed the feat to occur without major adverse effects. But nah, Philadelphia’s more interesting than that accomplishment. What now follows hopefully will validate the previous sentence.

The present story had its genesis last month in my piece on Philadelphia’s elevated parks. During my explorations for that essay I came across wonderful reflections on the surfaces of skyscrapers that flank one of the parks. And when my online friend Tanja Britton posted comments extolling those reflections, something inside of me clicked. Indeed, I then put it in mind to stroll around Philadelphia, checking out reflections in glass and metal on the faces of buildings. I tell you, Tanja’s got the power to inspire. Not only that, she’s a fine writer, one who is smitten by the grandeur of nature. You’ll be glad that you did when you click here to access her website.

Cira Centre, in West Philadelphia

On August’s final Thursday, then, a sunny and pleasantly-heated day, I hopped aboard a late-morning train in my suburban town and disembarked at Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station an hour later. The station, located in the city’s gigantic West Philadelphia section, sits across the Schuylkill River from central Philly. And hovering above the station is Cira Centre, a sleekly monolithic skyscraper that I immediately fell in love with when it opened in 2005. No way was I going to gaze at reflections around town without including those on CC’s surface.

Cira Centre, sheathed in glass, is a testament to the glories of reflection. Because it is not boxed in by other tall buildings, it has an almost unlimited capacity to mirror the skies. I spent a couple of minutes admiring the ideal shade of medium blue that saturated its facade. Still, I was somewhat surprised that, other than the heavens, the only thing pictured on the side facing me was one single building.

There are other skyscrapers not far from Cira Centre, some of them belonging to or associated with the two educational behemoths (University Of Pennsylvania and Drexel University) that abut one another in West Philadelphia. But my walking tour didn’t lead me to any of those towers. Strolling through the university campuses and on the blocks that surround and transect them, I stayed on the lookout for nifty images presented in the windows of normal-height buildings. I kept getting distracted though, because it was an excellent day for girl-watching in West Philadelphia, as it also would be an hour and a half later when I made my way around a healthy number of central Philadelphia’s streets. But you know what? Not a single female watched me. What do they have against guys whose eye bags droop halfway to the ground? Man, being a geezer ain’t easy.

Ladies notwithstanding, I didn’t lose sight of why I’d gone into town. I’ve always liked to look at reflections, but I’m almost certain that this was the first time I ever devoted more than a few minutes to seeking them out. It wasn’t hard to find them. And obviously it rarely is, a fact that somehow hadn’t registered with me before. During my travels that day, West Philadelphia and central Philadelphia gave me many images to groove on.

Saxby’s, near Drexel University
Gothic building on University Of Pennsylvania’s campus
Dunkin’ Donuts, in central Philadelphia

The orange tables and chairs imbedded in the window of Saxby’s coffee bistro, inches from Drexel University, intrigued me. As did the tree and blue sky in the window panes of a Gothic building smack dab in the middle of the University Of Pennsylvania campus. Ditto for the street scenes, complicated yet quiet, playing out in the glasswork of a Dunkin’ Donuts store in central Philly.

Comcast Center, in central Philadelphia
Looking toward the top of Comcast Technology Center, in central Philadelphia

And what, other than ooh la la, can you say about the sky, clouds and buildings captured in the facade of Comcast Center, the city’s second-tallest structure? That soaring canvas was hard to beat. Comcast Center, in the center of town, reigned as Philadelphia’s highest building for 10 years until its sibling, Comcast Technology Center, opened a block away last year. CTC is a gorgeous creation too. The geometric reflections upon its mirrored surfaces were a minimalist’s delight.

The Graham Building, in central Philadelphia

I was in the midst of a varied show. Some images were perfect or near-perfect replicas of the physical world. Others, though as clear as day, had a distinct life of their own, such as the tables and chairs at Saxby’s. And as for fractured pictures, I was totally down with the few I encountered, especially the dizzying plays of light on The Graham Building’s revolving door, a few blocks from Comcast Center.

Iron Hill Brewery, in central Philadelphia
That’s yours truly with the camera in front of his face, in West Philadelphia
Two Liberty Place, in central Philadelphia

Reflections can mess with your head in a good way and might put you under a spell. What else would you expect from phenomena that, though weightless, in their mysterious ways are as substantial as solid matter? One thing for certain is that I, who came close to flunking high school physics, never will understand the mechanics and processes behind reflections. But who cares? Their call got me off my bony, lazy ass the other day. I needed that.

(As almost always noted: Please don’t be shy about adding your comments or about sharing this story. Thank you.)

(If you click on any photo, a larger image will open in a separate window.)

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95 thoughts on “A Reflective Day In The City Of Brotherly Love

    • Yeah, Another Blogger September 9, 2019 / 4:51 pm

      Hi Cindy. Right, they definitely challenge perception. There’s more than one way to look at many things/situations.

      Like

  1. Audrey Driscoll September 9, 2019 / 1:54 am

    The photo of the Comcast Center, with the cloud reflections, is gorgeous. The old building in front is a nice contrast. Perfect.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger September 9, 2019 / 4:52 pm

      Hello there, Audrey. That’s one of the things that I like about Philadelphia — i.e. the endless contrasts that you can find.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Audrey Driscoll September 9, 2019 / 10:14 pm

        I appreciate that your photos bring those contrasts to the attention of people all over the world.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Basia Korzeniowska September 9, 2019 / 1:55 am

    I love reflections too and often notice them. You have inspired me to look for more in London. But I find them hard to photograph. Yours are impressive

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger September 9, 2019 / 4:54 pm

      Half the time, there was so much glare on the phone’s viewfinder, I couldn’t really see what I was doing. I was lucky that the pictures came out decently.

      Like

  3. Paddy Tobin September 9, 2019 / 2:45 am

    All very beautiful but I am most taken by the manner in which the Comcast building almost disappears into the sky and wonder if the architect foresaw this when designing it.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. tylerus September 9, 2019 / 7:28 am

    You, my friend, are too funny. 🙂 I think you should put a book together about Philly, with your fantastic photos! Give it some [serious] thought.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger September 9, 2019 / 4:57 pm

      I’ll make a mental note, but I don’t think I’m up for doing it. In any case, thanks for the thumbs up.

      Like

  5. Debra September 9, 2019 / 7:39 am

    This story was a nice reflection on you. :-}

    Liked by 1 person

  6. cath September 9, 2019 / 7:57 am

    These are fabulous, Neil. That Comcast one is stunning – the building is almost invisible.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Ally Bean September 9, 2019 / 8:44 am

    I’m not sure that I like reflections. Well, I like them in nature off of a body of water, but off of buildings they kind of freak me out. That being said I like your observations and understanding of them, complete with photos to prove your points.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger September 9, 2019 / 5:01 pm

      Hi. Right, it’s hard to beat reflections on water. Maybe I’ll do a story on them some day. Thanks for the idea!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Des September 9, 2019 / 9:13 am

    Well written, Neil. Your description of Philadelphia reminds me of my former life in the city, which was an important period in my own story. I’ve only driven through Philadelphia once in my life but will definitely think of you and your blog if I ever get the chance for a proper visit.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Laurie Graves September 9, 2019 / 9:20 am

    Wonderful post about a subject I’ve never given much thought to. (I live in the woods and certainly don’t see reflections like that.) Glorious! Especially the Cira Centre.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger September 9, 2019 / 5:04 pm

      The Cira Centre is something else. I need to make a note to check out the other sides of the building one day. I’ve always focused on its front.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Deb September 9, 2019 / 9:50 am

    Comcast is a winner! I like the red chairs as well. They seem very inviting in general but the color pops even in the reflected windows. My thought: who has to clean all these windows, and how often?

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Jacqui Murray September 9, 2019 / 11:46 am

    Who stops and looks at that? If not for you, I’d probably not give it a second thought. So many metaphors come to mind.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger September 9, 2019 / 5:09 pm

      Hi Jacqui. I know. You can really get absorbed in the “meanings” of reflections.

      Like

  12. JT Twissel September 9, 2019 / 12:47 pm

    I wouldn’t be tugging those nose hairs out with a lot of force! The reflections you got are amazing.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Ann Coleman September 9, 2019 / 3:55 pm

    I’ve never been a fan of buildings that are all or mostly glass, but after seeing your photos of the cool reflections, I’m beginning to revise my opinion of them. They’re not as pretty as old building with brick and carved stone, but they do a terrific job of reflecting the world around them. Thanks for sharing!
    PS: weightlifting with nose hairs is NEVER a good idea! When they say “feel the burn” they don’t mean you nose…..Just sayn’

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Anabel @ The Glasgow Gallivanter September 9, 2019 / 6:14 pm

    Terrific idea. I already pinched your idea of using themes to enliven my walks (you wrote about green things I think) and I’ve done a few though not got round to writing them up. I’ll add this to my list of subject choices! Today I cracked my 10,000 steps while looking at churches which are no longer churches. It gave a nice structure to my route.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Sandy September 10, 2019 / 10:29 am

    Great photos as usual! I can see why you fired me (your wife!) as your blog photographer. 😢

    Liked by 1 person

  16. andrewcferguson September 10, 2019 / 1:18 pm

    You know, I never gave the thought of reflections from windows much thought until last week, when trying to take pictures of Seville window dressings without my own ugly mug appearing (tricky not to in some of the narrow streets). Yours are much better!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. candidkay September 10, 2019 / 7:38 pm

    I haven’t been to Philly for many years–but had a great New Year’s Eve there once:). Thanks for the walk down memory lane.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger September 10, 2019 / 8:21 pm

      Hello, and thanks for stopping by. On New Years Eve (at 6pm and also at midnight) the city puts on a fireworks display on the Delaware River. My wife and I have gone a lot of times. It’s a good way to welcome the new year.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. America On Coffee September 10, 2019 / 8:38 pm

    I love the City of Brotherly. I have always loved its founding relative to the thirteen colonies, the Quakers and Quaker Oats cereal. Your photos are fabulous, Neil! Well wishes for a superb week!👍

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger September 10, 2019 / 9:31 pm

      Hi, AOC. I moved to Philadelphia in the mid-1970s and lived within city limits till 2005. Now I live in the Philly suburbs. I go into the city a few times each month. I never get tired of it.

      Like

      • America On Coffee September 10, 2019 / 10:16 pm

        I hope there is some residue of brotherly love, as it was during the Philadelphia beginnings.❤

        Liked by 1 person

  19. Candice September 10, 2019 / 9:40 pm

    The Comcast Center with the clouds and sky reflected is outstanding!

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Cindy September 10, 2019 / 10:47 pm

    Good eye, Neil! I especially like the contrast of the modern Iron Hill Brewery windows reflecting the gorgeous old Reading Terminal, one of my favorite Philly facades.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger September 11, 2019 / 7:15 am

      Hi Cindy. Philadelphia sure is an interesting mix of the old and the new. That’s one of its charms.

      Like

  21. George September 11, 2019 / 5:40 am

    Great post, Neil. The clouds reflected in the Comcast Center facade is a magnificent photo. I’ll like the idea you’ve captured here that when you’re looking at a building, you’re not really seeing it. You’re seeing the one opposite.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. ellie894 September 11, 2019 / 9:50 am

    I love reflections! Comcast is stunning. Cars paused in windows makes me giggle a bit. The revolving door intrigues me! But I do agree with you on the vibrant orange Saxsby chairs, empty and waiting. No one inside. No one outside. An artistic quiet before the storm as later they’ll be so full that one could easily forget they are there at all…beautiful.

    I confess I hoped to find a reflection of Scorsese hard at work on Your new film. And of course warm congratulations on your Guinness record! 😉

    Take care,
    Suzanne 🌷

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger September 11, 2019 / 11:26 am

      You know, I really like your thoughts about Saxby’s. I hadn’t thought about that scene in the way that you describe.

      Hi Suzanne, and thanks for adding real good observations. Appreciated!

      Liked by 1 person

  23. Alyson September 11, 2019 / 11:57 am

    Some great images here although not too many glass towers where I live so will have to check out shop frontages instead I think. Like the tree in the University Building – We all have different favourites.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. cincinnatibabyhead September 11, 2019 / 1:46 pm

    The only time I mess around with “nose hairs” is when I want to produce a tear at the appropriate time. Checked out Tanja’s site, instant feel good looking and reading her work. Good stuff Neil. You know i like your walks and pics where ever you take me. Gotta run I have an Armadillo playing Tarzan on one of those aforementioned hairs.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. selizabryangmailcom September 11, 2019 / 1:51 pm

    I’ve probably mentioned this before, but it’s amazing how nice your photography is considering you use your phone. You use your phone, right? So phone cameras….wow. We’ve come a long way, baby.

    That aside, beautiful buildings. I love the imagination, genius, and ingenuity of the engineering/architectural spirit.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger September 11, 2019 / 4:03 pm

      “I love the imagination, genius, and ingenuity of the engineering/architectural spirit.” — I absolutely concur.

      Hi Stacey. Yes, I use an iPhone’s camera.

      Liked by 1 person

  26. viewfromoverthehill September 11, 2019 / 3:07 pm

    Who’d a thunk it: Your reflections are gorgeous. You not only write well, your photography is worthy of being displayed in an art gallery — in Philly at least. Cheers, Muriel

    Liked by 1 person

  27. lievelee September 11, 2019 / 7:43 pm

    Beautiful reflections on the subject of reflections… I have lately been intrigued by doors, also spurred on by reading someone else’s blog post. Not sure how doors became such an intriguing subject, but they are once you start looking carefully and let your imagination run wild as to what may be hidden behind them. I still have to compose my post about doors, but I am working on it.

    Lieve

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger September 11, 2019 / 8:46 pm

      Right, doors are a big topic on WordPress. It would be interesting to know how that started. In any case, it’s a good idea.

      Take care. See ya!

      Liked by 1 person

  28. Annie September 12, 2019 / 9:21 am

    Philly is one city that I love visiting. Thanks to these photos, I am pretty sure a 2020 visit will happen.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. jeanleesworld September 13, 2019 / 6:40 am

    Reflections are magical! There’s such a strange reality to them–so like us, but reversed, and that reversal always turns things…sinister. (Course, that could be because I saw that weird made for TV film Alice Through the Looking Glass as a kid. flippin’ creepy.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger September 13, 2019 / 9:28 am

      Hey, Jean. I normally don’t pay a whole lot of attention to reflections. I think that’s true for most people. Reflections are everywhere in one form or another. If we constantly focused on them we’d go loopy!

      Liked by 1 person

  30. tanjabrittonwriter September 13, 2019 / 6:37 pm

    Wow, Neil, little did I expect to be mentioned in your post, but there it is. Imagine me blushing right now, because that’s exactly what happened. 😊
    I take great pleasure in having inspired you, and in seeing the result of your efforts. Wonderful reflections indeed.
    I thank thee sincerely,
    Tanja

    Liked by 1 person

  31. Joe September 15, 2019 / 1:09 pm

    I am dumbstruck that the college girls did not fancy you. They must not have recognized your world record vibrissae!

    Liked by 1 person

  32. Angie September 16, 2019 / 9:21 am

    Your pictures are great! I feel sometimes skyscrapers are man’s monuments to man…some of them true works of art like the statues of Greek Gods…I truly enjoyed your celebration of them. Angie

    Liked by 1 person

  33. ckennedyhola September 16, 2019 / 10:46 am

    What a great idea! I really enjoy how you note that trees and skies–nature itself–is reflected in modern buildings and glass. I’m inspired to look at reflections more now–they can tell us a lot about ourselves and what’s really around us. Cheers!

    Liked by 1 person

  34. eden baylee September 16, 2019 / 11:57 pm

    I love the pictures of the reflections, but are you serious about what you did to get into the Guinness World Records book? I can’t get over that if it’s true, and you must detail in a post!

    e

    Liked by 1 person

  35. JOYCE HAMILTON September 17, 2019 / 9:28 am

    Finally got to read….great article and photos!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  36. Cristina Crawford September 18, 2019 / 9:52 am

    Loved your “reflection” on reflections! Makes me think of taking another look at the city of Brotherly Love. Last time I was there was just over ten years ago when my daughter graduated from Drexel. Now I shall go about my day trying to get that vision of a nose hair out of my mind. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger September 18, 2019 / 1:22 pm

      Hi. Drexel has put up a lot of new buildings since you were there. Build it and they will enroll!

      Like

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